Where there’s smoke…

smokey trees

“Girl, your eyes have a mist from the smoke of a distant fire.”

— Sanford Townsend Band

By the time you read this, Canada may have just gone ahead and killed us. To be fair, it is probably justifiable homicide. In U.S. and Canadian relations, the United States have been like the noisy southern neighbors who often act rowdy and definitely bring down the property values.

For the past week, a wide swatch of the U.S. has been blanketed by smoke from the distant Canadian fires. I don’t know why it smells more like burning trash than a campfire but it does.

I like a nice campfire scent. This is not it. It’s rancid with a hint of plastic.

A few years ago, we were all supposed to become armchair epidemiologists overnight. Now we’ve moved on to the science of smells and woodsmoke. According to research (read: internet search), when trees with leaves are burned they emit gasses. These gasses can smell terrible.

As someone who barely paid attention in science class, I’m going to believe the internet on this one. Since the United States also likes to throw a big forest fire from time to time, we really can’t be too bitter.

We also offer other unmitigated disasters including, but not limited to, flaming train derailments. We aren’t really going to point fingers. We just pray for safety for the firefighters and healing for the damaged land.


The United States also invaded Canada in two wars: the American Revolutionary War in 1775 and the War of 1812. Not ones to hold a grudge, Canadians are generally welcoming and wonderful people, so they’re fine with us now.

The U.S. and Canada have a sibling relationship, really. We love to bust each other’s chops, but we also have each other’s backs. Personally, some of our best friends are Canadians. This, of course, makes me fully capable of declaring myself an “expert” on the country.

Like most people with only a loose grasp of geography, I assume that anything that happens anywhere in Canada is, in fact, happening to our friends.

I have also been known to ask anyone from Canada if they know them? “Kelly from Canada. Do you know her?” She assures me she did not start the fire. I checked. I made sure to contact our friends immediately. “What are you burning up there?” I just assumed maybe someone had left biscuits on too long, as you do. Nope. Turns out to be wildfire smoke.


We are staggering around with burning eyes, wheezing breath and lumps in our chest. For the record, I am indoorsy. I know you’re shocked. I still struggle to function in this endless haze.

I cannot imagine what it must be like for people who actually have to be outdoors. Athletic types. People who work outdoors. Asthmatic people. They all must be suffering. Meanwhile, I hide indoors and Google to see if they make a N95 mask to fit our goat. Short answer: no.

We are heading into our nation’s independence day holiday. It falls on a Tuesday this year, so this means people will celebrate with fireworks for two whole weekends and a solid week in between. We may not even notice any lingering smoke from our neighbors up north once all the barbecues are fired up and the oft-mentioned “rockets red glare” are “bursting in air.”

To be fair, up until recently Canada’s most annoying export was those darned Canada geese. Beautiful, but oh so incredibly messy. They are also total jerks. It’s like all the less than stellar personality traits were given to the geese so that the human citizens of Canada could remain almost unfailingly nice.

I’m still considering Canada one of my besties. One of my core memories of visiting that fine country is my discovery of the joy of poutine. Poutine is a delicious Canadian recipe made with french fries, gravy and cheese. To this I say, sure it’s smoky right now, but we can forgive a lot from people who put gravy on fries.


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Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in rural Appalachia with the always popular Mr. Wonderful, two small dogs, one large cat, two wandering goats, and a growing extended family.



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