Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Burning Trees

Yesterday, when Tina and I went for a mini-hike in the Santa Fe Forest,  I was alarmed to see large plumes of billowing smoke close by.

En route home, the smoke had circled around the city, forming a sunset illuminated by smoggy clouds in the west. I later learned from Keith that the fires were intentional. I had no idea there were controlled burns in the nearby mountains! At first the smell was light and lovely, titillating my senses with tree essences, but soon unpleasant physical symptoms set in as the clouds persisted and loomed over us.

With headache and eyes burning by evening, Keith and I closed up all the windows to our casita, turned on the air purifiers and exhaust fans, hoping for the best. It was a peaceful, albeit fragrant, night. When this morning greeted me with New Mexico's usual blue skies, I was naively surprised to be met with the thick smell of smoldering wood when I opened the door.  Immediately, my body started producing excess mucus and my lungs reminded me of how I have asthma attacks under such conditions. Dammit! Just when my chemical sensitivity had really improved here over the summer, this smokey air surprise hits me from behind. Unable to find my "I Can Breathe" carbon filter mask (because i have not needed it in so long), I calmly put my air ionizer around my neck and gave Tina her brief morning perambulation. With all my throat clearing sounds happening outside, I became more disheartened to see a fog haze covering the mountains with very little wind to move it along.

Back in the casita, I am doing all I can to alkalize my system more--plop, plop, fizz, fizz, Alka Seltzer Gold, that is, with plenty of fresh lemon water. Aware that I need to stay inside on this gorgeous autumn day, yet also venture out to buy a new and better mask, disconcerting questions plague me about the long term implications of nearby controlled burns such as, "How often do these burns happen? Will we be able to live here long-term with b.o.t. (burning of trees)? How is the wildlife impacted by the burns? Other people? How will the winter be for my health with wood smoke burning around us? Will it set our health back?" and so forth.

We're becoming rather attached to our community here, and the old thoughts of, "Where can we go where it is safe to breathe and be?" sadly return and begin to deflate the highs of late summer at The Commons. The recent stirrings of excitement and hopes for a longer stay here hang in suspended animation, much like the haze of smoke that covers Santa Fe Skies that is blurring my vision as I type---or might that be from the tears?


1 comment:

  1. Mary,

    I hope you found your I Can Breathe! Mask. Would you like a link from resources page? Our MCS customers appreciate a moving story, beautiful artwork, and a good laugh.

    Wishing you well on your journey, Adrien
    Adrien Bledstein, founder of I Can Breathe! Inc.