That sums up the past 2 weeks pretty well for most of Western Montana, Idaho, and Washington. If you haven’t seen the news lately, that could be because the smoke is so thick your eyes have melted. As a born and raised New Englander, the concept of ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ usually meant marshmallows and smores. And not sitting in the unfortunate seat where the grey plumes and ash were constantly blowing. Out here, everyone is sitting in that seat, because its not just a little camp fire, its several thousands of acres in Montana alone. Read more about it here and here. My eyes don’t like it, I’ve been congested for days, sleeping is either hot and miserable with windows closed or cool and smoky with a raspy throat waking me up in the morning. The first day the smoke settled into town, I honest to goodness thought someone was barbecuing. At 6 AM. Imagine how disappointed I was. Either way, the smoke will blow over soon (three cheers for optimism) and all will be back to normal before the snow hits! Just as the East has wicked humidity, here the dryness has a very strong effect on the climate (and my hair), and wildfires are just a way of life. I know it’s a good day when I can see the ‘M’ on the Bridgers, but when the stoic range is barely an outline, its better to stay indoors. And I will say this- Smoky sunsets are a sight for sore eyes- literally.
This late August phenomenon that comes every year like clockwork, as I’m told, makes me appreciate the dangerous beauty that exists in this wild land. Nature can give, and she can take away, and it’s good to be reminded that while we humans like to think we are indestructible, there are forces that could burn us to a crisp like we never existed at all. (existential thought train has landed at the station). Either way, I am looking forward to the next clear night sky I get to see.