Yesterday I was so happy. Blue skies at last. Yay! The CZU fire is the one closest to us, not so close anymore, and it’s now 26% contained thanks to the thousands of firefighters working endlessly for a second week in a row. It felt so good to step outside and open our windows. The air purifier we ordered last week is still on its way so our apartment got pretty stuffy. We’ve tried to keep the doors and windows sealed tight. A few days ago our air quality was close to 250, which is very bad. Yesterday strong ocean winds took it down to the 20s. Now we’re back in the red.
Flights to the east coast are so cheap right now. I was tempted to fly back to play with my nieces, hike in the Catskills again and escape the smoke, but nooooo. Covid risk is the reason why flights are so cheap. Oh yeah, the pandemic. The fires were all consuming this last week; I almost forgot we’d be wearing masks outside anyway. I almost forgot now’s not the time to fly and visit family. Inside this apartment we stay.
My calves started to melt a few days in, that awful feeling of atrophy. I jogged around our apartment loop after loop. It didn’t go well. Grumpkins started making cameos. Moody Me takes over whenever I miss more than a few days of running. We decided to try some HIIT workouts on YouTube to get some cardio. I couldn’t do more than 10 minutes at a time because it’s so steamy in our apartment, but beasting 10-minute HIITs twice a day is equivalent to running up and down a dozen mountains. Didn’t you know that? Okay, we didn’t “beast” the workouts, but we tried. In order to “beast” a workout I think you have to be able to say “beast it” like you mean it.
HIITs are magical. I started feeling like myself again with a pumping heart and everything. Pamela Reif’s classes are my favorite. Her workouts are like eating too much wasabi – first very painful and then your whole body wants more and then you eat more and you’re like Why? But the after feels so good. It’s a brutal cycle.
Waking up everyday to heavy smoke outside and red dots over our area started getting to me this week. I’d check purpleair first thing hoping our windows were just dirty. Must distract myself. We do still have six boxes to unpack but now I have a block on that. Staying indoors, having zero physical interaction with the outside world makes life feel like one long bad news, steamy stale day. I miss the screams of kids playing outside and riding their scooters around.
What if we’re residual ghosts trapped here? We’re going through the motions while living people occasionally feel the floor shake from our side jump squats or the whoosh of heavy breathing after another burst of high knees. Disembodied voices chanting Higher! Beast it!
I shared this nagging suspicion with my fellow now that we’re once again in the triple digit air quality zone and back to being trapped inside, not expecting judgement because we did just watch Beetlejuice and I think the movie holds up. This would explain why we keep finding the cabinets open. It’d also explain the light over our dining table. Flick the switch and 90 minutes later it turns on. How is that useful? He made the point that if we were ghosts we wouldn’t be doing HIIT workouts in an apartment we just moved into. I like to think that’s true. I may be the one leaving the cabinets open but the dining light is a mystery.
Yesterday we were able to run a few miles and start shaking off this heavy feeling in my calves. Last night we watched Zombie Tidal Wave to keep our spirits up. Today I started crocheting Sam Hain dolls for the ones I love. Some positive local news is trickling in. Though fires are still burning, the marine layer seems to be helping the firefighters gain ground. They managed to save the Lick Observatory from flames of the SCU fire. Many of Big Basin’s ancient redwoods are reported to have survived the fire and that’s something to be thankful for.
People have lost their homes. Keeping our windows shut for a few days is nothing really. I think it was the first book I read on California since moving here, Trees in Paradise: A California History by Jared Farmer, that described the state as a land of extremes. Yesterday we ran with bay breezes and sea fennel. This morning my mouth felt like I’d licked a camp fire after watering the plants for 2 minutes. We’re already getting a taste of those extremes.
Walking among redwoods that have stood for thousands of years is a special experience I’m still hoping to share with my nieces if they ever visit. There’s a sense of protection and physical connection that stays with you and pulls you back. I’m hoping Big Basin and the communities impacted recover with the support of everyone who values them.
No exploring for us this weekend. Fingers crossed for open windows and heavy marine layers.