A smoky, somber San Juans September

A Great Blue Heron hunting for its breakfast was a lonely figure in the smothering mix of fog and smoke off Center Island on Tuesday.

SEPTEMBER IN THE SAN JUANS is passing in fog and a cloud of smoke.

Our islands have been spared the tragic, record-breaking wildfires that have plagued the West, but we’re not immune to the veil of choking smoke carried on southerly winds from Oregon and California. Barbara and I have been mostly sheltering inside for days on end, with no view beyond the trees in front of our cabin. Some days we hear the ferries blowing their foghorns, but there’s no fog, just smoke. Other days heavy fog combines with smoke, reducing visibility to yards.

Foggy dew beads up on a spider web on the Center Island dock railing.

Autumn is quickly approaching, but it’s all a blur. Like most of 2020 in our collective consciousness. Our hearts go out to people who’ve lost their homes and businesses. Friends in Talent, Ore., had to evacuate. Flames spared their home, but two blocks away looks “like Hiroshima,” they tell us.

We’ve had a few hours of light rain in the past 72 hours, giving the sky a rinse, but we’re not out of it yet. Keep fingers crossed for a good, old-fashioned Northwest September rainstorm, the kind that used to make back-to-school time such a damp and dreary thing when I was 12. It sounds pretty good right now. For all of us.

3 thoughts on “A smoky, somber San Juans September

  1. Going back to 12 years old doesn’t sound all that terrible in retrospect. Kate and I have been hunkered down in our floating castle for the past several days, only emerging to buy groceries. All outside activities have been held to a minimum, our air is the worst in the world. We wait for November 3 with hope and fear. What will be next locust and boils? I have high hopes that all will be well. We have some guests over the summer staying next-door couple of kids from the University of Oregon.On their last weekend before they went back to school Will,my new next-door neighbor for the summer, asked me if we can go sailing and circumnavigate the island in a little laser to? I am mediately agreed and off we went for a 10 hour cruise! At times it was brutal and other times it was fabulous. Having neglected to bring a phone Or VHF our significant others were very upset. After we were overdue for five hours they called the Coast Guard. Then listed a neighbor in his boat to come looking for us they found us about a half a mile from the house on our return trip, We were in the doghouse. The high point of the trip was when Multnomah county sheriffs patrol came up behind us and asked if we were the lost sailors? After ascertaining we knew we were doing sort of,, they laughed and said boy are you guys in trouble.I still have the awkward from that journey.But if I had it to do over again I would do it gleefully. I felt like Huckfinn showing Tomsawyer the Mississippi.Hope you guys are hanging in there I’m sure this will all clear up in the next few weeks and we can get back to worrying about the pandemic and our crazy political system at the moment. Best to you and Barbara and Lillian. Ken and KatePS Kate’s birthday Saturday so we will be celebrating cheers!


  2. Great photo!

    John S. Farnsworth, PhD. Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies & Sciences, Emeritus Santa Clara University



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