Tom Clyde: Sneezing into spring
The aspen trees around my house are in bloom. They seem especially enthusiastic about it this year. The end result is that I’ve had a couple of sneezing fits that just about turned my sinuses inside out. There’s been no rain since they started, and a fair amount of wind, and the pollen is thick. The arsenal of allergy meds lined up on the bathroom counter is growing, though not all that effective. Once the sneezing gets going, there’s nothing to do but sneeze until it ends. The dog runs for cover.
So spring is here for real, even though we all know it can’t be trusted. It would be surprising if we get through May without another shot of snow, though this year, nothing should surprise us with the weather. After a dry winter, the big question is whether it stays dry, or rains a lot to even things out a bit.
Things are greening up around the ranch. There’s a little grass coming up, and some very early wildflowers have already bloomed. There’s not a hint of a leaf on the aspen trees yet. They are preoccupied with other matters for the time being. Whole aspen groves are said to be the same plant, sharing the same root system with hundreds of trees. They spread from shoots. So I’m not entirely sure what all the pollination is about. There must be a way to grow an aspen from seed, and the fuzzy blossoms will eventually drop off with seeds in them. On my yard alone there will be enough of the seed pod/blossoms to fill a trashcan. As best I can tell, nothing ever gets planted and turns into a new tree. But it must have some function beyond the sale of Zyrtec.
A pair of geese have decided to nest on a little island in the middle of the river in front of my house. It looks safe and secure, but another week and it will be underwater. In the meantime, there is a lot of honking out there. They seem to enjoy taunting the dog. He’s safely out of range. The water’s already swift enough he won’t go in. He’s content to growl at them from the bank.
I should be using these warm days to get a jump on all the work that needs to be done around here. While there wasn’t much snow, this winter seemed windier than usual, and there are piles of branches all over the yard. I should be hauling them away, but when I get started with a project like that, there’s always some more pleasant distraction. This weather has been perfect for road biking. It’s drying out enough that at least the lower, more open trails are ready. So not much is getting done.
Another good reason to be outside is to get away from the telephone. I’m not sure what’s triggered it, but I’m getting several sales calls a day. There’s a solar energy company that is determined to put solar panels on my well-shaded roof. They use one of those systems that makes the caller ID show a local phone number. Sometimes it will even give the name of the person whose number they’ve cloned, but mostly, it will show just the number. On the Kamas phone system we only dial the 7 digit numbers, and not the area code, to make a local call. So when it shows the 435 with a local number, I know it’s the solar guys.
I don’t understand that sales approach. A solar installation is many thousands of dollars, and they think I’m going to spend that kind of money with a company so shifty that they can only contact new customers through deception. Apparently enough people will bite that they keep calling, sometimes three or four times a day from different fake numbers. So I basically no longer answer the phone.
And then there’s mechanical Heather from the credit card company, who tells me it’s urgent that we talk about my account, then says there’s nothing wrong with my current account (like she would know, since she’s not calling from my bank) but she can offer me a better credit card if only—click. They aren’t selective. I’ll get calls about refinancing student loans and prepaid funeral plans back to back. I’m not at an age where either is much of a concern. If only they had a solution to allergies…
Robo-call advertising is dirt cheap, and so maybe if they get 1 or 2 actual sales out of a thousand annoying phone calls, it’s worth it. But if we really want to put an end to the annoying sales calls, quit buying. If I ever do add solar panels to the roof, I know who I won’t be buying them from.
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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Building a county budget around a $1B windfall that turned out to be a typo is a lot like taking a fake lottery ticket to the state office. Except worse in every possible way.