Thursday, September 17, 2020

Fresh Air


After 28 straight days of bad, unhealthy air we finally got a breather! The air quality had been so bad here on the West Coast, a by-product of all the wildfires that are burning in California, Oregon and Washington. At the beginning our air became poor when we had two big wildfires here in our county, started by dry lightning. But then those wildfires became more and bigger, and not all of them were the result of natural causes but unfortunately were started by the carelessness of some people. Who needs gender reveal parties and why? 

When we said goodbye to Kaefer on Tuesday of last week and went back home, the Golden Gate Bridge looked like this:

We are used to see this bridge in fog often, but this is soemthing we had never seen before. If you think this looks unhealthy you are very right.

But the following day was much much worse.

I took this photo at 8:25 in the morning. The greyish-orange hue never disappeared throughout the entire day and it never got light. It was a foggy day with a thick blanket of smoke on top of it that prevented the sun to break through. It felt rather apocalyptic. We stayed inside with doors and windows firmly shut. I had never experienced something like this in all my life. It looked like the end of the world was near.

We took to our N95 masks again - it seems to be an annual recurrence. The news about the fires were horrific. Entire towns in Oregon burned down. My good friend Jo who moved to Portland, OR a few years ago said that the air was terrible (I think their air quality index was over 500). 

But then after 28 days of staying inside and only going outside when we really needed to the wind changed, the sky showed a faint hue of blue and the air improved by the minute. On Tuesday afternoon there was no way I would stay in the house. I grabbed my knitting and sat outside under the privet tree, sipping my iced coffee. The birds in the tree were singing like there was no tomorrow - I guess they were just happy about the fresh air as well.

Yesterday I moved my office outside (i.e. my laptop) and prepared my German lessons in my garden under the watchful eyes of Otis, one of the neighborhood cats who like to hang out in my garden. I was surprised how much I got actually done - I had thought that I would be too distracted, but I wasn't. I got my entire lesson plan done and created some worksheets that my students will get as their homework.

And today - I went to the lake. For the first time since the beginning of the shelter-in-place in March.

It felt so good! I was a bit hesitant because I thought that too many people would be there since it is a very popular spot. Yes, it was crowded, but I usually don't walk along the popular paths anyway and prefer the smaller nature trails that weren't crowded at all. I watched a Green Heron for some time who didn't feel threatened by my presence at all. I visited one of my favorite places, looking for cairns and when I didn't see any I built one. For a while I sat on a bench writing in my journal. And I simply enjoyed breathing fresh air and enjoying nature around me.

This is supposed to be only a short breather. Over the weekend the air is going to be poor again. But for the time being I am thankful for the on-shore winds that brought us the great gift of fresh air.

Never will I take clean air for granted.


Elephant's Child said...

I so know how you feel. At the very worst of our fires in summer we endured three days were the air quality index was over 800!!! Sadly I lost count of the days over 500. My city is nestled under an inversion factor which worked against us.
Seeing the air that you breathe is awful.
Enjoy your brief respite, and I hope another is hot on its heels.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

It's not only the western states of the US. The smoke is drifting north of the border and the air quality is atrocious in BC. And you have a president that says the scientists don't know what they are talking about. Hmmm....

Jeanie said...

I am so glad you are able to get out and that the air quality is improving. You must have felt finally free. I hope it stays good for you. So much.

DeniseinVA said...

Happy to see you getting out now. Your photos were very enjoyable. The photos of the red sky and fog due to the fires are like the ones I have seen on TV. Horrible what people are having to deal with. I know of someone who has 14 colleagues and friends who lost their homes. I've read stories that are horrifying and am very happy that you are okay and that your family is also safe.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Good to see and read that after 28 days the air quality had improved, Carola. We received photos from friends living in OR that showed similar smokey skies. It's sad to watch the news events, but then to see read first-hand accounts from people, such as yourself and our friends, that bring the situation much closer. Hope that you will be able to continue to work outdoors and enjoy clearer views.

Lowcarb team member said...

Just so pleased that you are able to get out and that the air quality is improving.

Stay safe.

All the best Jan

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

So glad to see the air has improved. That reddish smokey sky is eerie. For me there is nothing like being out in nature these days. Of course today we have a hurricane, so there will be none of that right now!

I hope you have lots more of these beautiful days.

Red Rose Alley said...

I'm so sorry you're getting the bad air quality in your area, Carola. It seems that the fires are always hitting somewhere or another around the area you live. It's nice that you got away for awhile and visited the lake. I hope things have improved since you wrote this post, and I am hoping you have clean air to appreciate once again. Take care, Carola. Our state always has this concern, doesn't it?


Stevenson Q said...

I'm just so happy dear Carola that the air is better there now. My brother lives in hayward and his photos that he shared to me with the dark orange skies looks horrifying! hoping for the best for Kaefer on her exciting Masters journey!


Magic Love Crow said...

So happy the air has improved! Thanks again for all the photos!! Please stay safe! Big Hugs!