By Sarah Schrock

Dear August:

I have been trying to find the words to say this. I miss you. I miss us. We have been together for a long time and during all those years, I have grown to love your harshness, or at least tolerate it. But that harshness has become unbearable. When you used to get so hot and burn up, your haze would last a few days, maybe a week, then lift. Like all love stories, it would ebb and flow, and we could manage the hazy skies.

Your warmth which was once the reliable anchor from which we would cast our nets to the mountains, the lakes, rivers and seas was always enough to overlook the haze and yellow jackets that accompanied you. We used to explore our beautiful world together, but the adventure and excitement are gone.

In the past few years, a decade really, you have become more and more a stranger to me. I have even come to fear you, avoid you, flee from you. Now that it looks like you might be back for a couple days, you are acting like September. Where have you gone, August?

Your once long, golden shadows have been replaced by reddened tinged sunsets. While beautifully dramatic, I miss your long days. I miss your days splashing in the water under your warmth. I miss being outside in your grandeur, visiting with neighbors and friends. I have always had to shield myself from your harsh ways, knowing that even though I might get burned, the utter joy we would have together was worth the pain.

Our bicycles have been idle, our hiking shoes still for too long. Our air filters are soiled with grey ash. I am prisoner in my own house, and the house stinks. I know it’s not your fault alone. We both made mistakes along the way. We can’t turn back time and undo what we should have been done years ago. We know we should have driven less, we should have stopped the coal plants sooner, we should have thinned your hills of the fuels. We should have let you burn more often, but less intense, for the past century. What’s done is done.

But I am worried, because I am not alone in feeling this way. My friends who are in the same predicament are talking about leaving this relationship for a more tempered place. A place with more moisture and breeze. We may not be able to go back to the way it was, but does that mean we have to lose everything, our friends and neighbors too?

August, you are changing the livelihoods of the people who care most about you. Morning Glory Balloons hasn’t been in the sky since the Aug. 5. We miss her bright orb greeting us each morning. The runners at the Cutthroat were worried, and thankfully you put on your game face for the race. But we shouldn’t have to worry. Hotel rooms have vacancy signs. The river tubers are few. We miss you August, we love you and we want you to come back home.

Lovingly yours,

Me and everyone else

P.S. August, can you tell your friends December, January, February and March that the Loup Loup Ski Patrol is looking for a few good men and women to join their ranks. Loup Loup Ski Patrol are members of the National Ski Patrol, and receive on-hill and off-hill perks. It’s a great way to learn first responder skills, ski with your family and friends, and contribute to one of the best gems around the valley — the Loup. If you are interested in finding out more about how to join the ski patrol, email me at sjschrock@yahoo.com.

PREVIOUSLY, IN TWISP

Email Sarah