Tom Clyde: Go outside
According to the long-range forecast, it’s never going to snow again. The resorts are doing heroic work to keep things running, and conditions are what they are. I can honestly say that skiing is still better than vacuuming. For an hour or so in the morning, until the corduroy gets scraped off, it’s really fun. Then it’s really slick and kind of crowded, and the blessing of living here is that I can go home after a couple of hours.
They are still making snow at a furious pace, and I can’t help wonder how much of that water we will be missing in July. We may not be able to take a shower in August, but at least we got to ski in January. We have “sustainability” departments in both the city and county governments. They have been very quiet on the drought issue.
The plague prevention efforts at the resorts have felt mostly effective. You hear reports of significant numbers of employees being out, either sick or quarantined. Not surprising with 12 of them stacked in the same house, or carpooling from Salt Lake with the windows rolled up because it’s cold. I’m sure that is affecting all the other employees with longer hours and worry. From the customer standpoint, it seems to be working, right up until an unknown single unexpectedly hops on the chair. But overall skier numbers seem to be down pretty sharply, and avoiding the crowd isn’t difficult.
We’re experiencing a higher infection rate on a daily basis now than when we panicked and everything shut down last spring. I’m not sure I understand that. We’ve surely learned a lot about the virus and how it spreads since then, but none of that knowledge seems to suggest that it’s less dangerous than we first thought, or that it’s under control. Now you can register for a vaccination notification. At 300 vaccine doses a week, it will take about two years to get everybody in the county vaccinated. The delivery should improve, we’re told. Yes, it should, but there’s little in the totality of the plague response that suggests that it will. Biden wants a million doses a day. Right.
A few Republicans have suddenly found religion on the idea that Trump is a danger. It wasn’t so much the incitement to riot, or huddling under their desks while their lives were threatened, that made them change. Corporate America announced that they were shutting off the cash spigot and ending donations to members of Congress who voted against accepting the election outcome. Some have discontinued all political donations. Once it became clear that Trump was a clear and present danger to their campaign fundraising, even Mitch McConnell saw the light.
Skiing is bad, the plague abounds, the news is frightening — the only thing left to do was go outside and watch the eagles. There are some dead cottonwood trees across the river from my house. The eagles have perched on one branch there for my entire life. I’m sure it’s different eagles, but always the same branch. The river has frozen over upstream of my place. A tributary stream joins across from my house, and the combined flow is enough to keep some open water. The eagles hang out looking for fish or anything else that might wander by for a drink.
They put on a wonderful show this week. On one dog walk, there were two of them putting on a flight demonstration. They would dive and soar and swirl around, and the pair of them stayed perfectly synchronized, literally a few feet apart. They would fly one direction, far enough to be out of sight, and then come screaming back at tree-top height. That went on for a couple of hours. Pure ecstatic play.
Another day I heard a very strange sound. It was definitely a bird sound, and from the volume, I knew it was a big bird. It was somewhere between a turkey gobble and a sandhill crane’s giggle. YouTube, which is useful for so many things other than planning an insurrection, had lots of clips of eagles making that noise. They call it their “chatter call.” Apparently it’s the eagle equivalent to the conversation on a ski lift.
Anyway, the sound convinced me to bushwhack through the willows along the river where I could get a clear view. There were a pair of eagles chatting it up in the cottonwoods. One of them had a chunk of meat and was nibbling away at in the tree. In the branches just below, several magpies were waiting patiently to see if anything got spilled or if there were leftovers to clean up. I don’t know if an eagle would eat a magpie or not. The magpies seemed to think not and, at least for the time being, the eagle had something better to eat. I watched to the point of hypothermia.
These are just teeth-grinding times. Nature doesn’t fix it, but it sure lowers the tension. Go outside. It’s good for the soul.
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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