Though there is a logical, meteorological explanation to why Bay Area skies looked the way they did this week, it was still unnerving to our core.

Much the same way that an earthquake upends our firmly held belief in the solidness of the ground, our sun-less, martian sky messed with a lifetime’s experience of what the air can and should look like.

Knowing that this is the result of millions of acres of forest and thousands of buildings burning, makes it feel all the worse.

But could there possibly be a silver lining to all these orange clouds? A bright spot in a noon sky so dark that street lights turned on?

Well, in a year when we are so divided, by race and politics, a virus and masks, it is the rare moment when we are all experiencing the same thing in the same way.

You can turn any stranger on the street and talk to them about it. It is something we have in common.

That thing may be that you’re a bit freaked out, but still, it’s the start to a conversation based on shared experience.

That’s something that doesn’t happen much these days.

And while it may, and should, lead to deep discussions about climate change and forest management, perhaps it will include a bit more empathy than we’re used to lately.

Because, for once, you do know what it is like in another person’s world.

You just have to look up to see it.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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