Thursday, July 28, 2016

Postcards from The Descent

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.


  1. It's so awful today, I have to pull my t-shirt over my mouth and nose when I go out for a few minutes. I suffer from asthma and haven't been able to ride my horse this week or be outside much at all. Fires every single day and there's no end in sight. I have my oldest chicken in the house in a dog crate every day by noon. I have used a portable a/c in the coop in years past but this year we cut out another window for air flow. I don't know what's coming but this summer can't be over soon enough for me.

    1. Agreed! How great that you bring your oldest hen indoors, I am sure it is saving her life. Several friends have lost older birds to the heat this week. Just so sad all the way around.

  2. That is so scary. Especially given fire's tendency to leap! Not a good time to barbecue but too hot to bake and heat up the kitchen. Oh my, it is hell.
    I'm glad the chickens are more comfortable! Poor things! It's been very hot and humid here for a while and I can tell everyone is getting restless because I've had a busy week of people doing autumnal haircolor! Trying to will it to be cool!

    1. It is usually this time of year when I really begin wishing for autumn in earnest....I totally get your clients wanting to try and jump start it to come early! We won't see any autumn color for another three months, so hopefully you will post yours when they happen and lift my spirits! And you may be humid, but at least you are probably still GREEN in places. What I'd give for that...

  3. We are going through a heat wave too. It's been very humid but almost no rain. The trees are still green but a lot of lawns are browning out. I've seen this cycle before. The rains will eventually come. However, there seems to be no end in sight to the heat wave right now and it's only the beginning of August, typically a very hot month.

    1. It's always hard to know the worst is yet to come when it's been a dry summer already, I totally understand what you're going through. We could all use a wet and early autumn!