Hazy Days of Summer

Watch the clip here and maybe you will understand my ramblings below which pretty much describe the past week.  If you feel squemish reading about sinus problems…then you may not want to read the post.

Wildfire Season. It happens every year but this is the first year I consciously feel the effects of fire, smoke and pollution to such a noticeable degree.

Every morning, I wake up slightly fatigued but as the morning progresses, the mucus that has been building overnight becomes thicker and thicker. It’s already warm outside and I can start to feel the morning heat as I stand near the window but still I sip on a piping hot cup of coffee to calm my throat and cure my slight pressure headache.

The commute into work which was once encircled by mountains in every direction now reveals a stronger hue of brown static clouds over the city. The mountains themselves now blend into the sky.

What appears to be cotton thin clouds is actually haze. Haze from fires burning miles and miles away in another micro-climate.  Haze that extends from faraway lands of pines and unimaginable greenery not found in the desert. The brown pollution cloud which has now married with the haze of the fires clings fervently to the atmosphere.  Blink and you’ll miss the part of the Loop 202 that faces the McDowell Mountains– which is currently the only mountain range clearly visible.

Once through the commute, I try to forget about the fuzzy air outside but as I’m logging into my computer at work I already have to reach for the tissues. Each blow into the tissue also reveals scarlet strands of blood.  Any other time of the year I’d fret that perhaps this is a sign of a more serious condition yet traces of it is typical this time of year. However, this year the blood is redder, thicker and discharges more frequently.  Luckily it subsides the next time I reach for the box.

By high noon, the heat is enveloping the city which ripens the potency of the pollution and haze. But I’m in the middle of it now, walking smack in the middle of the city the sky look clear from inside the pollution cloud.  I should stay indoors but I forget that I’m inside the pollution tent.  I still trek to the nearby campus to eat my lunch and unwind in the student lounge.  My walk back to work is capped by a dull ache in the lungs as I come coughing back into work.

I see the smokers standing outside the building and wonder how they do it? How do they voluntarily inhale the stuff that is slowly sure to kill us all – stuff that is already permeating the ions that contain our very existence?

Get back inside and refill your tumbler with cool cool water I tell myself.  I splash a little bit on my face and neck to help adjust to the air conditioning.  In a few more hours, I’ll be back outside again exposing myself to the heat, smoke and dirt.

Although the haze is enveloping the entire metropolis, at least when I head back east to my little patch of the world I can wave goodbye to the brown pollution cloud and some of the physical symptoms will be alleviated. At least for a few hours until I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

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9 thoughts on “Hazy Days of Summer

  1. No air quality reports in Chicago. It is amazing that a fire north of you can cause so much smoke. I know the weather guy said it was an unusual event, but he failed to explain why. Have you tried to use a netti pot? Or some saline drops to moisturize your sinuses? This may help. Sorry, I can’t help but give grandma advice. I hope things are better for you soon. Jamie 🙂

    • I am feeling much better now. I use the saline drops…tried the Neti pot a few years ago and it just seemed to aggravate the sinus pressure even more – and I did make sure to use sterile water and clean it out etc… I just need to take time each night to boil some water and inhale some steam mixed w/ eucalyptus oil. That helps but I have to remind myself to do this daily.

      I live about 20 miles outside of the downtown Phoenix area and have no issues when I’m outside toilling around in my yard on the weekends. The thick “brown cloud” that formed over the actual city of Phoenix years and years ago doesn’t help matters when the air quality drops. Being removed from that environment helps a lot.

      We usually get a a smigden of smoke each summer from the wildfires burning north…just depends on the strenght of the fire. We’ve had an especially breezy summer so far – I haven’t really spent much time reading more news reports to understand why we received such thick haze over the city this week. Sometimes it can be very tiring to get the full story between the various local news outlets.

      • Using Eucalyptus oil and steam is a great idea. Good thing you live outside pf Phoenix so you can at least have a bit of fresh air daily. I am glad you are feeling better. 🙂

      • Yeah – I still live in the metro area, I just don’t live in the actual city of Phoenix. When I bought my house last year, so many people chimed in telling me I should have moved closer to work. But I didn’t want to – that dang brown cloud just sits over the downtown area.

        My allergies started getting really bad when I first began working in downtown Phoenix back in 2006. Since I bought my house, the allergy problems are starting to go away. This is the first year I didn’t have any major springtime allergy symptoms.

        I just made sure that I moved close to a major transit center, so to me the distance to work is negligible.

        Thanks for checking on me. 🙂

      • I, too, have allergies. Never did when I was younger. Mine are the worst in Feb. & March and especially when the cottonwood trees around here shed their terrible fuzzies that fly around everywhere. So I feel for you.

  2. I liked this post, but I sure don’t like the sound of wildfire season! We get that here in Australia, too. We also have the problem that flowers bloom all year round, so there’s no break for those of us with allergies. I’m working on improving my health, in the hopes that the allergies will subside when my immune system is in top condition.

    I think you’re very smart not to live inside the brown cloud! Hope you’re feeling alright now.

    • Same here – just trying to improve my health so I don’t have so many allergy problems. I kicked spring allergies this year but they are acting up now in summer.

      Although other than the sinus problems I described in the post, not as bad as previous years.

      It’s definitely helped moving away from the “brown cloud”. I already spend 40 hrs a week under it- don’t need to spend even more time in it!

      I know, as pretty as flowers are, it’s strange to realize they cause some of us discomfort.

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