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Surf’s Up 

ON THE COVER: Power, grace, and freedom. Surfer Carolyn Day
catches the perfect wave at Topanga Beach. Surfing is an integral part
of her life, a lifestyle she shares with her husband and children, but
she is often the only woman in the lineup. Learn more about Carolyn
and meet more members of Topanga’s surf community on page 12.
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Day.

Late August and early September should bring sunny beach weather and clear night skies, but the massive wildfires in Northern California and Oregon have covered the West in a pall of smoke. Although the last few weeks have been mercifully free of local fire incidents, that blood red sun at sunset and dawn continues to raise fire fears in Topanga and throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. 

The California Department of Justice has announced that it will not bring criminal charges against Southern California Edison, the utility company whose equipment ignited the 2018 Woolsey fire, which burned half of the Santa Monica Mountains, killed three people, destroyed more than 1,600 homes and other structures, and forced residents from Ventura County to Topanga to evacuate. Advocates for the victims of the fire have called the decision disappointing. Civil lawsuits continue to move forward. 

We aren’t alone with our fire fears. Nevada and Montana are also experiencing critical fire conditions, and halfway round the world, wildfire continues to ravage parts of Greece and Turkey.

One thing we can all do to reduce our fire risk is to make our homes and gardens less vulnerable to wildfire. The West Basin Municipal Water District will be hosting an online firescaping workshop on September 15 that can help homeowners safeguard their properties from fire while welcoming wildlife and pollinators. Learn more on page ?

And speaking of wildlife, a new study published in Ecological Solutions and Evidence reveals that humans weren’t the only ones sheltering in place during the COVID-19 shutdown and the closure of local parkland in 2020. The mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains took advantage of fewer people in their habitat during the COVID-19 closure and stayed closer to home, traveling shorter distances. It’s evidence that the presence of people in the parks does influence wildlife behavior and a reminder for all of us to tread lightly, pick up after ourselves, and to stay on trails and out of areas that offer shelter to wildlife.

COVID-19 numbers continue to climb as the Delta variant sweeps through California and the world. Los Angeles County has mandated masks at outdoor “mega” events like concerts and sporting events and even marathons and parades. Indoor “mega events” are now any event with more than 1000 people (down from 5000). Indoor mega events now require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Pfizer received full FDA approval this week, and both Pfizer and Moderna booster shoots are on the horizon, possibly arriving as early as September. There’s no word on boosters for those who opted for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Keep wearing that mask. 

Vote by mail ballots are arriving for the September 14 Gubernatorial Recall Election, and they’ve left many voters confused. We found answers to some of our questions on the California Secretary of State’s website. We’re sharing the FAQs in our Newsbeat section, page??? Don’t forget to vote!

September 6 is Labor Day. For many, this is the unofficial end of summer, but for surfers this is the time of year when the big southern hemisphere waves arrive. In this issue we’ll take a look at the science behind the southern swell, explore some favorite local surf breaks, and meet members of the Topanga surf community. This year, Labor Day coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year. We wish all who celebrate this ancient and beautiful holiday a good new year.

For much of the country, September brings sweater weather and the first frosts. In the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s often the best part of summer, the endless summer of California surf legend.

Stay safe, be well.

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