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Summer and Smoke

The smoke is thick over Spokane today, shrouding all the familiar hills and trees and leaving a bittter taste in my mouth. We are surrounded by fire. The wind will bring smoke our way, whether it is coming from the north, south, east, or west. One child has been taking medicine morning and night for three days to calm her irritated lungs and to quiet her cough.

I want to complain that we are losing these last days of summer. The September days that should be blue skies and sunshine and temperatures cool enough for evening walks through the neighborhood. It doesn’t seem right to complain, though, when the fires aren’t threatening my home. So I try to bite my tongue as much as I can, and the title of that Tennessee Williams play keeps coming to mind, Summer and Smoke.

We are waiting out these gray days, solemn and hushed, as wild fires race through the Columbia Gorge and Glacier National Park and so many treasured spots across the Pacific Northwest. Praying for a fresh breeze, praying for rain. Meanwhile, family and friends in Houston are cleaning up after too much rain from one hurricane, and family and friends in Florida are bracing themselves for too much wind from another one. Still, I am struck by how beautiful these disasters are from a distance. The fires raging wild across the hilltops through the night, reflected bright in the river. The view of the hurricane from space, swirling thickly around that deep, powerful center. This old world – so lovely, so fragile, so off balance.

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