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Maybe we'll get to see the mountains this summer

When my family and I decided to move to Medford from the East Coast last summer, we did plenty of research on the weather, activities and cultural differences that we would experience.

We were leaving behind a long spring of wetter than normal weather in North Carolina, and it honestly felt like we hadn’t seen the sun in almost a year. The thought of a hot, dry summer was exciting, and we had a full list of activities planned, including visiting Crater Lake and hiking the Table Rocks and Roxy Ann.

I arrived in June, about two months prior to the rest of my family, and took a day trip out to the coast. All I could think of was how much my kids were going to love this place.

About two weeks into my stay here, I realized there was one thing that we had not properly prepared for: fire. When the first bit of smoke rolled in around the end of June, I was intrigued by this phenomenon of floating ash and waves of cough-producing air. I was not deterred from my initial excitement because, I mean, how long could this possibly last? By mid-July I was beginning to realize that this was not likely to be the summer I had hoped for, but still I held onto the fact that my wife and kids wouldn’t arrive until the beginning of August, and maybe the smoke would show us mercy and allow us to enjoy the last few weeks before school started.

Unfortunately, my wife and kids flew into a choked Medford that was tired and irritated from a now all too normal summer of what seemed like never-ending fires surrounding us. The beauty that I had seen when I came in June was long ago blocked from view, leaving me with only stories to tell of the surrounding mountains and their splendor.

When they arrived at our new home, my wife unpacked the notebook that contained our list of all the things we had planned for the summer, and placed it in the nightstand beside our bed. Oh well, maybe next year.

The smoke subsided a week or so after our kids started school, and we have been able to take a few weekends and ride to the coast and hike a few trails. We still believe this is the best place we’ve ever lived, and the people here have made us feel right at home. I know that the smoky summers must significantly impact local business, and I know that everyone is hopeful that this summer will grant us some reprieve.

I watch the countdown until fire season in this paper every day and can’t help but hope that when we pull out our notebook from the nightstand drawer this summer that we will have a little time to help our kids see the beauty that exists in our new home.

Richard Ormond lives in Medford.

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