No, nothing in the house is burning. Nor is anyone burning leaves or anything nearby, at least not today. But the smoky smell is lingering. Everyone is starting to notice.
It comes and goes. I’ve smelled it more often in the mornings when feeding the horses, while in the afternoons it seems to die down. Then it’ll come back later as the sky darkens and night falls.
We’ve been aware of the smell for several days, perhaps a week. The longer it lasts, the more worrisome it becomes. In the last day or two I’ve started to think of it as symbolic, too, representing a similar kind of vague threat that recently started to hang over us.
Our farm is located in the western part of North Carolina, a couple of hours away from the mountains. It’s up there that around 15 different forest fires have been burning up something close to 50,000 acres over recent days, forcing more than 1,000 people from their homes.
Firefighters have had difficulty controlling the fires thanks to the drought conditions we’ve been experiencing in this part of the state. And there’s no rain at all in the current 10-day forecast, which doesn’t bode well.
I mentioned the symbolism suggested by the smoky smell and the vague feeling of anxiety it inspires. I refer of course to the flashpoint of last week’s election, and the gradually building apprehension caused by the president-elect’s quizzical movements and proclamations, stress-causing tweets, and hazy plans to make over the country in ways even his ardent supporters have to regard as troubling.
And there were plenty of supporters, including around here. I mean if you look at a different map of the state, around three-fourths of the counties were red on that one, too.
I won’t recount all of the many whiffs of trouble we’ve been noticing. For that you can read Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker who provides a catalogue of items in a new article titled “Donald Trump’s First, Alarming Week as President Elect” -- kind of like hand histories, you might say, from a series of inexpertly played hands.
Recounting much from the election winner’s two interviews, the half-dozen press releases from his transition team, his “several important personnel and policy decisions,” and his 23 tweets, Lizza concludes the “first week was marked by seeming chaos,” suggesting that “what we’ve learned so far about the least-experienced President-elect in history is as troubling and ominous as his critics have feared.”
We don’t know what’s coming next. Most of us like to think whatever changes the future might bring won’t be destructive or hurtful or otherwise for the worse. But we don’t really know. Depends on a lot of things, including things we can’t control. Not unlike the wind, or the rain (or lack thereof).
The smell persists in a threatening way. Sometimes, after being exposed to it for a while, we become less aware of it. But then it hits us again -- bitter, a little pungent, even stinging.
And we wonder how close or real the danger really is.