not “that cigarette”, as the lyrics go — but smoke from numerous fires currently raging throughout Northern California.

The local paper advises that outdoor activity should be avoided today because of heavy smoke from fires surrounding Nevada County.

The news article went on to say that if you can see and smell smoke, you are most likely breathing unhealthy levels of particulate.

It’s the worst particulate levels since the district started measuring air quality 15 years ago; almost 400 micrograms per cubic meter, and the hazardous level is 260.

Our little town is at the top of the priority list because “that’s where we have the most residences in proximity to the fires”, according to Greg Cleveland of the U.S. Forest Service this morning.

No evacuations have been ordered but the complex grew to more than 2,000 acres overnight and inundated the Grass Valley and Nevada City area with heavy smoke.

The Scotchman Fire was on the north side of the South Fork of the Yuba River Monday and stopped about one mile east of town.

This is the fire closest to our house, just over a mile away.

The entire Yuba River Complex is only 5 percent contained, according to authorities.

The U.S. Forest Service, which has established a blaze command center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley (only a few yards away from our trailer!) says: “The fires are difficult because they’re spread out.”

With only 259 personnel on the fire, the command center is hoping to get more firefighters and equipment in coming days as other blazes die out, the Forest service authority said.

He went on to say that the main area of concern is our little town. The Forest Service will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the local Fire District Hall for a fire update.

At about 10 this morning, I took the following footage of our Airstream trailer at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. It gives you a rough idea of how smoky the air is — but you have to breathe it to really believe it!


My final rehearsal for the Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano is this afternoon at the hall; then I’ll have a three-hour break before the concert.

James suggested driving me to the concert hall — even though it’s only a seven-minute walk from our campsite — to minimize my exposure to the excessive smoke. I am already hacking and coughing, even inside the air-conditioned trailer. There’s a little tickle in the back of my throat which won’t go away.

As for James, he is feeling ever-so-slightly better as a result of taking antibiotics. He also needs to stay indoors as much as possible.