Vignettes of a Utah Summer

Vignettes of a Utah SummerSun Backlit White Dandelion Courtesy Pixabay, Adina Voicu, Contributor
Courtesy Pixabay, Adina Voicu, Contributor
What you’re about to hear
Is the opinion of someone who really does care
I oscillate between an optimist
And a pessimist who doesn’t want his dreams to come true
Maybe you’re like me
But hopefully you’re like you

Now I may and often do complain, critique, and crack
But it’s because I want us all to do better
Leaders, followers, neighbors, you, and me
Better nice
Better good

However, with these benevolent intentions
I do freely admit to have a hidden top-secret cryptic agenda:
My hope that we don’t stop at better
But instead be our best
Best nicer
Best gooder

Impossible? No.
Improbable? We’ll see.

I have hope.

Adaptive Palate
The tomatoes ripen quicker
The peach leaves scorch deeper
The neighbor’s grass drinks more
And seeing all this it’s hard not to as well

Hot hot
Too hot
To hot

Change isn’t a four-letter word
It’s at least five
Six even depending on how you spell it
Three if you know geometry
Unless you’re thinking about cash

I can’t hear through the firecrackers
The crickets,
the owls,
My thoughts,
the baby’s breathing

The dogs hide from the booms
The screaming town children joust with screaming Roman candles
Squires ready to blindly defend their k/nights

My wife and I, but mostly my wife
Honestly exclusively my wife
Had our first child in June
A daughter
Born this spring
Living through this summer
Her first

She’s seen the hottest days since records began
And not just her records
All of them
The hottest weeks
The hottest June
The hottest July
But she doesn’t complain about it necessarily

I do though
My wife does
The dogs do
Our friends do
Not all of our neighbors do
But a lot of them
OK maybe not a lot of them
But at least the ones we talk to
Some of those ones do
The rest are ready for the end
And engorge their lawns in the sun accordingly

While baby sleeps
While baby dreams
While baby has tummy time
While baby gets strong
While baby eats and eats and poops and eats
While baby grows
While baby slowly learns about the world she lives in

Cache Valley Desert
Personally, I can’t wait
Until Cache Valley is a desert
I want those early mornings just outside my door
Those cool desert mornings
When the snakes are in their dens
And the birds are working their plains
I’m ready for crepuscular adventures
For the end of the era of turf
And for the beginning of the age of roadrunners
Meep meep!

Five whole feet
But where are all the pelicans

Four whole feet
But why is there still dust

Three whole feet
But shouldn’t it be more

Two whole feet
But where did it all go

One whole feet
But ten more are needed

But ten whole feet
Isn’t that impossible

It is with that attitude
So let’s change it
Change us
And work

I’m Patrick Kelly and I’m Wild About Utah


Images: Courtesy Pixabay, Adina Voicu, Contributor
Audio: Courtesy & © J. Chase, K.W. Baldwin and Anderson, Howe, Wakeman
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Stokes Nature Center,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center,

Gratitude is Work

Gratitude is Work: American Robin Courtesy Pixabay, Chakraaphotography, contributor
American Robin
Courtesy Pixabay,
Chakraaphotography, contributor
All y’all, I think winter may be over. Here it is, mid too-early yet again, and it’s thawed even the once. Or is it twice now? Do I have a thrice? Either way: woof. I can’t say I didn’t expect this, given the past 30 years, but I was at least hoping to be in error one of these times. Don’t get me wrong, the interludes are nice, but seasonal consistency would be at least in line with what I remember.

Now, I’m only a ripe old 31 and the last good winter, true winter, winter like winter should be, I remember is still lodged in that ever-expanding haze of childhood I once thought only existed with fogies. Once you get that haze behind you though, it seems you’re always nostalgic, at least now where winter is concerned, if you are concerned about winter.

But that last ‘normal’ winter I recall, I can’t even give you a year, or my age to be fair. I just feel like it was back there, way back. The kind of winter that used to make glaciers seed and grow, that was more than just some storms. If I remember correctly, I remember remembering. Now that I think of it, it may have actually been a story my parents or grandparents told me about how winters used to be. Cold and snow from stem to stern, pillowy white nivian firmament blanketing every ski hill, and quieting every night, all the way until the very edge of spring when a great melt would rise up and make the world descend into mud. To be honest, I would even expect that my last memory of a good winter was a tale I was told to placate me when we had even poor winters back then that made my folks nostalgic. But even those off winters which rubbed my folks into remembrance it appears take me, too. Even my poor childhood winters are perhaps truer than those I see today. That certainly lifts the spirits. Woof. It makes me miss even more that which I’ve never even had.

But then the better of me gets in, and I look out my window and see that it’s not gone yet, as rickety as it may be. I recall that it is disingenuous to pray for something imagined as gone and not to thank it when it’s actually here. That’s how I was raised at least. Gratitude is not rocket science. But it is work.

By that I mean that work is the greatest gratitude we can show. Work towards winter and water and snow means more than utterances and nostalgia and certainly desperation. And I’m not afraid of the work. I wasn’t raised to be. Work isn’t hard, it’s just difficult. I was taught that just because we do not inherit the blame does not mean that we do not inherit the responsibility. But if we do not take up this effort, then the blame shall be more ours than even those before. Do we want to be the people who could have done something, or those who did?

Now, I know at this point the next generation will likely too only know a world with whatever-we-call-this being considered a “good childhood winter” in their grand arc of life, but I refuse to let them see what could’ve been get in the way of what can be once more. All it will take is many years of nonstop intergenerational gracious work by all of us. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

I’m tired of praying for snow because I remember remembering what it once was. Even though I’d rather see than believe, I’ll be thankful for what is here. From grief there is a pathway to thankfulness, and from thankfulness there is a pathway to action. It may be that you cannot see the way, but that does not negate that it is there. So, even in the waning days of another rickety winter, let’s mold our dourness to be thankful for what we do have, and turn our gratitude into the work necessary to make our prayers increasingly more often in thanks rather than in desperation.

I’m Patrick Kelly, and I’m Wild About Utah.
Images: Courtesy Pixabay, , Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver,
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center,
Included Links: Patrick Kelly & Lyle Bingham, Webmaster,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center in Logan Canyon,

Cache Valley Christmas Bird Count (CBC) and Climate Change

Cache Valley Christmas Bird Count Courtesy Camilla Cerea, Photographer All Rights Reserved
Christmas Bird Count
© Camilla Cerea, Photographer
All Rights Reserved
It might be worth checking one’s mental state if they were to spend many hours in frigid temperatures hoping to find a bird. There are many of those crazies in our valley here in northern Utah. Citizen Scientists they call us. After all, we do follow strict protocol that defines boundaries, time and what is legitimately called a bird siting or sounding. Yes, there are errors in counts when a flock of European starlings darken the sky, or when trying to identify a distant raptor, that is scarcely more than a black dot in the heavens.

Called the Christmas Bird Count, this event is the longest citizen science program in the world, where data has been collected since 1899. Here in Cache Valley it began in 1955. It occurs throughout the state and world with many countries participating. Visit your local Audubon chapters if you care to be involved. Wasatch, Salt Lake and St George all have chapters. Bear Lake, Vernal and Provo also do counts. And I am sure there are others in your area if you inquire.

Along with the fun it brings, the count has special significance for our changing climates’ impact on birds, which is disrupting populations and their spacial distribution are changing at an accelerating rate.
The data collected by observers over the past 118 years has allowed researchers to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America and Central and South America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space. This long term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to better protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well.

Audubon’s 2014 Climate Change Report is a comprehensive study that predicts how climate change could affect the range of 588 North American birds. Of the bird species studied, more than half are likely to be in trouble. The models indicate that 314 species will lose more than half of their current range by 2080.
Audubon’s Common Birds in Decline Report revealed that some of America’s most beloved and familiar birds have taken a nosedive over the past forty years.

142 species of concern are found in our state, including our state bird, the California gull and our national bald eagle.

If you aren’t up to braving the elements, Project FeederWatch and Great Backyard Bird Count are other options you may find by googling. I’m hoping for good visibility and temperatures above zero as I prepare my optical instruments and hot chocolate.

And please keep those bird feeders full as we enter the coldest month of the year!

This is Jack Greene writing and reading for Wild About Utah.

Image: Courtesy, Copyright © Camilla Cerea, Photographer, All Rights Reserved
Text:     Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon Society

Additional Reading:

Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Audubon’s 118th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted this coming season, with all counts held between the dates of Thursday, December 14, 2017 through Friday, January 5, 2018.

58th Cache Valley (Logan) Christmas Bird Count: 16 Dec 2017

Regional Christmas Bird Counts