Summer heatwaves are common here in Northern California, but the high temps usually dissipate in a few days. In other years, that is. This mid-August heatwave seemed longer and hotter than usual with temps shooting past 100 day after day. Afternoons we sprawled on the love seat in our fairly cool den, chilling with icy drinks, and binge watching such gems as Glow Up, a British make up competition series.
Cool evenings enticed us outside to marvel at the rosy sunset sky. Enjoying a glass or two of white wine, dancing on the deck, stargazing—perfect antidotes to the scorching daytime weather. The surprise rain would have been a blessing had it not been accompanied by thousands of lightning strikes. And then the horrible news: those strikes had ignited hundreds of fires throughout the state.
The fires have surged, creating tragedy for many, and tainting our air with suffocating smoke. Air quality in our locale has ranged from “Unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “Very unhealthy for everyone.” As a person with moderate asthma I must avoid breathing in smoke. So our ongoing social isolation is now coupled with physical isolation from the outdoors.
COVID-19, political instability, fire, smoke…this year is like no other. We’ve been forced to adjust constantly to changes that seem to impact every moment of our lives. It is astonishing that so many of us have somehow managed to find ways to cope, to develop new habits, to maybe even experience personal growth during this frightful time. We are learning to adopt attitudes that help us to survive and thrive: acceptance, flexibility, resiliency, and optimism.
What is going on is bigger than any of us…we can’t change any of these external situations overnight, but we can find ways to help create change for the future. Instead of railing against our misfortune, we can use this time to become more creative, to participate in our political process, to recommit to a green life-style, to be kind to every person with whom we interact.
Maybe we can someday remember this year as the turning point when everything changed for the good, for each of us, our country, and our planet.