On a late October hike I was thrilled to see the first snow of the season in our Oregon Cascades. I breathed in the clean, cold air perfumed with manzanita. As a friend commented, “The sky is working.” This year, when we expected autumn, instead we did our best to enjoy creepily summer-like weeks, glancing over our shoulders at wildfire smoke blowing in over the mountains. Filtering down through the pines on the butte above our town, its smell brought memories of past campfires, but this was smoke you couldn’t escape by moving to the other side of the fire pit. On days when it was especially thick, we stayed indoors, air filters humming.

I watch the climate change with horrible fascination. If you’re young, you may not notice, but the seasons aren’t the same as they used to be. In more predictable times I used to savor dystopian novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Now I find it too easy to slide into dark fear for our future in real life.

For a vision clear yet hopeful, casting light into that darkness, I recommend reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels. His New York 2140 and Ministry for the Future remind me we humans are resourceful and collaborative creatures with extraordinary flexibility in the face of a familiar world taking on strange features.

Wishing you joy in beautiful things, wherever you may be.