Gunnison in the Springtime

blown snow 0320

Way back when I worked at the newspaper, we had a county resident, Josh Thompson, who made the Olympic team as a biathlete, a tricky discipline where you cross-country ski as hard as you can, then try to calm your breathing and aim a gun at little tiny targets. Gunnison probably hosted Olympians prior to Josh, but he was the first one I knew of.

In his wake came a bunch of high-caliber athletes, sometimes in sports you’ve never heard of, like randonee, where skiers eschew a lift and use their own power to get up the mountain as fast as they can before coming back down. (Doesn’t that sound like fun!)

We are most proud these days of Emma Coburn, a Crested Butte product who won a bronze medal in the last Olympic steeplechase, another really fun event where you run 3,000 meters while filling your track with obstacles like large hurdles that don’t tip over when you hit them and then, just for extra fun, a water hazard that’s impossible to leap all the way over, so you run the bulk of your race with wet feet.

So when I say that “we” are a county of serious outdoor enthusiasts, I may perhaps be piggybacking off the accomplishments of others. But Oz and I do gear up and walk a whole mile each day.

Today, though, all us hardy outdoor types of Gunnison County may be “sheltering in place,” thanks to that Rocky Mountain phenomenon known as “spring snow.” Just in time to celebrate the first day of spring!

Yesterday I watched a pair of geese help themselves to what’s left of Lynn’s grass seed near the deck; the day before, Lynn sighted her first robin and my friend Kris reported a mountain bluebird while out on a hike. Today is a reminder of why it’s never a great idea to celebrate spring until, say, mid-June. (But we do need the moisture.)

This morning it’s not just the snow, arriving hours before it’s scheduled to on Wunderground, but the wind that’s driving it right through window screens on all four sides of the house. No steeplechasing for me today, although Oz and I will have to brave the elements at some point. We’re just hardy like that.

Spring snow rarely gives me a warm fuzzy feeling the way winter snow does. In December, January, possibly even February, it’s sometimes quite pleasant to sit inside, safely tucked behind a bank of windows, and watch the snow fall.

Today I am looking at the sideways blowing snow and wondering about the effort it’s going to take me to go out in it. Sales tax is done, which was my time-constrained work activity, but it wouldn’t hurt to see if I can figure out how much money we have and what assistance the government is offering to help businesses pay the sick and family leave that finally passed the Senate late yesterday.

I also have a chiropractor appointment scheduled, although I’m wondering if it’s like the dog groomer and I’m just supposed to assume it got cancelled. (Yesterday my upcoming trip to the dermatologist in Salida got postponed by two months.)

[I once heard some grammar-type person assure me that “upcoming” is completely redundant and unnecessary. But I feel “coming trip” doesn’t have quite the same zip, so in defiance of some expert somewhere, I’m leaving it in place. Maybe I’ll get really wild and split an infinitive later.]

I would skip the chiropractor, which was scheduled for last week but delayed when I stayed home with fatigue, except that I like to carry stress in my back and my eye. I doubt he’ll help my eye, but my back could use a good release. If I still have my appointment. If I do, I’m also asking for some sinus assistance, because while everyone is in the midst of coronavirus, I am feeling my spring allergies to full effect, abetted, no doubt, by this storm.

I don’t know why that is, but changes in the weather pressure always impact my sinuses, and this entire week my eyes have been watering endlessly and I have been choking on the dumbest things, like my own spit and (just now) cereal milk. My personal theory is that this is all this bonus sinus gunk draining into and clogging my throat.

Which doesn’t help each morning as I self-assess to assure myself I am virus-free. Headache? Um, sorta. Sore throat? A little. Is this all sinus related? Every year past it has been.

Lynn yesterday finally gave up on trying to get through to an internet doctor and went through what she regarded as an overabundance of precaution to see a physician’s assistant at our medical clinic, where her two months of snuffly sinuses got diagnosed as an infection.

Then she had to brave City Market to pick up a prescription. While I read an assurance from county health officials that it’s okay for anyone and everyone to go shopping, because shoppers aren’t there very long and are practicing social distancing, they’ve obviously never met Lynn, who I doubt is alone in her hour-long grocery excursions. And apparently they’ve never had to stand in the pharmacy line, where people stack right on top of each other and get jostled by the shoppers trying to get past.

In its last remodel, which narrowed everything in the store, City Market also did away with its outside walk-up pharmacy window that probably right about now could be keeping everyone safer. But I guess hindsight is always a lot clearer than foresight, hm?

Two hops and a skip over from us, in San Miguel County (home of Telluride), they have implemented a “shelter in place” order that is not weather related. From the newscast this morning it sounds as if their coronavirus situation went from fine to dire quite quickly, which ought to be a warning to all the rest of us.

It sounded, on the Denver newscast, like their hospital is already maxed out. Most worrisome was the news that children in San Miguel are being particularly hard-stricken, which so far doesn’t seem to be the case in most places.

Last night Gunnison County published a graph where people were asked to rate the severity of their symptoms. No one said 8 or 10, with two checking in at 9. A quarter of the 32 respondents put their symptoms at a 4, which sounds like where people might generally rate a cold.

James gave Kara and me a little scare yesterday when he — finally! — reported in after Kara asked him a second time how he was doing: he said he was having trouble breathing. After Kara told him to call the call center again to say his symptoms were worsening, it turned out he was having some difficulty breathing through his nose. Getting useful information from 20-somethings has been a lot harder than it should be.

I don’t know that we heard from Fortino (20-something), while Gilly, who promptly reported, said she might have a sore throat. Vann, who also reported promptly, still has his cold but seems to be improving. Kara and I, aside from our daily panic that cloggy throats are a viral onset, so far are hanging in there, working at opposite ends of a big, empty building.

So far we are weathering the storms, both physical and metaphysical, and I hope all of you hunker down in place wherever you are today and stay safe. Happy spring!

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