City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

February 23, 2017

February 23rd

Filed under: People, Seasons — canopus56 @ 11:05 pm

The Unicyclist and the Umbrella

7:00 p.m. King winter has returned. Temperatures have dropped into the mid-twenties and overnight and throughout the day, it has been snowing on and off. In the battle between winter and spring, winter shows of all his forms of snow in a few short hours. There is fluff powder, intense storms of graupel, slush, and light snow that melts on contact. In the canyon, there is a quarter-inch of light snow on the road, and that and the light falling snow has kept everyone away. Complete solitude returns as I jog up with the sound of crunching snow under my feet and sprays of tossed snow emanating from my toes. The stoneflies, other insects, and squirrels have returned shelter under rocks and in burrows. The newly formed grass shoots will be injured, but all this will quickly melt tomorrow. The air is thick and fog like from the twilight and falling snow.

Returning down canyon, out of the mist, a unicyclist appears, riding in the opposite up-canyon direction while holding an umbrella in one hand and a briefcase in another comes. For people who work downtown or live in the nearby Avenues or Capitol Hill area, he is a familiar site. He is a well known attorney who gets his exercise by commuting between work and home by unicycle. He is taking an long detour on his way home and his presence brings a welcome whimsy to the canyon. I marvel that he is able to maintain balance and sufficient traction to ride uphill through the snow.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on February 23rd, 1854, he describes how a snow storm is forming sculptured drifts. On February 23, 1857, he sees two yellow-spotted tortoises. He sees other signs of spring: a frog and sap flowing from a red maple tree. On February 23, 1859, he sees eight to ten bluebirds. On February 23, 1860, he records a temperature of 58 degrees, and he notes that green shoots of several species are growing.

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