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Ottawa Smells Like a Bonfire and It’s Not Cool

The sky is orange, the moon is red, the air is thick and the whole city smells like a bonfire—no s’mores on the menu.

I feel like I’ve just stepped into a post-apocalyptic movie. Every time I cross the street, I’m watching out for a potential zombie attack—I would have to rely on other senses than sight and smell though because my eyes are watery and smoke overpowers zombies’ fetid stench.

Canada is burning with hundreds of wildfires blazing across the country. Smoke from Quebec and a new wildfire west of Ottawa in Centennial Lake have been clouding the capital for a few days now. Nothing is under control. The thought of it is slightly disturbing and we’re not even close to being close to an actual wildfire.

I’ve never experienced wildfires before. Ottawa’s specialties are snow storms, ice storms, tornadoes, derechos and power outages. Wildfires? Nah, not around here.

Well, this is quite an introduction to it.

Air quality risk is “off the charts”. Ottawa had the worst air quality of any major city in the world Wednesday morning.

Mark’s school’s annual end-of-year barbecue party was cancelled, and so did soccer practice. No outdoor recess either.

“Was he disappointed?” one of my caring friends asked.

“COVID generation,” I typed back. “They’re used to events and everyday life stuff being cancelled at the last minute because of unforeseen complications.”

“That’s kind of sad, actually.”

It is. The problem with air is that you can’t just stop breathing. I’m lucky, I’m breathing just fine so far. However, I’m dealing with headaches, fatigue and itchy eyes. Many people around me are also experiencing weird symptoms that may or may not be related to air quality—it could be psychological (including my own symptoms) but it’s also likely that so much smoke is affecting us one way or another.

Wildfire smoke is everywhere. I can smell it on my hair, in the garage, in the basement.

And the permanent haze hanging over the city makes me feel like I’m tripping on LSD—nothing is sharp and the colours are off.

Yeah, it’s a bad trip.

We need water, a global strategy and a more sustainable lifestyle.

I think planet Earth is trying to say something…

Hazy night in Ottawa, June 6
Hazy night in Ottawa, June 6
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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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