Paradise Burning

Washington smoke, near Ritzsville

Smoke near Ritzsville

I just returned from my annual weekend at Lake Coeur d’Alene. It’s the highlight of my summer. Several of my closest friends converge on a friend’s family’s lake cabin for a weekend to celebrate friendship and the end of summer. But this year it was slightly different. As we drove across the state from Seattle wildfires burned out of control in the north Cascades. In fact fires are burning out of control all over the Pacific Northwest. People say this these are the worst wildfires since the summer of 1910. It’s a hundred year fire season. By the time we got to Moses Lake a low, smoky, smog hung in the air. It was hard to breath even in the car. In Spokane the news reports said that the air quality was unhealthy for anyone to be outside. By the time we got to the lake we could smell the smoke and breathing was even harder.

Climate change is a touchy subject. Not everyone agrees on the cause. Is it normal climactic change or did our emissions have something to do with it? When you are living through a multi-year drought there is no denying that something is changing. This was the hottest summer I can remember in 25 years of living in Seattle. The joke is that we are becoming the new San Diego. The reality is that even the rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula is burning. Of course our emissions had something to do with it, and now our paradise is on fire.

Over the weekend the winds changed and we had a smoke-free day. Then they changed back and we were covered again in a blanket of suffocating smog. It was still a lovely weekend spent with great friends. But the smoke added a melancholy, at least for me. I prayed for the return of the rain that we are normally known for.

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