Friday, January 17, 2014

Driest Year On Record

        A little lady walks by the bike shop nearly every morning when I'm putting the flag out. Her name is Barbara. Yesterday I said, "Barbara, have you ever seen anything like this absolutely dry Winter we're havin'?" She was almost in tears when she managed to say, "Chuck, this really frightens me. What is going on?" We're used to having nine foot of snow by the middle of January, in fact, during several of my thirty years here we've had six foot berms standing on flat ground by this time of year. "Something a little different, is all." She was shaking her head side to side as she sauntered on down Main Street.
         Mountain people are getting a little freaked-out about, the weather, the economy, the lack of water, the health of the forest and somebody coming around to confiscate their guns. Nothing new, really. I'm pretty sure we'll all be talking about too much rain next year or the year after that.
         They'll be drawing down our reservoirs for the cities and farmlands below and even though it'll be shocking to see, I love this Cascade southslope because of all the natural lakes and springs that seem not to notice the periodic drought cycle.
          I have less faith in the economic cycle. How long can a recession last, even if they did stop calling it a recession a few years ago? The remaining businesses on Main St. are doing whatever necessary to keep the lights on; less employees, less heat in-store, wiser selection of inventory, leaning on the savings account to bolster the ledger.
         We believe there are good times ahead...a summer of smokey skies and empty reservoirs due to drought would knock most of the rest of the wind out of our sails. For Sale signs have popped up this Winter in the least likely places...Ayoobs, a general merchandise store started in Plumas County over seventy years ago by Lebanese immigrants, was the most recent listing. The Snowbirds and Summer people will return in April and May. They will once again complain that there aren't enough restaurants to choose from and that there's not a shop where they can find a descent pair of hiking boots...but we need their support.
          None of us know what it'll all look like in a couple of years but, I do know that this place is an environmental oasis and will remain one of the most livable locations in the American West.

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