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More Dogs on Main Street

There was a back-to-school ad in the Salt Lake paper last week. I was at Home Depot the other day and noticed that they were advertising a big "end-of-season" sale on patio furniture. Crap, summer’s over and I completely missed it. Which day was it?

The Fourth of July was a busy weekend around my place, with lots of family visiting from Colorado and Idaho. The activity level was pretty constant, but in the end we got away with only one ER visit resulting in three stitches, so I guess it goes into the books as a success. We managed to work our way through about a cubic yard of potato salad and a mountain of homemade raspberry ice cream.

Although it violates all kinds of principles, I broke down and turned the furnace on again. It was down to 36 degrees one night this week at my house, and when it’s hovering around 50 degrees in the house, well, the options are pretty clear. Somehow building a fire in the middle of the night seemed out of line for July, so I cranked up the furnace instead. That’s just wrong, but cold is cold. The weather over the Fourth felt more like Memorial Day.

It’s been hard to get things going on the ranch this year. The hay crop has frozen a couple of times. Neither was all that serious, but between that and night after night in the low 40s, nothing is growing. It’s a deep healthy green, but the cold has really stunted it. It should be in full flower by now, and instead is barely starting to bud. A few days in the 80s would help it, and better, a few nights with the low closer to 60 might convince the hay that it is summer around here. As it is, there isn’t a whole of growing happening out there in the field.

The flooding this spring so completely rearranged the river that none of the irrigation is working according to plan. For my entire life, there has been a certain predictability to how the water level drops. As the flow in the river gets smaller, there are places where I round up a bunch of kids and we go roll rocks for an hour or two to get the water steered back into the mouths of the ditches. Some years that’s early July, other years it doesn’t need to happen until August. This year, it’s had to happen almost every day and in lots of new places where I’m not sure if it will work or not. The actual flow in the river is pretty close to normal (and better than expected, given a pretty lame snow pack and the rapid runoff). It’s just not flowing where it used to flow after the flooding left piles of rocks, tree trunks, and sandbars in new places.

Around the house, I’m on the third planting of the planters in front of the house. The first one froze; the second one was eaten in the middle of the night. So far, the third planting seems to be hanging in there. The oak brush has finally leafed out, about the first of July, after it froze back a couple of times. Summer has had a rough time getting any traction this year.

And now the "end-of-season" sales are on. Got to make room for the Christmas decorations, I suppose. I was considering buying a new lawnmower, but if the season’s already over, that can wait for next year.

At this elevation, the only thing predictable about the weather is the unpredictability. The Fourth of July Parade has been snowed on more than once, and I’ve had snow at my house every month of the year at one time or another. My uncle says the Fourth of July is important because it is the demarcation line between the winter that just ended and the winter that is just beginning. Any snow we get now belongs to the winter of 2010-11.

The cool weather has kept things green, and this is about as green a summer as I remember around here. It’s beautiful. The wildflowers on the local trails are coming on strong now. So pull on the summer-weight polar fleece and get out and enjoy it before it’s gone.

The summer traffic in town has finally picked up. June was scary slow in terms of business around town. Anybody who could have packed up and left for someplace warmer, and the summer visitors held off until it quit snowing. The season seems to be in full swing now, with plenty of road construction to keep it interesting.

Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs on Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for more than 20 years.


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