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Local Take: No way to breathe easy

After a month of this hot, smoky and sometimes tragic mess, it has begun to sink into the minds of the average area resident and of tourism-driven business that this is what summer (probably) is and maybe we’d best shift our love of sunny, beautiful nature to the spring months. Or something.

It’s like a death, a huge loss felt by everyone. It’s like being snowbound in a blizzard that won’t go away. Tennis courts, ball fields and trails empty out. The once-vaunted phrase “quality of life” is used more sparingly. Summer has been stolen. The unthinkable gets discussed: Should we choose to live in timber country during accelerating global warming and drought?

It’s a “crisis a disaster,” says state Sen. Alan DeBoer, R-Ashland, in his emailed newsletter, adding, “We should all understand that our planet and environment should be at the start of every decision. Just my thoughts.”

We asked Ashlanders on Facebook how they are coping with the smoke, in terms of health, recreation, emotions, attitude and general lifestyle:

Phyllis Leilani Halstead, real estate broker — The market has not yet been hurt, but it will eventually impact sales, and has slightly I can definitely say the prices of homes, especially in the country, will be affected. I picture a whole new crop of businesses coming up regarding smoke and fire I am usually fabulous at coping with things. My life has made me remain flexible. However, this smoke is very difficult for me. My yard is set up for outside dining and entertaining, and I am unable to invite people over. It’s frustrating.

Liz Schmidt — We were really looking forward to retiring here but now I’m not so sure, as I have respiratory problems, including recurrent pneumonia. If the power went out I’d be forced to find somewhere else to live temporarily since our air filters would not work. Every day we talk about how we love Ashland, but detest the smoke because it is destroying our summers by restricting outdoor activities and causing so much worry around simply breathing.

Rebecca Brunot — It’s challenging, on every level. Just a little harder to maintain my own set point of cheerfulness and positivity. Indoors much more than I’d like, much less walking and gardening. Things that have helped are music, reading, friends.

Steve Gee — I chose not to deal with it by driving away before Smoke Season.

Fred Epping — Breathing shallow, resulting in shortness of breath and low energy, not pleasant.

Vanessa Houk — I haven’t allowed it to change my activities other than wearing a mask when needed. August has traditionally been a hard month anyway and I cope by filling the hours with work. Family-wise we do indoor activities including a lot of board games. Kids spend more time reading and doing crafts — and more screen time than we like.

Carol Browning — Much lower energy and yes, depression from such an extended smoke season. Need to wear my mask, and minimize time outdoors. Hoping to get to the coast after Labor Day, camping with a friend for almost a week. Using the YMCA for most of my exercise, and way more time this summer on Facebook. Finally got to the library for some DVDs and an audiobook Monday night. Wish I did have a way to escape it more.

Paola Blanton Sophia — One of the things I used to do when I lived in Malaysia during the annual Sumatra burns was to confine my life to two rooms. I would hang wet sheets over the windows which filtered smoky air. My immediate reaction here was to get a cooling humidifier and wear a mask. I’m strategizing how to stay away for longer next year, although it’s clear that this is largely a preventable problem. It will take activism and political will to mobilize resources in order to avoid future episodes. But my gut tells me someone’s going to get rich off this. Let it burn a few years, drive down property values, buy it all up, etc. Yes, I’m cynical.

Christopher Robin — I have been trying to find community events that are indoors, that way I can still have fun, support the community and get some breaks from the smoke. This weekend is the Oregon Honey Festival so I am looking forward to supporting our pollinators and the people who care for them while being inside!

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Contact him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Phyllis Leilani Halstead, real estate broker — The market has not yet been hurt, but it will eventually impact sales, and has slightly … I can definitely say the prices of homes, especially in the country, will be affected. I picture a whole new crop of businesses coming up regarding smoke and fire … I am usually fabulous at coping with things. My life has made me remain flexible. However, this smoke is very difficult for me. My yard is set up for outside dining and entertaining, and I am unable to invite people over. It’s frustrating.
Steve Gee — I chose not to deal with it by driving away before Smoke Season.