Fire and Smoke

We could hardly see Keats Island from our usual table at the pub, even though it’s only one kilometer from the Gibsons shore.

“Clare remarked yesterday that they’ve taken the mountains away,” I said, referring to the bad visibility due to the shroud of smoke hanging over the whole province as a result of over 120 active wild fires.

“Like China,” Campbell or Camp to everybody but his mother remarked, shaking his large messy head of grey locks in dismay.

“There are over 3500 firefighters battling the flames, many of them from Mexico, Australia and the US and apparently one third of the fires are human caused,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, I believe it. Idiots throwing cigarette butts out the window. By the way, have you noticed the sunrises and sunsets lately?” Camp asked.

“Can’s say I’ve seen any sunrises but you’re right about the sunsets and all day long the sun has a pink glow to it. One bonus is that this silky dome of smoke has kept the heat down. You can actually sit outside without shade and not be bothered by the sun. It’s a boon for outdoor patios and beer gardens.”

“I guess we should be thankful for that,” Camp smiled “and the beer stays cool a bit longer, mind you mine never has a chance to warm up. Oh, here is Vicky, I think we might as well have another, what you say?”

Never one to turn down a beer I simply held up two fingers to our waitress Vicky, the universal code for two more beers please.

“What do you think of the fierce rhetoric and sabre rattling going on between Kim Jong-un and Trump as of late?” I asked Camp, who is much more informed and politically savvy than I, even though he does not have a TV and doesn’t read the local papers. Still he is always well versed in present day politics, locally and globally.

“Seems we’re stuck with two psychopaths and egomaniacs trying to outdo each other. We’re used to threats from Kim and the bluster from the Donald but the response from him this week about answering North Korea with ‘fire and fury as the world has never seen it’ is very unsettling. It’s a game of chicken nobody can win and all the cooler heads in the room are biting their nails or checking their smart phones. Nobody laughed.”

“Do you think Kim and his generals would attack Guam with atomic missiles? It’s what he promised to do. Apparently they were able to miniaturize their nukes; make them small enough to stick them on a missile,” I said.

“Kim knows that he cannot win a war with the mighty USA”, Camp said, “all he wants is respect and ensure the survival of his regime and of course he also wants to annex South Korea, the ultimate goal of both his father and grandfather but today more unlikely to happen than ever. And let’s not forget the Japanese who have since last year the right to retaliate if any of their allies – Guam for example – are attacked. It is an escalating and worrying situation, hopefully all smoke and no fire but one that calls for more beer I think.”

“A nuclear war initiated by a tweet, that is really worrying me. What time is it on the doomsday clock today?” I asked,

“It was at ten minutes before midnight 20 years ago, today it stood at 3 minutes to the midnight hour at the beginning of the year and no doubt it has advanced in the last few day to within 30 seconds. Just ask yourself this: Is Trump the kind of guy who would pull the trigger just to show the world that he is a man of real power? Sadly this isn’t just a wildwest story, it is today’s scariest reality show.”

“Not a lot of good news I’m afraid,” I said, “and nothing you and I can do about it either Camp. On the positive side, Clare is picking blackberries today with our neighbour. It’s a bumper year for berries.”

“Is there any improvement in the weather forecast,” Camp asked, squinting toward the water as if trying to penetrate the fog like atmosphere.

“No wind, no rain and no more beer today,” I said, finishing my pint. “I better head back and keep the home fires burning.”

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