Staying Conscious in the State of Oblivion


In the three years that I have been with Moonshine, I can honestly say that the cover of last month’s issue was my favorite to date. The fabulous illustration by Mike English features a lounging beachgoer, beer in hand, oblivious to the impending doom surrounding him in the form of wildfire, earthquakes, and a tsunami. The editorial team jokingly dubbed it our Doomsday Edition. But with wildfires raging to the north and south of Tahoe/Truckee, and swarms of earthquakes numbering well over a hundred in a just a week’s time, perhaps we weren’t far off.

We are blessed to be surrounded by majestic beauty — the serenity, the energy, the spirituality we feel when we are surrounded by our Earth Mother’s gifts. Throughout the year, however, we are shown frequent reminders of the power of nature. They’re all around us and are present in every season. From winter storms dumping feet of snow in a matter of days to the raging spring waters of the mighty Truckee River, from the thick smoke of wildfires charring our Golden State to the earth quaking beneath our feet, Mother Nature is talking, and we’d better be sure to listen.

Yet these days, it seems everywhere you look folks are tuned out from the world around them and zoned in on the teeny screens in the palms of their hands. It’s not just that life is passing them by, but they’re losing situational awareness and are becoming oblivious to what is happening around them.


That’s not to say that these devices don’t have their time and place. They are, in fact, tools, and they can play an important role in keeping us informed when nature unleashes her not-so-pretty side on us. And when that happens, the tiresome debate of whether you’re a local or a tourist will be moot — you’d better be ready to roll and haul your hide to safety. This is when your smartphone, tablet, or other devices can be crucial implements in ensuring your well-being.

Whether you live here full time or love to visit a place like the Sierra Nevada, where nature is the ruler almighty, take some time to educate yourself about her potential. Know what to expect and what you need to do. On the digital front, bookmark key websites and sign up for emergency notification services so, should disaster strike, you’ll know where to get pertinent information such as road closures, power outages, and evacuation instructions.

Like everything, technology has its time and place. Most of the time, I recommend you put your phone down and check out the scenery. Gaze at the night stars, marvel at the treasured clarity of Lake Tahoe’s azure waters, let loose and have fun making memories, and stop and smell the wildflowers. Just know that if you start smelling smoke, it’s time to check in with your digital devices to see if there’s a fire in the area. As I always preach to my kids, you must be aware of your surroundings. So set aside your phone and be attuned to what is all around you — just keep the device at arm’s reach for when you really might need it.


  • Juliana Demarest

    Juliana Demarest is a Jersey girl with ink in her blood. She fell in love with print journalism at a young age in the '80s when her Uncle Tony would take her to "work" at his weekly paper. In 1997, she co-founded a weekly newspaper in North Jersey. One day, she went to photograph a local farmer for a news story. She ended up marrying him and leaving journalism to become a farmer's wife. In 2010, they packed up their two children and headed to Truckee in pursuit of the outdoor life. She didn't realize just how much she missed journalism until she joined Moonshine in 2018 after taking time off to be mom. Connect with Juliana

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