Smoke ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #113

Sun and Smoke, Saskatchewan Crossing, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Oh my!
The sun!
The sun
This brilliant sun!

Such hopeful sight
Is breaking through
The smoky sky
Now blue above
And gold below
Backlit, the tone
Of tungsten haze
Then, lower, emerald
Of the trees
These, gratefully
Have not (yet) burned

I drive again
With hope to clear
This dreaded murk
Which fills my lungs
Through scratchy throat
Tears’ dousing flow relieves
These burning eyes

All such unsubtle woes

Still, there’s the sun
A flame unlike
The distant fires
Where forests burn
And billow smoke
This muted star
Can barely pierce

I drive and drive
For many miles
Yet atmosphere
Unsightly thick
Advances me
On every front

Until I crest
A mountain pass
Beyond which
Blessed golden orb
A frame of
Indigo surrounds
And horizon
Which once flew
Amber flag
Now ripples
Breezily azure

No smoke in sight

“At last!”
I sigh

And with that breath
Cough up a lung
The smoke’s contempt
Not yet undone

Sun and Smoke
Saskatchewan Crossing
Icefields Parkway
Banff National Park
Alberta, Canada

Taken during travels, 2017

The summer of 2017 proved to be British Columbia’s worst fire season ever recorded. Kamloops, a small city in the heart of the province, for several weeks earned the dubious distinction of suffering the world’s worst air quality. Kamloops was, by no means, alone. Smoke inundated most of the province, and prevailing winds carried it east, into Alberta. When the wind shifted to a westerly outflow, the mass of haze completely engulged Vancouver, 100s of kilometers from the nearest fire.

Into this drove I, trying to enjoy a rare summer hiatus from my job in the Vancouver film industry. The smoke was spectacular: in its pervasiveness and its unpredictability. I would go to sleep under a clear night of bright stars, only to wake into a world which smelled as if I sat on the lee side of a sputtering campfire, the other side of the valley barely visible through the murk.

The thick atmosphere did make for some spectacular photographs of the haze-shrouded Rocky Mountains, but, really… I’d have preferred something a little more stereotypically mundane, like craggy, snow-capped peaks beneath a crisp blue sky.

Last week we kicked back, basking in Repose. This week, let’s clear the Smoke. Or find something else to inspire your creativity in this digitally filtered photograph of the wildfire smoke choking Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

The Pic and a Word Challenge is a weekly creativity prompt offered Sundays.

Each week I provide a photograph of mine along with a single word. The challenge? Use the pic and/or word as points of inspiration to create something — a photograph, a painting, prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, longread or just a few words. You are welcome to use these two elements (photograph and word) literally, thematically or metaphorically. If you create both images and words, all the better.

To participate:

  • Use any title you like
  • Your response can be words and/or an image
  • You may use my image in your post, or any image you have created
  • Place the challenge’s Pic (if you use it for inspiration) and Word prominently in your post
  • Mention that you are responding to the Pic and a Word Challenge
  • Add a link to this post in your response

To help us find your response — whether on WordPress, Instagram, Flicker, Tumblr, etc. — you can also:

  • Add a comment on this post to announce your response
  • Apply the tag/hashtag “Pic and a Word Challenge” or “#picandawordchallenge” to your post

Each week, I’ll list the previous week’s responses at the end of the new challenge. I may also share some on my social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.

Last week’s challenge: Repose
Maligne Lake, Queen Elyzabeth Ranges, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Challenge #112 ~ Repose
The word for last week’s Pic and a Word Challenge #112 was Repose, along with this photograph of Kayakers on Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Four blissfully restful responses for Repose this week. Thanks everyone! =)

View all the Pic and a Word Challenges, including the current challenge, on the Pic and a Word Challenge tag page.