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Summit Up


Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column daydreaming about hummingbirds and Gomer Pyle.

First, the hummingbirds. God bless the hummingbirds. Even though we seem to be trapped in some “Ground Hog Day” phenomenon of endless winter here in Summit County this year, the hummingbirds are baaack. We heard our first one last week in Dillon and our second one yesterday in Frisco.

With their flamboyant plumage, the tiny birds really stand out in a snowy landscape.

(We’re reluctant to repeat hummingbird facts here in Summit Up, but all writers sign an oath to do so whenever they mention the little nectar-eaters. So, here goes: despite their size, hummingbirds fly thousands of miles on their annual migrations; itty bitty hummingbird hearts beat more than 1,000 times a minute; they can fly more than 60 miles per hour: and, finally, in case you haven’t noticed, the male rufous hummingbird ” so named for his rust-colored attire ” is among the most belligerent members of the animal kingdom.)

Hearing the buzzing song of newly arrived hummingbirds brought back nearly forgotten memories of summer to our winter-numbed mind. It reminded us ” happily ” that summer will inevitably arrive here in the High Country, even though we may not see it until July. It made our hearts sing.

We had one other thought about the hummingbirds and their significance in our sub-Alpine climate. They provide a little splash of brilliance for the color-starved. Except for our remarkable blue sky, even in summer, Summit County can’t compete with most other climates in terms of color. True, the wildflowers can be breathtaking, but (and we apologize for the cliche) they’re the exception that proves the rule.

Generally, we live in a Zen-like world of black, white, and various tones of gray here. Even our dirt is pretty drab. Just compare it to the dirt out in Fruita or Moab. We wonder if there’s some spiritual advantage to our relative lack of vegetative lushness. Does it make us better people? Are we less distracted by the outside world, and therefore more able to attain inner peace and understanding?

One thing we do know about our dearth of environmental color: it makes us appreciate the hummingbirds that much more. Our visual palate isn’t jaded with green, green grass or blooming azaleas. We’re like people who can really enjoy their dessert because they haven’t stuffed themselves with dinner.

Welcome back, little guys! We’re glad to see you.

On a completely unrelated note, we’ve also been thinking about Gomer Pyle lately.

For those who might not remember him, Gomer was a hillbilly gas station attendant on the old “Andy Griffith Show,’ who joined the Marines and went to boot camp in Southern California. Famous for expressions like “Shazam!” and “Surprise, surprise, surprise,” Gomer, with his hick accent and small-town sensibilities, was a constant source of confusion for the world-weary Californians he found himself among.

The really fascinating thing about Gomer, though, was his ability to turn negative energy into positive. When unfairly criticized, he always took it as well-meant. When his drill sergeant yelled in his face ” which happened often ” he saw it as a sign of affection and beamed with pleasure.

“Wow!” we think. “What a way to live!”

He may be considered a buffoon, but maybe Gomer is actually a great spiritual master. All we know is that we want to be more like him. He always believed the best about other people and he always stayed true to himself.

And, in the end, Gomer always got the girl.


It’s Friday, folks, and we’re out, escorting little old ladies across the street and eating grits.

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