More dogs on Main Street
In 1998 and 1999, both Park City and The Canyons were still open for skiing in the first week in May. I’m not sure that was any greater anomaly than the conditions we had this year, but The Canyons closed a month ago, and PCMR was struggling to keep people skiing to the bottom. A swing of a month is pretty significant. I stumbled across late closing date while looking for something else. A friend expressed great surprise that the hummingbirds were back in town, checking out the porch pillars where the humming bird feeders hang in the summer. He thought it was early for them to be here. I thought it seemed about normal, though I have to admit that I don’t pay a lot of attention to hummingbirds. I pay more attention to the sand hill cranes, and they seemed to show up right on schedule a couple of weeks ago. I’ve usually seen a moose or two in the yard by now. There are tracks on the trails around the neighborhood, but no moose hanging out right at my house. That seems odd. Anyway, these important issues had me digging through a journal I’ve kept off and on for many years. The range of weather this time of year is pretty amazing. Not just from year to year, or day to day, but the whole climate can change in a matter of hours this time of year. If there is a "normal" May in these parts, I surely don’t know what it looks like. This week we had record-breaking warmth, then a return of winter conditions. Back in ’98 and ’99, I noted that it was quite pleasant to ski in the morning and ride my bike in the afternoon, so it must have been warm, despite the snow on the ground. Of course, driving to work in the morning with the heater on, and home with the a/c blasting, is hardly unusual around here, even in midsummer. The peak flow of the Provo River, which usually is the last week in May, is very likely already behind us this year. Snow is pretty typical in early May. I’ve made notes of storms that have dropped from three to 10 inches in the first week of May over the years, and have photos of those late season blizzards that break off tree limbs. I didn’t find a year when there wasn’t at least one snowstorm in May, though my random entries are hardly a scientific record. But the odds are in favor of snow, and sometimes lots of it, right up to Memorial Day around here. What seems unusual this year is the absence of snow on the ground. My yard has been bare and actually a little dry for weeks now. Neighbors are mowing their lawns, and I’ve already seen sprinklers going in town. Even the snow bank where it slides off the garage roof has been gone for a while. Last year, I still had snow in the yard in patches on May 11 and the glacial mound along the side of the garage lasted into June. In just the last couple of days, the aspen trees have gone from bare sticks to nickel-sized leaves. It came on so fast you could almost see it happening. In 2003, there were no leaves showing on the 14th. In 1991, the leaves didn’t open up until the 21st, and there was still a pretty general snow cover in the yard. A year later, the aspen were fully leafed out by the 7th. So there is a range of almost three weeks in the aspen leaves. Somehow I would have expected that to be more regular. This is apparently prime time for bear spotting. I had bears in the yard in 2003 and 1992. It’s unusual to see them, though scat and footprints in the mud are pretty common. The guys from Wildlife Resources say the yearling cubs get pushed out by their mothers this time of year so they can care for the cubs born over the winter. So the young bears are out on the prowl, on their own, for the first time. No bears yet this year. But this was about hummingbirds. I made a note of seeing one on May 2 in 1998. In 1990, the first one got recorded on the 10th, and this year, I saw one on the 1st. That’s not a scientific census, but I’d have to say that the hummingbirds are more or less on schedule this year, and my friend’s concern that an early hummingbird arrival marked the onset of the apocalypse was, perhaps, a hasty judgment. The one thing that happens uniformly this time of year is that I have a birthday. No matter how carefully I plan, it happens every year. It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m out in the desert camping or biking, or here are home, it just comes along on the same day every year. Not much you can do about it, other than renew the AARP membership. There used to be a seasonality to the track-hoes and excavators around town, but they seem to stay in action all year now. The dirt is flying at the new hospital, though the project does not have final approval. Kind of hard to say "no" at this point and put it all back the way it was. Nothing is being done to fix the road system. That should have happened first. The intersection with the road to the hospital and S.R. 248 appears to be right where the access to the National Ability Center frontage road is now. In other words, we are replicating the exact layout of the mess that exists at Kimball Junction with the "McDonald’s" intersection being too close to the freeway ramp to let traffic clear. We ought to be able to learn from our mistakes. There’s not a lot going on this time of year, which is a nice change of pace. Just keep the snow shovel handy.
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.