Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here's the Smoke. There's the Fire.

The sun rose today a vibrant tangerine fuzz-ball in the thick haze of smoke like something out of a sci-fi flick. Fires to the east, fires to the northwest, fires to the south; just no fires exactly here. But we got the smoke, greasy grey and thick as Hades. Over 7,000 lightening strikes in California last weekend, over 800 1,000 fires still rage. The fire brigades are stretched thin and work ceaselessly; they are overwhelmed. Only one or two of the largest blazes are more than 20% contained; the smoke that fills our valley could be here for weeks, they say, depending on wind patterns.

Though I'm more or less okay while I'm inside, the coughing starts as soon as I open the front door. I've been abusing my albuterol inhaler over the past three days to avoid asthmatic hacking; I'll be moving onto the harder stuff tonight. Everyone's breathing is compromised, eyes are red and itchy, throats are sore. The air reeks like the bars of yore, without the underlying hints of spilled beer and wayward piss; it is unhealthy; it is downright nasty at times. Closer to the fires, roads are closed because of the wretchedly poor visibility; deer, foxes, raccoons fleeing the fires crash down the canyons, across roads and highways.

All day the sky hangs low, Sonoma Mountain invisible behind the murk. An eerie red sun sinks down the thick leaden sky, limning the world in a peculiar rosy-gold. Planes fly overhead, low and weary, returning to home bases for the night. They will fly out again tomorrow in the peachy-amber light of another smokey dawn.

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Noise makers!