Thoughts on Clean Air

This past week, a late-season, human-caused wildfire took off north of Boise and burned several cabins in the mountains. The fire is not a massive one like the ones that burned through Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Only about 4,000 acres are involved. The fire agencies have struggled to get a handle on the fire since almost all of the seasonal firefighters have maxed out their hours and have gone home. We’re expecting rain so maybe Mother Nature will put the fire out.
All of the smoke from the fire has settled into the Boise valley. And it’s been bad! The air is filled with a brown fog that smells like campfires and sets off the craving for hotdogs and S’mores. We’ve had red air quality alerts all week, meaning that the air is so bad that people should stay out of it. People with weak lungs or heart conditions are the most at risk, along with babies and old people. I have exertion asthma so there’s no way I should be out in it. It’s been a week of indoor activities, but I don’t mind. I’m an indoor enthusiast!
The high school teams have had to run practice indoors and the cross-country meet was cancelled. Even elementary school kids haven’t been allowed to have recess outside. Poor teachers! I’ve seen people walking around with masks on. I get a headache if I’m out in it for much time at all. The only advantages are the beautiful sunsets and sunrises.
Living in air this visible makes me think about people living in Beijing. How do they do it? I’m missing the blue skies and seeing the mountains north of town. I miss being able to go for a walk on the greenbelt. We have several outside chores that we’ve had to put off until fresher air returns.
The worst part of living in Boise is how easily inversions set up that trap bad air in the valley for weeks on end. The bad air stays and stays until a storm or front comes through and blows it out. It’s one of the hazards of living in a river valley by the mountains. So we are wishing for a rain storm to blow this smoke out of here. Rain to put the fire out and wind to blow the smoke out. Then we might be able to take a big breath of invisible air. Until then, I’ll be enjoying my indoor pursuits, like finishing my next novel.

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