Spring is a time of new beginnings. Plants begin to sprout from the ground, people clean their houses and do fix ups, and young graduates find themselves facing a new world of unknowns.
Yeah, and the lawn needs mowing again after many months of lying dormant.
While officially spring began last month, the wet and cold weather has pretty much precluded me from having to contend with the green stuff that is planted around my house. But this past weekend that changed. A rain storm last week, combined with sudden warm temperatures, took my dog urine colored lawn into new heights of chartreuse growth.
When you hear people say "It's a jungle out there" they are talking specifically about my lawn.
But contending with rapid spring growth in my yard is the smallest part of the problem that I face. The biggest obstacle I have each spring is dealing with that often abstinent piece of equipment called a lawn mower.
Now many people take great pride in their lawn mowers. Some spend thousands of dollars on a ride mower so that they can mow their 20' x 30' foot section of sod. Others spend hundreds of dollars on powerful self propelled walk behinds. Each of these kinds of people spend hours getting their mowers ready for the growing season, doing things like checking carburetors, adjusting cutting height, changing oil and of course sharpening the blades, so that grass is actually sheered off by one small spin of the machine.
I have a different philosophy on lawn mowers than any of these people.
My motto is "Chop till it drops." With this well tuned, and might I say, time proven method of lawn mower protocol, I do absolutely nothing to my lawn mower, other than what is absolutely necessary to keep the blade turning. I park it in the fall and hope like hell it starts again in the spring; and if it doesn't a little starter fluid shot in the broken air cleaner housing usually does the job.
So each year when I face that dirt covered monstrosity in the barn where it has resided all winter gathering dust generated by the pigs and goats scurrying by, I am never sure what will happen. This past weekend I relived that spring ritual once again.
I pulled the machine from its dreary circumstances out into the warm sun on Easter morning. I filled it with fresh fuel. But don't get me wrong; I didn't bother to drain out the sludge that was left from last year either. I then pumped the little red button that primes the carb and pulled hard on the starting rope. It broke and I found myself laying on the grass, right where the house dogs had decided to take care of their business that morning.
As I took apart the top of the motor to rehook the pull handle, I of course found the dilemma of all who must tackle that task. It is the simple situation that human beings do not have four hands to hold all the parts together while trying to keep the thing wound straight. Despite my best efforts to screw things up and despite the rope being shorter than before, when I did get it back together, it did turn the engine over.
Of course, that's all it did. It didn't cause it to start, or at least not for awhile. Eventually the engine did cough to life, after numerous false starts when it revved high and then died.
I then began to mow the lawn.
Well maybe mow is less than an accurate description of what the machine was doing. Remember those people who sharpen their machines blades regularly? To be truthful, I don't. My lawn mowers blades still have the original edge they did when I bought it for $99.95 five years ago. I would guess instead of mowing, my lawn machine more like bludgeons the grass. But there is an advantage to that.
Everyone who has ever pushed a walk behind has hit a sprinkler, rock, dirt hill, brick or large dog toy at some point in their mowing exploits. This usually kills the mowers engine and puts a good dent in the blade. This actually happens to me four or five times during each lawn adventure. By not sharpening the blades, I never have to look at the damage done to the cutting edge. What you don't know, can't hurt you.
So as an hour and fifteen minutes passed, I pushed old leaves from one spot to another, cleaved off lawn that had grown six inches in the last three days, walked through inordinate amounts of dog dung placed there not only by my dogs over the long winter, but by many considerate neighbor dogs which come to my yard for friendly visits with my cats and to eat my dogs food. I also chewed up six pet toys, found that set of keys to my car that I had lost in November (or should I say I picked up the pieces after they had passed through the lawn mower), hit a piece of Styrofoam that had blown into the yard and created hundreds of new pieces of Styrofoam, and tore a sprinkler hose hidden under a pile of plum tree leaves into three pieces as it wrapped itself around the blade, which I now had to look at to remove the torn up plastic tubing.
After seeing what was attached to the mowers engine, that evening, I went and bought a new lawn mower.
Some things are just too frightening to see.
"Holy Cow," Uncle Spud sputtered as he put down his newspaper. "Did you see that big rally in Salt Lake last week in support of illegal immigration?"
"Yea, I saw it," I answered cautiously. "What about it?"
"Is this a great country, or what?" he said with a big smile. "Only in America would people dare to come here illegally, and then march down Main Street in broad daylight waving their foreign flags and telling us we had better get used to it. Do you have any idea what would happen to people from El Salvador if they did that in Mexico?"
"Things are tough in Mexico," I said. "They cross the border because they want a better life."
"I can sympathize with their situation," Uncle Spud said. "Things were tough in Ireland once. They called it the great potato famine. That's when a whole lot of leprechauns like me left the emerald isles and came to America."
"So you support the Mexican millions and their illegal immigration?" I asked.
"Not hardly," he mused. "We Irishmen came by the hundreds of thousands, but we came through Ellis Island. We came to the front door of America, knocked politely, and asked permission to enter. We signed in, got checked out, and got our shots."
"That's true," I said. "But the Atlantic Ocean was too wide to swim. I'll bet a whole lot of Irishmen would have entered illegally if it was just a river."
"Could be," he said. "I guess we'll never know. The thing that bothers me is that there are still hundreds of thousands of people waiting patiently at our front door while millions are sneaking in over the back fence. It is complete chaos, illegal, dangerous during the war on terror, and perfectly unfair to those who try to immigrate legally. By not stopping it, we make a mockery of our laws. Especially when we reward the lawbreakers by declaring amnesty every 20 years or so."
"So what can we do about the situation?" I asked.
"We've got to go to the root of the problem," he said. "Mexico is a rich country. There is enough for everyone there. The trouble is that only a small fraction of the people owns everything. The Mexican political, legal, and economic systems are rotten with corruption. That's why the Mexicans are coming here to make a living.
"So why is that our problem?" I asked. "If things are so bad in Mexico, why don't the Mexicans revolt and kick the rascals out?"
Uncle Spud rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Because all of the Mexicans are up here, stupid. Didn't you see the size of that rally in Salt Lake last week?"
"So what can we do?" I asked.
"We can annex Mexico and make it the fifty-first state," he said. "If all of the Mexicans are coming to America, we might as well make room for them."
"Are you out of your mind?" I said.
"It makes perfect sense," he insisted. "If they are coming to America anyway, why not take America to them. We could even declare war and then rebuild their country like we did for Germany and Japan."
"I like the statehood option best," I said.
"Me too," he smiled. "And I'll bet that if it were put to a vote, there are millions of Latinos and Anglos in the U.S. who would vote to annex Mexico. I'll bet there are millions in Mexico who would vote to be annexed too. What poor Mexican wouldn't want his hometown south of the border to be a part of the American dream?"
"I guess you've got a point," I said.
"And besides," he said. "Look at all the money we could save when we build that fence along our southern border. Our southern border with Mexico is 2000 miles long. If we annex Mexico, we can save a whole lot of money because Mexico is only about 100 miles wide down near Veracruz."
"But then we would have the El Salvadorians and the Guatemalans digging under the fence at Veracruz," I said.
"So let's annex all of Central America too," he said. "We could really save a lot of money if we put a fence across Panama. Panama is only about 40 miles wide down near the canal zone."
I think the business community in Price deserves a lot of credit for putting on the Easter egg hunt on April 8 in Pioneer Park. Too bad that cannot be said of the parents.
I have never seen such deplorable and inexcusable behavior by supposed "adults." My eight year old was almost mowed down by the kids and parents. I think eight to 12 year olds are perfectly capable of gathering their own eggs with no help from mommy and daddy. My daughter managed to get one egg while many others of her group got 15-20 eggs. How fair is that?
I couldn't believe the cheating going on. Many parents were putting eggs in the younger childrens baskets before the event even started. Are these the lessons we are teaching our children? Is it okay to be greedy and cheat? No wonder our youth have the problems they do, just look at the behavior of the parents.
My 8 year old stated to me, "Mom, this wasn't very much fun. I don't want to come next year and why do people have to be so greedy?"
We were told there would be plenty of eggs to go around and there would have been if not for the selfishness of others.
As a commercial land owner in Carbon County, I recently received a questionnaire from the County Assessor. The assessor's office is reappraising commercial properties and they are asking for our cooperation.
I believe most property owners would be happy to cooperate with the assessor's office. However, I do not believe that the information requested in the questionnaire has anything to do with the value of the property. My personal finances on my property are none of the county's business. The county has no right to ask me what my income is or how much I pay for electricity, insurance or anything else. In the spirit of cooperation, I will say that I see no factors in Carbon County that would justify our property values rising.
No sooner had our nation begun in 1776 than "E Pluribus Unum" was adopted as the national motto. Latin for "Out of many, one," the phrase appears in the ribbon held by the eagle in the Great Seal of the United States. It is also found on our nation's coins and currency, even on some buildings erected by governments large and small.
Originally referring to the union formed by the separate states, "E Pluribus Unum" has also legitimately been employed to indicate that immigrants from all over the globe have successfully populated our nation. The thinking in this additional application of the motto, of course, is that even though Americans came here "out of many" lands, they were always speedily encouraged to become part of our "one" nation by learning its admirable history, speaking its common language, earning citizenship, and assimilating into the American culture.
Thinking Americans have never found any problem with ethnic groups holding festivals recalling their heritage, or with youngsters being encouraged by parents to learn the language of their ancestry. But being fully American was always the goal and a major part of that was always speaking the common language. Whenever Americans of German decent celebrated Oktoberfest, they invited friends and neighbors of other backgrounds to enjoy the party. So, too, did those whose roots could be traced to France, Ireland, Greece, China, Mexico and elsewhere customarily delight in sharing with others the celebrations, customs, and particular traditions remembered from the "old country."
It eventually became no more than a matter of conversational interest where one came from, or where one's ancestors came from. Once here as legal immigrants Ã¯Â¿Â½and very glad to be hereÃ¯Â¿Â½new Americans joined other residents in proudly celebrating the unique American holiday that marks our nation's birth, Independence Day. The Fourth of July saw a national outpouring of joy at the good fortune in being part of a land that was the envy of the world, the one where dreams could most readily turn into realities, and the one where unparalleled freedom was the rule, not the exception.
Some modern nay sayers, however, like to point to slavery as a blot on this nation, even to suggest that the nation isn't worth preserving because of this fault. Those who truly love America acknowledge that tolerating slavery was a mistake, even a grave one. But loyal Americans immediately take pride in noting that ours is a nation where slavery was abolished, a step that made America an even better place.
Until recent years, virtually all immigrants speedily sought citizenship and assimilation, eagerly wanting to become full-fledged Americans. They worked hard at learning to speak and write in English knowing that this would help them to be a better citizen. But today, in ever-widening sectors of the nation, assimilation including speaking English and acquiring citizenship is resisted. Revolutionaries have defiantly announced plans to break America apart. With overt assistance or at least acquiescence on the part of some political leaders, they are well along toward splitting the U.S. into factions that refuse to recognize any central authority.
In the process, America has become threatened from within by invaders who don't want to be Americans and don't want our nation to continue to exist.
Another treat for good music lovers was had at the Price Civic Auditorium on Thursday. Gifted performers Billy Brown, Melissa Urry and Jennifer Chiara were responsible for a near perfect performance.
It is more than 28 years since I began a commentary on musical events in Price when I discovered that no one else was doing a commentary.
Far from being anything but a rank amateur on the piano and violin myself, I have studied music appreciation for many years and have seen and heard the greatest from Rubenstein to Isaac Stern. My CD and record collection give me a reasonable basis from which to judge other performances. It was the same Bach double concerto that was performed in Price at CEU by the Utah Symphony soloist back in 1979 or 1980.
Billy Brown, Melissa Urry and Jennifer Chiara need no introduction to local music lovers. They have long since established a reputation for musical excellence and dynamic performances. I hope that at some future time this trio will record their talents on CD.
What can we say about J.S. Bach. The great composer was great at everything -keyboard, organ, viola, violin, piano concertinas to name just a few.
Vivaldi the enigmatic Venetian composer, priest, girls school teacher, like Bach was a master of everything musical. The great rebirth in the music of these two giants has really been in our lifetime.
Mozart composed 5 violin concerto in about 4 months and the first movement of No. 3 was heard at the concert.
The Partita of J.S. Bach was somewhat of a virtuoso showpiece, which has it's unique solo characteristics - much skill required!
These well known and beloved Baroque masterpieces were played with great skill and sensitivity by Billy and Melissa. Jennifer is the perfect accompanist, never overwhelming the soloists, always with perfect timing and dynamics.
It was wonderful of these musicians to share their time and talents with an appreciative audience.
I had to put off ranting about the following subject for a week. I was already grouchy because of the time change and then I went to unwind by walking my dog on the single track trail near Wood Hill and was even more riled up by the time I got done.
I discovered someone had ridden a four wheeler along great lengths of the single track. Who ever this was didn't seem to care that they had to ride over plants, cactuses and other things to follow a trail that was meant for non-motorized traffic.
For well over two years the riders and walkers of this trail had been working to keep the footprints through the area minimal. Many of us have taken the time to drag natural barriers along sections to keep all riders on the trail. Now in one afternoon, the nature of several sections of the trail had been altered considerably. Where, in the past I had to pay attention to see the trail so I would stay on it, now it was a wide swatch of track and smashed vegetation.
The longer I walked the angrier I got.
Words like jerk, idiot and worse whirled through my head as I composed this editorial. I knew I couldn't write about it until I calmed down.
I rode the trail on my bike on Sunday. A bit of rain and some work by fellow bikers have mitigated the damage somewhat.
I am not anti-four wheeler in the least. I just wish that there could be a respect between groups of users of our trails and lands so that each mode of recreation could have some space. Lord knows, we have enough of it to share.
The fact that just because you can go somewhere doesn't mean you should. There are different reasons that we choose the way we recreate. Some are looking for speed or motorized challenge. Some are looking for a physical test of their skills. Others may be looking for solitude and quiet. And there may be more reasons, but the point is that we need to find a compromise in sharing the land, knowing that we cannot all recreate in the same area.
Bikers, hikers and back packers are certainly not all saints when it comes to cleaning up after themselves and staying on trails. Anyone that does not respect the land and just tramples willy nilly across spaces not intended for human travel can do lasting damage to the area.
I hope as we travel out to enjoy our wonderful playground around us this summer we will do so with respect for the land and for each other so we can all have a great time.