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The bright side of wildfire smoke

“Ash” I sat in my living room in early September, staring out at the smoke surrounding my house, I could not go out. I wondered how I could put on a positive spin.

Was I on equal ground with cigarette smokers now? The smoke seriously affected my psyche. Would it affect my neighbor’s pot crop? The smell of his skunk weed no longer bothered me. Would all this floating ash become good compost for my garden?

Be happy, I thought. Firefighters now had good jobs that stimulate our economy. The TV said the air was unhealthy for sensitive people. What about the insensitive people? Will they be OK?

The haze blocked out my view of the surrounding mountains. I thought of the February fog seemingly looking the same, except for the ash and heat. Fog you cannot taste or eat.

I prayed for rain while also praying for world peace. Rain, I thought, would come first.

All that smoke was spoiling my “Fer sure, dude” Oregon experience. My car was covered with settling ash, reminiscent of the St. Helens blast. Formerly irritating things became less important. All I wanted was a breath of fresh air.

How long would the ash last? So many people were wearing masks. Sensitive people, take care, I thought. Unsensitive people, practice tolerance. Hang in there. Sooner or later, the smoke had to dissipate with the fall rains. Then we would return to the Oregon we all love and appreciate.

Now I don’t have to travel to China to eat smog. L.A., Sacramento, your ozone days are no worse than ours. We cannot only be proud about our clean air and Oregon Experience, we can brag that, at times, our air can be dirtier than yours.

Sensitive people of Oregon unite. Be positive. Endeavor to persevere. Take a big bite of ash and carry on.

— Murl Ming lives in Grants Pass.