Do not work in the garden today if you happen to be in a region inundated by smoke from wildfires. The air is too toxic. The picture above was copied from the East Bay Times yesterday. It shows smoke obscuring much of the view of northern San Jose from the East Hills. It might be Milpitas. It is difficult to recognize.

The news says that this is the worst air quality recorded in the Santa Clara Valley, even worse than when we had smog back in the 1970s, and even worse than when there were serious fires much closer to home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Even the smoke from the Lexington fire in 1985 was not so thick.

If you must work in the garden, do not use machinery that might ignite vegetation near wildlands. Something as simple as a weed eater striking a stone can make a spark that can ignite overgrown grass. Barbecuing out in the garden is something that should be postponed for better weather.

The breeze that might move some of the smoke out of the area also accelerates fires that continue to burn, and increases the fire danger. Any new fires that get out of control are very likely to spread very rapidly. All the rain last winter enhanced the proliferation of vegetation. Recent unseasonably warm and arid weather desiccated much of the vegetation. Now, there is an abundance of vegetative fuel everywhere.

Wildfire is part of life in California. Many of us know how fire is an important part of the ecosystem, and how many plants in the wild benefit from it. However, none of this is any consolation when so many homes have been burned.

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