(Endless) Season of Mud

Dang delivery drivers.

Once again, a forecast of snow ended in the tiniest whiff of white stuff, so I’m not buying it as the Denver forecaster shows a map with moisture clear across the Western Slope for today. But, given the pattern we’ve been living in this entire year (nearly a quarter done already), there will be enough snow to insure we remain soggy and muddy.

Not that we are in an position to complain. The new drought map came out yesterday, and it was considered a “win” that parts of the state are now “only” abnormally dry. There is not a speck of the state that isn’t in some form of drought, and everything to the west of Gunnison is still in the red — every bit as bad in drought as it is in business.

So we need to grab each flake of snow that we can, and then hope it permeates into the ground rather than rising to the sky to go somewhere where it isn’t wanted, like Australia, a place where drought is frequent but currently the site of massive flooding. Wouldn’t it be great if weather was equitable? Kind of like wealth is?

No complaining about the weather, then — we need the moisture, we need the moisture — but under this wacky notion of climate change Gunnison’s mud season started three months ago and there is no end in sight.

In the olden days, way back when I was a kid, we knew winter. Oh, we knew winter. It snowed, lots, and it got cold, lots. In this weird need to be proud of something, you can’t run across a Gunnison old-timer without hearing about how he or she walked 20 miles to work for five months without ever seeing the temperature rise above zero, wading through 300 inches of snow.

Nowadays, Gunnison braggarts are reduced to discussing how many pounds of mud have clung to their boots since January. Only this time, it really has been since January. Yes, we started melting out in the month that usually is our deepest freeze.

Fortunately, at least fortunately in the twisted way we must look at weather, we didn’t just melt and dry or we’d be looking at Anasazi (maybe I’m supposed to say Ancestral Puebloan) level aridity, but we aren’t so far along in our new melt-and-refreeze way of life that we can call ourselves anywhere out of drought. So bring on the moisture, and bring on the mud.

But recognizing the necessity of this doesn’t mean I’m going to endure it quietly. I am tired of the mud, and tired of the dreariness of the last couple of weeks, exacerbated by the dreariness of circumstances.

There has been too much loss, foremost Paul. But the other day I made one of those fateful decisions and opted to go walking with Oz here in the neighborhood rather than in town. We didn’t get far before we came upon our neighbors, taking their dog Maggie out for her final walk.

Maggie was the first of our new neighbors to greet us out here at Riverwalk, coming over to say “hello” on one of our first forays across our property, maybe even before it was our property. She was the doyenne of neighborhood dogs, showing all of them — and the rest of us, too — the graceful way to go about a life of investigation and exploration.

I am grateful I got an unplanned chance to say good-bye, but that was the third pet loss for people I know in the last week. These short-lived creatures grab hold of our hearts in ways it’s hard to explain, and they never really let go — a loss as profound as any other in our lives.

Which only adds to the gray skies we slog away under, awaiting each new storm that really rarely shows and brings just enough moisture to insure that will remain mired in the mud. On a recent gray, gusty day, with snow visibly swirling to the north of us, Lynn made some disparaging remark about spring being her least favorite season. And while I used to think I didn’t play favorites among seasons, and we certainly wouldn’t want to hurt Spring’s feelings, I may find myself agreeing with her.

Spring is supposed to be about renewal, and we have had our first guest geese. We heard, but never did see, a herd of cranes (they were way too noisy to be a flock), and while I haven’t set eyes on one, I’ve had reliable reports about robin sightings.

And, as my parents venture out today for their first restaurant excursion in a year, it feels like dominoes are starting to fall in a good way, at least here in Colorado. In the last week, Lynn and my sister Tia got their second covid vaccine doses, and first doses went to my sister Terri, two brothers-in-law, me, Kara, Kara’s husband (and in Oregon, her mother and stepdad), and new colleague Brayden. James gets his Saturday. Which leaves only Vann at work and niecphews Ellie and Justin in the family, although Justin might get his next week at a clinic the county is setting up for college students.

I guess, as long as the constant mud means we’re working our way up the drought meter (we’re currently in “severe,” which isn’t as severe as “extreme” or “exceptional” — the one time no one wants to be exceptional — with “moderate” and “abnormally dry” to get past before we can just be “normal”) it’s a good thing — but I wouldn’t really mind if the sun shone more and everyone’s pets stayed healthy.

Okay, this song really has no particular relevance to today’s topic, other than the word “mud” making a brief appearance, but the “spring” songs I was finding were dreadful, and this is just downright impressive.

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