Grieving the Return of Smoke Season

Jul 26, 2019 | Blog

Last evening around dusk as I was preparing for dinner I heard my daughter Arayla suddenly shout out from the living room, “Oh no!” And then I heard my son Ezra scramble out from his bedroom to see what the deal was. I joined my children in the living room and found them standing at the window, staring out towards the mountains.

Arayla glanced up at me worriedly, “Do you think that’s smoke, Mama?”

Ezra moaned loudly, “Oh please no, please!”

I shook my head with resistance and denial, “Maybe not, Guys. Maybe it’s just foggy or hazy.”

I quickly went to my computer and looked up the air quality index for Ashland, and it was still reading normal.

I searched for local wildfires, and saw that there were indeed a handful.

I returned to the window beside my children, and my heart sank as I confessed that the air did seem to have that familiar, dreaded weight to it. Within a few minutes, the air thickened further still, and it became obvious: the smoke was back.

Before I took our dog Freya out for her evening walk, I reached up into the coat closet and got down our masks from last year.

We’ve had the most glorious Summer here in Southern Oregon up until now. Really, we’ve been so grateful. The children have been riding their bikes everywhere, stretching into newfound independence in our sweet and special valley.

Arayla’s been tending to her horse every day, and loving her barn job of cleaning stalls and feeding horses, while Ezra’s been shooting hoops for hours on end, sweating up a storm while refining his skills.

As July has stretched on, smoke-free, and we passed the anniversary of when the fires began last year and the year before last, I’ve been wondering if maybe we could just get a break from it this year? Could we be so blessed? I’ve heard a few people mention it, quietly, under their breath, “Oh we’ve been so lucky this year with all the clean air!” alongside some superstitious sense of, “Shhh…don’t say it too loud.”

It’s easy to feel the collective PTSD of the land and all the creatures. There’s a palpable strain on the humans of this region in feeling trapped by the toxicity of the smoke. It’s depressing to realize this is just one of our seasons now: Fire Season, Smoke Season. It comes in between Summer and Fall.

This morning I was still in bed when my kids came and snuggled in close. First Ezra came,  cuddling into my right, and then a few minutes later Arayla arrived, cozying into my left. They were both in tears in my arms, openly grieving the arrival of the smoke. I held them close and empathized, “I know, my loves. I’m so sorry…”

Ezra, whose lungs are particularly sensitive to the impact of the smoke, started scheming about how we would get away. He began imagining out loud how we could hitch a horse trailer to the back of our car and bring Ollie, Arayla’s horse, with us, and how we’d find a beautiful house by the ocean somewhere, where Arayla could safely ride Ollie in the clean ocean air on the beach.

His adorably generous (albeit far-fetched) fantasy seemed to be genuinely bringing him joy and peace, until he said, “But that would probably be like a million dollars. Or at least twelve thousand dollars, right Mom?”

He was quiet for a few moments, before he concluded, “The problems are that: 1) It’s expensive to leave, and 2) we don’t want to be away from our home, and 3) we can’t just leave our animals, but we can’t bring them with us easily either.” His shoulders slumped down as he recognized the complexity.

Arayla began to tell us about a new kind of expensive horse blanket she was just reading about, made of the same material firefighter’s coats are made of, with a built-in tracking device, so if you let your horse run off in a fire, maybe at least it’s easier to find them later.

As I held my children I reminded them how grateful we can be for our well-insulated home, and air-conditioning, and to remember how many people have it far worse. I talked about how my heart especially goes to the homeless at this time of year, and to all the wild animals whose homes are outside, and to the fire-fighters, working so hard to put out the fires.

I spoke a prayer for humans to be ever-more conscious, diligent, responsible and respectful towards fire, as the vast majority of wildfires, including this one presently filling our valley with smoke, have been caused by humans being irresponsible.

I spoke a prayer for our beloved Mother Earth, fevering with global warming, and fighting to find the balance.

It seems the most and best we can do at times is to openly grieve, count our bountiful blessings, and pray.


Facebook Comments

More Blog Posts

Praising Angels

One of the many gifts that came from my early childhood intimacy with traumatizing illness, was the way in which it opened my psychic centers to be able to “see” and “hear” energetic realities that remain elusive for most. While it took me a couple of decades to work...

Stewarding a New Way

As I witness all this outrageous trauma playing out on the global stage between man and woman, one of the most poignant components it illuminates for me is the power we hold in how we choose to steward our daughters and sons in these times. What is our part to play in...

Smoky Grateful Boredom Breakthroughs

My son Ezra and I had a glorious breakthrough about boredom a few days ago, and I’m inspired to share it with you, in case it just might be contagious. (And no, it wasn’t about boredom breeding creativity or genius or whatever it was someone wise once said, though I’m...

A Year of Leaning In

A couple of weeks ago Orionne and I celebrated our one year anniversary! What a meaningful threshold for us to cross. And what a profound year of leaning in it has been. We met (re-met) one year ago in July and immediately bowed in to a most extraordinary love. We...

“Free of Mom”~ Attachment & Surrender

The other morning I was sitting at my desk writing, when suddenly my son Ezra was beside me, tapping me on the shoulder in his fluffy red bathrobe. As I turned to greet his morning brightness, he surprised me by tumbling completely into my arms, so I had to move fast...

“But either way, isn’t Love always the answer?”

“But either way, isn’t Love always the answer?”

“But any way you look at it, isn’t Love always the answer?” That’s what my beloved partner said to me yesterday with fierce truth pouring from moist eyes, devotedly calling me back, in a moment when defense had gotten the better of me, to the common ground of our...

Graduation from a Life Chapter; The Endless Changing of Form

I’ve got some big news to share~ about a large life change in the works for my sweet family. One night, about 6 weeks ago, as I closed my eyes to go to sleep, I was suddenly struck with an unexpected lightning bolt of revelation. It went something like this: “And Now You will Move With The Children Back To Ashland.” It truly felt more like an announcement from my soul, than any kind of choice I was being offered to contemplate. I was shocked, confused, and somewhat triggered. I […]

Being Single~ Yearning, Prayer, Surrender and Fulfillment I’m inspired to tell you a story from a recent bedtime conversation I had with my son, on the topic of being single, and the prayer for partnership. It’s a tender topic to personally speak and write about, but one that so many of us share in common. And so I humbly offer my voice to the collective conversation.I’ve been contemplating my own single womanhood and single motherhood a lot lately, in a particularly focused way. It’s interesting to consider the stigm […]

Nurturing Self-Love as Healthy Self-Image~ A Clothes-Shopping Story

Due to the vulnerable nature of this writing, this piece is published with explicit permission and blessings from my brave and generous daughter Arayla, who after reading it shared her hope that our story might serve in some small way~ especially other mothers and daughters, in navigating the steep challenge of healthy self- image and radical self-love in our culture. One of my most treasured delights as the mother of my beloved daughter Arayla, (newly 12 years old,) is the incredibly swee […]

Our World, Our Mirror~ Rupture, Projection, Responsibility & Repair

Our World, Our Mirror~ Rupture, Projection, Responsibility & Repair

It's difficult to know what to say in these times, but I'll give it a try.  While this horrifying drama is playing out on the world stage, I’m finding it useful to notice how this translates in my own privileged life. For it to get this crazy on the outer stage of our...