The snowmakers have been busy at night, but it's hard to do too much when it's been in the 60s all week again. It's supposed to change, and at least cool down to something closer to normal. And who knows, it could actually snow real snow. Canyons is/are opening the following week. Deer Valley always plays it safe and waits until December, hoping to be able to open everything at once while the others get a rolling start.
I'm ready. I got out for one last mountain bike ride on trails that were mostly dry this week. An end-of-season deal compelled me to buy a new 29-er, and it had been sitting downstairs in the toy room in need of a good ride before calling it quits. I'd ridden it a little around home, but it's the season for gathering up cattle, making any roads or trails around here somewhat unappealing. I just couldn't take a new bike out and cover it with manure on the first ride. Short of heading south, which could happen, bike season is pretty much done. I'll probably have a few more road rides if it stays warm. Mostly, I'm ready to switch to skiing.
Having different seasons keeps it interesting. I wouldn't like living somewhere that didn't have some significant variations in season. Talk to me in deepest, darkest February and you might get a different story, but for now, there is an excitement going into winter.
The seasonal changeover is pretty involved when you live in the hinterland. The whole fleet of antique tractors has been tucked into bed for the winter. There are all kinds of conflicting advice on how best to put them into deep storage whether to drain the carburetors or disconnect the batteries. There are complicated rituals about fogging the cylinders with special oil. I decided to take my cue from the 1943 Farmall that's been on the ranch since it was new. The protocol there is to drive it into the shed and turn it off. After 70 years, it still starts up on the first try in the spring. That's good enough for me.
The snowblower is mounted on the new tractor, and the garage is mucked out to a point that I can park it inside where I can plug in the engine block heater for the coldest days. A couple of years ago I bought a remote-control switch, so I can get up, look outside, and if I need to plow, I can turn on the block heater from right in the bedroom. By the time I'm ready to go out to plow, the engine is warm enough to start right up. For people who live where somebody else plows the streets, it may not seem like much, but the fact that I don't have to make a trip out to the garage just to plug it in counts as a real luxury. It's almost decadent.
In a concession to age and a bum shoulder, I bought a mechanical log splitter a few years back. It's an electric model and frankly looks a little delicate. It was marked down for a quick sale and I decided to gamble on it. It's slow, but does the job. So the wood is cut and split. After nearly 30 years in the same house, I ought to know exactly how much wood to cut. Every fall I wonder if I don't need a little more, and every spring there is a little left over.
It's good to have a little extra around. We're not going to get hit by a hurricane like the East Coast, but the potential for the power being out for a couple of days in the dead of winter is reason enough to keep a big pile of wood in reserve. That and the fact that the lodge pole pines in my yard are all dead from bark beetles, so there is a lot of wood to be cut out. I was able to get the full winter's wood without leaving my yard.
The last thing on the winter list is getting the snow tires on the car. Like everybody else, I always wait until there has been a big storm that has me stuck in the driveway wondering why I didn't get that done sooner. I haven't even begun to procrastinate about that. So I'll see you at the tire store for Thanksgiving.
Don't forget to vote this week if you haven't voted already. It really will make you feel better, and it's perfectly OK to scream at the voting machine while you do it.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.