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Stopped Spring

“When all is said and done, more is said than done.”
Lou Holtz

With no warning, spring melted straight into autumn.
Leaves flamed orange before fully unfurled,
and fell incongruously on tender, dandelion-spattered lawns.
Tulips made it up, those facing the sun, but shriveled as it got colder.
People talked about it and joked, "It's a good thing we didn't put away the snow-blower."
But they were disappointed, and some worried about their heating bills.

They looked to the weather channel, possibly reassured by the omniscient drone
of cheery meteorologists forecasting probable rain and falling temperatures.
Some people talked. Some ate chips. Most led busy lives and adjusted.
News-reporters found other stories to tell. Life went on, but spring didn't return.

Just weeks after the snow had melted, it began falling again.
The ski industry celebrated and hay fever sufferers rejoiced.
Other people were alarmed and formed groups to talk about Stopped Spring.
The overall consensus was that the government was to blame.

Angry farmers, having consulted the almanac and planted early,
stomped at the waste of seed and demanded relief.
Hay and silage became scarce. Milk prices soared.
Consumer groups formed to talk about it.
The milk crisis was balanced overall by a dip in the price of beef
as dairy farmers liquidated stock.
Equestrian sports halted altogether when even moldy hay ran out.
Horsemeat became trendy in Uptown.

The effects of Stopped Spring spread.
Global markets and denial are complex so it took a while
for people to notice changes at the grocery store.
Produce remained plentiful, though distant growers starved
at an even faster rate than before.
There was concern when local prices rose, and people talked about it.
Many thought the inflation temporary, grinned and bore it.
Others complained, regretting their vote. Most wanted to get home and eat.

Months marched past in odd uniforms, out of synch with their names.
Commodities dwindled unevenly, and grains were the first to go.
Breakfast cereal manufacturers increased sugar contents,
their product being sold by weight, not volume.
Parents didn't notice and children didn't complain. Ritalin sales tripled.
Bakeries promoted meringues until eggs ran out, then closed their doors.
No bread, no pasta. People talked about that.

With the depletion of fresh produce, at any price, the same marketing logic
used with white rice and bleached flour was applied,
and canned foods became de rigueur on better tables everywhere.
It was all the talk, but the trend was short.
The last canned peas went for thousands. Diamonds were cheaper.

Outdoors, weakened waterfowl dropped mid-flight
and wobbling whitetails collapsed.
Wild young perished with their mothers before they could stand.
Men talked about it and put away their guns, disappointed.

Trees couldn't consume enough CO2 anyway,
but when their leaves fell early and didn't return,
Change accelerated and took unpredicted turns.
Icecaps gone, polar oil drilling began in earnest.
Fresh wars broke out over the rights.
When oil prices plummeted, everybody talked about it.
People traveled farther and farther to find food
but since there were fewer and fewer of them,
oil consumption remained steady overall.

It didn't take long to clear out terrestrial life.
After just a few cycles, only the neurotic hoarders were left,
mostly injured by starving neighbors.
They huddled and murmured, struggling with their wounds.
When their food was gone, they were silent.

Had they been there to talk about it,
people might have said they’d learned something.
They might have been hard pressed, though,
to say just what it was.

©Sandra Turner