Landscape taken from the top of a bluff across a swampy lake (Oaks Bottom), with the skyline of downtown Portland on the horizon. The air at eye level is crystal clear but overhead at high altitude an unnatural orange cloud of wildfire smoke drifts north toward downtown. The light is orange and eerie.

The fires this time

Published 2020-09-09

Monday the fires were a potentiality. A thing that could happen, maybe. By nightfall we could smell it, faintly, and the air had that familiar bluish tinge and distant campfire smell. We’ve been through this before, I thought, 2017 and 2015 and 2010 and 2003 and years before. Yesterday the smoke was literally on the horizon. From Council Crest I could turn South and see it looming. Today it rolled north, like the murk from Mordor, turning the sun red. We have not been through this before, I thought. This is something new.

But unnervingly: the air down here, on the ground, is crystal clear. Not a sniff of immolating forest. All the dead landscapes are a mile overhead now.