It’s hard to write about. It’s easy to fall into a whinny despair. After a couple of days of reprieve the air quality has moved well into hazardous. I can smell the smoke inside the house. The garden smells like a campfire and the sun is blocked.
A half mile from my office window is a mountain. It’s been shrouded in haze. At times I can’t see it anymore. Sometimes the afternoon wind blows enough away that I can see the hiking trials Heather and I walked last winter. Before the smoke, you could see people hiking and riding their bicycles.
I don’t see them today. Perhaps they’re like me – inside, looking out, hoping for life to return to normal.
Daily life is looking out the window, checking purpleair.com for the current air quality (AQI), checking the weather report, and checking the news on the fires. If the AQI is low enough, going into the garden is possible and the kitties can be given sometime out on their catio.
The KN95 masks I managed to buy for Covid protection have proven effective against the smoke. If the air is a little smokey, but not too smokey, the KN95 lets us be outside for a little while. Watering plants, weeding or planting the wine barrel on the back patio. I used to wait to put my mask on until I got the door of the grocery store. Now I put it on before I open the car door.
I have just enough sinus problems that the smoke can bother me. Two weeks ago I thought it would be good to buy an air purifier. I found one on-line and ordered it. It was a defective unit and after a phone call the manufacturer agreed to ship out a replacement. Hopefully that will arrive soon.
Yesterday, we went to the local Home Depot to pick up the flooring I ordered for my workshop shed. While I was waiting for my order to be brought out, I noticed a man with a shopping cart with four air purifiers. On our way to look at some shelves, we saw two pallets full of air purifiers. Some how HD managed to get a bunch, so we bought one. It helps and so far I try to stay near it.
The smoke is being blown into the Reno basin from over a million acres of western forest that is currently burning. Seriously, at a million acres and more are burning. Most of the smoke we’re getting is coming from the recently started Caldor fire and the Dixie fire which started on July 4th. Smaller fires like the River, Tamarack and Beckwourth also send smoke and ash.
When will it end?
That’s the question on all our minds. Who really knows? This year it will end with the rains and snows of winter. The firefighters will get containment and as the fire lines start holding, the smoke will reduce before that. Sadly, the fires will return next year.
As the smoke clears and the roads open, we’ll finally get to see the devastation left behind. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed and thousands of people are now homeless. Lives and memories shattered. Heather and I have already sent a donation for emergency relief.
Looking out at my smoky mountain, all I can think is, “At least I still have a house.”