High Desert Hoofbeats
Bright times to come...
by Sena Taylor Hauer
Mar 06, 2014 | 385 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The bright yellow faces of the season’s first desert blossoms stared up at me Sunday from beneath the branches of a dead juniper snag that I was tying my horse to. I was delighted to see those cheery little “whaddya-call-its,” because the calendar had just read February and the La Sals were coated with fresh layers of snow from a great storm.

Those little blooms seemed to need no reminding that we spring forward this weekend, setting clocks ahead for the next eight months to give us longer light in the evenings. Never mind the official start of spring is March 20. To me it starts with Daylight Saving Time.

The power went out along the river road last Friday evening just as we were about to drive down to Red Cliffs to enjoy dinner on their opening night. I’d called the lodge earlier to confirm the restaurant was open, and though I was told the menu was abbreviated for the start of the season, I didn’t much care what they were serving. A hearty meal cooked by someone else after a day spent in the barnyard got my stomach rumbling. But before I could say goodbye to the receptionist on the other end of the line, the phone went quiet. “That’s strange,” I thought, but continued on with some chores before sunset. A few minutes later I went in the house, kicked off my boots and tried to flip on the light switch. Click, click, click. No response. And that’s when I realized the phone had gone dead because the power had gone out.

With the light fading in the sky I dug out some candles and got them going, hoping that my emergency preparedness tactics would be all for naught and that the hum of electricity in the house would whir back on. But it didn’t. Next I found a flashlight and looked around for one of those old-fashioned corded phones that work even when the electricity is off. There have been times when the power has been out to just our homestead 21 miles up the river, but generally the outages are regional. Either way, it’s always a good idea to let Rocky Mountain Power know that our electricity is off, and to find out how long we’re in for it. After placing a call, the utility company confirmed that they were aware our power was out, along with 500-some other folks, and that it was estimated to be back on around 8:30 p.m.

With my stomach still grumbling I next dialed the number at Red Cliffs and asked, “Is your power out?” “Yes it is, and we just closed the kitchen,” said the voice on the other end. “Well darn,” I replied. “I guess we’ll have to eat cereal then.” I flicked on the gas log that not only took the chill off the cooling house but also provided some light. I shared a bowl of fruit and granola with my husband then opened up my laptop to watch a movie until the computer went dead.

Eight-thirty arrived and still no power. Another call to the electric company pushed their repair estimate back a couple more hours. “Sheesh, we might as well just go to bed,” I told John. I’d been hoping to take a shower, but the water to our house is delivered by a well that is powered by electricity. No shower, no hot meal, no big deal.

The quiet house seemed to amplify the stormy noises outside, but I managed to nod off, waking now and then throughout the night to black darkness but no blink, blink, blink of 12:00 on my alarm clock. When the phone rang around 6:30 a.m., I said hello to an automated voice that told me my power had been restored, but would I please confirm that fact by pressing one. I pressed one and went back to sleep.

One might wonder if the power outage on one of our opening tourist weekends might be a bad omen as regards this new season, but I don’t think so. I think it’s more likely that the early yellow blossoms of the desert’s first flowers are a beacon of bright times to come.

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