More Dogs on Main Street
March 3, 2006
It’s been a while since we have seen a storm like Tuesday’s downpour. It was a storm of Biblical proportions, complete with thunder and lightning out at my house. I noticed the livestock in Kamas had lined up two by two and were trying to get on board somebody’s boat parked out in a field for the winter. The dog was terrified of the lightning and hid out in some potgut burrow until it passed, coming home soaked, muddy and trembling. I don’t have a rain gauge out this time of year because, of course, it isn’t supposed to rain this time of year. If only this had been snow. I heard that everywhere. Imagine three feet of great powder instead of better than an inch of driving rain.
But it was rain. A pounding, driving rain that soaked the snow pack and turned packed trails into quagmires. Discouraged skiers and snowboarders got off the buses, soaked through to the skin. Some were using their snowboards as umbrellas. Disgusting as it was as a local, at least I hadn’t spent a fortune on airfare and hotel rooms traveling here to get hosed down. It’s just not supposed to happen.
On Wednesday, we had three vehicles stuck on my street before breakfast. One neighbor, who is pretty cavalier about not plowing his driveway, was stuck as stuck gets. He believes that he can avoid plowing by packing it down with his truck. It works, more or less, until the first big thaw. With the rain, it turned to mush, and he just sank down in it until the truck was high-centered. He called me, and I went down in my tuck to pull him out, only to get my truck stuck in the same muck. We were able to get mine free with a couple of ancient Scottish sheepherder incantations, and I went up to the barn to get the big tractor.
The tractor yanked him out with no difficulty. In the meantime, the workmen had shown up at the neighborhood’s perpetual construction site, and promptly got themselves and a lumber delivery truck mired. By 10 o’clock, I had put enough snowdrift karma in the bank to last a couple of winters, and everybody else was able to get in and out under their own power through the rest of the day.
I had hoped for a powder day on Wednesday. For a storm like that to move through and not set up a decent day of skiing is very unusual. But the early reports on the radio weren’t encouraging. Three inches here or there. Candy Erickson reported six inches in Jupiter, then added that it probably would be awhile getting opened because it had been put down with the benefit of a 70 mph wind. Sounded like ideal conditions to catch up on the laundry.
We all know what the mud season is like around here. Those of you who live in town, with paved roads and the like, miss the most extreme elements of it, but there’s no escaping the reality of mud season. Of course, mud season is in May, not the end of February. Or at least it’s supposed to be then. If you’ve planned things properly, you are in Moab or Mesquite or Mexico. It’s hard to get excited about a bonus mud season.
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The road into my house is running like a river. There are the typical snow banks on either side of it, and the ground under what is left of the gravel is still frozen. So the rain and snowmelt just flow down the lane. There were Class III rapids in the driveway. When it hits the end, where we quit plowing, there is a small lake forming. It freezes up at night, then gets a new layer of water the next day. It’s become a block of ice that will be there until July, ready to swallow up any car that tries to drive across it.
Oddly, there is still a little bit of the glacier left on the roof. It’s steep with metal roofing, and mostly slides off with each storm. But there is a little shed dormer that isn’t quite steep enough. It catches the snow and builds up a big glacier that slowly creeps off the drip line. If I’m lucky, it will gradually melt away. Sometimes, though, it nudges out there, cantilevered out a couple of feet, then all comes off at once with a crash that shakes the house and puts the rafters below to the test. Tuesday night, the rain helped move it outward. The ice melted, and it crumbled, dropping chunks of ice and snow on the lower roof every couple of hours. The dog had to get up and bark at every window in the house each time it happened, usually running in to make sure I was also awake between each stop. About the time I’d get her settled down, another glob of it would crash down, starting it all over again. The last little bit of it is still teetering over the edge.
The sunny days later in the week were great, but way too early. A lot of places, especially if they have a little south exposure, are down to bare ground again. I wouldn’t be surprised if the crocuses aren’t starting to poke up in Kamas and Heber — just in time to freeze again. As long as you don’t look at a calendar, you could almost imagine that it is spring. Until winter comes back, which we know it will.