We Can Breathe Again

Smokey skies on October 19

Last week the skies were ghastly with forest fire smoke. This photo is from Wednesday, October 19. At times our air quality exceeded 200. Not something you want to be outdoors in.

Blue skies with a view of Lummi island and the Chuckanut mountains.

But we can breathe again. The fall rains finally moved onshore on Friday, October 21st. For seven days we’ve had gentle rains and a few downpours. The smoke is gone. And the forest fire season is over. We are back to living in the Pacific Northwest.

Log over the lane

Now we have fall issues to contend with, like having to clear a log off the lane when we come home from an errand. One of these days a falling tree is bound to smack us on our way in or out. So if you never see another post, that is most likely what happened to me. A tree had enough of my nonsense and decided to take me out. Just saying.

A scientist should study if trees take aim at things when they fall. The answer could give us one more thing to worry about.

San Juan Islands

And the snow geese are back. I saw a large flock in a field along Chuckanut Drive yesterday. And today streams of them filled the skies. If you look closely in the photo above, you can see a flock as the descend like snowflakes against the San Juan islands. The swans will be close behind.

The migrations of the snow geese and swans from Siberia and Alaska to here are impressive. But I read today that a small, five month old bar-tailed godwit flew from Alaska to Tasmania non-stop, a journey of 13,560 kilometers (8,435 miles) in 11 days. That’s 1,233 kilometers a day (767 miles). An average speed of around 32 miles an hour. That’s an impressive feat for a little bird. What does a little bird think when it takes to the skies from the only place it has known, and flies for 11 days to a place it has never been before? And when it lands, how does it know it reached its destination?

Coming to an End

Today’s forecast is full of hope. Rain on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The end of our long draught is nigh.

We have had very little rain since July. In the forest the ground is full of cracks big enough to stub a toe. Our pond is several feet lower than I have ever seen it.

Here it is, the last half of October, and days are still warm enough to lie on the back porch and soak in the sun. It’s like we’ve moved to Northern California.

This time, with so many days of rain in the near forecast, I’m more confident that I won’t open up the Weather App tomorrow and see all the forecast for rain evaporate and be replaced with sunny days. This time I think it will actually come true.

The maple is glorious this fall. I enjoy gathering the fallen leaves and using them to cover the trails. I’ll enjoy these last handful of sunny days and soak in as much son and color as possible.

Even though it has been so dry and warm this summer, I haven’t forgotten how wet the garden was this spring. This year as I plant garlic, I’m digging deep trenches between the rows and filling the trenches with gravel, pine cones, and covering them with straw. This way when it rains nonstop this spring, the water will have someplace to go and the garlic beds won’t be under standing water.

I can always count on Takuma to give me moral support whenever I am in the garden. Is he letting me know that I’m doing it right? That the trenches I’m digging are deep enough and that I’m spacing the garlic just right? Or is he thinking, “What the fuck are you doing?” Knowing dogs, I think it’s more the latter.

Foggy Morning

Foggy morning

Yesterday a heavy fog shrouded the woods. The fog was thick enough to condense on the leaves and drip to the forest floor. It almost sounded like rain. Feeling moist ground underneath my feet was a welcome change from the parched dry earth.

We are into October and still no autumn rains. I’ve never seen the woods so dry. I’ve taken to running hoses out into the woods to run sprinklers in them.

Cottonwoods in a thick fog.
Ripe Asian pears

Despite the dry weather, the Asian pears 梨 ripened well this year. This spring I wasn’t sure I was going to have a crop. It was so cold when the tree bloomed that few bees were around, so not many of the flowers were pollinated.

Normally I thin the developing pears, but there were so few this year that I didn’t need to cull many.

Large Asian pear.

I picked my first one today. There aren’t a lot of pears this year but the ones that ripened are juicy and sweet. This one weighed nearly a pound.

Pear slices