The Woods a Blaze
There are wildfires burning throughout the western part of the United States. Here in Washington State there have been 470 fires in 2018 so far. I was surprised to find out that every year the fire season officially starts on April 15th with burn restrictions in place on all DNR-protected lands. It turns out that as soon as the spring rains stop, everything starts to dry up and is at risk of catching on fire. This year we had a wet spring but, once May hit, the rain stopped and they began predicting a challenging year for fighting wildfires. Then came the summer.
I’ve had to cancel work for the week. The air quality has gotten that bad. I tried to work a bit but, it was truly miserable. Last week I was out in it and ended up feeling pretty crummy. When I showed up at work the following Monday, K came out of her house and was amazed that I was there, “We’re not even letting our dog outside today!” That was when I realized how quiet it was Uptown: an eerie air. There were no other people outside and only an occasional car driving by. The smoke had driven everyone inside to hide from its ghostly presence. I said I’d reschedule and then left for home. My head hurt and I felt tired, so, after a bath I went to bed and stayed there.
A Smoky Sunrise
The mornings now arrive with the sun a fiery orange ball in a muted gray sky. The contrast is beautiful yet strange. The light that filters through makes all that it lands on glow a vibrant red.
A Time Out in the Garden
I know I should be grateful that I’m only having to deal with the smoke and not the actual wildfires. My problem is that I’m not so good at switching gears, especially when it comes to work. It’s nice to be at home but, at the same time, I can’t help but feel cooped up: windows closed, doors closed and my garden so close, but out of reach!
There is one garden task that I have been sneaking outside for and that is the harvesting of fruits and vegetables! There is so much coming on right now that skipping a day can mean the difference between small and sweet veggies (I’m looking right at you, zucchini and green beans!) and the big and bitter ones that are only good for the compost pile.
Feeling the Blues
This bad air has left me feeling like a pack-a-day smoker. I’m also experiencing headaches combined with a general malaise toward life. I’m not use to having such low energy! I can’t imagine what it’s like for those with preexisting medical conditions. Hopefully you’ve been smarter than me and stayed inside with a good air filter.
Last Friday I picked a bunch of blueberries. This was before the worst of the smoky air and murky mood settled in. These berries are called a “super food” because they have an amazing list of health benefits. The main benefit being how incredibly high they are in compounds called antioxidants. These compounds inhibit oxidation which is what causes free-radicals to form. If these free-radicals do get a chance to form they’ll roam through your body, causing a lot of damage as they go…like the damage done to your lungs from the oxidizing effect of breathing in smoke. So, everyone should probably grab a bowl of blueberries right now!
Wait!… What the Bloom is on my berries?!!
If you’ve noticed a whitish-film on your fruit don’t fret, it’s just the bloom! The bloom is a protective waxy coating that covers land plants and their fruit. Different plants produce different types of wax. These different waxes produce unique crystalline structures that help retain moisture, repel water and dirt (also known as the lotus effect) and reflect ultraviolet radiation. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a coating like that? The waxy bloom is more noticeable on certain plants, like the blueberry. This is because its crystalline structure scatters the light more effectively than, let’s say, a pear, but make no mistake, all plants have this protective coating.
So, if you see this wax on your fruit, don’t worry that there’s something wrong with it; now you know that it’s just the bloom. Also, another plus to spotting the bloom is that it indicates freshness because it will rub off the more the fruit gets handled.
Now, no more excuses, EAT YOUR BLOOMIN’ BLUEBERRIES! I did!