Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com
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Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Up here on the mountaintop I call home we can get big winds at any time of the year.

In the summer, thunderstorms form and give us quick bursts of ferocious breezes accompanied by lightening, rain and, of course, the crackle of electricity. In the winter, the winds can be sustained for hours at a time as they charge through in big storm systems that form in the Gulf of Alaska, roar ashore on the West Coast, and then blow across the country in just a few short days.

But it is the spring winds, those that bring with them the red dust of the Colorado plateau and deposit it on my house, on my cars, on my windows, on my grill, on my deck, on my Tipi ” on everything ” that really get my goat. This past couple of weeks we have seen the snow filled with the red, sticky mud, which soon enough turns to chalky dust after it dries ” The Red Dirt of Spring. Everything has taken on a pinkish hue from the big snows that have fallen in the last couple of weeks.

I can’t help singing the song by that guy from Genesis ” no, not Phil Collins, the other guy … um … yeah, Peter Gabriel. You know the song: “Red Rain is coming down. Red Rain. Red Rain is pouring down. Pouring down all over me.” In fact, I have made the refrain, with Peter’s pained vocals that seem to single some sort of apoplectic end of the world event, the ring tone on my iPhone. Whenever the phone rings I am reminded of the state of the weather. (If I was hipper I would probably have downloaded the White Stripes song of the same name)

I have even begun to dress for the storms by wearing my “Red Dirt” T-shirt. They sell these things in Hawaii where there is an abundance of the stuff. Dirt that is. The shirt actually says on the tag that it is made from red dirt. If I wear it in the red rain I can be assured that it won’t stain the shirt. Dust to dust, as it were.

They say that the red dirt is bad for the snow pack. That as it coats the snow, the snow for some reason actually melts faster. To me that is counter intuitive. I would think that a coating of grime would protect the snow from the rays of the sun and allow it to linger longer. Shows you what I know.

I do know that the dirt on the slopes is not a good thing. It gets all over the bottom of your skis and slows them considerably. It makes your white ski pants pink. It feels funky when you touch it and don’t you dare try to eat it. And it looks terrible in pictures.

I guess the only thing that is good about the spring invasion of Mormon mud is that it gets me in the mood for a little desert camping. I already feel good and gritty so I might as well pack a sleeping bag and head for Moab for a breezy night under the stars.

I’ll be the one wearing the red dirt shirt.


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