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September 11, 2020: The Pacific Northwest Apocalypse

All day, my heart has been in my throat, and my stomach in a knot, thinking about what’s now happening in California and Oregon and Washington. It defies description. And I cannot fully imagine what it’s like to live there at this present moment in time.

First there was COVID-19. This took the wind out of everyone’s sails. And now, wildfires, in all three states. Whole towns are going up in smoke. And those places that are not burning are extremely smoky.

I talked to my sister Eleanor, who lives in Portland. Right now there are fires in numerous nearby towns, and a series of fires encroaching on the outskirts of the city. She been telling me in her near daily reports that it’s been very hot, temperatures about 90˚F. And now the smoke (literally) has rolled in. She has a terrier that enjoys going for walks, but now walks are out.

I told her that she was welcome to come and stay here indefinitely, but she won’t consider it. I extended this offer to her some time ago, then she had a mean cat. Now it’s the virus. She feels (and perhaps rightfully so) that it’s unsafe to travel while this is a cause for concern.

Pete with the squash

If I were her, I’d put on a few masks, load up with hand sanitizer, and hop on a one-way flight to Alaska. But I am not her. And she is not going to do this. The phrase that now comes to mind when I think of her situation is “going down with the ship.” I suspect that if she doesn’t get out of there soon, that the band will strike up the tune “nearer thy God to thee,” the comparison being to those who heard the band play this song on the Titanic.

El and I share a unique personality characteristic. Neither of us listens to the other to the degree we should. I would like to think that if the situation got really bad, (and it still may) that she’d say “oh yeah, Alys is right. I need to blow this pop stand right now.”

Pete has relatives in California. Same thing. They too are rooted and won’t leave their homes.

Me, I’d have no qualms about loading up the trailer and moving all ten of the animals out if the smoke situation here got bad. I would not head south. I guess that I’d have to head to Siberia, but it’s also in the smoke.

This is all a product of climate change. We are lucky here in that we got equal amounts of sun and rain this summer. It was actually a very good garden year for most in our area. Since we live so far away from Washington, Oregon, and California, fire-related happenstances have seemed like an abstract concept. But because family members and friends and others we know are dealing with this, it is very real.

What next? What immediately comes to mind is a series of earthquakes. Every time I feel a tremor here, I think, oh oh, is this going to be the big one? We are lucky in that we live at the base of the Talkeetna Range, so we won’t have to deal with Tsunamis. But friends will. I thought about this when I was in Valdez, at the conclusion of my summer bicycle trip.

Climate change. It’s here now and there is no getting away from it. As Walt Kelly, the creator of Pogo once said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Next: 252. 9/12/20: Bright Lights, Yet Another Chapter

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