The smoke

In 2018, our first summer in southern Oregon, we had smoke from wildfires in the area for roughly a month. Not gonna lie, it was a tough month, but we made it through and decided to stay here.

As I write this, it’s the first time our air outside has been even close to good, we’re in the moderate range, after eight days of being at unhealthy or above, five of those days we were in the hazardous range. It was the toughest eight days I’ve experienced in a long time.

That month in 2018 the air fluctuated, a lot. At times we were moderate or in the unhealthy for sensitive groups range, at others we would move up into unhealthy and even occasionally we dipped towards the high very unhealthy range. Because of that fluctuation, we got mini breaks. Since I don’t have any respiratory issues, I’ll take a walk, even when it’s unhealthy for sensitive groups if I really need to get out of the house. And the dips into the higher ranges were for shorter periods of time.

But last weekend our air was hazardous for five straight days. If you haven’t ever been in air like that, it’s very hard to explain. Visibility was at about a quarter of a mile and you needed your lights on when driving during the day. No matter how much we sealed up the house, it still got in; even in a new, tightly built house. The amount of anxiety and helplessness was something I’ve never felt before. And with the pandemic, there was no where we could go as we aren’t comfortable in indoor spaces with other people. It compounded an already bad situation.

I know wildfire will be part of our lives going forward, there is way too much work to do to fix the wrongs of the past and deal with all that climate change is doing, but I hope that serious smoke events like last weekend aren’t frequent. When the smoke does come back, we’re now prepared; this morning a large air purifier got delivered and another smaller one is on the way next week.