Smoke in my eyes. And my nose, and on my clothes, and in my lungs.
It started Sunday night. Living in mountain country, I always open all the windows up in the evening, and put the fan in the window.
By the time I go to bed, it cools off enough to make it comfortable for sleeping, usually dropping into the 50s.
But sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up. It smelled like a campfire. Good God, was there a fire nearby?
Having evacuated three times for wildfires, I am always on high alert during these hot and dry days.
I scrambled out of bed, and walked out on the deck. It smelled like a campfire — that dry, acrid smell of smoke filled my nostrils. But I looked all around me, and didn’t see any orange glow in the sky or obvious smoke.
Climbing back into bed, I felt unsettled. My mind raced, because I knew there was a fire somewhere burning. Was it nearby? Could we get a 911 call in the middle of the night telling us to evacuate? Just for peace of mind, I leave the phone by the bed. The smell of smoke just rattled me. I eventually took the fan out of the window and closed it, choosing the stuffiness instead.
Initially, the smoke lessened during the day, but by the time the sun set, the smoke would move in. Every day since, it’s gotten worse. The last few days, the smoke has obscured the view of the Indian Peaks, a gray haze settling over the area. As the sun set, it looked blood red through the haze of smoke.
In tandem with the smoke, the weather has been hotter and drier than ever. As I walk around our house, twigs and branches snap. Everything seems tinder dry.
I’ve never wished so much for a rainstorm. But the weather forecast shows just more of the same — hot and dry.
These are the days that try a mountain woman’s soul.
Every day without rain, I expect a fire to break out somewhere. My twitter feed shows gruesome photos of the firestorm in Glenwood Canyon. Another photo shows a fire erupting west of Fort Collins.
Can we outlast the heat without a fire breaking out? Will Mother Nature rescue us from this Dante’s Inferno and bring rain?
Our fire boxes are packed and stored in our spare bedroom, ready to grab at a moment’s notice. We’ve been through an evacuation before, and know sometimes you only have minutes to get out.
The one saving grace is that my husband and I are both working from home right now. At least if we did need to leave, we’d be here to grab the pets and belongings. My biggest worry during fire season is not being able to get home to get our pets out.
I once shared with a friend, how my least favorite season is summer.
“Are you crazy? I love summer, it’s about hiking, and barbecues and swimming. It’s the best!”
But for me, the dog days of summer just fill me with worry. And smoke.
And I long for a good snowstorm.