One of the biggest problems during the winter here where I live is the air quality. In between winter storms, the low air pressure traps all of the smoke, car exhaust, and pollution down here in the mountain basin. The day immediately following a big snow storm may be bright and beautiful, but within a few days we are all wallowing around in a big balloon of smog and gunky air. It definitely is not healthy. The picture above was taken earlier this week as DD4 and I were taking advantage of our Martin Luther King Day holiday from work and school. We drove the 40 miles or so from the city to the small mountain valley where I grew up. The picture above shows the smog that is lingering near the hills to the east. The picture below shows the terrible conditions this evening as I was driving through the rush hour traffic. The air is so much thicker with gunk than it was on Monday, and we thought it was bad then. The weather forecast today mentioned that it may still be several weeks before we get a storm strong enough to blow this awful air out of the valley. I do hope it won't be too terribly long. Not only is it physically unhealthy to live and breathe this air night and day, but it is also emotionally unhealthy and depressing.
So where are the blessings? Right now the blessing of clean, fresh air is unquestionably up in the mountains. The picture below shows the crisp cleanness of the valley where I grew up and where we were able to visit for a few hours on Monday. I believe that the blessing of relatively good health, strength, and longevity of my parents and aunts and uncles can be attributed to their being able to live out their lives in such a clean and healthy environment. I'm thankful that I grew up breathing this clean fresh air. I don't really miss the colder temperatures, longer winters, and shorter growing season, but I do miss the clean air, clear skies, and unfiltered sunshine!