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Our valley has been inundated with wildfire smoke off and on for over forty days. This week is particularly bad with an inversion trapping all of the smoke and holding it down throughout the day and night with no relief. A person, or a dog I suppose, should be wearing a mask whenever she ventures out in it. Otherwise, she ought to just stay inside and be grateful for air conditioning and a tightly built house.

Dogs don’t understand this and they want/need a walk each day. Here are a few images from this morning’s walk.

Wildfires in British Columbia and a 10,000 acre fire in the Pasayten Wilderness have left much of Washington blanketed in a thick layer of smoke. Air quality in Twisp and Winthrop was the worst in the nation in recent days. People are warned to stay inside with windows and doors closed and not everyone has air conditioning. Temperatures have been in the high 90’s. It is strongly suggested that a person should wear a mask when outside and strenuous activity is being discouraged. Needless to say in our area with a strong emphasis on outdoor recreation, this is a great hardship. I ventured out with the dogs for a couple of hours yesterday and it was painful. ‘They’ say a weather system should be here in a few days, perhaps with wind and rain but most likely with lightning too, and that some of this smoke may be dispersed. It’s hard to hope for lightning but I do want a break from this thick air pollution.

Once again we are faced with days and days of smoke-filled skies. There is a wildfire burning on the far side of Lake Chelan – one major mountain range away from here. When the fire blows up and consumes more timber, the smoke generally trends to the east filling our valley and lowering the air quality. Down valley, people say there is even ash falling. Of course, the folks in Chelan and around the lake are facing even worse air conditions.

Smoky air makes for dramatic sunsets and sunrises and also changes the moon. Last night I waited for the blue moon (second full moon in July) to come up and it didn’t. Finally it emerged from the smoky curtain far above the horizon glowing a fiery red.

Despite the smoke.

Today the smoke has cleared out of much of the valley leaving blue skies in its wake! It’s forecast to return but for now, what a relief. Here are a few images I’ve made the last few days when I ventured out into the gloom.

This hibiscus is a recent gift from a friend. The flower’s colors are amazing.

It will soon have to find a room in our house as it is not hardy in our winter.

Shaggy mane mushrooms have popped up around our backyard.

Some people eat them. They don’t appeal to me.

This moth was on the outside of the window while I was inside

French pumpkins.

Our growing season isn’t always long enough or warm enough for them.

A sunflower gazes into the murky sky

Forest fires have been wreaking havoc on everything in north central Washington for the last two weeks. Most were started by a lightning storm that roared through the region the night of September 8. One was human caused. For a few days our area was spared the heavy smoke but that soon changed and this has been a common late afternoon sight, if we get to see the sun at all. Official air monitoring by the state has listed our air as ‘unhealthy’ for the last few days. It could be worse. In Wenatchee and Cashmere, it has been ‘hazardous’. The good news is that the hard-working fire fighters are starting to get a handle on most of the blazes with strong lines built by hand and machine and with the help of many aircraft. Some of the interior parts of the fires will burn til the snow falls. And there is no precipitation in sight.

This image is from last Friday. I was photographing a wedding at Sun Mountain Lodge.

Photos from the wedding will be posted at my other blog before the end of the week.

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