The heat wave in my part of the world continues. This is generally fine, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had a few nights where it was difficult to sleep – but then, at my age, that’s pretty normal, so I can shrug that one off. A few times, the heat has been so oppressive that I just can’t be outside, even on my shady north-facing living room balcony – but my basement is a nice place to be at times like that.
But this Saturday, the air seemed to be absolutely still. The heat just hung there, and there was no breeze. From the north side of my house, I have a peek-a-boo view of the North Shore mountains, and I couldn’t see them for the haze. That’s unusual for the West Coast. PG and I were outside, sipping cool adult beverages (and I mean “cool” as in temperature, not as in trendiness. No, PG is the last person alive who even cares about that, so never trendiness around him!) till past midnight and we were really comfortable. Normally, being the über-sensitive-to-even-the-slightest-dip-in-temperature person that I am, this would not be possible. But Saturday night, it was.
Sunday was about the same. We spent most of the day in the basement, taking turns to go upstairs for food, drinks, or to use the facilities. At one point when it was my turn, as soon as I entered my kitchen, there was the distinct smell of burning. I called PG up to sniff the air with me. Yes, something was burning. We did a quick check of the appliances. Nothing. We went outside and scanned the neighbours’ yards for barbecues. Nothing.
Then we recognized the smell: it was a wildfire. Both of us did a lot of camping with our families as kids, and we both know that woodsy, outdoorsy odor of a campfire, and this was what we were smelling.
There are a lot of wildfires burning across the province right now. BC is a heavily-forested place, after all. Some of those fires are human-caused, some are lightning-caused, but none of them are being helped any by the extreme temperatures we are currently experiencing. There have been a number of brush fires in the urban areas, too, keeping city fire departments busy. Was there a brush fire near my place?
Actually, no. It’s just that weather conditions are such that the smoke from fires that are many kilometres away is just hanging there. There is little air movement, so the smoke has no means of dissipating. There is currently an air advisory warning in Metro Vancouver (among other areas of the province), due to the smoke and high concentrations of fine particulate matter due to that smoke. People with heart or lung issues, young children, and the elderly are being advised to stay indoors. All are cautioned to take it easy and to avoid hard exercise outdoors. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that kind of warning here before.
So it’s weird outside. It’s like it’s cloudy, but the clouds are low and kind-of yellowy and glowy. The air doesn’t smell as smoky as it did yesterday, but it still doesn’t smell right. You can tell that the sun is there, and the temperature is already in the 20s, but I’m finding it kinda surreal outdoors.
The only comparison I can make is when DD and I were in Egypt, in Aswan to be exact, and we were on the edge of a desert sandstorm. The sky then was similar to what we’re currently experiencing, but more pinky-orangy, and the haze was thicker.
And here’s what I am seeing when I look to the north from my front porch. Normally, as I said earlier, I can clearly see the North Shore mountains from this vantage point, between the trees and above the houses. But right now, the sky is looking completely overcast instead, like it would if those were real clouds – but this is actually smoke from distant wildfires hundreds of kilometres away. Keep in mind too, that I live not too far from a beach, so it’s usually fairly breezy here with clearer skies than other parts of Metro Vancouver.
I never thought I would say this, but I think we need some rain around here!