Friday, December 10, 2004

Sunny days and 10 positive points of light

Commentary by Jim Banholzer


Are you feeling a bit of the holiday blues this winter? Can't seem to get inspired to put up your seasonal celebratory lights? Perhaps you were wishing for a Western White House this year? Well, besides the obvious great things around this neighborhood, such as the world's biggest snowmaking system and SNRA in our backyards, now may be the time to reflect on some other positive characteristics which pass through your life on a daily basis while living here:

Sun Valley really does get more sun. Compared to the rest of the country this valley consistently receives 80 percent more sunshine. Since most people are solar powered it seems that this should cheer up some reptilian sections of the brains around here.

On days it's not so sunny here, it's likely that The Grey King Grother is sprinkling snow to the mountain. Positively, this lessens next year's fire danger and increases the snow-pack, which can help the fishing and irrigators. Such a day is good for curling up with a book around the fireplace of The Community Library. There are more great quality books per capita in this valley's libraries than in many highly educated college towns!

While you're warming up in the library you might pick up a Mountain Express and read about how crime rates are much lower here than in most parts of the world. You don't live in a war torn zone.

Another indicator that shows many people have what they need here is that on a weekly basis, discarded usable furniture that's donated to the thrift stores often finds no new home here and gets picked up and trucked to a less fortunate city, Burley, for a deeply discounted sale there. I've often wondered what city gets the furniture that Burley doesn't need.

What time is it?

No cell phones are allowed in the library, and my timepiece is my cell phone. If you, too, are used to looking to your phone for the time, you might now need to find a clock. Guess what? Most of the clocks in the valley display an incorrect time, but nobody seems to mind. Not only that, it's so casual around here that less than 1 percent of the men about town during a typical workday feel obligated to wear a tie. If you see someone wearing one, ask him, "How's Boise?"

Okay, maybe you can use the library payphone to find out what time it is. Wow! Looking into the new phone book it's refreshing to see that the lawyer to stonemason ratio is still relatively low here. Surely a thought-provoking and leading indicator of where civilization stands, this ratio bodes well for what's important here. Not only that, but there are some real down to earth people here who happen to be lawyers. That phone book is still small enough that you don't have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to tear the old one in half when it's time to recycle. It's projected that toddlers 10 years from now will still be able to tear the Stanley book in half--even with one hand behind their back. Note also that Stanley is so small that it doesn't have a bank. To cash a check employees need to travel to Challis or Ketchum.

While driving to Stanley, you'll notice the air is clean enough that there are rarely inversions or firewood burning restrictions. As 11-year-old Emmon Rogers from Logan, Utah, pointed out to me during Thanksgiving dinner: In her town recently, the air became so bad that children were not permitted to play outside on the playgrounds. People were afraid to ride their bikes or walk, so ended up driving in their cars, which, in turn, further contributed to the pollution.

Here people actually stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Stand near a corner and observe closely—you'll see people driving through town with out-of-area license plates witness this phenomenon and scoot away with a look of utter surprise on their faces. Not only that, soon we are likely to see crosswalks with little LEDs inside their perimeters lighting our paths.

What a beautiful night sky! Over 50 percent of the world can't even see the Milky Way from their own backyards. The towns of this valley were enlightened enough to adopt night sky ordinances. Some experts here can easily find a piece of sky so clear that they can tell the celestial time and not even worry about it

Point of light number nine: Toy runs are held annually for less fortunate children. One improvement that may be forthcoming: a toy run for adults with no children.

My last and least point of light: Now, you can get lit on Sundays. Unbelievably, the liquor stores are open for business. The post offices, however, are not. So, don't expect to have a Sunday snort and get a wish-you-were-here card in the mail to your dearest friend, who is, in fact, not in this great place.

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.