Late August 2017
Summer has been dry and hot in the Pacific northwest: we have had 55 consecutive days without rain, and the land is dry. The overly wet springs, although mild, allowed vegetation to grow profusely; then with the hot, dry days, the overgrown vegetation turned to tinder encouraging fire to burn out of control. Fires in northeastern British Columbia, fed by the north winds, are now clouding our skies and the skies of our neighbor, Vancouver. It hurts to breathe.
We hope this weekend will bring some rain and a southwest wind to blow away the smoke from the coastal cities. In the meantime, I run my HEPA filter 24/7, keep albuterol and am careful about exercise.
Red-gilled nudibranch, 2015, watercolor on paper, 17.75 x 12.5 cm
By early September
More smoke is drifting through the northwest, this time from fires in the Columbia Gorge, turning the moon and sun vermillion, as in the color of the nudibranch's spot. The beautiful Gorge lodge and hiking trails are all that's left of what made it so spectacular: lush vegetation, beautiful trees and the waterfalls diving toward the Columbia River. And we are also visited by smoke from three fires in our own state, one within the environment of Mt. Rainier.
In my grumpier moments, I can't help but rave about how our society has the largest military in the world, larger than those of many countries combined, and yet people in the Caribbean are going without water, food and power, in the Northwest we are exhausting our firefighting forces. What a contrast with Cuba which is sending doctors throughout the Caribbean. While our leaders exhort us to work together, our society has no practice in cooperation, but lots of tough it out by relying on our individual self strength. Our government can't even assist our neighbor, Mexico, which has offered to help us and has experienced a huge earthquake and a hurricane within a few days. It's not a good way to live. Leaders do manage to spend money on threatening allies and small poor countries in fishing expeditions in the South China Sea. I hope this means revolution time. Outrage doesn't even begin to describe the feeling.