The End is Nigh

It is the end of the world as we know it.

Downed and bent tree limbs in the driveway. I thought I was going to lose my baby cottonwood, behind Oz.

I have been trying to post this all day, and may still not succeed. To be a successful blogger, it turns out, you need many things only the modern world can provide: internet. Cell service. Electricity. Without these, one cannot blog.

Hell may have frozen over last night, and in doing so, it took out a lot of defenseless trees. If you were a little aspen or cottonwood, the wet weight of snow bent you nearly double in supplication to the weather gods. If you were a giant hoary cottonwood, limbs snapped. If you were a power line, chances are high you ended up under a toppled giant.

Blizzard conditions. Whiteouts. Passes closed. Cops only responding if lives were in danger. School cancelled. School. In Gunnison, Colorado, where we once went 56 YEARS between snow days.

AT&T and Verizon, service gone. Spectrum, out. Radio stations, silent. Electricity, depending on where you were (or are), non-existent. Thirty or more power lines downed by trees, and not enough personnel to safely remove the trees and restore the power. Neighboring Delta County was able to send help, but too many other counties were in the same electrical repair truck.

Wind, gusting to 55 miles per hour and sustained at 30 or more for hours. Hail. Lightning. A cornucopia of weather.

Have we mentioned that it’s September?

Roof snow waiting to pulverize defenseless flowers.

I would like to know when this year is going to be over.

It started early, really early yesterday. I’m not sure what the point of holidays is when you have to work three times as hard the following day to make up for it, but Lynn – who did, in fact, work a full day on Monday – got up at 2 a.m. in order to go to work at 4. Her co-worker Laura got there an hour earlier, both of them prepared to start moving all the Amazon packages wrought by Pandemia.

Except that Amazon didn’t arrive until 5:30, so Lynn and Laura sat in a big, cold building with nothing to do for hours, unwittingly setting the tone for the entire day.

About two weeks ago, while in the house, I heard what I thought was a loud gunshot. It turned out that trees falling in the forest do, in fact, make a sound, a loud sound just like a gunshot, and one of the big, old cottonwoods up the road apiece had splintered near its rotten base. Well, yesterday before I left for work I heard another “gunshot” in the weird wind out of the east. (Isn’t that the direction that brought Mary Poppins? It didn’t work yesterday.)

I don’t know where this tree fell, but it was the first of many. Our HOA president called Kara’s husband, a landscaper, to come cut trees off the road. But Geoff couldn’t come, because he was up on his own roof, screwing the metal sheets down even as the wind was peeling them back and flinging them across their yard.

A power pole in the first block of Main threatened to topple; a city truck was setting up in front of the Community Church for some other issue. Trees kept fallling, cutting power. Every emergency truck in the fire station rolled out north in response to something – a call that just kept coming and coming, all day long.

We never really got to the rainy portion of the day, except for the moment Oz and I stepped out the work door to head home for lunch. Then it rained. About the time we got home the rain was shifting to hail – which is the belated time Lynn and I decided we ought to at least try to save her flowers by covering them.

What we didn’t bank on was the lightning, including the bolt that flashed directly overhead. We gave up trying to weight the plastic down, since the hail was already anchoring it in place, just covered what we could and escaped inside. Her poor little flowers that are now smashed under pounds and inches of wet snow slid from the roof.

By the time I went back to work it was snowing, that wet, heavy stuff one expects in the spring. Gilly went out in it to cover the flowers she has watered diligently all summer. “They’re only there for such a short time,” she lamented.

It was wet and dreary and blizzarding. Cottonwood Pass got closed; so did Monarch. While we have ample snow-moving equipment, none of it was particularly ready to be pressed into service, and for some reason no one seemed inclined to plow. Maybe because it’s September and this, too, ought to pass, and quickly.

Maybe they were looking at Lynn’s weather, which kept telling her it wasn’t going to freeze and there would barely be any snow. But it kept snowing, blowing in sideways, sticking to the roads in wet, heavy fashion.

When Kara decided we should all leave at 5, rather than the 6 that is the usual departure time for Gilly and me, we didn’t argue. I drove five wet blocks and was parked at a stop sign when a quarter of a cottonwood broke off in front of me, dropping to the ground in a spray of slush that scared a nearby pedestrian.

In an effort to make sure she was safe, I found myself driving into the dumbest place imaginable at 5 p.m.: the City Market-Walmart Metroplex. I’m not quite sure why people find it necessary to drive as though they are the only ones in a parking lot, but they do. Especially in horrible weather.

The highway was a slushy disaster, with visibility so bad that I could barely locate myself. I passed a neighbor’s house, which meant my turn was coming up – and then I nearly drove into the ditch turning too soon.

Neighbor Fred went out in the teeth of the blizzard with his bobcat to push trees out of the road. Kara and Geoff stood outside their house in town listening to the trees crack and pop as branches lost the snow battle; Lynn, who went out with Oz in inhospitable weather, reported the same sounds out here. (Before they went, I insisted she take the route that kept her well away from trees.)

The effects are lingering this morning: the Denver meterologists showed us a map putting Gunnison in the clear, and yet it’s snowing; they also called for a high here today of 50. We would have been in big trouble if that happened – free swimming pools in everyone’s back yard.

We had power and internet at work; the building right next to it had neither all day. I’ve lost count of how many times the power cut out at home, but it seems to bounce back quickly, unlike some people who have gone without for 17 hours or more. We still don’t have internet and this is the one I can’t explain at all: one receiver, two TVs, one working just fine, the other telling me the satellite is out.

Cell phones only worked if you had T-Mobile; communication has been tough today. Everything has been tough, yesterday and today. And the forecast: more snow overnight. Don’t call the cops: they’re still busy. Don’t call Spectrum: they’re still busy. Don’t expect power: linemen are still up to their ears in downed trees.

If this isn’t the end of the world, I don’t know what is.

The thick of the storm. Hopefully there’s no repeat tonight.

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