Holy Smoke

Priests’ Point enshrouded in wildfire smoke on Saturday

All is calm. All is bright. No fish are jumping. No stars are shining. Only the Canada geese are honking loudly and sqabbling over quickly vacated docks by day. The coyotes yip and sing mournfully by night. The cottages and the beaches from all the bays are empty; even the fishermen are hunkered down. Everyone went back into town, or packed up early cutting their holidays short. No wind blows; It’s eerily still. The eagles keep watch; I know where to find them quietly observing. Even the water is suddenly clear; the algae sifted to the sandy lake bottom.

We are on our third day socked in here with wildfire smoke which has an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 475, and a frontcountry holiday weekend campground smell that just won’t lift. If it weren’t for the acrid taint to my nostrils, it’s more reminiscent of fog. We know there are many places suffering thicker skies right now–several 999 values blinked out at me from the California coastline–and many urban settings around the world that regularly endure similar pollution at baseline. We’re keeping a healthy perspective and finding joy in the small discoveries all around us, like a tiny turtle we rescued from between our docks!

We’re attempting to keep Lady Kitty’s little lungs as clear as possible. Nana brought Lady Kitty’s swing inside and hung it from the kitchen beam, to her sheer delight. Swinging and dangling and toddling in place, she’s happily oblivious to the smokey whiteout. When we do duck outside for a dip in the foggy soup, she appears similarly content. Freshness or quality aside, sometimes we simply need a nature bath and a drink of air.

Sunday’s bright white smokey skies

As the smoke drifts off in thankful dispersal, I’ll recall the somberness of the Holy Smoke days of 2020: a memorial to the more than 3.5 million acres of forests that burned. A strange and oddly perfect three days emerged like a phoenix from the ash. I’m glad I spent them with you.