Tom Clyde: A whole lot of weirdness going on
Nothing quite says "summer" like the sound of slush plopping off the roof, crushing the flowers that have finally started blooming in the yard. The storm was a little spotty, as they have been all year. Park City really got rained on. Out at my house, it was an Oklahoma-style dust storm with almost no rain until evening, when the snow hit. It was a couple of inches, just enough to mash the hay down. I can’t tell yet if the alfalfa froze or the stems got broken, but it’s safe to say there was nothing really good about snow in June. Other than we need the water. The river is already down to mid-August flows. It’s supposed to return to "normal," whatever that means, this weekend.
There’s just a general weirdness going on. It’s not just snow in June, with drought and frost damage in the same week. Nothing is making a lot of sense right now. The City Council voted themselves a fat raise without any real comment. The school district is building a secret $5 million building, just because, and raises taxes at the same time because they are over budget. Different funds, different uses, I get it. But still. The numbers are big, but when divided up among the whole community, your share amounts to a couple of trips to Starbucks, and so nobody much cares.
At the same time the County is trying to figure out solutions to the permanent traffic jam at Kimball Junction, they hire a full time economic-development person to see if we can generate more traffic there. The movie studio is in full construction mode. It’s actually going to get built — for reasons that nobody can explain. It makes as much sense as planting an orange grove in Coalville.
Then there’s the whole PCMR/Vail mess. Vail is threatening to force the eviction, and PCMR is threatening to take the lifts with them. Maybe that counts as economic development, with all those jobs tearing things out and then putting them back again. Meanwhile, the merchants at the resort base have to be wondering what comes next.
Heber is bracing for the onslaught of 20,000 hippies as the Rainbow Family sets up their annual bacchanal in the Uinta National Forest east of town. There are still 20,000 hippies left? Really? The main event isn’t until the 4th of July, but crowds are beginning to gather early. They apparently don’t have a whole lot else going on between now and Burning Man in August. A gathering of 20,000 hippies is so dated that it doesn’t even seem quaint any more. It’s as weird as a Civil War reenactment. Speaking of which, we apparently have Civil War reenactments in Orem, of all places. Three kids were seriously injured when a cannon blew up at a parade that included Orem’s annual Civil War reenactment.
Civil War reenactment seems bizarre enough in Mississippi, where they do it on the actual historic battlefields with descendants of people who fought there. But Orem? Utah sat that one out. In Orem, when they talk about Northern Aggression, they are griping about Salt Lake. But they have a civil war reenactment right there in the historic strip malls of Orem. Let us pause, lest we forget the valiant men who gave their lives for the Cause at the famous Battle of Taco Bell.
I’ve tried to determine whether this was a Union or Confederate cannon that blew up, and can’t. I don’t suppose it really matters, but somehow, I’m curious about it. Some of the kids are still hospitalized with burns.
In other news from Utah County, there was a cougar hiding in somebody’s garage last week. Not that kind, I mean a real mountain lion. A kid opened the garage to get his bike or the lawn mower or something, and a mountain lion snarled at him. You don’t see that every day. The mountain lion was in violation of all kinds of DWR regulations, so they put it down rather than relocate it to somebody else’s garage in a more appropriate location.
I don’t know what to make of it all. It’s like there is a vortex of weirdness, with hippies and cougars and well-paid Council members and incongruent Confederate soldiers all swirling around in a June blizzard leading up to the Summer Solstice. And those rouge magpies are still terrorizing people on Deer Valley Drive.
And then there are all those old Bush-era guys on TV talking about how we need to invade Iraq again because, you know, it worked out so well the first time.
Maybe all those hippies are right. Maybe we should all just paint up our micro-buses and hit the road.
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.