It is here, the season of smoke and forest fires. For awhile we had thought that fire season was going to come early fortunately it was a false alarm. It is now late July and the fires are popping up all over. Humidity levels have dropped to the single digits creating tinder dry conditions. We are starting to be able to smell smoke in our homes though fires are miles in the distance. We worry with each dry thunderstorm about the lightning strikes that smolder for days before becoming a full-fledged fires. It is all being driven by the winds of summer. The sky’s are turning into smoke. The sun this afternoon was hidden behind a screen of smoke, peeking out in time to set. Tonight’s moon came up orange. This season and many of the fires will last until the snow flies.
Today was a holiday for my husband and me. We spent the day putsing around the house. Smoke blew in from a forest fire from who knows where and we knocked off early, both feeling a little under the weather. There has been lots of crud going around my husband’s office and the kind of smoke we had today can make anyone feel poorly. We had planned on having a nice dinner, but it quickly seemed to both of us that comfort food was more in order.
I pulled things out of my refrigerator to make beef vegetable noodle soup. I was making it home-made, using the make-do philosophy. I think sometimes that kind of cooking is a lost art. The art of cooking from scratch, making do with what you have on hand. I had some left over short ribs, I had made in the slow cooker yesterday. I threw the meat from the ribs in a pan along with some water, a diced potato half a carrot sliced, and a small handful of bow tie pasta. While boiling away I sauteed a little onion and celery until they were clear and added that to the boiling veggies. Next I found a couple of tomatoes that were ready to be used and chopped them and poured them on top of the boiling mixture. It was now evident that my water was boiling away, so I pulled out the last of some V8 and found some gravy that we had made from the drippings last night. Both went in the soup. I found one collard green left in the refrig and pulled it out and chopped a little into the soup. Everything fresh I had on hand was in the soup, but it still did not say vegetable to me. Off to the freezer; there I found corn, peas and beans. I took a small handful of each and add the three to my soup and cooked until they were done. Ta’Da. Soup was on.
Before we could sit down and eat soup, my husband got a call to report to work. It seems there is another forest fire tonight. I quickly heated up a wide mouth thermos and filled it with my soup. I am not sure when he will get to it, but I hope it is still warm. No matter what I am sure that my make-do soup will hit the spot. He will miss out on dessert though as it was still in the oven…creamy pear pie. He was bemoaning the fact that he was going to get none of that. This is a late season fire, let’s hope in spite of the dry weather it doesn’t go crazy and he can be home soon and enjoy his pie.
Once again today we are socked in with thick smoke. It comes from wildland fires miles away, but settles in our valley. Some days less, more often so thick that you can’t see a half a mile away. Today is another one of those days; visibility is less than a quarter of a mile, ash is falling and coating everything and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality says our air is very unhealthy. It is so bad in southwestern Montana that many outdoor activities have been canceled, including Friday night sports.
Like so many Montanans I am looking forward to winter. Not because I relish an early winter, but because most days this fall have been covered in smoke. In the snow and cold I can put on more clothing, but in air this smokey you can not really do anything but stay indoors. And like so many it quickly drives me nuts to be confined inside. So if my choice is smoke or snow I say bring on the snow!
Been crazy smokey here lately from forest fires. It is part of late summer in Montana. Fortunately none of them are “in my back yard.”
Smoke can travel great distances and come from as far away as Washington or Idaho, or just over the next ridge. Some days it is smokey from sun up to sun up the next day. Other days it starts out clear and then rolls in as the day rolls on. Every day it smells of smoke often even in the house. Some days it becomes thick enough when you are outdoors it can burn you eyes,rarely you can even taste it.
The sunsets and the moonrise are spectacular colored from the smoke in the sky. Tonight’s moon looks like a big orange pumpkin. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea what it is like.