Like most places Utah has four seasons. But they are a bit different here. In Utah, well at least in the Wasatch Front, we have four seasons; Fall, Winter, Spring, and Smoke. Or at least that is the way it seemed last summer. But being a Utahan newbie I decided to confirm my suspicions. I talked to a number of old-timers. And as much as I had hoped I was wrong, it is true summer is the season of smoke. I don’t understand the science behind it all but for some reason all of the smoke from all over the Western United States finds it’s way to us.
All of this happened upon me one day this past summer as I drove to work. I leave shortly after 6:00am so it usually isn’t that bright but there is a bit of light. This day there was less light than normal. I didn’t think much about it we mush have had some clouds, Utah does get clouds occasionally.
But as I looked up into the sky these “clouds” didn’t look like they normally do. However I knew I was a newbie Utahan, so maybe these are normal clouds for Utah. On the other hand they didn’t look quite right but since there wasn’t much light I chocked it up to my just not being able to see the clouds that well.
The first clue that I was wrong about the “clouds” was when I go to work and got out of my car. It smelled like a camp fire. My work is in an industrial park. The closest thing to a campground is the golf course across the river. I looked around the parking lot but I didn’t see anything that would account for the smell.
Latter that day I was looking out my window at the nearby golf course and noticed it was obviously smoky. I was wondering if some farmer near by was burning off some land. But as the day went on the smoke didn’t clear. I don’t remember when but at some point one of my co-workers said something about the smoke. At that I asked where it was from. They explained that most of the smoke was from California wild fires. As I talked to more people I learned that this was an annual occurrence.
Every summer California and other nearby states have wild fires. For some reason the smoke from their fires likes to visit Utah. It comes here and like any other uninvited guest it out-stays it’s welcome. For the next several weeks every day I went to work I wondered how bad the smoke was going to be.
Now before you get the wrong idea the smoke wasn’t just visiting Provo. From what I could tell it covered the whole Wasatch Front. But some areas were worse than others. Some days it was worse in Sandy, where I live, other days it was worse in Provo where I work. So each day I checked the current air quality report. Not that there was anything I could really do about it, but it was nice to know what to expect.
As my first Smoke season I learned to rate the day by how well I could or could not see the mountains. I loved the mountains. On our first trip down here I was, and am still, in awe of their grandeur. But during Smoke season some days you could hardly see them. And some days you could not see them at all. That is a LOT of smoke to totally conceal such massive mountains. It was depressing having the beautiful mountains hidden by this dismal smoke.
Fortunately like all seasons Smoke finally gave way to Fall. Fall has been my favorite season for a long time. But here in Utah Fall it is exceptionally important to me. It is the end of the hot summer, the clearing of the sky and the return of the majestic Rocky Mountains that stand as an ever present reminder of HaShem’s awesomeness.