Munro: Whither summer? |

Munro: Whither summer?

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
Byron Hetzler | Sky-Hi Daily News

It seems as though summer finally took hold in Grand County just a few short weeks ago, and now our quicksilver season is already racing away.

Don’t look now, but those really are yellowish leaves starting to appear on a few trees. And, yes, we have been dipping into the 30s during some recent nights.

This summer may seem especially ephemeral because it started more like an extended spring than summer. And this year that was not a good thing for those of us, me included, who prefer seasonably warm temperatures with summer. Recall that spring — at least from April to June — was wet and cool, if not downright cold. Which was odder still given that we experienced days in March and even February that were warmer than April and May.

Nevertheless, the resulting riotous wildflowers, abundant greenery and clear strong-flowing rivers were almost worth the protracted Seattle-like spring. Not that there’s anything any of us can do about it anyway.

Now there’s much talk of what might well be one of the strongest El Niños ever developing over the southern Pacific Ocean and how that might affect the coming winter snowfall. As near as I can tell after a cursory reading of the internet, not even the National Weather Service is willing to stick its neck out and declare definitively that it matters a wit one way or the other as far as weather in Colorado, and Grand County in particular, are concerned.

Yes, some years strong El Niños correspond with wetter, cooler weather across the southern one-third of the country and warmer, drier weather in the northern Rockies. There might even be an ever so slight correlation with the propensity of “upslope” storms to dump on the Front Range foothills.

Some years. Other years, El Niño translates into La Nada in terms of deviation from what are considered weather norms.

I’m just fool enough to offer a prediction: A quick blast of winter in early September followed by another glorious Indian summer, a cold early winter and a wet, mild February through May. Chances are I’m dead wrong, but no more so than most forecasters are on average.

Rescue us

What this summer may have lacked in prolonged warmth, it has more than made up for in throngs of visitors. In eight years, this is far and away the busiest I’ve seen it here, including pre-Great Recession.

Early record-level tax collections were a good indicator that tourism has indeed bounced back. Anecdotally, it appears the summer season may be among the best on record revenue-wise for local governments and businesses alike.

Of course, along with the bounty comes the blowback. Perhaps that’s why Grand County Search and Rescue experienced an epic July, completing no fewer than five missions between July 7 and 21.

That’s a lot of volunteer time when on considers that most missions entail a day or more — and some of these were multiple days— of hard work by people who are not being paid for their time. Nor does that reflect the countless hours Search and Rescue members put in for training and maintaining equipment.

“This community should be proud to have this group of dedicated and devoted professionals that volunteer their own time to keep this county safe,” said Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin. “These highly trained and qualified individuals have taken on many difficult tasks and have had a significant positive impact on the people and families involved.”

Indeed. Talk to someone whose life has been saved by GCSAR and the outpouring of unbridled gratitude is overwhelming. While that clearly constitutes a satisfying reward for members, it sure wouldn’t hurt to let them know occasionally how much they are appreciated for a job well done, no matter the season or reason.

Dog days

No, it’s not hot enough hereabouts to qualify for that characterization as it has become commonly understood. But the saying, according to National Geographic, actually has nothing to do with the hottest days of the year and everything to do with when the “dog star” Sirius used to rise in the morning sky.

Around here we’ll just settle for those long summer days — warm or not so much — when too many dog owners take leave of their senses and let their dogs run wild without regard to the comfort and safety of others.

I’m not going to repeat the screed that landed me in so much hot water a few weeks ago with so many dog owners. Fact is, I like dogs, have owned them much of my life, and consider them a leavening additive to most recipes for mountain life (or life anywhere, as far as that goes).

But this much I will note: That column clearly touched a nerve. I have heard from literally dozens of people who feel dogs at large have become a serious detriment to summer life in parts of Grand County.

In fact, so widespread and vociferous has this reaction been, I’m going to hazard another prediction: Look for a county-wide leash law in your not-too-distant future.

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