What should we name the smoke?

The sun glows red in Salmon, Idaho, as wildfires in the West burn on Sept. 4, 2017. (© 2017 Cindi Christie/Cyanpixel)













“Paint Your Wagon” is one of our favorite movies. I can hardly wait until the gold prospectors, all hunkered down in the storm, start singing with beautiful harmonies:
The rain is Tess,
The fire’s Joe
And they call the wind Maria

What do we call the smoke? It’s left out of the brilliant song by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe. We can’t call it Karl, which is reserved for San Francisco’s famous fog. Hurricanes and tropical storms get their own names. More than half of the country is affected by thick smoke from western fires that are burning hundreds of thousands of acres. And we’re the lucky ones. We’re didn’t have to evacuate our homes as the flames raced through the forested mountains of Montana, Idaho, Oregon, British Columbia and the rest of the West. We just have to deal with smoky air and fine ash covering everything, as if the forests are redistributing themselves. 

If you have any influence, please send Tess. Lots and lots of Tess. 

Fine ash from fires burning throughout the West cover the spa lid on Sept. 4, 2017, in Salmon, Idaho. (© 2017 Cindi Christie/Cyanpixel)




I am a photojournalist and photo editor in eastern Idaho.

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