Ash fell from the sky.
~ The first line of Brandon Sanderson’s book, The Final Empire
For the second time in my life, ash is literally falling from the sky, covering my home, my yard, my street. The first time was when I was eight years old, when a volcano erupted less than 60 miles from my home. That was Mount St. Helens, and I still remember ash covering everything for several days, like grey snow.
Today, 37 years later, ash is covering everything once again. It’s not nearly as thick this time, but it’s effects are much worse. It’s brown instead of grey. Instead of volcanic ash, it’s the remains of dead trees. Instead of a dark sky like during the eclipse a few weeks ago, this time the sky is brown, like the sun is dying. The view out of my front porch this morning looked like this:
The air outside is thick and it’s hard to breathe. I’ve had an extremely dry throat and clogged sinuses during the past few days, bordering on pain, constantly having to clear my throat, and coughing sporadically. And I’m one of the lucky ones, since I not only have filtered central air conditioning in my house, but I also have two of the best air filters you can buy, the Alen Breathesmart. As usual with my aging and longevity goals, I bought them many years ago to ensure I’m always breathing the highest air quality possible (when I’m not traveling, that is). One is in my office where I work all day, and the other is in my bedroom where I sleep. These things are amazing, with air quality detectors that show blue for good, yellow for fair, and red for bad. They’re normally both blue. In the last few days, they’ve been cranking on overdrive, 24/7, showing red or yellow.
Most people are not fortunate enough to have these kinds of systems in their homes. All around me when I go out, people are coughing, sneezing, rubbing their eyes, shaking ash out of their hair, and experiencing horrible allergies.
My backyard porch looks like this. If you look carefully you can see the ash fragments covering it:
I’m fortunately just far enough away from from the fires that I don’t need to evacuate, but just a few miles away, places that were green and beautiful now look like something out of Dante’s Inferno. Here are some real comparison photos taken by people in my area in the last few days.
The cause of all this devastation? Record heat combined with some teenagers who were throwing fireworks into a dry forest a few days ago.
No point in getting angry. We’ll always have stupid people. It is what it is. And nature is a self-correcting system, so the forests will grow back someday.
With the eclipse, then the floods, then this, it’s been a strange few weeks. (And now we have another hurricane. Yay. Maybe it will come up to my neck of the woods and blow this damn ash away.)
Oh well. I’m in Philadelphia next month to do some seminars, then I take my entire family to Vegas in October, then I’m off to Dubai in November. Regardless of the darkness, I still live a good life. Can’t complain.