Hello friends. I’m overdue for another update here. Thanks for your comments and messages! I don’t get notified by e-mail when you leave a comment on the blog and sometimes I only check it every other week, so I apologize for my delayed responses at times. Thank you for thinking of us, and for sending your love and prayers. My heart was going out to everyone affected by the fires in California, then we had the fires in our little town in Oregon and we felt that fear close to home. The fire where we live is contained now (so grateful!), but that crazy wind storm last week made for fires all over Oregon and Washington too. We had friends that had to evacuate their homes quickly, and many without power. We prepared for a power outage, but surprisingly had the power on at our place the whole time.
When the storm came on Monday night (the 7th), there was so much smoke and ash at our place that we feared the fire in our town had gotten going again with gusto, but it hadn’t, it was being blown in from other fires in the state. On Tuesday morning, when we looked out the window, it looked like the end of the world outside. I know that sounds dramatic, but everyone I talked to said the same thing. It was the wrong color, and… quiet, and eerie without the usual sound of birds singing and other noises of life all around. The usual view out our window was hazy with smoke and when you could see the sun it was a deep orange color, it all felt a bit surreal.
I needed to go to the grocery store that day. We are about twenty minutes from the coast and that is where we often run our errands. I expected the air to be less smoky and more clear on the coast, but it wasn’t. I was so shocked I couldn’t believe it. In the past, whenever there have been fires in Oregon, where we are (pretty close to the coast) and the coast have always been a place of relief for people to retreat to, a place to get some fresh air. This last week has been like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced in Oregon before. The smoke has felt heavy and oppressive. Family in Wyoming and in Iowa said they had smoke all the way out there from the fires on the West Coast! I avoided doing anything outdoors, I didn’t want to harvest anything in the garden or be out there for very long. We’ve had a lot of outdoor projects that have been put on hold, and I’ve been concerned about the wildlife.
Over the weekend my cousin came to visit. I hadn’t seen him in maybe 12 years? or 14? Or maybe even 15? We lost count. (I joked that a lot had changed since the last time he saw me… considering I have a child who will be turning 10 next month!) He got to meet Jeff and B for the first time, and I was so grateful that he came. It would have been nice to show him around a sun-filled garden and share a meal out on the picnic table, but instead it was weirdly dark outside and the entire yard and everything was covered in ash. It felt a bit depressing to welcome him to our home for the first time when things were that way, but he was able to visit that day because his work was cancelled due to the terrible air quality, so we were grateful for the opportunity.
Hearing everyone talking about the smoke and ash reminded me of a book I read a few years ago, Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse. It takes place in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, and reading about what people experienced during the dust storms- dust coming inside through every single crack and crevice and covering everything (and making it hard to breathe)- gave me a different perspective. Throughout this last week I’ve thought, if they were able to make it through that, we can certainly make it through some temporary smoke. (I was glad that I had read that book, but if you plan to read it- know that it’s not a light-hearted read.)
A woman in passing said something to me the other day that was a good reminder and helped put things in perspective- she mentioned the fact that there are places in the world that have hazardous air quality all the time, not just as a passing thing. She was right, and I appreciated her saying that. We live near the coast, with such fresh air blowing in all the time, and we are surrounded by trees here… fresh air in this area is just something that many of us take for granted. As this smoke clears, I know many of us will have a much deeper appreciation for fresh air!
Though I’ve felt a bit like a wilting flower in all this smoke (I’m sure many can relate), I appreciated being home more last week and getting the chance to get caught up on some cleaning around the house. Though I still have a lot more to catch up on, that extra time to tackle some cleaning was a little thing I felt grateful for. Later in the week I also thought I wanted to get things ready in case any displaced family or friends needed to come stay with us. The fact that I can talk about mundane things like cleaning the house, and avoiding the smoke outside as much as possible, shows how lucky we’ve been so far while so many have had to evacuate their homes. We have a lot to be grateful for right now, and my heart goes out to everyone who has had losses in these fires.
Yesterday and today the smoke has been clearing at our place, and seeing sunshine outside has been such a hopeful sight. I’m praying for rain to bring relief from all these fires…