A Wing and a Prayer

bird pond 0420
Somewhere on the shoreline, although darned if I can find it, is a crane. Squint really hard.

Yesterday I interrupted a phone conversation with Kara to announce a large bird, perhaps a sandhill crane, had just landed at our pond. (Ours because our property touches an eighth or ninth of the shoreline.) But the bird moved lower, out of sight, while I was trying to decide if it was a crane or not.

So when Oz and I got around to moving about 15 minutes later, we headed for the pond, where we found a pair of ducks, a pair of geese — and one sandhill crane. I pulled my phone out for photojournalistic evidence, and the bird launched — also a great photo op, also missed — but only went the distance of the pond, where it landed once again, now looking like a slightly bluer version of the rocks.

I would have hung out pondside longer, but Oz was impatient, so we moved along the road to Not Our Pond, where we found more ducks and another crane launching itself across the water (again no photo, but I did, finally, manage to get a distant still-life).

The ponds, without any infusion of ditch water, are on the rise. My neighbor the HOA president last evening assured me it wasn’t just my imagination: the water level is up four or five feet. The ditch, which I learned counts as part of the city’s water system, has been opened (early by half a month, according to Mr. Leonard), but water is not making it, at least on the surface, to the ponds.

[He thinks some of the issue is a bad patch job by our contractors after they dug the ditch up to get the electrical line across to our house. Kara’s husband may be tasked on Friday with trying to smooth some of that out.]

Nonetheless, water is rising, even overnight, probably to the delight of water and near-water fowl. And while I’m happy to see them, admiring even, in the back of my head I am wondering how much of this water may find its way into our crawlspace, where our protection appears to be a poorly-placed, solitary sump pump.

I know nothing about sump pumps, but reveling in my ignorance is not going to stop the water from rising. Nor is me not wanting it to come up in our crawl space because I just don’t feel like dealing with it.

Are you sensing a metaphor? I certainly am.

Like the water, tempers are on the rise here in Gunnison, many of them, it turns out, not directed in appropriate fashion. But I doubt very much that ignorance and wishful thinking are the answers.

We have been on a lockdown of sorts since March 13. The orders had become increasingly restrictive, numbering 1 through 7, until an eighth order was released over the weekend, every bit as muddy as the water starting to seep out of our high country.

In our county’s defense, their rush was precipitated by the governor, who announced he was re-opening and only later got around to specifics, which left the county scrambling. The publisher of the local paper last week said he felt the county could have benefited through this entire process from a public relations professional handling their messaging, and he may have something there.

“Re-open” means different dates for different things, including allowing retail stores to let customers in this Friday, but professional offices can’t admit clients until Monday. Apparently, although I don’t see how three days will make any sort of statistical difference, this phasing — which so far does not name an opening date for many sectors including lodging, restaurants and personal services such as gyms and spas — is intended to inform officials of where re-opening might work and where it might be heading south (in defiance of the birds who are all migrating north).

But people heard “re-open” and now many of them are being told “still closed,” and the rising anger has gushed out in a series of geysers erupting countywide, often directed at inappropriate targets.

I of course, tucked hard by my peaceful pond with its bird and giant-fish population, was sailing along, oblivious to any of this. I mean, I have vented here to you all, ad infinitum, not about the lockdown itself but the patent unfairness of requiring so much of downtown while asking so extremely little of our largest transmission vectors. But I do understand that both paid and volunteer officials are dealing with something not experienced for 100 years.

Apparently not everyone is inclined to take a charitable approach to the people making this up as we go. The president of the Gunnison chamber of commerce board, the same woman who has now donated two months of internet service to many of her commercial customers, felt compelled to issue an e-mail to chamber members yesterday, pointing out that board members are business owners too and that the chamber has done everything it can think of to offer assistance.

A former city councilwoman and county commissioner, she did let slip some frustration with officials and their not-always-clear messaging, but she also pointed out that the lodging sector, apparently taking out their unhappiness on chamber board members, more appropriately pushed for and got an additional meeting with pandemic officials to hear explanations and air concerns.

A current city councilwoman took to her personal Facebook page to point out that she also owns a small business, and is trying to tutor her sixth-grade son (who was upstairs crying in frustration as she wrote) while attending hundreds of hours of meetings. She is not, she felt compelled to note, a communist nor a fascist — she is someone trying her best in an awful situation.

[I feel slightly guilty here: she wouldn’t be the object of all this ire if I hadn’t been the one last push she needed to run for council in the first place.]

At the Zoom meeting for retail businesses yesterday, the tone-deaf Tourism Association showed a video that I confess I didn’t watch because I was making fun of it in a text to Kara, but which riled feathers among my compatriots and nearly started a wellspring of ire against the TA director.

This umbrage was deftly reeled back in by one of our moderators, who noted that a county commissioner on the radio the night before had suggested the best thing we can do right now is “be kind.”

No matter how much we want to be rid of this virus, it’s not likely to go away on its own, never to reappear (as has been suggested by the man who put the “bully” in bully pulpit — I just read that yesterday). No matter how desperate we are to throw the doors of our businesses open and welcome back customers, nothing is going to change unless we know who has the virus, who had the virus, who might next get the virus.

I gather the American rate of infection, even with undertesting and underreporting, may be four times that of most countries. And promising something that doesn’t exist (comprehensive testing) — a promise that has been made by local, state and federal officials, one of which is assuring us we’re on the verge of conducting 5 million tests per day when that’s how many were conducted in one month — so far isn’t helping.

We can pretend the virus doesn’t exist, because we don’t want it to, and we can try willing it away, but the time may come when I have to slosh through my crawl space to figure out how sump pumps work. It would actually make more sense to do that before I have to slosh, but you know how us humans are.

A better try: squint hard to the left of the green headgate.

crane 0420

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