Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Clean Air

As a recent transplant from The Big City full of smog and auto exhaust and other assorted nasty fumes I have formed an opinion on Montana air quality. My lungs ache more here than I ever had to deal with when I was breathing crap air back at previous address. The big reason, wood smoke.

Over the winter I noticed quite a few Montanans would heat their house with wood fires. Understandably so. But all those wood fires spewed forth a bunch of smoke and during the morning when the temperature inversions held the smoke low I would do a lot of coughing and hacking. In fact I would keep hacking all day, long after the smoke had lifted. I was really looking forward to spring so that people would stop burning so much crap and I could breath some clean air for a change.

Spring is here, and there is no relief. Now everyone is burning slash piles and grass and other assorted trash. The aftermath from the visit by tree trimmer guy was a smoldering pile of limbs gently wafting its smoke into my windows. The day before that the guy across the street was burning something. If I was back in The Big City I would have been calling the fire department for fear that someone's house was burning down. Pretty much any given day I can look around and spot a plume of smoke going up somewhere. Granted it is not as persistent as it was over the winter, but it is still enough to keep me coughing pretty regularly. The other day a native actually complained to me about the traffic and how bad the smog was starting to get around here. I didn't know if I should laugh or what, sounded like a joke to me. Almost as good a joke as that ban on smoking in bars to protect our health.

I don't have very high hopes for summer either. Forest fire season. Could be good, could be bad, only mother nature knows for sure. Perhaps fall will be clean air season here in Montana, but winter won't be far away. Might be a good time for me to vacation back at The Big City where my lungs don't hurt so much.