August in Spokane has a new theme.
It’s always been hot. It’s always been a good month to spend time at a lake. Any lake. And it’s the perfect month to feast on ripe tomatoes and fresh-picked sweet corn.
Now it’s the month where all of the vegetables in my garden get cold smoked. Works for tomatoes and peppers, but smoked strawberries are a bit off-putting.
It’s also a month where I have a serial nightmare about being a brisket, and it’s a month that now has its own playlist.
Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” The Platters “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” Ben Folds Five’s “Smoke.” And the most apropossong ever written for the air quality we’re experiencing, the Sanford-Townsend Band’s “Smoke from a Distant Fire.” There are a bunch of Willie Nelson-related titles on there, too, but that’s a different context.
I’d point out that the list is nothing to sneeze at except for the fact that August is now the month where I sneeze almost constantly.
Sometimes it sneaks up on you. And sometimes it has all the subtlety of a stubbed toe in the middle of the night.
It hit me Monday afternoon, when I read that the Seattle Seahawks had officially cut all ties with Sarah Colonna.
That left my eyes red and my nose sniffling – conditions I officially attribute to the smoke from the distant fires.
Then again, Sarah Colonna is easily my favorite Seahawk. And she’s the team’s only stand-up comic.
Officially, I know, you won’t find her name listed amongst the team’s transactions. But she was on there nonetheless.
Along with cutting former Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Joey Meyer, the Seahawks terminated the contract of their long-time punter, Jon Ryan. The big red-head was the last holdover from the Mike Holmgren era, and while that makes me a little sad, the fact that his wife goes with him and I start rubbing the smoke out of my eyes. Ryan is married to the aforementioned Sarah Colonna.
(Putting drops in eyes.)
How the pair met is a story straight out of a sitcom. Colonna was a regular panelist on Chelsea Handler’s show Chelsea Lately, and Ryan was a fan and he knew in his heart that they would hit it off when and if they met.
Colonna still refers to Ryan as her stalker.
And now they are no longer part of Team Seahawks (Sniffle, sniffle).
Really, it’s just the smoke.
This is the second straight August where we’ve dealt with air quality that climbs into the hazardous range.
One must begin to consider the notion that this might become the new normal.
Air quality across the state has hovered in ranges dangerous to people with respiratory problems and the quality of sunlight has filtered into sepia tones daily.
It’s been bad for the sinuses and it’s been an obstacle as high school sports begin gearing up for the start of the fall sports season. Football teams have been kept indoors, where the air conditioning can filter out the particulates that feed my nightmare.
This week teams begin preparing for the start to the cross country season. If you’ve driven around the Greater Spokane area at any time this summer you’ve undoubtedly seen high school runners jogging through neighborhoods and down country roads preparing for the start of practice.
A week or two of indoor practices, running endless laps through the halls before the start of classes, isn’t going to put a damper on the season.
We are nothing if not adaptable.
The upcoming season is not in danger of going up in smoke – the air will eventually clear and life will return to normal. The forest fires that create the smoke will eventually burn out and get put out. The desolaton that follows them will be stark, but even that, over time, will face as new growth springs up.
But what if?
What if we have to deal with every year? What if, every year, August becomes inhospitable for outdoor activity?
The fire season seems to start earlier and earlier every year. So, what if, for whatever reason, smoke drops in and hangs around beginning some time after the fourth of July and lasts well past Labor Day?
Yes. We will adapt. We’ll carry tissues and eye drops and, if need be, wear masks to attempt to filter out the irritating particles.
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