Friday, December 17, 2010
Black Smoke, White Smoke, Yellow Smoke
(Although this title sounds like a Native American family, it's not.)
A couple years ago people built a house diagonally across from us. The neighborhood scuttlebutt was that there were over 200 electrical code failures to be fixed before they moved in. With that gossip in the reaches of my mind, when I saw the smoke pouring out of their basement window, I panicked. I threw on my winter coat and boots, not caring that I hadn't showered or brushed my teeth, nor even met our new neighbors yet. I ran-flailed-slid across the ice and snow to quickly get to their house. We'd moved to Michigan from Western South Dakota, where forest fires (and smoke) were very common. The Michigan habit of burning leaves in the Fall still makes me nervous. So I slip up to new neighbor's door, ring the doorbell and pound away, not caring that it's only 7:30 in the morning. Their house was on fire! Their brand new, multi-code-failured house. The door tentatively opened.
"Your basement's on fire! There's smoke pouring from the window!!!" Notice I didn't even take the time to introduce myself.
"Which window?" (I told them.) "Um... we're doing laundry. That's probably from our dryer."
Colors flashed before the backs of my eyelids in memory recall: Black smoke -- carbon or tire or oil burns; Yellow-Brown smoke -- the Black Hills are burning; White smoke -- cigarettes, or car exhaust on a cold day, or breath on a cold day... or heat from a dryer... on a cold day.
"Um. Hi. I'm your new (crazy) neighbor. Welcome to the neighborhood." (Notice I still didn't introduce myself, hoping that they would forget the entire incident. I slid home and buried my head under a blanket for an hour, trying to forget it happened, too.)