June marked the end of spring on California's central coast and the beginning of five months of dormancy that often erupted in fire. Mustard's yellow robes had long since turned red, then brown. Fog and sun mixed to create haze. The land had rusted. The mountains, once blue-hued with young oaks and blooming ceanosis, were tan and gray. I walked across the fallen blossoms of five yucca plants: only the bare poles of their stems remained to mark where their lights had shone the way.