The alarm is going off. Chiming bells. I reach for the phone and make it go quiet. Shift away from the dog pressed against me under the covers, crawl gently over him to step out of bed.
The scratch in my throat reminds me where I am in place and time.
Check the online evacuation maps. Still in the clear for now. Check the air index on various sites where the numbers are all different but all labeled "hazardous."
I open the back of my little upright air conditioner and take the filter out. Take it with me into the kitchen where a huge pot on the stove sits half full of water and herbes de Provence. I turn the stove on to start it simmering. To be honest, I have no idea if this thing is helping, but at least the house takes on an herby scent over the stink of wildfire smoke.
Using an old toothbrush to clean the soot from the air conditioner filter, it occurs to me that my lungs probably look like those of a nineteenth century chimney sweep.
We're closing in on a week of this.
Through the kitchen window, the sky is a low, thick, unfathomable gray. A bit of dream comes to me. Yes. I dreamed I saw blue sky.