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No plums, no flu
The year 2020 will go down in history as the year the wild plums didn’t make and nobody got the flu.
Back in 2019, for the first time ever, I concocted some spectacular plum jam. My one jar was amazingly good. I could hardly wait for 2020 plums to make lots more.
Off I went in June to the best plum thicket on the farm, big basket in hand. I looked. No plums! My eyes refocused. I searched more thickets. I found three. Crazy year. When do we not have plums?
And isn’t it strange nobody’s getting the flu?
We’ve worn masks, washed our hands and stayed away from each other so much that the flu virus just isn’t spreading. My theory.
Remember early 2020 when COVID-19 first established itself as the prevailing news story? The flu got much press too. I think nobody knew enough to say about the Coronavirus itself so influenza served as a model for comparison, a handy news story stretcher.
Talking TV heads kept reminding us how many people die each year from the flu. You could either take comfort and tell yourself that the Coronavirus was just another virus, or you could think that we were in for a double whammy – a one-two punch, so to speak.
But death from the flu? Really? I couldn’t think of any such deaths in my own realm except a first-cousin twice-removed. He died in 1918.
Statistics are statistics. They don’t lie. It’s just that my friends and kin seem to die from other causes – anything but the flu.
By the end of 2020, five people in my circle of friends and acquaintances had died from COVID-19. Died! Several others survived. But the flu? If anybody got the flu, they didn’t talk about it. Only allergies seemed to hold their own as the cedar trees released their pollen into winter winds. They still are.
I asked Google “Why isn’t anybody getting the flu?”
If you really want to know all aspects of the flu story, do your own research. Meanwhile, here are some high points from “How COVID-19 is changing the cold and flu season,” posted mid-December on a site called Nature:
Common seasonal infections are indeed down worldwide.
The Southern Hemisphere has been through a COVID-19 winter, hardly affected by the flu. Our winter experience could be similar. Along with the flu, some other viruses are down Down Under. For example, in Western Australia, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was down by 98 percent and the flu was down by 99.4 percent.
People everywhere, however, still seem to be catching colds. That’s the rhinovirus at work. (I see a rhino; do you?)
If you’ve had a cold, be glad. It might offer you some protection against the Coronavirus. That’s a theory.
All things considered, Nature.com advises we prepare for a worst-case scenario. Virus experts agree it’s a sophisticated guessing game.
Me, I’m just counting on wild plums in June. Whatever the bad news, plums will be antidotal.