Okay, so we all (or at least the vast majority of us) recognize that 2020 is an unusual year. Around here (Colorado) its been extra strange weather wise. Back in May, we had a record cold snap that took out a lot of fruit crops. Frost and freezes in May are not unusual, but getting down to 12 F (-11 C) is. In my town, I haven’t seen any apple trees with fruit, nor peaches, pears or plums. The western part of Colorado (Grand Junction and the aptly named Fruita) were also hit by this freeze, and much of their treasured fruit crop was destroyed. Happily, some of the later ripening varieties were spared, and I’ve been picking up a few delicious peaches each Saturday at our local farmer’s market.
That is, until two weeks ago, when road closures due to one of our forest fires made it too difficult to get from the western slope where the peaches grow to the front range of the Rocky Mountains where I live. The road is now open again, and I’m once again enjoying the peaches. That fire and others (we have 4 major ones in the state at the moment) continue to burn, with varying degrees of containment. Over the last few weeks, the fires had settled down a little bit. Still burning, as they are largely in very difficult terrain, but with some level of containment.
Saturday, that changed for the Cameron fire, which is northwest of where I live, roughly 60 miles. As they say, it “blew up”, fueled by (90+ F/ 32-35C) heat and dry winds. Yesterday morning, the smoky smell was noticeable. By afternoon, ash was falling around us, and by late afternoon, the smoke was very thick. BA and I went up to the mesa where we had comfortably walked earlier in the day. The haze and smoke were thick, visibility just a few miles, and the skies were eerily grey. It felt apocalyptic, and again, we are many miles from the actual fire. I can only imagine how it is for those who live nearby, including my sister.
Yesterday, the high temperature was 96 degrees (35 F) Today, it’s “only” going to be 90F/32C. The odd thing is that the low is predicted to be 32F/ 0C. That’s right, its going to freeze tonight, and start snowing. Depending on how this storm goes, we may have 8 inches on the ground by the time the storm ends on Wednesday. With all the residual heat, the roads and sidewalks will be likely just be wet. However, this is a huge challenge for the plants. Trees are still in full leaf and a heavy wet snow can do a lot of damage. And once the snow stops, the temperature is likely to plunge further, with lows around 20F/-7C
And my poor garden. It’s already been a less than stellar year, with the events of spring complicating my plant starting and planting, and a record crop of rabbits eating produce. Their favorite appears to be young pea shoots, but they also like ripe tomatoes, and sprouts of all greens. They don’t appear to care for summer squash. Of course they don’t, I’ve plenty of that.
Yesterday I spent some time contemplating today’s get ready for winter chores. Drain the sprinkler system. Disconnect the hoses. Drain my evaporative cooler feed lines. Protect the garden where I can. Because of the heat, bundling up my tomatoes too soon won’t help them. Don’t need to cook them first. Likewise with the plumbing projects. I still want cooling available in the house today, and watering the plants well prior to the freeze is a support. So I’ve made a start on things, including a list of chores for late afternoon/evening, after the peak of the day’s heat.
In these very challenging times, I am reminded of how little control I have. On one level, that’s a big relief, and on another, it is quite disappointing, as I am once again reminded that my job is to show up and do my best even as the circumstances seem far from ideal. And to once again remind myself of my great good fortune. I have enough and reserves, and for that I am grateful. Peace and healing to all of us. I will close with something Roger Wolsey posted on Facebook.