Hot, Smoke and Snow

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.

This is last evening’s view. Compare it with the photo below, taken from roughly the same spot.
early autumn snowfall in the high country (oct 2018)

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.

9 thoughts on “Hot, Smoke and Snow

  1. I just cut my beans down to 5 feet so I’ll have a chance of covering them. The tomatoes are in cages so they’ll be easy to cover. We’re going to be well below freezing for at least 3 nights. I might just be “showing up” and it won’t save anything. I know very well I don’t have the “last word” in this new 2020 wrinkle. I just have to remember to uncouple the garden hoses. I’m sure the farmers who’ve already harvested and gathered are glad of it. Fortunately (in some dimension) this hot, dry summer accelerated a lot of crops. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so many little and important jobs. The tender herbs (basil, thai basil, rosemary and some mint (not so tender) are harvested. Tomatoes covered. I’ll disconnect the swamp cooler and its tap in about an hour. Then–bring on the moisture, which, as you know, we all desperately need.
      Good luck to your beans and tomatoes!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In Southern California, we are in the midst of a second major heat wave. The temp was 120 in Los Angeles, and 110 where I live near the beach and a little bit south. Today isn’t quite so bad — there’s a marine layer overcast, combined with smoke from 2 of the major fires in the State, which is protecting us from some of the heating effect of the same sun. It is supposed to be a little cooler for the next day or two, and then back up to near triple digit heat again before the weekend. The power supply for the area is stretched thin, and there are preemptive outages to protect the grid. And tomorrow we are to have Santa Ana winds, which also will cause some preemptive outages to prevent the infrastructure from causing more fires! If you can, please send a drop or two of water, or a bucket of snow this direction this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking about you and your California fires yesterday, realizing that as dreadful as things feel here (and today is better than yesterday), is minor compared to your situation. Sending all good juju for cooling rains and calm winds your way.

      Like

  3. 2020 has certainly been a year that makes me want to stick my head in the sand. If I can’t see it, did it really happen ?? But alas, your last paragraph says it all, each of us needs to show up and do our best, and keep fighting on! Today I need to start cleaning up the yard, but the smoke (all the way up here from the California fires) is daunting. Tomorrow we are forecast rain, the first in I don’t know how long, but we’ll see it has been promised before and not shown up. Regardless far too late for the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

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