On September 9th, we had an amazing thunderstorm. Thunderstorms are my total favorite. They don't scare me in the slightest and I simply find them fascinating. Farrah and I watched from the porch and it was incredible. Strike after beautiful strike followed by a bellowing boom. Sometimes when I watch the storms we get out here, I'm quite vocal about my amazement with them and of course, my neighbors come out to see what all the commotion is about. Unfortunately, sometimes I let out a "Holy SHIT!!" when it is a wicked forked bolt. This time of year, we can get them several days in a row. Well, Saturday was the night that went throughout all of Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, and behind us toward Cashmere. It lasted for hours and hours. Sunday, Farrah and I did some chores, took advantage of it being Sunday and didn't even bother to look around at what was the beginning of a nightmare.
Monday morning, I read the weather report and that is how I help determine what Farrah and I will be wearing for the day. It's super cool in the mornings and then hot in the afternoons. We also judge what could be awaiting us by checking out the sky before we leave to see what types of clouds are in the sky. Puffy innocent clouds? Sheet clouds that could create wind? Dark balls of clouds which could be more lightening? So on and so forth. Farrah said, "Mommy, those look like storm clouds. They're pretty dark." I wasn't looking in her direction and said, "What are you talking about? There's only cute puffy clouds out here." "No." Then she pointed me towards what she was seeing. An all too familiar site that I'd seen out here before. Brown clouds.
Brown clouds mean smoke...and a lot of it. Hmm, well I figured we'd see where it was coming from. We drove and the closer we got to Farrah's school the more smoke we saw and we started to see fire. This was freaking us both out. However, to put Farrah at ease I pointed out that the fire wasn't heading down the hill toward her school, but rather over the other side. The day went on and the wind picked up...toward Farrah's school. By the time I picked her up, I saw that the fire had crept down the hill more and close to a house. Mind you, when I say "hill", it's more like a small mountain really up close. Apparently, when I picked her up, Farrah had been very upset and scared about the fires. However, her fear wasn't that the fires were getting closer and bigger, but whether or not I was okay. She's awesome. She worried about me while I worried about her.
Well, it has been weeks since the fires in Central Washington broke out and it hasn't improved. In fact, it has gotten worse. The worst part about the fires is the smoke. Wenatchee has 300 days of no rain...in Washington State. It is why many people have packed up and headed over here. It's not as depressingly grey as it is towards the coast. Now, however, the skies have been covered in a thick fog of smoke everywhere we go. I got a little emotional one day watching kids walk home from school covering their faces with their shirts because it was so hard to breathe. I hated seeing that. Everywhere I went I saw what I thought were little white bugs flying around when in fact, it was ash. We've been breathing in what we can see...so who knows what we've been breathing in that we can't? Air quality having a range between 0 (perfect) to 500 (hazardous)---we're at 500+. I've heard that they can't even give an accurate number of how bad it truly is because it's really beyond the 500 mark. And it took almost a WEEK for anyone to give us any type of information as to what that even meant. Supposedly, it is worse than breathing in Mount St. Helens ash when it blew, one week is worse than breathing in L.A.'s smog for a year, and it's as bad if not worse than being a lifetime smoker. Smokers take a drag of their cigarette and then breathe in oxygen. We are all simply breathing in toxins with every breath we take.
Farrah's school finally got cancelled on Friday and Monday. We were pretty much hunkering down in the house because if we even opened the door once, it was like getting punched in the face with campfire smoke. We had to sleep in the living room with the humidifier going and fans blowing the air in the house we already had all around. Even if it got hot outside, it was best to turn off the AC. Eventually, I couldn't take it and had to turn it on and hope I set it right for recirculating air. Ugh. I hadn't even noticed how lethargic I was. I had't noticed the mucous-yness in my throat. I hadn't noticed that I constantly felt like I was breathing through two cotton balls. And I hadn't noticed that my voice started to sound like a 70 year old smoker's. But I did notice the massive migraine I got that knocked me on my ass for almost 2 days. Finally, I decided we needed to get out of town. I'd called Farrah's teacher and she was shocked that we hadn't left for a little reprieve since they'd started. Well, no. There were several times that I did go out and see how bad the smoke was and found that I didn't smell it anymore. I still couldn't see much further than 100 feet past my back yard when I can normally see the valley and all of Wenatchee, but the air smelled better. I would take in deep breaths, oblivious to the fact that: just because I couldn't smell it, didn't mean it wasn't there. I couldn't smell it because I was used to it.
Farrah and I packed as fast as we could because it was getting late and driving over the pass at night is dangerous but I wasn't about to spend another night there. That's when it's the worst. We bailed and as soon as we crossed the pass through a haze of what looked like fog, but was smoke, I rolled down the windows and it smelled sweet. It smelt like pine! It was the craziest smell! It was fresh and healthy air. So, we've been on the West side to clear up our lungs...for now. At some point, we need to go back. That's my home and my stuff and Farrah's school. But now I'm hearing from Mike that it's back to very hazardous levels and the particles that they're measuring out there are so fine that it will be impossible to cough them out. They'll be stuck in our lungs. What would the long term effects be?And, we're not even sure if they measure carbon monoxide. What a freakin' nightmare.
However, to put a kinda funny spin on it... the night of the thunderstorm, Farrah and I pretended like we were shooting our arms out and causing the lightening strikes. We do silly stuff like that...because I have a 5 year old. There were so many bolts it was easy to pretend that one of us made one of the bolts strike. Well, 2 days ago Farrah quietly told me she was concerned that it was one of her bolts of lightening that started the fires. I told her it was possible. And her response was, "My bad."