After surviving 2020, I dread to speculate what this year may bring. If you listen to some forecasters, 2021 may turn out to be 2020’s ugly sister.
I hope not.
This COVID year brought one misfortune after another: shutdowns, layoffs, record downpours, Hurricane Zeta—even a rare Carolina earthquake. Bad juju run amok.
Last spring, when face masks were becoming a thing and were so hard to find, I sewed some for family, friends and area nurses. A few dozen masks into the project, I received a call from the friend of a friend. The caller suffered from COPD. Would I make her a mask?
Yes, I said. No need to pay me. Just make a donation to the Red Cross.
I really didn’t care to meet a maskless person at my door. I said I’d leave the mask in my mailbox.
You mustn’t do that, the woman said. Don’t you know it’s a federal crime to leave stuff in a mailbox?
I was a little taken aback.
I’m doing you a favor, I told her. It’s my mailbox. If I get arrested, so be it.
A few months later, I found pink confetti inside my mailbox along with remains of a burned firecracker amongst the mail.
I called the Sheriff’s Department. A kindly deputy came to investigate. Of course I didn’t know who’d done it, and of course Uncle Sam didn’t send a posse.
So much for the federal crime.
But 2020 wasn’t done with me. Aside from epic battles with cucumber beetles, horn worms and stink bugs, it was a wet year. Plants wilted and mildewed. Part of the yard turned into a waterway, taking newly planted sod and grass seed with it.
Gutters malfunctioned. The crawl space turned damp.
My rot-resistant cedar lamp post decided to rot anyway and lean precariously toward the driveway.
Meanwhile inside the kitchen, my built-in microwave died.
Do you have any idea how many sizes of microwaves and trim kits there are? Can you imagine how many of them won’t fit my cabinet?
Such frustrations were all the more challenging because 2020 arrived four months after my intro to widowhood.
Tym’s grave didn’t yet have a permanent marker. That project resumed this past summer, after a quarry shutdown due to COVID. Tym’s stone was set alongside mine, my full name and birth date carved like I might imagine in some nightmare.
Three weeks before the tombstones were installed, groundhogs came calling.
I reported the problem to the Newton maintenance department. By the time they had a chance to trap and re-home the varmints, Tym’s plot was beginning to resemble a prairie dog town.
Wildlife, I am told, is nothing new to local cemeteries. Foxes, groundhogs and the like show up from time to time.
A friend commented that maybe the groundhog was Tym’s totem animal. Curious, I looked it up on the internet. Totem animals are part of the Native American tradition. The designated animals “stay” with you for life, both in the physical and spiritual world.
Not juju exactly, but close.
Yet in 40 years of marriage, I don’t remember any connection to groundhogs. Not that there should be.
I consider the cemetery groundhogs to be a random bit of 2020 weirdness. Such stuff doesn’t happen often. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be weird.