Man, what a week it’s been! We went from a record heat wave with smog, ash and un-breathable air from the fires to a 70-degree temperature drop with a foliage-zapping freeze and snow. Jeez! Remember back in early spring when we asked hopefully, “How bad can things get?” Then in the summer we proclaimed, “Certainly things can’t get worse.” Now we just mutter, “What fresh hell is next?”
Most of us consider ourselves positive, can-do people – what I love about Coloradans. But 2020 is testing us in ways we never thought possible.
Let’s recap: We’re experiencing a world-wide pandemic which has resulted in quarantining, illness, deaths, the taxing of our health care system, massive unemployment, business and school closures, a stressed economy, and we have civil unrest. To make things slightly more overwhelming, locally we’ve had heat waves, droughts and massive fires. About cover it?
The amazing part is now we simply expect the list to grow. The world seems so crazily out of whack that anything seems possible. Tornados and floods seem a given here. But I can foresee more unusual catastrophes.
For instance, what about a plague of locusts descending? Other parts of the world have had them; we could be next. Yes, our poor farmers who are dealing with droughts could get hit with a double whammy. (Having once had a small hay farm, I think of our dear farmers with every weather change.) I wonder: Do farmers have insurance for locust damage? Is it an add-on policy? Seems that whatever insurance add-on policies are available we should all be buying them now – since everything and anything that can happen is happening.
While we’re on the biblical theme, how about raining frogs? Having lived through one very toad-filled summer on our fore-mentioned farm, I can tell you toad squishage (unintentional, of course) is not a pleasant sight – very, very messy. Now the raining of frogs seems fantastical, I’ll grant you. But if someone told you at the end of 2019 what would be happening now, wouldn’t you think it sounded fantastical as well? Can’t you think of some strange weather phenomenon – like a gulf airstream empowered by hurricane winds – that could pick up wee frogs and deposit them here like the ash that has been befalling us?
But here’s something closer to home that I’m wondering about: hungry critters. This spring as you may recall (I know it seems like a lifetime ago), we had a frost that zapped all fruit tree buds, unusual in one season. So we have no plums, apples, crabapples, apricots or pears. Who do you think suffers the most from this? I’m thinking the local species fattening up for the winter: birds, squirrels, raccoons, deer and bears. The yards along the Front Range are usually their salad bar.
We have chokecherry trees in our yard that were full of berries a few weeks ago. Have you ever tasted a chokecherry? Probably not, they’re pretty meh. But masses of birds were going absolutely bonkers fighting over them. It was like people stocking up on toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic: frenzied chaos driven by desperation. Now there’s nary a chokecherry to be found.
What is to become of our hungry vegetarian species? Will they rethink their priorities and become omnivores? Is the animal apocalypse nigh? All I know is I’m keeping our doors locked. I don’t want a famished Yogi the bear barging in desperately looking for the fruit bowl. You just know he wouldn’t be practicing proper social distancing.
Who knows what calamity will befall us next? Perhaps in 2021 we’ll look back at 2020 as the good ol’ days. Holy moly, let’s hope not!
By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Boulder freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected].