Update. Next Publication is: Under Strange Suns, available digitally August 2015, print version due December 2015, Twilight Times Books.

Oregon is Burning

So, Oregon is on fire. I mean, not all of it but enough so you notice. Were it not for the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico’s attempt to wash the southern tier states off the map, the Columbia River Gorge fire would probably get more press coverage.

I mention the fire instead of the usual minutiae that fills this web log because it affects me. I thought the worst of the smoke had cleared a couple of days ago. I could see blue skies and the air smelled like air again. The winds must have shifted, because the smoke has returned. It isn’t as bad today as yesterday when the entirety of the outdoors smelled like fresh ashes, like God was sweeping out his fireplace.

The forecast of rain over the course of the next several days is promising. Clean the air, aid the firefighters. Seriously, this thing has been going on for a couple of weeks now and it is still only about one-third contained. That’s a lot of burning.

And it’s a shame, too. I mean, it’s a shame anytime there’s a big fire. But we get them every year in Oregon (not to mention the rest of the West) and it’s usually scrubland east of the Cascade Mountains. That’s tragic enough for the ranchers losing grazing land and everyone else suffering. I don’t mean to diminish that. But there is — to me — a qualitative difference when what is going up in flames is something as scenic and beautiful as the Columbia River Gorge. Seriously, if you haven’t been, I feel sorry for you. I hope the view hasn’t been unalterably ruined, though I fear it has. The Gorge is one of those things we residents show visitors, along with Portland Rose Garden, Powell’s Books, Timberline Lodge, and Cannon Beach. Multnomah Falls is an essential stop. At least the firefighters saved the lodge.

Well, enough with the gloom. I hope next week to provide some more cheery news.