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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Smoky skies and the Great Indoors

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Let’s look on the bright side.

There have been some good things about August’s on again/off again smoke-filled air. I mean, if you really think about it.

Take bike riding, for instance. Cyclists who felt compelled to leave their bicycles parked in the garage during the smoke siege missed out on some beneficial exercise and efficient transportation, of course. But they also got fewer bugs in their mouths.

Ask almost any cyclist who puts in a lot of miles on the road. Sooner or later every summer, a flying insect will wing its way into the bike rider’s mouth.

Often, these bugs can be promptly expectorated. Sometimes though, they manage to abide in the cyclist’s mouth with no apparent intention to vacate the premises. That can get squishy and gross. Or worse.

That’s not the only upside of an Air Quality Index reading in the “Yikes” category.

With fewer of us venturing outside for recreational pursuits, that means way less time spent hunting for ticks after coming back in.

You no doubt are familiar with the routine of stripping off all clothing and then conducting a hard-target full-body search for the mouthy arthropods. People around here love the outdoors. But being freed of tick-search responsibility is at least one small consolation for having to stay inside.

There’s more. Consider, for instance, that a high percentage of grizzly bear attacks happen outside the home. Plan on staying in and taking a nap? You’re golden.

Same goes for birds defecating on your head.

In a broader sense, retreating from hideous air quality can be a carte blanche invitation to celebrate the Great Indoors. Usually some of us do that after Old Man Winter comes knocking and the hours of daylight shrink to a small window. But when wildfires pose a challenge to breathing, you do what you have to do.

Staying in doesn’t necessarily mean surrendering and vegging out. It could be viewed as an opportunity.

You can read a mind-bending book, watch a movie that stirs your heart or settle in for a long-postponed TV show marathon.

You can listen to old record albums.

You can play Monopoly or bake a peach pie.

You can write the Great American tweet.

You can even engage in some productive tasks, from organizing your important papers files to decluttering your basement or cleaning the refrigerator. “Do you have any idea what this purple stuff in this jar is or how long it has been in there?”

You can impose your will on overstuffed closets, brutally deselecting apparel you have not worn in this century.

You can paint that bookshelf or see how many push-ups you can do. (Admittedly, some indoor pursuits do not consume a great deal of time.)

You can correspond with neglected friends and distant relatives.

You can delete old email.

You can vow to do better.

You can update your resume.

You can share with your granddaughter the secret to surviving kindergarten.

You can plan your winter vacation in the Southwest including, but not limited to, a visit to the Grand Canyon.

You can try to start a family.

You can make lists.

And of course, it almost goes without saying, you can pick up your phone and check the air quality number once an hour.

Prevailing winds

Jim Clanton saw my mention of the idea that a significant number of Spokane cars are coated with dust and dirt acquired while driving on back roads in other counties.

Thinking about our sometimes iffy air quality in this part of the state, he noted that it isn’t really necessary to go for a drive to find your vehicle covered with distant dirt.

“Just wait a few weeks and these counties will come to you.”

You can check out any time you like, but …

Paula Thomas said the indignant reader who stated in Thursday’s column that she had never met anyone who doesn’t like the Eagles needs to meet her.

“I particularly detest the song ‘Hotel California.’ The mere thought of it puts the lyrics in my head for hours. They just go and on, just like the song.”

Steve Hulme doesn’t dislike the Eagles. “But after I heard ‘Hotel California’ for the millionth or billionth time, it lost a bit of its charm.”

He thinks he understands where nonfans are coming from. “Mostly they are declaring that they are not part of the mainstream – letting their freak flags fly, if you will.”

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