This week, many of us on the East Coast woke to a grim, frightening sky - unusual for us, but familiar to our neighbors in the north and west.
Schools cancelled all outdoor activities including recess. The sidewalks and bikeways were eerily empty. Those of us who still biked or walked wore KN95s if we had them - or covered our faces with our shirts if not.
On the Bunch Bikes Club on Facebook, families shared photos of their haze-choked yards and tips for traveling with portable air purifiers.
I thought about driving my kids to school instead, just for a couple days. We still have a car, and if I had to bring my toddler anywhere, I would have taken it. (Instead I left her home with Dad. She's too young to keep a mask on.)
If one of mine had asthma, or just if it felt like the right thing to do - no shame.
But in the end, with my big kids, we still biked.
Masked, dismayed, but still.
Because we will not despair.
Because biking instead of driving is the most concrete action we take every day to reduce our family's carbon footprint.
Because I can't vote in an election today. But I can vote for how my family moves, today and every day.
Because I can't change our national climate policy today. But I own my family's climate policy, today and every day.
Because I won't respond to air pollution by creating more air pollution.
Because protecting my own family's air, at the expense of everyone else's, is exactly what got us into this mess.
Because individual action gives us strength for collective action.
Because even today, I'd rather be moving - fast, free, and outdoors - than sitting still, strapped into the traffic and emissions.
Because I'd rather see the sky than hide from it. Yes, even today.