A Dry Smokey Season

You rarely think about the air you breathe. We talk vaguely about air quality, but very rarely anymore is our air bad enough that most people change their behaviors. Even when we get those warnings about air quality, it is not that bad. It wasn’t always like that. I remember in the early 1970s in Milwaukee when I could tell where I was in the city by the particular sorts of pollution: yeasty smells near the breweries, a sweet smell near the Ambrosia chocolate factory and a horrible stink that would knock a buzzard off a sh*t wagon near the tanneries. You didn’t need to hear a report on the radio that air was bad and that you should limit your activities. The air itself told you and forced you to change.

The air has gotten a lot cleaner, at least in most of the places I have lived. I have not seen much of anything you could really call serious widespread air pollution, in the old style, in the U.S. in many years. Poland was very bad when we got to Krakow.  As they closed down the communist era pollution factories, things improved rapidly, but you still had to consider the air quality in your running or biking plans.  

I have been noticing the air again here in Brasilia. I wrote a little about the fires during the dry season a few posts ago. It is bad.  The smoke hurts your eyes, throat and lungs and it just smells bad.  Last night I used the air conditioner for the first time, not to cool the house – you don’t really need to do that in Brasilia – but rather to try to filter the air a little. It didn’t work.

The smoke problem follows the clock. It is not so bad during the day when the smoke rises easily and disperses, but the cooler and calmer conditions of the evening seem to hold it closer to the ground. This is only my observation and I do not vouch for the scientific veracity. It could also be that people are setting fires in the evening or maybe the cooler temperatures make the fires less intense and less intense fires smolder more.  I don’t know. All that I know is that the smell and smoke at night are bad, but it clears up fairly well during the day. The rains will come in a few weeks. Until then, the expectation is that it will not improve and will get worse.

Brasilia in general is a great place to live. I suppose we can tolerate a smoke season and I think it could reasonably be called a season, since it evidently happens every year with monotonous regularity. There is lots of speculation about how the smoke moves. Some people say that during the night the smoke hangs in the basin of the lake, which would help explain the problem in my particular area. 

I will be happy to see the rain and not only to stop the fires. I look forward to the green and the rainbows.  I prefer the rainy season.

PS – I took Chrissy to the airport for her flight back. The air was not too bad until I got back near the lake at my house. I think that I indeed to have an unlucky smokey spot. In additon, I bought a local paper that talked about the fires. The national park is burning.  Chrissy and I noticed four engine prop planes flying over the house. I found out from the paper that it was a fire fighting plane.

The pictures have nothing to do with smoke. They are just some of the neighbors in my back yard. The monkeys are about the size of cats and seem to move like squirrels. I don’t see them too often. The parrots seem to have just arrived. They don’t talk; they just make unpleasant squawking sounds. They seem to be threatening each other or other birds. 

The last picture is just me swimming in the pool at Chapada dos Veadeiros.  I didn’t have any other place for it and it was nice to feature cool water in the dry season post. Those pools are deep. I could not hit bottom there.