Yesterday, in the late afternoon I came across two does and six fawns downstream from Thai Pepper. They were walking through a parking lot across from million dollar condos, not far from the heart of Ashland. The juxtaposition of wild innocence amid many parked cars and Carmel-like affluence brought me to a halt. I tried to remain focused on the deer, but my mental channel changed as they disappeared for a drink from Ashland Creek and I let in a flood of reality that sent me for a tumble.

Sometimes it just overwhelms you.

Smoke, fire and brimstone seem a focus as a tinderbox Southern California suffers the throes of Dante's Inferno, or, more to the point, a severe drought in an otherwise desert, compounded by the fierce licks of ongoing Santa Ana winds. We stay glued to the tube as densely packed housing, sitting like a fat calf as predatory flames surge through the suburbs. The conflagration looks to consume pets, possessions and life-long memories.

California has nine water dumping helicopters, while we have lost fifteen times that number in our war of choice. We have more helicopters in Iraq than flies in a barnyard, but when you need them at home to fight a devilish fire, well, they are half a world away with a good chance that they will stay there until un-flyable.

Global warming, climate changes, polar bears scrambling to find ice, melting glaciers, unprecedented drought in Australia, the Southwest and reservoirs draining fast in the state of Georgia.

Big oil and the car manufacturers point to a future of electric and fuel cell cars, while doing everything financially possible to buy their way out of cleaner refineries, better gas mileage and less greenhouse gases.

Meanwhile, our administration rolls back environmental safeguards on every front while packing the agencies that should be protecting us with appointees from the very same industries that foul our lives. President Bush, in a photo op that reflects his real national priorities, rails against the diminution of his favorite game fishing species, striped bass and red drum. He signed an Executive Order to give preference to recreational fishermen over commercial interests, just before going fishing in the Chesapeake Bay for"&

166;striped bass, which can, if the Bush clan would give them the chance, live for 30 years and weigh up to 70 pounds. Swell, forget the man-made forces that drive our polar caps into despair and focus on a trophy catch that makes Bush gush with hooked pride.

Brushing aside reports that the Turks want to invade northern Iraq (aka Kurdistan), the numbing realization that we hire many tens of thousands of mercenaries (aka contractors) to guard convoys and our invasion entourage whenever our "diplomats" feel the need to slither away from the heavily fortified Green Zone, the insistence from Cheney's office that we gear up to destroy Iran and other distractingly sour news, I began to focus on what was going right.

Fleeing Californians will keep the real estate market in Southern Oregon insulated from the building slump reality that affects the rest of the nation. Pressure will mount for more housing to accommodate our toasted brothers and sisters from the south.

Homeland Security gets to see what a dozen terrorists armed with matches could do when backed with devilish thoughts and strong, dry winds.

Average Americans get to experience the randomness and fierceness of a war zone without having to go to Iraq of Afghanistan. Escaping with the clothes on your back is a way to identify with the four million Iraqi's that have either chosen or been forced to leave their homes, half of which choose to leave the country altogether.

Enough of my Pollyannaish musings. I think that I'll go down by the creek this afternoon, armed with a basket of apples, and commune with the deer. They know what it is like to be invaded by a heavily armed occupying force.