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The Wasatch Behind: Weather that is changing

Sun Advocate reporter

An Ode To Spring

As winter sheds her muck and mud,

I feel a stirring in my blood,

I want to jump and dance and sing,

To celebrate the joys of spring.

But then I look into the yard,

At piles of work that will be hard,

Perhaps I'll stay inside to play,

And leave spring for another day.

Uncle Spud shivered as he stoked up the fire, pulled the bathrobe a little tighter around his shoulders, and dug his frozen toes a little deeper into his fuzzy house slippers. "Today is the first day of spring," he said. "I'll sure be glad when summer gets here."

"I know what you mean," I said. "Every year I get a little older and the winter gets a little colder. This one has been brutal. I might winter-kill yet."

Uncle Spud laughed out loud.

"This ain't nothin'," he giggled. "You shoulda seen some of those winters we had a hundred years ago when we first settled this country."

"You mean it used to get colder than this?" I asked.

"Well, maybe not colder, but we used to get a whole lot more snow and rain than we get now," he said.

"I've heard that," I said. "The Castle Valley must have been a much different place when you pioneers first got here. Ern Millner said the grass was to his horse's belly out on the sand flats near Woodside back in nineteen-ought-six."

"That's true," Uncle Spud said. "There were dry farms on Cedar Mountain and out near Cisco too. Old man Bittlecomb brought 1000 head of steers off the robbers roost in 1929. The water used to flow and the grass used to grow here in eastern Utah."

"Things must have changed a lot," I mused. "Even jackrabbits carry bottled water out on the roost nowadays."

"Yea," he said. "Things have sure dried up. Not much grass out there now."

"So what happened," I asked.

"There are lots of theories," Uncle Spud said. "It all depends on who you talk to. The Sierra Club says it's because my pickup truck, old rusty bucket, spews out greenhouse gas emissions that pollute the air and make the cosmic rays bounce back into inter-stellar galactic space where the sun's warmth is wasted by ricocheting off frozen planetary orbs like Mars and Venus."

"What?" I said.

"And the TV weather guy will tell you that we live in a rain shadow behind the mountains. Most of the moisture from the Pacific coast drops along the Wasatch Front, leaving us high and dry here on the Wasatch Behind."

He went on with his theories.

"Eco-man, Al Gore, would tell you that global warming is upon us and we're all going to die unless we ride bicycles, freeze in the dark, and elect him president. Hillary would tell you that the lack of moisture is an evil plot by the Bush administration to ruin our rural economy. Jane Fonda would tell you that we've got to share our rain with less fortunate nations like Upchuckastan. Rush Limbaugh would tell you that Bill Clinton made a secret deal to sell our rain clouds to the Chinese. Who knows, your guess is as good as mine."

"So what do you think?" I insisted.

"I think the weather is always changing," he said. "The weather goes in cycles. There have always been wet times, dry times, and in-between times. I think we are experiencing an in-between time right now. It could go either way in the next few years."

"Maybe it's like the wind at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon," I offered.

"What's that got to do with anything?" he asked.

"Well, just a few years ago there were a dozen windmills generating electricity at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon." I said. "Now there is only one. My wife says it's because there is only enough wind to run one at a time."

Uncle Spud didn't answer. He rolled his eyes, spit in the coal bucket, and poured another cup of Postum.

"So what can we do about the weather?" I asked hopefully.

"We'll just have to do what they do when it snows in Alaska," he said with a shrug of his shoulders.

"What do they do when it snows in Alaska?" I asked.

"They just let it snow," he smiled. "What else can they do?"

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