The air quality is pretty bad here, I can’t imagine what it is like in California. This time of year the air here tends to be thick with humidity and still so the particulates from the Canadian wildfires hang in the haze. The weather forecasters keep predicting rain, which would wash some of the particulate out of the air, but we’ve been dry for quite a stretch.
Why is this relevant? Well, last week I missed posting because I was outside breathing the “fresh” air. I was camping north of the Twin Cities. Spent the first couple of days in a tent and then the next several in a trailer. The advantages of trailer camping include air conditioning and last week that made a world of difference.
I’ve never really trailer camped before so I don’t understand the ins and outs of hook-ups and reserve tanks. I do have a friend who, having just purchased a trailer, asked for my help getting it parked and set up. In return I’ll have access to a retreat in the summer – air conditioning included. Seems like a win-win to me!
The last time I was tent camping I ended up in the ER. I threw my back out, badly. This time I had enough help and support (and I didn’t have Orion with me) that I did fine. I even managed to be a real help to the people I was camping with. I also took care to go to bed when I was tired (much earlier than I would at home) instead of staying up half the night around the campfire. I made sure to stay hydrated. I didn’t “settle in” and stop moving.
Even so I had a nasty allergy episode. Someone decided to spread an allergen (they had been specifically asked not to use) around the ritual circle. This is a particulate that contains a volatile oil. In this environment, especially with the heavy, still air, the allergen doesn’t dissipate and instead continues to be reactivated and spread. It meant I had to miss out on much of the community activities and stay close to our campsite. It actually could have been life-threatening if I was less careful or less well equipped to handle my reaction.
The thing about accessibility is that accommodations were made and someone chose to ignore them. I see that a lot. People block aisles, drop into parking spots “for just a minute”, use public accessible bathrooms as employee changing rooms or (as in this case) think their experiences with disability are equal to everyone else so if it works for them that means it’s accessible. This behavior is nasty when done in ignorance and down right evil when it is done with self-righteous intention.
I have spent 50 years of my life with an awareness of access and disability. My sister had sever enough allergies growing up that we had to leave the city at this time of year because the air quality was too bad. That was before the advent of central air commonly available in housing. I’ve cooked around food issues (for friends and family, conference style events and as a personal chef). I’ve been pushing Orion around in a wheelchair for 25 years. I have had my own experiences with access issues as well.
If I’ve learned anything it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all. I know my son’s wheelchair is not as wide as standard and just because he can get somewhere does not mean it is “accessible”. I know that what we need in a parking spot is different than what a driver with a disability might need, or someone with a scooter. I know that distance isn’t the same issue for someone pushing Orion as it is for someone dealing with Fibromyalgia or a breathing disorder.
Many people, myself included, who deal with asthma will joke that “breathing is over rated”. It’s actually not, and that’s why people die of asthma. That’s why environmental controls on air quality are not just an inconvenience. That’s why setting off fires, that become forest fires, that impact air quality across states is criminal. That’s why I run my air conditioner all summer long, it filters the air. It makes it possible to breathe.