I say to hell with lemonade – bring on the hot chocolate, hot toddy, whatever. It’s the first week in May. Bone-chilling cold. It’s gray, a very dreary, gray. Cold fog hangs over the fields, maybe like the moors or some other sunless outback. And now, heavy snow for a couple of hours, then it stops and the skies slowly lift.
Looking out my north windows, across our hayfields – typical Wright’s Mesa landscape – I can again make out Utah’s La Sal Mountains on the western horizon. The Uncompahgre Plateau to our north has more fresh snow, but, like the La Sals, it too is shrouded with an icy fog. In the news, on TV, everywhere, I’m bombarded with reminders about the dire consequences of Global Warming. Save energy.
Sorry, but despite the fact that, inside the house, I’m wearing thick wool socks and a winter-weight fuzzy over a zip turtleneck, I’ve turned up the heat. It’s a matter of survival. Our ranch house, built in the late 1940s, is solar-oriented. And although the angle of the roof means less direct sun is coming in now through the big south windows, sunny spring days make all the difference.
I’m pretty much a failed gardener, but nevertheless, our grass is a brilliant emerald green, some neglected peonies are about a foot high, and the few surviving columbines are looking amazingly hardy and determined. All this crazy growing despite frequent snow squalls, some leaving four to five inches of white, soggy stuff everywhere. I haven’t seen anyone shoveling, because, between storms, it all turns to mush. And mud.
I ordinarily do regular outings with Hank, our English setter, who’d rather run than eat. With open fields all around, it’s easy, fun and refreshing to just walk out the back door, turn one way or the other and we’re off. But five days of nasty “spring” weather stalled our outdoor program. On the worst days – sometimes fierce winds, other times freezing rain – even Hank took a look out the back door and turned away. But then, it was time to go – no matter the weather.
I did the boots, the many layers, the extra wind pants, the faithful red-and-black parka (the one I bought at the Telluride Toggery maybe 10 years ago), the thick gloves, a particularly ill-matched scarf over my cap, and off we went across the county road to hike around in Raymond Snyder’s big field to the south. Raymond has cattle in there now, but mostly Hank is interested in other things – prairie dog holes, stuff that rustles in the juicy spring grass and all sorts of smells that must be investigated. And it’s a big field so we can pretty much avoid disturbing these munching beef machines.
I trudge. Hank, instantly in high gear, is a lean white streak – running low to the ground, turning on a dime when some new thing grabs his attention. In no time he’s soaking wet, his underside gray with mud. Although the grass is growing nicely, the deep grooves made by the wheels of the huge, circular, rotating “center pivot” sprinkler become small canals and gurgle audibly with dark brown muddy runoff.
It doesn’t take long to head back. I’m chilly. Hank’s had a good run. We’ve defied the urge to be wimps – the sort of people who my dear mother, a vigorous woman, described as “hothouse flowers.” But I certainly wasn’t humming “Springtime in the Rockies,” that venerable John Denver ode (or was it somebody else?) to perhaps the most unpredictable and frustrating season in the Rocky Mountains.