We’ve been routinely waking up to the smell of campfire, and not in a good way.
Last year I had this idea of creating a video series to accompany this site, and I actually produced a couple early episodes, where I would have a sit around a campfire — maybe in my backyard, maybe in the woods, or maybe in a park somewhere where you can do that sort of thing — crack a beverage, cook some food, and enjoy the mood.
That channel would have been on hiatus this month because there is a number of cascading fire bans in place all around me. No open flames. No solid fuel fires. No burning of any kind.
The hot and dry conditions, strange for May, have resulted in an early and angry wildfire season.
My phone pings with alerts routinely noting local evacuation watches for small zones just outside of the city, people being told to be ready to run because a fire is looming close enough to their rural homes that they may be in danger at the whim of the wind direction.
Inside the city we’re relatively safe, though there have been a couple of major house & yard fires that have resulted in multiple adjacent properties in our suburbs burning out of control.
So. Fire ban.
Don’t burn anything.
Yet, as relatively protected as we are here, there is one aspect to wildfires that won’t be stopped by meandering rivers or highways breaking the burn. The smokey air goes where it pleases, and so as the atmosphere fills with particulate carbon, ash, and who knows what other dangerous chemicals (formerly trees) that poof into the sky as wildfires rage, that smoke swirls into and descends on the whole province, city, town, and rural land alike, and makes for a gloomy (as my kid would put it, post-apocalyptic) atmosphere… literally.
Small beans, I know, compared to the loss of property and ecology that is happening just over the horizon, but I’ve been attempting to train for a marathon these last few months. My runs have been getting longer and more intense. The volume of air I need to suck into my still recovering-from-COVID lungs is increasing by the workout. This becomes a ridiculously frustrating calculation as the days press on and I skip a few sessions here and there citing air quality and the inverse effects of training in smoke. Again, small beans in the grand schemes, but it does make me think about the impact on anyone who isn’t a mostly healthy middle aged man, someone with compromised health, asthma or whatever. If it’s too bad for me, it’s really bad for many more.
The weather spirits need to summon us a week of rain to quench the fires and wash the smoke out of the air, and no one is too sure if that will happen.