While we in Bermtopia have seen relatively little fire action, our brethren and sistern in central Washington and parts of Idaho have not been so lucky and are dealing with fairly large fires that have been burning for two to three weeks.
We don't have the fires, BUT we do have their smoke. Lots of it.
The smoke has been thick and heavy over the friendly skies of Bermtopia since the middle of September. They have taken on a torpid peach color, flat with the smoke converging on us from the west and south. The air is thick, faintly pulsating with dust and ash, and morning, noon and night, it smells like a thousand neighbors all revved up their barbecues, fueled with Ponderosa pine and juniper, simultaneously. Mountains and other familiar landmarks are gone for the moment, shrouded by heat, smoke and dirt.
There's a reason why they say "Bermtopia: Near Nature, Near Perfect."
Eyes constantly burning, we cough and sputter during the day. At night, we sound like a dozen John Deere tractors chugging up and down the bed. It's not pretty at the Nine-One-Four.
Ben has hated every minute of this. His need for an orderly nighttime is well known. Plus, given a dog's acute sense of smell, the acrid, voluptuous smell of smoke 24/7 has to be distressing.
|Could I get a particulate count, please?|
It begins with urgent, rhythmic pawing at the of the bed.
When that doesn't work, Ben goes to the foot of the bed, pulls himself up on his front legs and stares at us.
And when THAT doesn't get the response he's looking for, Ben comes to my side of the bed, goes nose to nose with the nightstand and stares straight ahead, panting heavily. For minutes on end. He then paws the nightstand to punctuate his annoyance with the whole smokey mess outside.
Given the right set of props, Ben has gotten pretty creative in alerting us to his aversion to the current atmospheric aberrations. In Seattle, he found my lap top on the floor, tapped the mouse pad and flooded the bedroom with blazing white light at 3:30 in the morning.
He shredded his bed after being banished to the garage one, in his opinion, too many times.
And, yes, Ben pulled the good old lock-myself-in-the-bathroom gambit one afternoon when I made a quick run to the grocery store. I was gone 15 minutes.
Luckily, we have found a solution to this situation. It's called the basement. Now, each night, one of us trudges downstairs, Ben in tow, stretches out on the futon and drifts off to sleep in the cool darkness. Happy Ben curls up in a tight ball on his beloved blue chair, relieved to rid himself of the olfactory chaos raging, in his mind, outside.
It's getting better. Just two days ago I could distinguish clouds in the sky, and I saw stars this morning when I went out to get the newspaper. Ben even spent Wednesday night upstairs, stretched out contentedly at the end of our bed.
We'll be back to normal. Soon. But in the meantime, welcome to fire season in Bermtopia.