Tuesday, July 14, 2009


My oldest daughter has olfactory senses that reach far beyond the level of paranormal. She can smell a digestive action at 500 meters, or a body that has not been showered, powdered and deodorized within the last 6 minutes at 2 miles.

I can only smell a litter-box-beyond-the-necessary-time-to-empty when I want to. Through the years of small children in diapers, numerous canines/felines/equines, and foreign military assignments in areas where elevated standards of personal hygiene were not part of the culture, I think I have learned to eradicate many sensory susceptibilities.

Or simply come to like them.

I love the smell of my dog - and he smells exactly like a dog should (i.e. furry, outdoorsy, and doggy breath). I absolutely ADORE the smell of my horses - if it could be packaged as an indoor deodorizer (which would rather defeat the original purpose, I realize), I would buy it in bulk.

And after living in Arizona high chaparral for ten years, I still take a deep breath almost every time I step outside to inhale the scent of mesquite, sand and simple clear air coming down from the Huachuca Mountains.

With one MAJOR exception.


I live surrounded by wide, open grasslands which, for 93.06% of the year are brown, sun-bleached and extremely flammable.

I live within clear sight of Mexico, which does not try in anyway at all to contain their wildfires - they just let them burn out on their own.

After sunset, it's not that bad - I can walk the perimeter of my property with my dog, and it's fairly easy to see fire of any noticeable size burning. And in the daytime, smoke is usually present.

And since I detest beyond reasonable cause the smell of burning flesh, I can normally deduce if it is simply a family barbecue upwind.

So what do you do at night when you smell smoke, but can't locate the source?

I can't phone our local volunteer fire department direct without waking someone up - I can't call 911 because it's not an emergency (at least not yet).

Out of sheer desperation, I call the non-emergency county sheriff's office.

Now to just put this in proportion, our county is 6,219 square miles in size - that's larger than the state of Connecticut, and just slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey.

Lotta area to cover.

So I was extremely grateful to get a polite, courteous gentleman to took the time to calm this old woman's fears of being burned to death in her sleep - which because of recent events is more than slightly elevated.

I'm not afraid of dying - but I am extremely anxious about being burned.