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Patterns of smoke

August 30, 2020

The last couple of weeks have been defined by patterns of smoke. When a couple of days of freak thunderstorms ignited multiple fire complexes around the Bay Area, the first few days were defined by smoke clouds. They billowed in the distance. At first glance you could take them for puffy cumulus clouds, until their color and the circumstances reminded you what they were. While distressing, the clouds were also fairly coherent, and we could keep our windows open and spend time outdoors.

But then the smoke became pervasive. No longer billowing clouds in the distance, it instead became a haze. Sometimes thicker, so that it almost felt like a cloudy day (although you could still see an orange sun through it), and sometimes thinner, so that the sky became a faint, steely blue instead of a vibrant one. But always there.

With the onset of the haze, our days have now been dictated by wind patterns and pollution readings on purpleair.com. Readings indicating unhealthy conditions and the air smelling like a campfire? Time to close things up and turn on your air purifiers (thankfully we have some, acquired two years ago when the Bay Area spent 2 weeks mired in smoke from the Camp Fire). Readings dipping into moderate? Time to open the windows in hopes of a breeze cooling off your house, all while keeping an eye on the readings in case the air quality deteriorates (which it inevitably will).

The patterns of our lives the last couple of weeks have been dictated by the patterns of smoke.

From → Musings

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