Tag Archives: wildfires

The Essentials

My parched throat croaks out complaints. The smoke blankets the coast and most of Vancouver Island. For several days, until yesterday, our area has been rated as 10+ (very unhealthy) on the Air Quality Index.  Last night a little breeze brought the rating down to 2, going up to 4 today. Relief for  dry, raspy throats, coughing lungs, aching heads, and itchy, red eyes.

As I researched other areas affected by the more than 560 fires in the province of British Columbia, I learned that some places have far more serious air quality issues than we do here on the coast.  Knowing what we are suffering here, my heart goes out to the people who live in those hardest hit areas.

The whitish-gray part of this photo should show blue water of the bay and greenish hills beyond, but none of that is visible  here. The smoke hangs in the nearby trees as if someone had a campfire going.

You can see the impact of a long, rainless summer on the grass in my front yard. It doesn’t even look yellowish brown as it should, but has a pinkish tinge from the red smoke-covered sun.

I’ve had my hedge trimmed and the trimmings are yet to be picked up. Just waiting for a slight reprieve from the heat. I feel very lucky to be able to think about mundane things like trimming a hedge when many hundreds of people in the province have had to evacuate their homes and manicuring their yard is the last thing on their mind.

During this summer’s fire season I have definitely learned to appreciate having a home. And having had to do without clean air and enough water, I know how important these things are — the essentials of life.

 

Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke

Generally, I look out my window at this refreshing scene. The air is clean even if it is a bit cloudy.

This morning, I took that same outlook and zoomed in for a closer look. It didn’t help make things any clearer.  There are no clouds in the sky. That would be too good as it might mean rain.

 

Here is another scene (to the right of the first photo) from some time ago when the air was clean in spite of the cloud cover.

The same view but harder to see.

 

And no wonder we can’t see much. So much smoke in the air from wildfires easily obscures the sun. This photo of the rising sun was taken early this morning.  Wildfires burning on the island are less than  100 miles away, and the smoke is drifting into our valley and hanging there.

My eyes are dry, it hurts to blink,

The smoke’s not good to breathe, I think.

My throat is scratchy, as I croak,

My vocal chords are full of smoke.

The Captain calls and asks, “What’s wrong?”

I tell him that the smoke is strong

From fires burning all around,

And ask, when are you homeward bound?

He’ll be home soon, he starts to say,

But then the sat phone cuts away.

We’ll talk again another time,

He doesn’t need to hear me whine.

And when he gets here he will sigh,

For misty isles of Haida Gwaii.

No smoke or drought does plague them there

The constant gales will clear the air.

 

 

 

Three Skies, One Moment

The last of the evening sun’s rays add a sweet pink tinge to the rare scattering of clouds in the eastern  sky. I’ve been watching for clouds, desperately hoping for a few drops of rain to end weeks of sweltering heat and parching drought.

I turn to the southwest. The glow of sunset touches clumps of cloud and wisps of smoke that have drifted into the valley from faraway wildfires.

I turn a few more degrees to the west and I’m left wondering if this is a sunset or another of those raging wildfires I’ve seen too much of on the television news. But yes, it is the sunset, searing us for a few more moments before allowing us to recover from yet another day of being barbecued.

We’ve been promised rain for today, but somehow, I don’t think it’s going to happen. The clouds that have moved in are way too high and way too thin. Just a hint of hope for relief someday, but probably not today.

Please remind me of this whining post a few months from now when I complain about the relentless wind and rain.

It was a sunny day

Think RED. Now imagine this full moon as red as the ring around it. That’s how it really looked. The smoke in the air gave the moon the colour of blood. I’m sorry my camera doesn’t show how red it was.

I thought it was interesting that the end of a tree branch is silhouetted against the moon’s face.

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The moon.

The next day, as Paul Simon said …

It was a sunny day,

Not a cloud was in the sky.

Not a negative word was heard,

From the people passing by.

Not clouds made of water anyway. It would have been a bluebird sky if it wasn’t for the smoke. The sun was so red last evening that I thought I was looking at the red planet in a science fiction movie. It was eeeeeeeerie! Again, the photo doesn’t show the true colour I saw. Like the moon the night before, the sun was blood red. Today it’s more of the same. Smoke fills the skies.

We have natural disasters all over the world. Wildfires, floods, and hurricanes. These are all extremely hard to deal with. What I don’t understand is why we need to add man-made disasters (terrorism, political power struggles, crime, and war) to the mix.

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The sun.

I just had a note from WordPress letting me know this was my 500th post. My first reaction was, “Wow! Isn’t that great?” but then I thought, “Uh-oh! Am I talking too much?” 😉

Where There’s Smoke….

They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but I’m learning that even where there’s no fire, there’s smoke.

The rising sun glowed red through the smoke haze that drifted in and settled over the lower mainland of British Columbia. Wildfires continue to burn  hundreds of miles away, in the BC interior, but the smoke has arrived in Vancouver and also across the water on Vancouver Island. I’ve heard reports of it spreading south past Seattle.

My usual view of the bay and the hills on the farther side is now screened with a smoky veil. I took some pictures of the Comox Glacier today and could barely see it.

First I’d like to show you  photos of the glacier taken quite a long time ago on a normal day, even with a few clouds. Now, below, are today’s photos, taken on a cloudless day, but with smoke drifting through the region from the wildfires.

 

“Where is the glacier?” you may well ask. If you look hard, you will see it there behind the smokescreen.

The air smells like a campfire minus the hot dogs and marshmallows. It’s hard to find a refreshing lungful of clean air. Eyes, nose, mouth, and throat are dry, dry, dry. Add to this the extreme heat and drought, and it is a miserable state of affairs.

Here is the view of the estuary. If it were winter, you might think it’s a normal misty winter day on the coast, but it’s the beginning of August. That sky should be blue, and so should the water. That haze is not mist, but smoke.

Summer is supposed to be a time for camping, tenting, swimming, fishing, barbecuing, and sitting around a campfire at night. The extreme fire hazard puts the idea of summer camping fun in a different light. The simple act of striking a match has the potential to destroy whole communities. Hundreds of little animals (and this year, even many large animals) have died trying in vain to escape the fires.

Please be careful when you are camping or even just out walking. If you are a smoker, please be mindful of what you do with your cigarette butts, or even the ashes that fall from the cigarette. The vegetation is tinder dry.

This past spring when it continued to be wet and cold, I wished for warm, dry weather and I remember saying that when it finally happens we’ll wish for rain. And here we are!

I am now wishing for rain.

Promises and Hope

A few days ago after a fresh snowfall, the rising sun painted a slightly pink glow on the hills. It felt like a promise of good things to come.

Like many parts of North America, we had an extremely dry summer last year, with low water reserves and raging wildfires. A good snowpack on the hills is so important. The snow melts a bit at time over the summer, keeping our lakes and rivers at a healthy level.

The sun peeking through during a break in our usually windy and rainy weather  made me smile and I thought of so many good things in my life.013

Besides the usual, good health and a loving family, here are just a few of the things I am thankful for:

  • meeting wonderful people through my blog
  • people who read my books even if it’s just to be polite
  • people who enjoy my books
  • people who enjoy my books and write nice reviews for them on amazon
  • my two lovely dogs, Ruby and Emma
  • the clean air of the Comox Valley
  • clean, cool water that comes up from my well
  • the clean water of our lakes, rivers and oceans on the BC coast

I have to stop here because I just realized that I could write another whole book about all the things I’m so thankful for.

It has been a great year for interacting with fellow bloggers all over the world and I’m very happy to see your Likes and Comments at the end of my posts. I do try to follow back if I can. I have quite a long list of blogs I follow, and there is only so much time I can spend on getting back to each one, but I try.

This year, cancer robbed the blogging community of a wonderful lady. Barb Beacham entertained us with her short stories and photos on her blog, Life in the Foothills. I’m thankful to have met her through blogging and emails. She sent me some of her hollyhock seeds last year and when I see them growing in my garden I am reminded of her. I miss her dearly.

Dear blogging friends, enjoy every day and let the connections you make enrich your life. It is my great pleasure to have met you. I wish you a fantastic year ahead. May all your good dreams (and none of your nightmares) come true.

Happy New Year to you all!

Scorched Earth

On the way through southern BC a few weeks ago, we managed to avoid a lot of the areas where there had been wildfires this summer. The area between Princeton, BC, and the Okanagan was as lush as ever.

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But as we came to the Okanagan, especially near Osoyoos, BC, we saw signs of the recent wildfires that had raged across the land, fanned by high winds during the summer’s drought. In some cases, homes had barely escaped going up in flames.

Wikipedia gives the following definition of “scorched earth.” A scorched earth policy is a military strategy that involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area. In the Okanagan I saw a different, but just as terrible interpretation of “scorched earth.” Imagine whole hillsides aflame and the wind pushing those flames toward your home.

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These were the lucky ones, but it must have been a terrifying time for the residents.