The honey and I spent the majority of our free time last week at The Home Depot. We were there so often, people started asking us what aisle the flooring was in and if the 10-82 eye wall socket something would work with the 49.65 drill bit. The checkout lady asked if we recently started working there. To which I responded, "Why? Is there an employee discount?" And the guy in appliances? We got to know him so well I contemplated inviting him and his wife over for dinner.
Like most home-improvement projects, ours took a lot more time (and money) than we anticipated. What started as installing some new cabinets in the mudroom, and reconfiguring it to make more space, somehow required a sledgehammer, tile cutter and $800 worth of new power tools. We were deceived into believing the project would be simple and foolproof. But as late author Douglas Adams once said: "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Which explains why I can never put together anything from Ikea.
During one of our seemingly 437 trips to The Home Depot, I got painfully bored in the plumbing aisle and started to wander around to distract myself while my boyfriend talked to the guy with an orange apron. (A girl can only hear "Well, this miter saw doubles as a drainage pipe if you buy the 10-24 extension and 8-97 adapter. But get the warranty, because it's only guaranteed until it breaks" so many times.)
During my stroll seeking some type of entertainment, I was surprised to come upon such a lively outdoor gardening aisle. Not only were flowers and gardening items already out, but people were actually buying them. And I'm not just talking about shovels and lawn mowers, but tomato plants, peppers and petunias all going into carts. I know it was 60 degrees, but flowers and vegetables? In March? In the mountains?
But the more I questioned these buying decisions, the more I sadly realized these consumers might just be on to something. Mud season is already in full swing, and we've been in full spring since about January 20.
Skiing the last couple weekends has been like trying to maneuver in a strawberry daiquiri. One that had been left sitting poolside for a few too many hours. Hiking isn't much better. My Dalmatian could have been mistaken for chocolate lab after a few minutes on the trail. Again this year, mud season started long before ski season was officially over.
And while it's too soon to call two bad winters in a row a pattern, the fact is, the last two winters have been a bit of a bust. Far too many times I've looked down from my perch on a chairlift and under my skis was a field of brown, not white. It's made me wonder if one day we'll have to change the state's slogan to "Utah, the greatest dirt on Earth."
Most of us live here for the snow. Our local economy and for many of us, our jobs are dependent on the white stuff falling. The survival of the recreational lifestyle we all enjoy here is, to some degree, dependent on the weather. And anyone who doesn't watch Fox News understands that to some degree, the weather is dependent on us. It's undeniable that the planet is warming and it's our fault.
But what can we do? We can't make it snow, or make it colder outside, right?
Well, maybe not with a snap of our fingers. But we can take small steps to make a difference. Like consuming less. Reusing more. Not buying things that come with more packaging than the UPS store. Buying items made locally, taking shorter showers, and using cold water in the washing machine.
And for the naysayers who say, "Why bother with all these little offerings?" Well, I think believing that we shouldn't bother trying to make a difference because our impact will be too small is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. That kind of thinking really upsets me.
Maybe my parents read me the story of the starfish thrower too often as a kid. It was a story about a guy walking down a beach, throwing starfish back into the ocean so they wouldn't die. Someone said to him that there were too many starfish for him to make a difference. The man bent down, picked up another starfish, tossed it into the water and replied, "It made a difference for that one."
The story, of course, encourages us not to be observers and instead take even the smallest action to make a difference. Which is what we all need to do to ensure the lifestyle we all love and enjoy so much doesn't dwindle to a four-week ski season and a 40-week mud season.
But I suppose if it does, at least I'll be ready for it with my new mudroom.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley. If you have a story idea, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.