Journaling Covid-19 April 18

I’m between that proverbial rock and a hard place. Buffeted by a blustering wind that is sucking up any moisture that we have, I could write about our on-going drought, or I could up the ante and write about this week’s protests against stay-in-place orders.

So many choices. Life is full.

2020 04 17 drought

I’ll start with drought and maybe save my rant for another day. Monday, perhaps.

To begin, I’m posting a photo of our seriously dry, over-grazed 180 acres up on Promontory Divide.  At an elevation of 8,606 ft. and with no trees to break the wind, it is harsh place best suited for cattle. People not so much.


See that dark circle towards the bottom of the photo? That used to be a sizeable pond – it was a large pond – big enough that when we bought the land in the mid-90s, we imagined floating on the water under the summer sun and  swimming in the late fall. After which we would run to our Russian banya (sauna) to warm up. Mark would have heated the stove in the banya, and I would have the birch branches soaking in water. Dashing from the freezing water to the hut, we would take turns lying on one of the benches while the other rhythmically (with increasing force) tapped/beat our backs with the pliable branches. (Thank you, thank you, Luda and our Valdai friends, for all the winter banya trips.)

That first winter of property ownership, we climbed up through hip-deep snow to delight in the expansive landscape, the Crestone Needles in the distance, and our very own large pond.

We haven’t had a pond in years! Last year we have somewhat of a bog, but no standing water. Every year has been drier. Yes, I am older and my memory isn’t what it was, but I am most certainly not romanticizing about the past. Science backs me up.

2020 04 18 drought pixColorado didn’t make the map but is in mostly in a moderate drought. In this week’s Wet Mountain Tribune, the headline read “SNOTEL AT 73% after record-breaking cold weather.” Statistics by the  USDA’S Natural Resources Conservation Service for April through July of this year predicts that moisture will be only 66% of average.

2020 04 18 forest fireYesterday, April 16, I read “Climate Change: US mega drought already underway.” In the article by Matt McGrath, I read that the drought started in 2000. (See Based on tree ring records which reveal soil moisture, scientists say that we have experienced four mega-droughts in the late 800s, the mid 1100s, the 1200s, and the late 1500s. And… we are on track for another.

Thanks to La Nina and global warming, temperatures have climbed dramatically since 2000, plus forest fires are ten times more frequent than they were 40 years ago. A constellation of factors play into the issue of forest fires, but much of Colorado is at-risk.

DSCN9968If there is any good news, I have my first dandelion (yes, those pesky weeds that most gardeners curse). It is exciting on several fronts. First, the flowering weed is a touch of color – a sign of an emerging spring. Second, do you have my recipe for dandelion wine?

In the past I have harvested dandelion’s at the Abbey in Canon City and more recently out at Beckwith Ranch. Wait until the field is flush with dandelions. You want to sit for five or ten minutes picking in one place before moving a foot or so for more picking.

Pour one gallon of boiling water over 1 gallon of dandelion blossoms. Let stand in a cool place for three days. Pour the liquid in a large kettle and add the rind of two lemons and two oranges grated fine. Boil for 1/2 hour. Add 3 pounds of sugar and the pulp and juice of the fruit. Allow the mixture to cool and then add 1/2 cake of yeast. Strain and allow the liquid to stand for a week in a warm place. Strain again. When it stops fermenting, bottle the wine in Mason jars.

This wine is fine to drink the first year, but it improves over time. If you think that you might live another 10 years, save it. Otherwise, based on your general health and the health of our nation, drink it before you die.


About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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6 Responses to Journaling Covid-19 April 18

  1. Caroline Vornberg says:

    What a poignant and in-your-face commentary on your personal and our regional drought. Very graphic. Very sobering. And we get worse at protecting what precious water we do have. Earth Day spent at the computer with remote sites and photos will be weird. We will spend that day delivering a friend to her family and getting stuff to friends with our masks on. Our stay in place is a hotbed of controversy, when it should be a defining event we all support… Kudos to your dreams — and outlooks on your musings. Keep thinking! Enjoyed this writing😊

    • timeout2 says:

      Yes, the controversy over the stay-in-place orders is very concerning. I understand the concern for our economy, but what good is a thriving economy if you and half your friends are dead? For years, I’ve tried to walk the straight and narrow – right down the middle of the yellow brick road, but I’m finding that my heart is hardening and I have less interest in trying to bridge the Great Divide. Thank you for your comments, Caroline.

  2. Ingeborg P Munden says:

    After deep reflection, the wine may not make it to the Mason Jars!

    • timeout2 says:

      The trick, Inge, is to not bottle the dandelion wine too early. I learned the hard way that if you bottle wine before the fermentation stops, your Mason jar might just explode. Ask me for my recipe for prune vodka – it is also better the longer it ages. AND you can have a healthy shot before breakfast – for therapeutic reasons, of course.

  3. Marti Minogue says:

    I love your blogs, Doris! Thanks for sharing your unique musings on your life and our life on this precious planet. Yes, water is the literal life blood of the planet. When I lived in WV, my water was gravity fed from a spring up on the mountain above my farm. It supplied all the water for household and barnyard use. Yet the greed of trying to use our fragile karst limestone ecology to “frack” for oil threatened to contaminate our pure water ( that actually won international water awards). So even in an area replete with water, there is danger. The movie (document drama) titled Dark Water presented this problem in a chillingly informative way. Thanks, Marti
    PS. My horses always loved to eat dandelions.

  4. timeout2 says:

    Thank you for your detailed response, Marti. I now know more about you and your background. In general, I don’t think we retirees know enough about our neighbors’ back-story. I should have a party and as guests mingle, the first words out of their mouth would be what they were doing 10, 15, 20 years ago. I’m gonna do that. xo

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