Wow! That's black Okefenokee soot all over the windowsill!

T Rex at Fire Dog Lake describes what it’s been like here in Georgia with these out-of-control wild fires. Incredible that they’re causing problems up here in Atlanta. Playing hell with my allergies, sinuses and lungs all week. Though we’ve no current air alert, I can swear I smell a hint of acrid smoke. Some times it’s just suddenly there. H.o.p. will be doing something and stop, perplexed, and say, “I smell smoke!”

Earlier in the week it was very bad. So bad that on Tuesday evening there was black soot on the windowsill under the air conditioner.

Coming inside, I glanced at the windowsill, which I’d just dusted a few days beforehand. There was black?? Indeed, black gritty soot all over it in front of the window unit.

Wild fires 250 miles away, down in South Georgia, caused by drought, are leaving soot on our windowsills all the way up here.

No, the black, gritty soot covering the windowsill on Tuesday wasn’t my imagination, nor am I exaggerating. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported:

By 6 a.m., soot levels in metro Atlanta had set another record, making 2007 a year to remember in the 20-year history of poor air quality. In Henry County, the soot clogged the filter of an air quality monitor after recording off-the-chart levels, shutting it down for four hours. The haze was so thick across much of the region the sky looked like a dark gray, winter day. Occasionally sunlight would streak through like a bullet.

On an blog, KB joked “I might as well have brought a sleeping bag and tent to work, it smells like a campfire in the office in Midtown. I think we may make s’mores in the break room at lunch …”

This apartment isn’t very airtight. We’re talking a real old building with old windows. On Tuesday, though I’d just dusted my Wacom tablet a couple of days before, the bottom of my mouse was suddenly covered with gunk so thick that it stopped working. A byproduct of the smoke?

There is more soot today on the windowsill, but not as bad as earlier this week. Pockets of soot must collect in here. Dust intensifies. I dusted three times this week (at least) and you couldn’t tell it. I vacuumed several times. Friday evening I shook out a blanket that had been resting in front of the window in the bedroom. Immediately, I started coughing and sneezing, nose running, eyes burning and itchy. At first I couldn’t imagine what had caused the reaction, then realized soot must have settled on the blanket.

We cleaned the AC filters last week. We should clean them again. Need to clean the air filters as well, just occurred to me.

I can just imagine what it’s like in South Georgia.

The weather forecast presently reads, “Partly cloudy with areas of smoke…” Memorial Day will be “Mostly sunny. Haze and areas of smoke.”

They forecast this could continue all summer, until we get some nice tropical storms.

For a while the smoke smell went away. Now it’s back. Just a bit of it, and my sinuses slightly burning again. It smells like someone’s having a cook-out, only it’s a heavier, more acrid, almost greasier smell. Marty, asleep, starts coughing. Several seconds later harshness enters my nose and hits the back of my throat, and I start coughing.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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