“It was a brick-oven summer: the wild grass on each side of the trail was waxen and yellow. The dusty black oaks withered in sun fright. The ponderosas looked tired and thirsty. It was fire season. One good drunken cigarette butt and the whole ridge would go. The sun squatted overhead, uh, heavy and fascistic. The powdery dirt of the old gold miner's track hugged the wall of steep hairpin cliffs. Below: splashin amidst giant boulders was the South Fork of the Yuba River, crystalline and clean mountain water. White, polished granite walls reflected the sunlight ten-fold. It was like being in the center of a hundred shinin mirrors; even I got sunburned at riverside durin fire season -- I stopped, stared across the river at the black mouth of an abandoned mine shaft, which cut through the solid rock of mountain. Over the years a slim finger of the river had been diverted through the half-mile cave, and it drawled from the lips of the tunnel like spittle from a stroke victim -- I was still breathin, home from Vietnam.” (from a novel by Kevin O'Kendley, slightly altered by suggestion).
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