It is bizarre to wake up and see a red ball in the sky which you can stare at without hurting your eyes. It is the famous California sun covered by a thick layer of smoke. With a quick glance, it looks like any other winter morning in the San Francisco Bay Area; grey and foggy. Except that this time it is not fog. And you will notice that when you open the door, you can smell the smoke and it will make you cough. Later in the evening your eyes get itchy and the head ache sets in. Not the greatest experience!
This is the second time since I have moved to California that we live surrounded by smoke. The first time was last year, when the smoke from the destructive fires in Napa County and Santa Rosa drifted our way. At the moment there are fires at both ends of the state, and the smoke over here is coming from the north, from Butte County. The fire is called the Camp Fire and after destroying a whole town; Paradise, it is still spreading. There were over 26,000 people living in Paradise. About 6,500 homes have been destroyed and at least 23 people have died. Hundreds are still missing. And as long as the Santa Ana winds are spreading the fire, there seems to be no end to this.
On Saturday, I put a mask on and left for the grocery store. The whole neighborhood was quiet since no one was out, and everything looked grey. The kids haven’t been outside for three days now, since even the school kept them inside on Friday. And you can only imagine all the energy kids have, when they don’t get to go outside. I keep making plans for the day and then remember that I wasn’t supposed to go outside. People have been warned not to exercise outside and also to wear N95 masks. When I moved from Finland I would never have thought that someday I can’t go outside because of the bad air quality. It really makes you look at things from another perspective.
Even though the wild fires have affected our lives, we are still thankful that we have our home and each other. Our experiences of course don’t compare to the devastation that has hit people who lost their homes or loved ones. I have also seen many articles about people letting their horses loose, since they just couldn’t find trailers to take their horses with them. Also many pets were left behind. The fastest the fire moved was 80 football fields-a-minute. Yes, that is insane!
Even though the sunsets are the most beautiful now and as red as they will ever be, every night I hope that the smoke and the fires are gone when I wake up!