1) The wildfire that's burning very, very close to our house (and spreading).
2) Marketing my online cheese making course.
These are the things that are consuming my life at the moment (besides rearing my children, taking care of animals and gardens, and doing some laundry every now and then).
About the wildfire: There is the Upper Skagit complex fire that's within ten miles of us (6,700 acres burnt so far), and there is the Okanagan complex just over the mountains (257,000 acres burnt so far, and probably more after this post is published). The latter fire is making international news, prompting concerned calls from my family in Germany.
|This was a flare-up on Monday, when the fire ran up Newhalem Creek. Photo taken two minutes from our house.|
It doesn't help that ever other day, the wind blows from the east, and thick smoke covers our valley. Some days are so bad that we don't want to go outside at all. The other day, I picked beans for making pickles, but had to go inside quickly because my lungs started hurting. On these days, the sun is a hazy ball of orange, obscured by thick layers of smoke.
The following pictures all depict smoke, not fog or clouds. Smoke.
One good thing about being trapped in the house is that I get some canning done.
Some days are sunny and blue-skied. This happened a few days ago, and my friend Andrea and I took our daughters for a hike and then a swim at Baker Lake. The sunny (albeit smokey) horizon felt heavenly. We hiked up a short way into the mountains, where we lunched by a magical tarn, accompanied by our good friend, Mount Baker.
Then on to Baker Lake for a swim. I can't tell you how good it felt to be out. Nature, lakes, rivers and mountains are incredibly important for my sanity. When I'm deprived of being out there, I get especially whacky.
One of the reasons I'm so freaked out about these fires is the loss of so much land. What of the animals? Yes, I know they are resourceful, and yes, I know fires do occur naturally, but still... The animals must be freaked out by all the smoke and loss of their homes. There are especially huge piles of bear poop around our neighborhood lately. On a run, our neighbor saw two baby bears climbing a tree. Are these critters being driven down to the valley bottom by the fires?
And the trees, the beloved big cedars and firs and hemlocks. I know for a fact that some of the trees we picnicked under just last week are now dead, charred, and fallen. It makes my heart hurt.
Anxiety, sadness, annoyance, yes. But I am also very grateful that we still have a house to live in, that we have an incredibly strong, bonded community (that's small-town livin' for you!), that the world has firefighters who put their lives on the line. Thank you, firefighters. We love you, and we will continue to bake cookies for you.