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Eerie Haze of Smoke

‘I can see it, smell it, and taste it in the back of my throat. It is from the wild fires we are experiencing this summer, throughout our province, and they are horrifying. I pray they will not come to burn my beautiful forest at my lake.’

The strange smoky afternoon sky.

I am in a very familiar place. Outside today looks eerily unfamiliar. I am fascinated and horrified at the same time. I am, at least, one of the lucky ones.  As I vacation at my remote lake cabin, happy to be here in such a wonderful place of so many years, most of my life, in fact, I am strangely in awe of my view the past few days. The view, the scenery, the colours, and the smell, is so radically and uniquely different. Nothing really looks the same.  I am very grateful, very lucky and being very careful. I am sitting here out in the forest by my lake's edge at my little cabin, because I'm still able to. There are so many who, right at this moment, are not living my calm and serene reality. They are fighting for their homes and their lives from horrific and catastrophic forest fires. So many thousands of hectors of land, so many homes, businesses and communities burning to the ground as I write this. So many people losing everything in this record breaking hot spell. Never mind just the loss of material possessions and homes, but some people struggling just to be able to breathe. So many struggling with asthma and COPD and other lung related diseases now facing daily a way to stay healthy and get clean air. Hospitals and medical facilities taking in so many who are suffering. It is hard not to know somebody affected by these fires, and I am not living in an area that has been hit.  At this remote, no road access place where I sit I have to be so diligent and so careful. I use propane and gas to cook and to have lights. I have a boat that is gas powered. Flames and flammables are a part of my life here, although solar and battery has now coming of age. Though I am still pretty basic and old-school at my cabin.  Right now there are no campfires, we will use no matches, and thank goodness, no one around me here smokes. The neighbours are building, though, and using tools. Everything, around us has to be handled carefully, especially a possibility if something can be flammable or has the ability to ignite. It is a frightening scenario. I, myself, have no power, no pump system, essentially no fire system, although cabins and neighbours right next door do and several cabins close by, do. It is a disaster if we have a fire here. I am quite alone in my section of the lake currently, it being September now and so many have left.  It's a record-breaking dry spell for my Province in Canada, and for parts of the US as well. Trees, bushes, grasses, all thirsty. Gardens, lawns, park areas, farms, all thirsty. It's pretty horrific, and quite surreal, and really scary to me.  As I sit with the sun and orange ball from sunup to sunset, never yellow, like normal, and it's normal daily trail across the waters of the lake, again sparkling orange on the waves instead of the bright white sparkles I am used to seeing, I stare. I stare because it is so different, so unusual, admittedly beautiful, but not normal and right. Each sparkle is breathtaking beautiful, so orange and bright against the soft eerie grays of the landscape that is normally shades of greens and blues, not these misty, somber grays.  I've taken so many pictures, because I cannot stop looking at this. I have never seen or experienced anything like it, and, even though it is so beautiful and unusual, hope I do not experience this fire fright again. I have not seen anything like this in all the 55+ years I have been coming here.  The distant land masses are gone, completely that yellow gray like the sky, like they never existed. The tops of the hills around the lake are hazy and reminds me of a fog-like scene in the late fall months, which is still unfamiliar to me because I have only been here at the lake a handful of times in the fog. I just don't come there off season because of the lack of power and insulation with no hot shower during the cooler months.  I can write of all this because I am lucky enough to only see the smoke and climatic backlash of these catastrophic fires. I am not directly in one, nor would ever want to be. I am immediately praying for all those out there, all those affected by this fire event, all those directly and indirectly. I am also grateful for, and silently thanking, all those who are out there helping, and especially those front-line men and women helping to keep us all safe.  There is a wind today, and I had hoped some of this smoke that we can smell and taste here in the back of our throats, would dissipate, though I hope the flames are not being fanned by the winds. What we really need is rain, rain that falls so hard it gives everything a big soak. Rain that puts out these fires, rain that wets and protects safe-so-far untouched places from fire, big rains that will help to keep us all safe.  So today, I enjoy my little cabin at the lake, but realize, that l am one of the lucky ones right now, and that we are all vulnerable to the forces of nature, and must respect flame and fire, because the beauty and calm and peace of a forest retreat, or anywhere for that matter, can be struck, devastated, as lives, homes, and lifestyles are changed forever by the strike of a match, or a bolt of lightning from the sky. We must all respect the forces of nature and be diligent for our own safety and lives.

Though there is beauty in the effect the smoke has on my lake scenes under that eerie blanket of smoke, I know, it is really not a beautiful thing.

(Please note that I am sharing with you that this piece was written in the summer of 2017 when the fires were so bad I saw the effects at my lake.)

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