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Loving Languedoc’s Invisible Air

January 23rd, 2016 · 1 Comment · Abu Dhabi, France, Hong Kong, Languedoc, Travel

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Over the past few decades, most humans came to grips with the reality that in exchange for “progress” we were going to have to breathe bad air.

Life in nearly any megalopolis is an invitation to huff ozone and particulates.

Conditions are particularly dire in the big cities of rising economies like China’s and India’s. Beijing has the scariest air I’ve seen, but I haven’t been to Delhi yet.

The ubiquity of vile air has become so accepted, over the past 50 years, that to be in a place where the air is clean is … revolutionary. But such is the case in this part of the Languedoc, in southern France.

I pretty much have hit for the cycle, when it comes to bad air.

I grew up near Los Angeles, fabled for bad air, especially in the 1950s and 1960s … then worked three decades in SoCal’s Inland Empire, which has air so filthy it frightens Angelenos.

I did four months in Hong Kong, which chokes on the pollution mostly generated by Guangzhou, a few miles up the Pearl River, and capped that with six-plus years in Abu Dhabi, which is considered the world capital of microscopic grit. Which some believe is the most dangerous sort of air pollution. We may have left the UAE carrying a couple pounds of sand in our lungs.

Turning up in a place where air pollution does not seem to exist is revolutionary.

You roll out of bed, look out the window and across a valley … and see the other side. The moon rises and it’s crisp and clear. No “fantastic” sunsets through a photo-chemical haze — just genuine sunsets of pink and blue.

Without consulting local air-quality experts, I would guess odorless and colorless air here is about no smokestack industry anywhere nearby, low levels of motor vehicles and perhaps also the lack of large herds of domesticated animals.

The land here is almost entirely given over to grapevines, which do not belch much haze or produce much gas.

When you realize you are not thinking about how bad the air might be on any given day, you have realized a sort of liberation.

And that is breathing, in the Languedoc.



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 cindy robinson // Jan 24, 2016 at 5:13 PM

    I don’t know if my SoCal lungs could handle clean air.

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