But Not on the Mountain
By Marylyn Cork
In September, an eerie sight in the western sky of northern Idaho caught my eye. A scarlet sun so vivid it outshone the brightest red light cut through the murk of a wildfire—actually, “fires,” since they were burning on almost every side of me that afternoon. Red skies are common enough when the sky is marred by the smoke of a conflagration burning in green timber. But those suns have never had the intense pure color of this astonishing phenomenon. I felt slightly unsettled at the sight.
What such suns portended over the course of the two days they lasted was some very unhealthy air. I tried to avoid it by staying indoors, but I had to run to town before the smoke dissipated. I awoke the next morning with the worst case of chest congestion I’ve had in years. My lungs didn’t begin to improve for most of a week. Other symptoms finally convinced me there might be something else going on—it felt like the flu. Maybe influenza was circulating already.
Whatever it was, it lasted about a week. Today, I think I might live. I even want to.
It’s still September when I’m writing this and rain is predicted, which I hope will be sufficient to put an end to wildfires. We’ve had sporadic showers but with never enough moisture to wet the countryside. Some of the blazes are large, but they’re mostly in remote, inaccessible country and aren’t threatening people. The one exception seems to be across the border in Washington, but I’m not hearing much about it for the time being. Maybe it’s being controlled.