Clyde: Slinging dirt |

Clyde: Slinging dirt

Well, the gloves have come off and Donald Trump is going at it bare-knuckled now. No more Mister Nice-Guy. He claims the “shackles” are off now that Republican elected officials like Paul Ryan are openly expressing doubts about him. The dignified and reserved Trump we have seen through the election process so far is gone, and the real, unvarnished Trump is about to come out. At this point, he has nothing to lose. It’s going to be interesting to watch the next few weeks.

Of course, there is always the chance of an implosion on the Democratic side, too. We’ve got three weeks left, and that’s a very long time for Hillary to go without some kind of eruption. Somehow a process that is supposed to be a civic dialog about policy and the future direction of the country has been reduced to a junior high lunchroom food fight. I watched the second debate and came away feeling sick and in need of a shower. I don’t think I can stomach the third. Just make it end.

The election isn’t the only place where the dirt is flying. Residents in the Sun Peak neighborhood are up in arms about a pile of dirt that has sprouted on the Canyons golf course. What began as a berm to manage the flow of runoff water has instead become a repository of the excess dirt excavated from a nearby construction project. It’s 20 feet high. The berm is now tall enough to completely block the views from lots that were appealing primarily because they had great mountain views. They still have a great mountain view, it’s just a different mountain that is only a foot over the property line and too new to have developed any vegetation on it. It’s unclear if there are plans to install ski lifts on it. The homeowners are understandably angry.

That has all happened under a county-issued grading permit. At some point, it quits being grading and begins to look like a mining operation. For example, just across the Wasatch county line, by the Browns Canyon turnoff there is a mountain-top removal operation underway. The volume of dirt moved from one side of the highway to the other is astounding. The strange thing is that you almost never see a dump truck cross the highway. The mountain is migrating from one side of the road to the other, but how does it get there? A new mountain has popped up adjacent to Stock Lumber while mountains on the other side of the road have been flattened. There are track hoes everywhere, but I seldom see a dump truck cross the highway.

When the wind blows, which is almost always in that location, it’s like a scene from the Dust Bowl. I don’t get it. Moving that volume of dirt has to cost a fortune. The scale of the cut and fill operation to create flat ground out of mountains is similar to the mountain top removal mining in West Virginia. Moving it once is expensive enough, but this stuff seems to be in constant motion. It gets piled up in one place, then they sift the rocks out of it and haul the rocks one way and the soil another. One pile disappears and another erupts a hundred yards away. By the time it finds a final resting place, it is well-travelled dirt. I have to think that any profit out of the development is getting buried underneath it all. It’s been going on for several years.

When I got back from my recent week of camping, I had the start of a beard going. It was past the itchy stage, so I decided to let it go for a while longer. Beards happen. I used to grow it out every winter, and then one fall, without warning, it had turned gray. That ended the beard for a while. Now, it’s almost white. I’m not sure what to do about that. There is always the “Just for Men” beard dye. It won’t work on women’s beards. That seems like more bother than shaving. So what used to be kind of salt-and-pepper is now mostly salt.

There are all kinds of beards ranging from the obnoxious hipster scruff to distinguished professor. There’s Amish farmer, religious fanatic, or the full Duck Dynasty/you’ll-never-board-an-airplane-again look. In addition to length, there is the coverage issue, from full face to sculpted goatee. The goatee is the whitest part, so that probably isn’t the direction. There’s the Brigham Young beard without a moustache. These are big decisions.

Or I could just shave.

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.

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