The phrase "lazy, hazy days of summer" has taken on a whole new meaning.
Wildfires, in particular the Star fire west of Lake Tahoe, have filled Western Nevada valleys with thick smoke for several days. Long-time residents say they have seldom seen so much smoke hang around for so long.
The smoke presents a serious health risk to people with respiratory ailments, and more than a persistent nuisance to anyone else who must spend much time outdoors.
It's the topic of conversation over every cup of coffee. We would talk about the weather, but the smoke is the weather these days.
There is a bright side to the situation, if we could just see it through the haze.
So far this summer - knock on wood - the Carson City area has been spared devastation by wildfire.
Ask the residents of Weaverville, Calif., where fire has forced evacuation of more than half the town of 3,550 and done millions of dollars of damage, whether they would trade flames for smoke. Weaverville is merely the latest of towns all over the West that have had to deal with the actual destruction a wildfire can do.
Far worse are the tragedies of two air tanker pilots whose planes collided while fighting a fire near Ukiah on Monday, and the deaths of members of a young fire crew on the ground earlier this summer in Washington.
We occasionally forget that thousands of people are laboring in extremely dangerous conditions to contain these wildfires. Some of these fires are the work of arsonists or careless campers, but most are simply the forces of Mother Nature at work.
Be careful, be patient. The smoke will pass, and the skies over Western Nevada will be bright blue again.
And remember, that's not necessarily true for every place.