The smoke drifting down from Canada had not cleared by the time we headed to Vergennes, but we managed to breathe fine anyway. Vergennes has the don’t-miss Memorial Day parade. The governor was there, and Senator Bernie Sanders, and a slew of governor-hopefuls. It may not be the best use of time for someone running for office, but it makes sense to be there–one would not want to be the one who did not show up.
There were lots of other highlights as well, including firetrucks from a dozen different towns and a “bomb diffusion” float that was a little disturbing with its rifles and blindfolds. I thought Memorial Day was supposed to commemorate those who died in war, not war itself. Maybe I just missed the point.
Some pics from the event:
Veterans Were There
Summer Santa Was There
There Were Floats
And of Course Lots of Fire Trucks
Veterans for Peace
How Long IS This Thing?
This Guy--from Middlebury Union High School Band--Was Into It
Shriners Zooming About
The Drumming Clowns Were a Hit
The Civil War Reenactors Scared the Pants off Small Children
Last night we slept out in our tent next to the house. As we had the previous two nights as well. Apparently, this has become a tradition of sorts. This makes three years in a row for that activity on Memorial Day weekend. I woke with a sore back to the smell of smoke. The smell was faint at first, but got stronger. It was not worrisome. It smelled like a neighbor had a fire lit to ward off the morning’s chill. The temperature hovered around 50 degrees last night.
It turns out there are a series of forest fires in Quebec. The northern wind has been blowing the smoke our way. It seemed misty this morning but the sun should have long since burned off that business. What lingers is smoke:
No View Today
We’ve got some poor air quality for this Memorial Day. The wind is forecast to shift later today, so things should clear at some point. Maybe in time for the parade in Vergennes late this morning. In the meantime, no panting allowed.
My wife surprised me and took me out to dinner this evening. She got someone to watch the kids, got all gussied up to look more beautiful than she usually does (which pretty much makes me get all weak-kneed on a normal day) and we headed over the hill to the Bearded Frog in Shelburne. They have good food at that particular establishment. The last time we ate there I had to try three times to make something resembling the melt-in-you-mouth squash soup we tasted. My soup was good but it wasn’t as good.
We sat in the corner, all cozy and romantic, only you can’t really have a cozy and romantic dinner when you are bound to run into somebody you know. One of our neighbors and her daughter, visiting from New Jersey, sat at the table next to ours once things got hopping. We chatted, of course, as was polite, and genuinely interesting in this case. And fun. We shared some laughter and the people at the next table over got into the conversation and it was generally a good time.
But the point here is that our neighbor is the one who owns the property where the smoke has been coming from (see yesterday’s post). It was still smoking when we left the house for our sans children event. It turns out she was away, came home about 5:00 to see the tower of smoke rising near the house. She could tell right away it wasn’t the house (her first fear) and thought it might be the barn (fear number two). Fortunately it was just a pile of hay. It was a big pile of hay, combusted by the heat of the day. Some folks pushed it around to make sure nothing else would catch, and smothered it as much as they could. But a fat old chunk of hay is going to burn until it wants to burn no more.
The house still smelled of smoke when we got home, but it obviously was starting to burn itself out. So no one hurt, nothing lost but a good deal of hay, and a mystery solved for sure. The sky is still a little hazy but at least we understand more clearly. That’s something.
Last night as we sat on the deck and ate fresh wraps for dinner (delicious=mayo+pesto+just picked tomatoes+cucumbers+lettuce still warm from the sun+arugula+Shelburne Farms smoked cheddar) I looked up and reacted to what I saw with “Holy smoke!” What I saw was a big cloud of smoke. We all turned and looked at it together and wondered, What’s that all about?
It smelled like burning wood and the smoke was white. A house fire means black smoke and nasty smells, not to mention lots of sirens, and vehicles zooming about. So I figured it was some big brush pile or a bonfire. But it kept burning. Long after dark it glowed, and the sound of back up beeps chorused with the crickets and cicadas. Even when I woke in the wee hours the smell of smoke drifted through the house. It was still going.
This morning we could still smell it. When I drove up over O’Neil Road this morning I could look down and see the white plume. I was gone all day but when I returned it was still smoking. So what the hell? It was clearly not out of control but who could be burning something this long? And why?
My wife went for a run on a route that would take her past the mysterious smoldering. When she returned her report was this: It was a huge pile of hay, smoking away. It may have caught fire spontaneously in the sun. It may have been triggered accidentally. In any case, the pile was big and the smoldering was going to continue.
It still makes everything smell smoky. The sky, before the sun set, was dimmed where the smoke drifted. And it keeps on. It seems to be contained. I hope it is. It seems a loss of good hay and hopefully that is all that is lost. Smoke in the air did provide an aura of autumn for a while. Now, however, it is starting to seem plain old stinky. We are on track for some showers tomorrow. Maybe that will muffle the fire. Just in time for the really chilly nights.