The smoke has returned to the Pacific Northwest, after traveling around the rest of the country for most of the summer. Though we are relatively close to the fires here in Seattle, there was something about the offshore wind flow, or some such, that kept our skies clear even as our Western smoke shrouded the Northeast and the Midwest. A week or so ago, New York reported the worst air quality in fifteen years.

Thursday, told me that “being at this location for a long period may be a risk.” It didn’t, however, tell me where to go to keep myself safe. They did give me some pointers on how to reduce my exposure to poor air quality. One of them, the use of air quality sensors in the home, includes the advice that “when the sensors alerts, you can decide to open the windows for ventilation, for example.” I’d say that’s one poor example to be including these days. Would that we could open the windows, just like would that we could move freely in the world without masks.

It was only a few weeks ago that I felt comfortable enough to be maskless while getting my hair cut. Now, I’m learning that the cloth mask I’ve been wearing for many months is inadequate, that I really need to use, at the least, a KN-95.

On Friday, friends were driving back from a trip to visit relatives in California. They texted from near the California–Oregon border: “It’s pretty smoky. Our play in Ashland got canceled for tonight due to smoke, not to mention it’s 107 outside. Hell has arrived.”

Tonight, the Air Quality Index is in the Moderate range so I ventured out for a short walk. It was good to get outside but it felt like I was walking through a post-apocalyptic landscape. The sky was leaden, though not in the usual Seattle gray skies way, but hung with an impenetrable heaviness, and the sliver of moon was a sickly orange. In the park across the street, young people played volleyball and soccer. I both judge and envy them their ability to act as if nothing untoward is going on.

Photo by Ruth Neuwald Falcon


  1. Yup. AQ here got to 310 yesterday. Can’t leave the house. Hell has indeed arrived. However we are blessed to not actually be in the fire’s path itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am amazed that I have been able to sit outside reading (and breathing) each day up to just a few days ago. I had not understood how it was that with the fires in the Pacific NW, our air was still safe to breathe. I am saddened about all the folks throughout the U.S. who have not been so fortunate. Well…now I am joining that unlucky bunch of breathers and I shall surely miss my afternoon outings. May the air clear for all of us as soon as is possible!

    Liked by 1 person

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