Castle Valley Comments – July 25, 2019

A short, 22-minute monthly meeting of the Castle Valley Town Council was held Wednesday, July 17 with three council members present and Council Member Alice Drogin attending by phone. Council Member Tory Hill was on vacation.

The water committee that was formed several months ago met for the first time before the council meeting at the request of water manager John Groo. The committee consists of Mayor Jazmine Duncan, Council Member Bob O’Brien and former Mayor Dave Erley. Groo said one of the first objectives is to complete a water master plan sometime in the future. Eventually the committee will do a lot of the current work being done by the water manager.

During the monthly meeting of the road committee, which was held the day before the town council meeting, the committee members nominated Merrill Brady as the group’s chairman for the next three years. During the council meeting, Duncan made a motion to the council to select Brady to the position, and the motion passed unanimously.

The council also discussed what they expected from the new Castle Valley representative to the Grand County Solid Waste board of directors. Last month the council appointed Stephanie Hamborsky of Moab to fill that position because no local nominations were received from Castle Valley residents. The council decided that a monthly written report would suffice unless a complex situation existed, in which case they would want her to report in person.

A good crop of apricots only comes around once every five years or so. The apricot trees start showing blossoms early in the spring when the weather starts to warm up after a cold winter. But a cold spell a little later in the spring will invariably destroy the young buds leaving us without apricots for another year. This year, however, our spring seemed to be delayed several weeks, which allowed the buds to mature and bring forth a bounteous crop.

It seems like everyone has apricot trees in Castle Valley and they are all trying to entice people to come and get all they want. My part-time neighbor, Ric Fornelius, was here working on his property several weeks ago and he was able to pick some ripe apricots before he left to go back to Salt Lake City and make a batch of jam with them. He told me to call everyone on our street and anyone else I could think of to come and pick all they wanted. The trouble was that everyone else was doing the same. I noticed a sign at the mailboxes that invited everyone to come to Dorr and Gloria Hatch’s place and pick them. She said she had two people come by and pick some of them off of their trees.

Jocelyn Buck has apparently negotiated a deal between the squirrels and her horses to handle the over-abundance after she has had her fill of making jam at her place. The squirrels climb the trees and take the pits out of the apricots and drop the rest on the ground where the horses “glean after the reapers,” if I may borrow scripture from the Book of Ruth. The two have an “amicable agreement” for the use of the fruit, she said.

JoAnna Stoddard has dozens of apricot trees and she is determined to use as many as she can before they are gone. She makes apricot syrup, apricot jam, apricot butter, and apricot nectar. She will add pineapple to the nectar and make a party punch. She also dries them, makes fruit leather out of them, freezes them, makes smoothies and, of course, bottles them. “They are very versatile,” she said. If anyone wants apricots she still has “tons” of them to give away. She said that during pioneer times people would dry most of them until later in the year, when there was more time, then they would be reconstituted by adding water and cooking them to make jam.

So if just thinking about all of this doesn’t make you tired, just wait until the peaches come on.

Twenty-five years ago this week, according to this column, the town council was concerned about fire, just as they are now. “The council passed an ordinance prohibiting fireworks or open fires in the town boundaries as a result of extremely dry conditions locally.” A few years later, an ordinance was enacted to refine the previous ordinance to ban open fires and fireworks when the fire danger is posted at “high” or above. This year we are currently listed at “very high” but historically the fire danger begins to decline a little from here. But as was mentioned earlier, our season seems to be behind by several weeks.