A Perfect Al Asad Day

I spend some considerable time complaining about the weather here in Iraq and who can blame me if you look at the pictures of the nearly opaque red air?  But Al Asad has pleasant weather much of the year.  November is very nice around here.  Winters are a bit chilly, but never cold and usually clear.   It is churlish to complain all the time.

You just have to adapt.  For example, in the summer it is much too hot for any strenuous activity during the middle of the day.   The local Iraqis are active early in the morning and in the evening.  They hunker down in the shade in the middle of the day.  This bimodal activity optimal is probably the origin of the siesta.  If you follow a similar pattern, (IF you can) you too are okay. 

I have been getting my running in before 0700.  This time of the year, it gets light around 0430 and it is very nice at 0600.   I get up in the morning and look out the door. If I can see a reasonable distance (i.e. dust is not so bad) I go out and run.   There is an interesting aspect of the dust that I only figured out (maybe) recently.   On some days the dust is not so bad at 0600, but it gets thick and unpleasant by around 0700.   Some of this has to do with the nature of wind.  The wind tends to pick up around dawn.   I suppose it is because the earth heats differentially as the sunlight hits.  The wind picks up dust and a short time later it is a mess.  

But not all the dust is natural.  Much is kicked up by our own activities.  Around 0600 the trucks & heavy vehicles start to roll in earnest; each creates a tail of dust and cumulatively there is a lot of dust.  All this dust has to go someplace and it doesn’t settle very fast.   Most of the roads are paved with white gravel and I am pretty sure our activities are the source of much of the whitish “moon dust.”  The red dust comes from farther away.   Our weather maps show massive clouds, sometimes covering almost all of Iraq.  The most recent attack of the red dust originated in the western deserts of Iraq and in Syria.  This kind of weather pattern is usually associated with a northeastern wind.  

Our local activities can create local unpleasantness, but the real dust storms are those caused by Mother Nature.  Of course it is not all Mother Nature either.  People have abused this land for >4000 years.   Much of this dirt would have been held down by the roots of plants had humans and goats not uprooted them.  I blame Dennis, our AG Advisor, for the current problem.   He has been here nine months and still not managed to cover the hills with grass and reverse the mistakes of the last four millennia.

BUT today is nice.   The air is clear and the morning was cool and pleasant.  We are supposed to have at least three days of this before the next clouds of dust obscure the horizon.   I have to get my running in while the running is good.

I made the three and a half minute trek to the highest mountain in Al Asad, an elevation of at least 30 feet,  and took the pictures.  This is as good as it gets around here.