|Beginning...(taken a few days ago).|
|...the descent. (taken today)|
There is a book, or rather, a book title which has always fascinated me, and the it pops up regularly in my brain during life's more difficult times.
The title is, "Briefing For A Descent Into Hell."
I could use a briefing like that right about now. Not on a personal level, but certainly on a geographic one. We are currently sandwiched between about three gigantic fires and all of the smoke is pouring into our region.
A few days ago it was a little bit hazy but you could still see blue sky if you looked up. Today the air is choking with smoke smell and you can't see more than a mile. No blue sky to be had either.
I am extremely conscious that all the molecules making up the particulate matter and smoky smell belonged to something that was alive and well a week ago. It's a horrible amount of destruction when you see this much dead matter rising into the sky in yet another mini-apocalypse -- a forest here, some homes there, a few thousand trees, plus any birds and animals who couldn't make it out in time. Life's tough on the road to Hell for everyone, as the road starts shifting towards a definite downward grade and the flames begin appearing.
Luckily I can shove the larger issues this all represents into the back of my mind (where it will move to the forefront and wake me up at 3:30 a.m. to ponder, no doubt) and focus on the tasks at hand.
I have plenty to do because as if the air you could cut with a knife is not enough, the temperatures are also sitting at about 106 degrees each afternoon. My hens were suffering, and so I dragged out an old evaporative cooler we weren't using and installed it in the coop, filled it with ice water and...voila. Instant cooling for my girls. It's nice to know I can still affect some small change in someone's day.
But I can't fix the air quality. Many years ago when I lived in the Central Valley (where bad air is the norm) I suffered from asthma. And sure enough, for the last two days I've been wheezing, coughing and feeling tightness in my chest. Luckily I still have my old medications around but it's proof just how bad it is outside right now.
And so we shelter in place as much as possible and wait for it to pass. Perhaps other places where there are fires can reasonably expect a summer storm to extinguish any forest fires, but if that's the case here things will burn into November.
So who knows. Maybe while I'm waiting around for clean air I'll write that briefing for the descent into Hell, or just read the book. Clearly we're currently on the outskirts and the road seems to be rising up to meet us. I'd say that makes me a qualified expert at least.