Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

Oh, How Soon We Forget

Sand Dunes

Image courtesy of Prozac 1/Freedigitalphotos.net

Let’s talk about the weather.  Oh, how soon we forget. The Rocky Mountain West, and perhaps the West in general,  experienced a rather hot and somewhat dry summer this year; some might even say the temperatures were unusually hot.  But were they?  I think not.  Parts of the area, particularly Southeast Idaho, I’m told, was also in the midst of a dry spell, but have there been past summers in that part of the world equally as dry?  I used to live in Southeast Idaho, and I can say, “yes there  have been.”  Talk of the recent past hot temperatures in that area takes me back to my teen age youth during the 1950s when I used to spend ten hours a day on an open air International TD 14 crawler tractor.

 There were no air-conditioned cabs in those days; the closest thing we had to air conditioning was an umbrella.  I would take my shirt off and ride bare chested under the shade of this umbrella(the direct heat of the sun can be very intense at an altitude of 6000+ feet).  I had a canvas water bag that held—I would guess—a gallon or so, of water; maybe two gallons.  I would drape the rope fastened to  this water bag over the radiator cap of the tractor and let the bag hang down in front of the radiator so the fan could pull air through it setting up the evaporation process that would keep the water cool.  I’m telling you, folks, the temperature in those days was bloody hot.  Dad used to trade combines every three or four years, and the first thing he would do before he ever took a new combine to the field, was to have a sun shade made for it; and the harvest in that part of the country didn’t usually occur until September.

 I remember another summer during the late 50s or early 60s when the Caribou County road crew in Idaho was building the government dam road north of Soda Springs.  I was going to the dry farm one morning in July, when I came upon one of the crew members filling his cat with diesel fuel.  I stopped to chat for a minute and we got to discussing that summer’s heat.  He told me that the road crew was going to start work the following week at 5:00 in the morning and quit at 2:00 in the afternoon  for the next month or so until the heat wave broke.  So as I mentioned before, the temperatures of this past summer really were not that unusual.

 Coupled with this past summer’s heat wave, we also experienced a dry spell here in the West.  Is this the driest we’ve ever seen it around here, as was expressed by someone in the newspaper a while back?  I think not.  I come from a long line of people in agriculture.  Both my grandfathers were in agriculture, although my grandfather on my mother’s side was only part time. Both these men were well educated, and while neither were climatologists or meteorologists, they understood weather patterns and cycles; knowledge that had been handed down through several generations.

 Dad always said weather patterns tend to run in eleven to twelve year cycles.  Extremes of one sort or another seem to appear on each end of the cycle with moderation of those extremes occurring during the other years.  The winter of 1976-1977 in Southeast Idaho and the subsequent following summer  was an example of the extreme.

 The summer of ’76, as best I can recall, was moderately dry, but produced a fair crop.  During the Fall of ’76 I was plowing my fields after the harvest, and was turning up chunks of dirt the size of basketballs or larger. The extreme of that cycle continued into the following winter and through the next summer (we had no snow in the valley during that winter).   My fields were bare of snow every month of the winter, clear into May; and those dirt chunks were just as hard and dry then as they were when I turned them up with the plow the previous September.  For many years, previous average winter snow accumulation for that part of the world was three feet or more.

 Many of us had determined that we would not plant that spring of 1977 because our farming operations were non-irrigation.  There wasn’t enough moisture in the soil to work it into a suitable seed bed or even sprout the seed, let alone sustain a crop to maturity.  But, then, 15 inches of heavy wet snow came in May, and we decided to chance a crop—maybe the summer rains would come also and carry the crop through to maturity.  But that was not to be. It was a hot, dry summer. This early moisture was the only moisture we had until late summer, and coupled with the summer heat, was not enough to sustain a crop.  Planting our crops turned out to be an exercise in futility. Later that Fall on one of my fields, I cut all day for two truck loads of barley containing about 400 bushels each.  The entire 320 acre field which normally produced in excess of 20,000 bushels, yielded little more than 2000 bushels of grain—it hardly paid the cutting expense.

 Then came the ‘80s when  things turned wet and cold.  There was one year, as I recall, when there were more days of clouds and rain than there were days of sunshine.  It rained so much during that period that the governor of Utah ordered pumps to pump the water out of the Great Salt Lake because there was fear the waters would rise to the point of flooding Main Street in Salt Lake City.  So my point  is, that weather runs in cycles; these past few years are part of the cycle, and  there’s nothing we can do about it.  Some are saying that these temperatures are unusual and they are the result of human activities.  While it may be true that we might be experiencing some global warming currently, it’s negligible, and there is growing evidence to prove that it’s primarily due to sun spot activity, and has  nothing to with man’s activities.   There is also scientific evidence that our entire solar system is heating up, so  I hardly think mankind can be blamed for that.

 On the other side of the ledger,  about twenty five years ago, these same global warmest extremists were bemoaning the fact that man’s activities were driving the planet into another ice age.  Do you suppose that accounted for the fact  that a few short years ago, there were a couple of global warming summits that had to be cancelled due to severe cold worldwide weather conditions,  or  were we in a cold cycle experiencing temperatures that were below normal for the time of year.  Oh, how soon we forget.   I believe it’s the epitome of arrogance to think we puny little insignificant humans can do anything to upset God’s universe

Now, having said all that, how about a short respite from today’s harrowing world?  My book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures will provide such a respite.  For a couple of hours you will be transported back in time to a slower simpler era of nickel Coca Colas, five cent Hershey bars, ten cent movies tickets, and ten cent twin scoop ice cream cones.  You’ll journey with Buddy and Cousin Mont as they go fishin’ for Carp in the irrigation canal, or when they try to earn a little bit of spendin’ money by picking bottles from the roadside barrowpits.  There are many adventures of the lazy hazy days of summer that may bring back a few childhood memories of your own.

You can get a free sample of the prologue and first three complete adventures by clicking on the free download button at upper right of this page.  Enjoy.  The book is also available for purchase at www.amazon.com.

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Copyright 2013 Will Edwinson