City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

December 28, 2016

December 27th

Filed under: Box Elder Tree, Colors, Light — canopus56 @ 1:54 pm


5:30 p.m. Temperatures as twilight descends fall into the teens, as a run late up the canyon. Already, I can feel the force of the lengthening days bringing strength and hope back into my limbs. At the solstices, the rate of change of the length of the day is at it greatest – two or three minutes per day. It is overcast, and all is a tableau of gray and blue slate sky and land. In the fading light only the catkins of Box Elder trees and tufts of dried summer bunch grasses show any hint of a tan color. As I exit the hills that mark the beginning of Pleasant Valley, even more shades of gray, blue-gray, green-gray are seen. I stop counting after ten hues and shades. Near milepost 1.5, behind me, a faintest yellow glow from twilight and the lights of the City filter through a cloud over the south hill of the valley’s entrance. Then through the cloud, the angle of the twilight changes, and the snow in the valley is infused with the dimmest, almost undetectable, yellow light. This moment of magic only lasts a few seconds. The canyon is empty; I am alone here, but satisfied.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 27th, 1851, he notes a red sunset proceeds the actual winter sunset. On December 27th, 1853, he observes how fresh snow allows one to note through their snow tracks, the existence of many small and large animals that are invisible at the other times of the year. On December 27th, 1857, he finds joy in the contrast in the seasons. At a pond where he swam in the summer, he stands on ice with numbed fingers.

On December 27th, 2003, dogs at areas set aside for them in city parks have become controversial, and lower City Creek in Memory Park is a “no-leash” zone (Salt Lake Tribune). On December 27th, 1993, the Salt Lake Tribune joked that there was such a heavy inversion layer in the air a runner going down City Creek might mistake Salt Lake City for London, Great Britain. (That year, 1993, was a heavy-snow, flood year.) On December 27th, 1951, citizens’ considered a proposal to build three water filtration plants, one in City Creek Canyon, because the United States Public Health Service was threatening to prohibit the use of the City’s low-purity water at interstate railroad terminals, at bus stations, and at the airport (Salt Lake Telegram). That would effectively have closed those important facilities. On December 27th, 1903, the Salt Lake Tribune described the then existing City Creek Water system in the context of the proposed dam in Parley’s Canyon. The “high-line” went from a head gate in City Creek at 5030 feet in elevation to a reservoir in the high Avenues. The “mid-line” went from a head gate at 4712 feet to the low Avenues and Central City. A second head gate at 4676 feet went to the Capitol Hill and west-side districts. The “low-line” went from a head gate at 4579 feet to serve the business district.


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