For much of September I lived in the haze. I took a quick drive to Northern California where the smoke was so thick, I felt as though I could physically touch it. The surreal colors created by the sun and chemicals made it look like I was moving through a never-ending spool of pink cotton candy that had been dropped in the dirt. I had driven the route many times, but this time was different. The mountain peaks would not reveal themselves through the haze, the lakes along the winding roads were nothing more than a blur, the farmers’ fields that normally stretch for miles were cut short by smoke, and cities just appeared rather than watching them inch closer for miles.
I returned to Bellingham with the haze cleared but little did I know that the dark cloud was following me north. The haze found me, setting in and cutting off summer in a moment’s notice. As I moved about my days, staying inside more than normal, the haze lingered on. Hoping for a few drops of rain to clear the air they finally came fighting the haze in what seemed like a losing battle.
Slowly the sky began to expose itself just as another planned trip approached. This one to the east where thick smoke is often found. Our destinations in Montana and Wyoming promised clearer skies so we set out. We departed Whatcom County heading south on I-5 eager to escape the haze. As we drove through the mountains on I-90 a glimmer of hope presented itself as blue sky peaked through. This turned out to be a trick by the smoke as it quickly closed in on us. As I approached Spokane, I once again found myself in the filthy cotton candy. We pushed east searching for the clear skies promised by Google. With the weather cooperating we slowly escaped the haze one mountain pass at a time. Each city became a little brighter and once again we could see the stars at night.
This physical haze seemed to be present as a constant reminder of the haze that our world has become. A world where fires bring an early end to sunshine. A world where kids learn from home. A world where there is so much fighting amongst people that share our country. A world where an invisible force has locked everyone down for fear that it may enter our bodies. With our world feeling in such turmoil it can feel as though the haze will never loosen its grip.
With time this feeling will fade. As the seasons change, and the air clears, the haze slowly lifts. Big fresh breaths return, and a sense of release is in the air. Life returns to normalcy as better times prevail. While the haze can be a reminder of challenging times, it is also a reminder of better times to come. The haze will let go as we fight through the hard times, looking forward to the good.