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Monday, August 1, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 28july50011

 Up Bear Creek

by Art Goodtimes

Getting tired of NACo annual meetings

MINORITY VIEW… For the past 12 years I’ve been representing San Miguel County and Colorado’s state association of counties (CCI) at two or three annual meetings of the National Association of Counties – one in D.C. and two around the country, this July in Portland. It’s an honor to be in leadership on these larger levels, but it’s a huge drain of time and energy… Support for Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) paid by the Feds to local governments has brought millions of dollars into county’s coffers. I feel time spent lobbying with NACo to support PILT (which Sen. Ken Salazar was crucial in getting fully authorized for four years) has been time well spent … But battling a very conservative majority at NACo around environmental issues wears you down. Votes on NACo’s Public Lands Steering Committee that used to run 60-2, now split 25-12 (resolutions calling for uranium mining along the Grand Canyon, exemptions for industry from Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, no more wilderness, etc.) … I still get emails from colleagues questioning climate warming stats with one obtuse data fact that doesn’t trend with the prevailing science. They’re good people. They care about their communities. But they’re not convinced that more laws and limitations on private enterprise is in the public good … Vacationing along the coastal range of Oregon and Washington before and after NACo, I got a first-hand glimpse of the now almost-vanished old growth as well as some impressive uneven-aged re-growth. The few old growth parks and preserves I saw seemed more like arboreal sanctuaries then merely standing timber harvests. I just wish we as a nation had been more sustainable in approaching old growth, so that there’d be more of it, slowly, to harvest and to enjoy… When I was 12-turning-13, my family left California and took a trip to British Columbia along the coastal highways of the late ‘50s. Past tourist redwoods and dune buggy shops into vast intact forests and tree farms of old growth and second growth doug fir, pine, and spruce … Traveling the coast with Gorio these last three weeks reminded me of those times, and were a kind of Time Traveler glasses that I wore (memory as a quantum string theory wormhole) as the boy and I made our way along amid meals of baked quahogs and raw oysters. Sea-kayaking Discovery Bay in a morning mist, heavy with the cries of a tree-top eagle… But I was talking about NACo, and the miserable few changes we got in the wording of one or two resolutions this time round. Resolutions that will be used by NACo’s conservative-leaning lobbyists to battle environmental laws in the House and Senate, where (as I write the column) Extinction Riders are being tacked on to various Budget Deals … It’s an insane world out there beyond the San Miguel watershed. The older I get the more I think it’s time to pay more attention to what’s happening in my own county. I’ve tried to work through regional, state and national county advocacy groups (Club 20, NACo, CCI) and, both as a Green and a San Miguel County citizen, I’ve not been impressed … Times are hard and going to get harder, and I think I need to focus my own energies on helping us find local strategies to adapt to the coming changes.

CHALLENGING THE POPE … Australia’s Bishop William Morris of the Diocese of Toowoomba has incurred the wrath of pontiff Benedict the Umpteenth and his Vatican-barbed brand of Swiss Guard Catholicism … Imagine fashioning a religion based on faith, a tiny nation-state, one man’s infallibility and the Italian Curia -- a private Roman Legion of clerics hell-bent on enforcing two millennia of orthodoxy? The faith part is hard enough. … Okay, I mean no disrespect to practicing Catholics. I hold in highest regard the American Catholicism of Dorothy Day and the Latin American Catholicism of Bishop Óscar Romero. I’ve been deeply inspired by the trials and sufferings of Sister Diana Ortiz and the pacifist activism of the Berrigan Brothers. That to me is the real Church. But there’s a whole ‘nother column … Suffice to say that Bishop Morris was dismissed from his bishopric (as it’s called – I’m not making this up) for comments in an Advent Pastoral Letter in 2006. In that message to his faithful Bishop Morris noted that, at the rate of deaths and advancing age in the ranks of his diocesan priests, there wouldn’t be enough of them to staff all the parishes in the diocese in a dozen years. So, he suggested that the Holy See ought to reconsider its ban on ordaining married priests, women priests or recognizing Anglican and Lutheran priests as legitimately ordained… According to the National Catholic Reporter, while Bishop Morris admitted he may have “stepped on the toes” of some higher-ups with his supply & demand pastoral remarks, he insisted, “You’ve got to stand in your truth.”

HABOOB … I had no idea what it meant until it appeared in a recent issue of The Week, a newsmag that I almost like (when I’m not hating its myopic American exceptionalism) – “a bad dust storm” … And that’s what my trip to the Northwest seemed like at times. An overwhelm, clouding one’s memory … Talking about the banking meltdown with a savvy business owner at the South Bend Coffee Company along the banks of the Willapa River, where Ekone Oyster Company sells some of the best shucked yearlings I’ve ever ate (almost sweet!) … Buying Scow Bay’s fresh San Juan oysters-in-the-shell (our favorites) on the honor system … Eating Hama Hama oysters and smoked Chilean sea-bass at their roadside picnic table as the low tide mudflats swarm with pickers and shuckers … Watching a brave seagull abandon a gutted salmon head moments before an immature Bald snatched the prize with its quick talons on the Beckett Point spit beach where we were staying … Traveling gets sand into your shoes, grains into your polish and builds all around grit. It’s great. Stuff to spend the rest of the year smoothing into meaning.



On the porch the big dog thumps
when the moon
slides up phantom twin cedars.

A line from my notebook,
twenty-five years old,
floats off parched summer trails—

“rises a lady
with a candle in her hand.”
Memory rushes from the litter

with just one pup bloody
and squirming
in her cupped gloved hands.

I saw the birth of fog—
out beyond the argument of
garbage and property.

A wave along the tops of poplar,
cottonwood went silver
as the moon breathed the shape of a lake,

tears in its sheer fabric
wafting upward
in slightest evening breezes.

Past midnight,
the fog draped over a willow
smeared the bedroom window,

hung from bird pecked barn rafters,
and veiled all
but the eyes of the moon.

She shall not be gazed upon
 by all men.
She is the bride of one master,

not one of us.
A voice, keening “oo-la-loo”
through the fog.

-Michael F. Daley
Mt. Vernon, WA

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