Friday was one of those cool, crisp, breezy mornings that reminded me most definitely of September. Great day for a bike ride! I had the day off work and wasn't going to let it go to waste. The afternoon turned a bit warmer, and Don and I headed out to the lake for a Lake Michigan swim. And surprisingly, the water has remained warm, despite the north winds. It was less windy at the lake, but the flies were horrible. Must be why the beach was relatively empty. We had the cove area almost entirely to ourselves. A swim between the piers is about a half mile. I would have done more, but he wanted to stop. But we could not sit on the beach without getting bit by the flies, so we cut it short and headed home.
With the 32 mile bike ride and sun and swim, I was tired after a long week, and went to bed early. Again, it was cool enough for most people to have all their windows open. Mine are always open since I have no air conditioning. I was drifting in and out of sleep. There was this smell. Probably a skunk, I thought, as the area is overrun by the odious creatures.
After sleeping for a while longer, I was suddenly half awake. There was still this smell. A skunk? Not a skunk. What was it? Smoke?? Now I was fully awake and got up quickly. No smoke alarms were going off but there was a definite smell of smoke. Something was burning. I walked through the house and the smell was consistent throughout but nothing appeared on fire in the house. I went to the 3 season porch and stood and listened--and smelled. Something was definitely burning. It was eerily quiet and foggy? No, it definitely was smoke. I went to the front door and opened it and looked out. Nothing. Quiet. Smoke. Someone must have one of those little backyard chimnea fires going. But it reminded me of being at a campground and smelled like a big fire. I wonder if I should dial 911 and report this. Its bad. I could taste the smoke. Then I went back to the front of the house and looked down the street. Red blinking lights. Something definitely was going on. It must be a fire. That was confirmed moments later when a group of young people walked by and said the hardware store was on fire. Wow! That was bad.
I live in a post-World War II neighborhood, built on the fringes of three municipalities. Contained within this approximately 5 square mile "neighborhood" is everything you need to get by in life, and all within walking distance--grocery stores, library, post office, churches, schools, banks, pizza parlors, numerous small businesses, doctor offices, dentists, video stores, ice cream shoppe, even a cemetery and golf course. A concept that our city is trying to revive in new neighborhoods, and this has been here for over 50 years. One business of course is the hardware store that has been here as long as I can remember, recently taken over by new management when the old one outgrew the location. Surrounding this whole area is one of the state's busiest roadway, large shopping malls, office parks, factories, and the inner city. So this is a fairly unique area, and a loss like this is felt by all within our small community.
TV crews are on site as this is typed, so I don't have all the details right now. What I see as a preview on the news though is sad--not only the hardware store but a new coffee house that just opened and the ice cream shoppe that were adjacent have been affected. Preliminarily, the hardware store is gutted, and other business in the area that were saved have smoke and water damage. The area is blocked off three blocks each way, as the fire is still being put out, as I saw from the scrolling news ticker on the bottom of the TV screen.
What woke me up this morning wasn't an alarm but the smell of smoke. Everything in my house smells like smoke (its only 1 block away), including my pillow. I could still taste smoke. I had a hard time going back to sleep because of the smoke. I kept thinking if the house had been closed up and the smoke had crept in, would I have died of smoke inhalation?? It was very thick. I have tried to post pictures that I took, but to no avail. Maybe later.