I live in a valley. It's a beautiful valley, but in winter it has some of the worst pollution in Australia. In fact we frequently break through the 'healthy air' barrier into 'excessive pollution' zones when the dip in the land fills with wood heater smoke that chuffs out of multiple chimneys on chilly, windless days.
The government tried to get rid of the problem by offering a $500 rebate to everyone who removed their wood heater and replaced it with an alternative source of heating. But this is Tasmania, a land of tradition, a land built on saw milling and wood - winter just isn't winter without it's wood heater. The council then introduced smoke police who issue warnings and fines to those silly enough to let their chimney smoke. Television advertisements have taught us how to manage fire places to avoid excessive smoke. But who watches their fire that closely all day and night?
So when it's very cold like it has been the last week or so, the valley fills with smoke like a blanket folded and stuffed into a small space and anyone with asthma or chronic lung disease feels miserable as their chest tightens up and each breath becomes a struggle. The rest of us curl our nostrils at the acridic smell and wonder why anyone would consider plonking a pulp mill in the middle of that smoke.
So it sucks living here in winter. When I visited Kazakhstan for 10 weeks I remember being appalled by the smog. It was so thick you could have cut through it with a knife. I don't have asthma, but even I was struggling to breathe at times. This morning I looked out the hospital window and realised it was just like Kazakhstan - I could have cut through that smoke with a knife.
Winge, winge, moan, moan. There are some good things about this smoke.
In dull light it looks like beautiful mist adding a mystical feel to the atmosphere. And then there are the sunsets!
Tonight the whole sky was pink and orange on blue. The mountains stood firm while the sky lights danced around them. Deep, deep blue with an overlay of fluffy pinks and peach stretching out in stripes across the canopy.
Delightful. Delicious. Soul food. Sigh. (But could we have a strong wind to blow the smoke away for a while please)