The Ballad of Smoky Rogue

Lameness and/or excessive flippancy alert: The following article may cause involuntary eye-rolling, further irritating already tender eye tissue because of smoke. In case you’ve been living in a wine vat 24 hours a day for the past month, you need to be told it’s smoky out there. If you need another good eye-roll about now, please indulge me. If not, before you read any further, I might suggest flipping over to something serious, like the editorials. Um, wait.

OK, you asked for it. In the absence of an N95 particulate-filtering mask, I recently located my Groucho Marx nose glasses with filtering eyebrows and mustache. It may not keep out fine particles, but at least I won’t be recognized in public. I will forego the accompanying cigar to avoid the double whammy effect, though, unfortunately, I’ve noticed the thick haze has not deterred my neighbor from his porch-side cigarette breaks. On the positive side, I’ve learned some have quit smoking because of it. I congratulate them. And the insulating blanket above has put triple-digit temperatures, a term I have come to loathe, in their place, as in nonexistent.

Before continuing, I’ll switch on the laptop wipers to clear the ash. I’m sure I heard someone snarkily comment I may as well leave it there for all the harm it’ll do. In no way am I making a mockery of the discomfort we are experiencing. Well, I sort of am, but not those with medical issues or fire loss. I’ve been there, and I’m there now, since we all share in the devastating losses caused by unchecked wildfires. Catastrophic details with pictures and eyewitness accounts assault us day in and day out. We already know the fires are bad and air you can slice is unhealthful. So, it’s my natural tendency (job) to find a way to alter perspective when outside forces such as smoke are in control, which is pretty much all the time, if you think about it.

Today, after stringing blinking Christmas lights around the bird feeders so the little blighters could find their way, I wrote a song — a ballad to mark this smokiest of summers. My sincerest apology to Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach for altering one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Sung, Platters style, to the tune of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," this one is called:

“Smoke Gets in Our Skies.”

They asked me how I knew our blue skies were blue.

I sneezed and replied, memories deep inside, cannot be decried.

They said someday you’ll find you have lost your mind.


When our state’s afire, we must rub our eyes, smoke gets in our skies.


So I said this too shall pass away,

You’ll see our clear skies re-turn.

Yet today my neighbor fades away

I cannot see his roof. (echo — can’t see his roof)


Now, scoffing friends are snide, masks I cannot hide.


So I cough and cry, when an ugly flame flies, smoke gets in our skies.


This could be my last column, so if it is, it’s been great knowing you all. Keep the cards and emails coming! Send food packages. No okra or beets. Blue skies are coming.

— Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Email at your own risk to

Share This Story