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Monday, June 27, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 23jun50011


Rafting with the Best on the San Miguel

TELLURIDE OUTSIDE … I’m such a slow learner … It took me three years to learn how to swim as a child. It took me until two years ago to start really learning how to ski downhill (now I love it). And it’s taken me until two weeks ago to finally raft down the San Miguel … What was I thinking? Two action-packed hours of thrills and excitement. A non-stop natural roller-coaster -- swinging, swaying and sashaying down the rapids … Guess I somehow thought the steep, fast-paced, narrow serpentine of the San Miguel’s riverbed would somehow be a bad thing. Wrong! … My son, who rafted down the San Juan, said that sluggish flow was mostly “boring” (now, of course, he’s a middle-schooler, and everything but sheer terror is boring for him). But imagine long slow stretches of barely moving mud-brown water. The San Miguel is just the opposite. There’s hardly a bend to catch a breath. Water spills and splashes. River raft skipper Kris Knackendoffel smoothly guided us around submerged rocks and away from log traps. And he barked orders to paddle (when he wasn’t telling great stories). Maneuvering us into position to take the standing waves head-on, rocking and rolling … Why am I not doing this every day the water’s at peak? The river was high – about 1,300 cfs. If you haven’t taken a turn at paddling a raft from Species to Beaver Creek, do it now, while the water’s still raging. I can’t wait to go again!

LACHAPELLES … Friends of Dolores LaChapelle assembled in Silverton this last weekend to say goodbye to the LaChapelle home in Silverton, which David LaChapelle’s widow Ananda Foley is selling, so she can move on with her life. David passed just over a year ago, and his parents Ed and Dolores a year or so before him. All three LaChapelles were leaders in their respective fields and had assembled a huge cache of books, treasures and personal belongings … The books, especially those of Dolores, were kept together -- the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies will house her collection at its historic Toklat building near the end of the Castle Creek Road, under the direction of Jody and Tom Cardamone – a decision that pleased everyone. Tom drove the two tons worth of books to Toklat, while Jody assembled a Friends of Dolores group she’s planning to turn into a council to help with the job of carrying on Dolores’ legacy as an international leader of the Deep Ecology movement. I was honored to be part of that group … Sunday, after a Saturday garage sale that saw many of Dolores’ items auctioned or sold to benefit the local Silverton Ski Team, there was a moving memorial ceremony honoring all three LaChapelles at LaChapelle Park on a bench above the town (a site originally planned for their family home, but deeded and dedicated to the Town of Silverton) … Even though the house that Dolores lived in (and which I spent many a time visiting her) will change hands, the spirits of all three amazing people – Dolores, Ed, David – still remain with us in Silverton and in the San Juan Mountains.

JUDYTH HILL … One of the legendary wild women of Santa Fe (& beyond!), Judyth currently makes her home in Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende. Her poetry throws me into fits of tantric awe. I feel like a ping-pong eyeball in the Louvre of the Lyric Divine … She’s also one of the most gifted poetry teachers I know. And I hate poetry workshops (usually). But Judyth is one of the exceptions that prove the rule. She’s brilliant and she pulls incredible work out of one’s own experience by giving you amazing tools and access to the full world of the lyric valuables with a seductive process of opening one’s mind and heart … She’s coming to Telluride’s Ah Haa School at the end of July, and if you’re at all interested in writing poetry or in invigorating your prose with juicy, dazzling inspiration, I would sign up for her class fast, before it fills up. And expect to laugh a lot … Judyth first came to Telluride back in 1989 as one of the Wild Women of Santa Fe and performed in the Sheridan Opera House for the first Talking Gourds poetry festival, and became a performance regular at subsequent Talking Gourds – including hosting her own in New Mexico and now in Mexico … But if you miss the Ah Haa gig, all’s not lost … She’s also offering a Tuscany Wild Writing Adventure (“A Taste of the Divine”) this fall (Sept. 24-Oct. 1) through Culinary Adventures <www.mexicocooks.com/italy-writers.htm> … Stay at il Bareto a 17-century restored farmhouse outside of Siena. Spend a week focusing on writing, and the seasonal Tuscan cuisine, exploring ancient villages and the local markets Siena, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Penza. Expand the boundaries of your writing while enjoying wine tastings, cooking classes, fabulous meals, historic castles, mushroom hunting, and more … Either here in town or in Italy, don’t miss the Judyth Hill experience. Highly recommended.


THE TALKING GOURD

Full Moon in a Dry Summer

The full moon rises
with a reddish tint
from the smoke
of the forests burning.

In the drought, the waters
she would lift
grow scarce
as the salmon in the streams.

Her color, it would seem,
is that of the disquiet
in our blood.

Luna plena en verano de sequía

La luna plena se eleva
con un tinte rojizo
del humo
de los bosques encendidos.

En la sequía las aguas
que levantaría
se escasean
como el salmón en los ríos.

Su color, al aparecer,
es ese del perturbo
en la sangre.

© Rafael Jesús González
Berkeley

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mountain Gazette

Way of the Mountain #179

After being named poet laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope, it’s been wonderful to hook up with poet laureate of the Colorado Springs region, Jim Ciletti. David Mason of that same area is Colorado’s state poet laureate. My good friend Joan Logghe is poet laureate of Santa Fe (her new book, “The Singing Bowl,” from the University of New Mexico Press in Albuquerque, is a dazzler). California’s poet laureate was a classmate of mine in the writing department of San Francisco State, Carol Muske-Dukes. And finally, Elle Metrick of Norwood (who’s editor of the local paper, the Post) has taken the baton from Rosemerry Wahtola-Trommer and is the new San Miguel County poet laureate. It’s a nice way to honor poets who are often invisible to the community at large. This puts them out in the public eye. If your town or county wants to create such an honorary position, get a hold of me at poetry@mountaingazette.com and I can send you some draft resolutions.
This month’s featured book and poet is Norman Shaefer’s “The Sunny Top of California: Sierra Nevada Poems & A Story (La Alameda Press, Albuquerque, 2010). It’s beautifully designed by master bookmaker JB Bryant, has an Obata woodblock on the cover and lively poems (and a story) that will charm lovers of mountains and verse in the same way that Chinese poets memorialized the mountains of their land

— Art Goodtimes

Caveat

My stubble grows white
among a hundred granite peaks.
Passions are never easily put aside.
Edging across a narrow arête,
manteling an airy summit block;
the same thing that makes you live
can kill you in the end.

Norman Schaefer
from “The Sunny Top of California”  
(La Alameda Press, Albuquerque, 2010)

Two-liner

Easy to say,
hard to clean

— Jack Mueller
Hermit of Log Hill
Colorado

Visible

I see you. Yes. You are
the impossible route
up granite, seen only
one move at a time,
found more by fingertip
than eye.
I see you. Yes. You are
the line through trees
in deep powder, seen
then lost, visible
to the knees, a sense
of give, then ground.
I see you. Yes. You are
the smooth tongue,
the reflection of sky
leading the way through
white churn water
where the line is fine,
a single oar-dip
between slide
and flip.

— Elle Metrick
San Miguel County Poet Laureate
Norwood


At the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival

like wild hummingbirds
we gather at the feeder
gulping poetry

— Carol Bell  
Haiku a Day Practice  
Fort Collins


The Road

May the road
rise up to greet you
as you face down
fall upon it.

— Danny Rosen
Stargazing Mage of Lithic Press
Fruita

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 16jun50011

Don Coram, yes! CCI, no!

DON CORAM … Our state rep here in the 58th District came to Telluride, but not too many folks turned out. The few Republicans in the county were there, but Dem-heavy Telluriders had other things to do. But too bad. I’ve been darn impressed by Don and his wife Dianna. They like to say the “R” behind their name stands for “Rural” and I’m a believer. Last week Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two bills in Montrose that were sponsored and successfully carried through the legislature by Coram … For this year’s Senate Bill-267, which promotes biomass from forest lands, he teamed up with two Dems (Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Gail Schwartz). The program will go towards utilizing beetle-kill, and cleaning our forests of dead trees. The bipartisan proposal, now signed into law, is evidence of willingness to work with others to bring important legislation forward – already a good sign … But it was his support for SB-177 that won my support. Montrose has suffered in the past from a very high teen pregnancy rate. The sunset date on a Colorado Teen Pregnancy and Dropout Program was lifted and the program, which has been successful in lowering high teen birth rates in our neighboring county. However, the original Republican sponsor of the bill dropped it like a campfire hotcake after the website for GJResult Tea Party thundered, “SB11-177 under the guise of Teen Pregnancy Prevention is a backdoor funding mechanism for abortion providers in Colorado.” This crafty and deceptive measure, etc., etc.” … Republican leadership freaked. But it wasn’t true. So, Don went and asked to put his name on the bill as sponsor, in spite of warnings, and carried the bill through the House over the objections of Republicans like Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Larimer County – and then teamed up with my friend and former Gilpin County nurse and commissioner Sen. Jeanne Nichcolson, to get the bill to the governor, who now has signed it … Those are two good reasons why Rep. Don Coram is my favorite state rep in the 58th since Rep. Kay Alexander.

VAIL … Colorado Counties, Inc., held their summer meeting in Vail’s pricey Cascade Inn, and those of us embattled Dems & Greens got a taste of what “bi-partisanship” means in the hands of a triumphant & combatitive Repub county commissioner majority at CCI … We have 10 state steering committees to help us craft language for bills we sponsor, support or oppose. The state can do a lot to help, and hinder, local government. So it’s important to have a unified voice on legislation that will cost local taxpayers more money or less services. But most goodwill in the group was gone when the Repubs teamed up to knock all Dems and Greens (just one, actually, me:>) out of leadership last fall. Only 1 Dem remained as vice-chair out of 16 positions. Traditionally, a Repub is chair if there’s a Repub majority and a Dem/Green gets vice-chair – too sort of balance the energies. Oh, but not this batch of partisan Repubs … So, at our Vail meeting, when it came time for District elections (another separation of the membership into 5 geographic regions for extra regional meetings), we Dems/Greens in the Western District put up Lynn Padgett of Ouray as our choice, and the Repubs put up Audrey Danner from Moffat County as their choice. Danner won handily, which was to be expected. But then instead of letting Lynn take the vice-chair position, the Repubs put up Olen Lund of Delta, a second Republican – effectively, once again keeping progressives out of leadership in CCI … Never in the 14 years I’ve been working within CCI has the group been so partisan, and so dismissive of minority opinions. It’s making some of us wonder if, in these hard times, we ought to be putting our taxpayer dollars into an organization that shuts us out of leadership and supports positions that our citizens don’t agree with.

OUTPOST MOTEL … If you’re passing through Dolores and you need a pillow for the night, let me recommend this old-fashioned fishing camp gem. Not glitzy or modern. But scrupulously clean, and quaint in the way of old country inns. Spent a lovely night their during the Dolores Riverfest days, and they were kind enough to even send along some crucial things in my world – like the one-of-a-kind thread I needed to finish a basket for a very important former county employee and a fold-up flashlight that I can use in my red Honda Civic (officially “totaled” a year ago) who interior dash lights never worked when I got the car from my daughter several years ago … Funny how we get so attached or place such value on the oddest of things.

CORNET CREEK … Most of the recent issue of the Colorado Public Works Journal (available at the Wilkinson) featured a long article on the flooding of Cornet Creek over the years and the efforts of the Town of Telluride working Tetra Tech, a civil engineering firm specializing in fluvial geomorphology. It’s a fascinating look at the stream and its wild intent to leap its banks and move a lot of sediment out of the mountains and onto the alluvial plain on which Telluride sits … I remember riding with a bunch of civil engineers as a reporter years ago on a tour of potential disaster sites. And I especially recall one engineer saying that, given what we know about flooding potential, no one would be allowed to build a city on the Cornet Creek alluvial floodplain these days. It’s a disaster waiting to happen (but maybe not as bad with the re-do).

THE TALKING GOURD

Blink

          -for Red Bird

I blink my eyes
& Red Bird’s there
Blink again

The fireball’s imprint
behind the lids
tells me lies

about a land
I want to love
Takes me back

to a river of sorrows
A slickrock
desert trench

Let’s blink together
& remember the flame of
Leonard’s hair

His passion to share
How he loaned it
with deep interest

Made a safe place
for student deposits
Taught

Shakespeare
& folded cranes
Even in death

each blink
brings more of his gift
alive

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Paleohippie


Your poem (long one)

-for rk


a paean to piles. to deconstructing events
to getting rid of what's cluttered a life
a mind ... futon ... red, black & tan

busy knees
families
piles

i actually studied piles
in the course of getting certified
to teach pre-schoolers

congeries
from Latin congeriēs: ‘heap, mass, pile’;
from congerĕre ‘carry together’

vygotsky taught community
"makes meaning" for us
which we then internalize

& recognized "unorganized congeries"
as a child's early stage of cognition
measured in the simple act of sorting

 basement. attic. shed. it's in
some other home than where we live
that it piles up

lately i've been meditating on time
that relentless inpulse to go on
preparing to die

not really so different from base
instinct in any other animal
we are embedded in time

will death
be a step
out of time?

a stopping of the instinctual
clock that rings its bell
to wake us up?


 

Capt. Barefoot Broadside                                          Union of Street Poets
Vincent St. John Local / Colorado Plateau / Aztlán
 Kuksu Brigade (Ret.) / San Francisco
50011

Up Bear Creek / 9jun50011


When the law can make things less safe

ROAD SAVVY … Any bright neophyte driver knows the first rule of the road – Be Safe. But following that rule on Norwood Hill could get you into trouble … The big danger there is rockfall. So, many of us regular commuters keep as far away as possible from the toe of Norwood’s eroding sandstone cliff-face – preferably straddling the centerline (if no one’s coming uphill) at ten miles above the posted speed limit, one eye on the slope and one on the road, Or, cutting across lanes on hard curves looping into the hill … For years, my kids would the “Rock-in-the-Road” game, where I’d have to swerve all over the pavement to avoid old rockfall (only rarey rocks in the act of falling – although a five-pounder did catch my Amanitamobile once)… If you drive down that stretch of road in the full sunlight of the pre-noon hour, particularly after spring rains or winter snows, you can almost hear the geologic freeze/thaw, if you roll your window down. Snap of rock. Tumble of stones. Piles of them like grizzly-gutted humpies scattered on a B.C. streambank … I have a friend who was driving home from Telluride the other day and caught a boulder on her hood. It shattered the pickup’s windshield and smashed up the passenger side of the cab (where her daughter had been riding shortly before). It’s stories like those that have some of us breaking the law to be safe … Currently, most of us know that it’s in violation of the vehicle code to cross lanes on curves, straddle the centerline or drive faster than the posted speed. State police do have personal discretionary latitude not to ticket someone for driving to avoid dangerous conditions, but the law itself doesn’t exactly give them much leeway. And their job is to enforce the law, not allow its avoidance … But I have to tell you. Keeping to one’s lane all the way down Norwood Hill midday under blue skies after rain or snow is dangerous, legal and probably stupid.

SOLUTION? … It’s not good policy to criticize things without giving some recommendation for a fix. So, try this on for size -- let’s run a bill that reduces law enforcement duplication, saves the state valuable tax dollars and increases local control. Plus, is a funded (not unfunded) state mandate … Sound too good to be true? Maybe not. What if we left state highway patrolling of traffic to local law enforcement – particularly county sheriff departments? We’d reduce our state patrol numbers (saving a bunch of money) and limit them to a smaller force to patrol freeways, federal highways and counties unwilling to take on a state highway traffic role … But to pay for the task, the money from the sheriff-enforced traffic stops would go half to the state and half to the county of origin … Local deputies can appreciate local hazards, so the bill would allow counties to recommend speed limit changes to the state more in line with local usage and safety, rather than by-the-book speed limits regardless of special conditions …  I’ve talked with Sheriff Bill Masters in the past, and he (I think) has expressed the wish that his officers could have primary law enforcement authority within county boundaries, and not have duplication on state highways with state patrol officers. As a locally elected Green official, I like the idea of devolving government authority down to the local and regional level (where people actually live) … Of course, not all counties (or sheriffs) might like this idea. So, we should make the law permissive, allowing counties that want to do this the choice, and those that don’t the continued service of a shrunken state police force… Now we just need to find a populist legislator (working for the people) willing to carry a bill like this.

TROUT TOURNAMENT … My friend and neighbor Jerry Pike and the Norwood Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9398 is hosting a first annual Trout Fishing Tournament up at Ridgway Reservoir this weekend, Saturday, June 11th, beginning at 9 a.m. Colorado’s DOW has contributed a tagged fish. Should someone land the tagged trophy fish, the prize is $10,000. In addition, adults can vie for $1000, $500 and $250 awards for the largest non-tagged fish landed. And the kids prizes are $100, $50. and $25. Ticket prices run $35 for adults and $10 for kids (ten and under) – available at Sam’s Service and the Norwood Hardware on Wright’s Mesa, at the Mountain Village Police Dept. and at the Ridgway Reservoir -- the day of the event … It’s all a benefit for three great VFW projects. One, providing wheelchair accessible hunting sites for disabled veterans, building trails on donated land. Two, supporting Norwood Christian Ranch, who offer veteran chaplains and their families free two-week retreats. And three, aiding the Norwood College/Vocational Scholarship Fund. Three worthy projects. Big prizes. Supporting our sons and daughters in the nation’s armed forces … For more info and (important) tournament rules, call Jerry at 327-0234 or 970.417.9237

LIBRARY SALE … Mark your calendars. Get great books for a great price in the Wilkinson Public Library parking garage June 10-11 (Fri-Sat) 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., June 12 (Sun) noon-5 p.m., Jun 18 (Sat) 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Jun 19 (Sun) noon – 5 p.m … For more info, call Nancy Landau of the Friends of the Library at 369-4355 (and if you’re not a FOL member, you should be – support lifelong learning)

DOLORES RIVERFEST … Invited down to the 8th annual local event to emcee, it was a pleasure to share good music, good food, and warm (if smokey) weather with lots of wonderful fellow Coloradoans. This wasn’t so much a tourist draw, as a local chance to celebrate the Dolores River, to learn about lots of great groups doing good work in the watershed, and to have a good time. The Greater Dolores Action folks put it on. Lots of great activities for kids. Raffles and giveaways for adults. Raft rides. A water parade. And some rocking music … Paonia based singer/songwriter ace Russ Chapman kicked things off with a lively round of original songs. Elizabeth Rose got the ear juices flowing with her great vocals and piano. Exciting Afrobeat Miniion brought out the crowd’s inner dancers. As did Albuquerque-based The Tijerina Band. Even Dolores’s own Lindell’s did a turn … But it was the headliner finale that overshadowed everything before it – the Flobots. Brer Rabbit & Jonny 5 were in dazzling shape (they played Red Rocks the next day). Their band was tight, in synch and hot. Bass. Violin. Drums. They’d come two years before and the kids of the Dolores remembered. They sang along, crowded the stage, waving hands, conveying bodies overhead in front, as the Flobots danced and gyrated, hip-hopped and told their slam poet stories to a wild, Dionysian beat of voice & drum, string and strung … Hell, it was the best show I’d ever seen from backstage. I bought all three of their CDs.

THE TALKING GOURD

Blue Fleece Pullover

Too hot pouring concrete
I yank it off,
toss over a rock,
forget it.

Next morning picking it up
a mouse runs out!
Chewed its way in
under the right armpit
with another hole six inches away.

Probably had to pee
during the night.

-Doc Dachtler
From Skid Marks and Snow Geese
(Larkspur Press, Kentucky, 2011)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 3jun50011


Basking in the MtnFilm Afterglow

MASON’S THEATRE … Mountainfilm is such a wonderful spring rush of movies, lectures and performances. There’s always too much happening to experience it all. In the end, everyone has their own version of the festival that they take away with them, trading stories of what they saw, what moved them most … For me, as one of the emcees at the Mason’s Hall (transformed into a theater), it was one dazzling slice of the whole enchilada. So, don’t take my take as definitive … This year my biggest takeaway was the hope inspired by hearing Alec Loorz speak at the Youth In Action segment of Friday’s Moving Mountains Symposium, “Awareness into Action.” Too young to vote but eloquently aware of the ominous impacts on his generation’s future from our country’s current failure to address the global climate change issue in any meaningful way, Loorz (about to turn 17)) has been actively speaking about the necessity of taking immediate action since he was 12 years old. “Everything we do affects everything that is,” he explains, “from polar bears to fungus to future generations.” Americans need to hear this brilliant young man, and pay attention to his call for action. It’s not the politicians (old men and women like me) who are leading on this issue, it’s our youth. Alec is not just a leader for the future, he’s a leader right now … Of course, so is Tim DeChristopher, who also spoke passionately about his generation, “a generation out of time.” And what is our nation doing to this brave leader? Sentencing him to prison. What an incredible failure of leadership that injustice represents. The banks get bailed out for failing, and one of our most eloquent environmental activists gets jailed for saving wild lands from our ravenous industrial hunger for carbon-killing energy. Check out Tim’s group, Peaceful Uprising, and give them some of your life-saving human energy … Trip Jenning’s Spoil was my favorite activist film – detailing the work of the International League of Conservation Photographers in their effort to help the Gitga’at First Nation people of British Columbia stop a proposed tar sands pipeline from Alberta that’s being proposed to cut an oil tanker route through the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest north of Vancouver Island. Seeing enviros teaming up with native people to protect this incredible intact ecosystem was almost as powerful as seeing close-up footage of one of the famed Spirit Bears of Canada – not albinos, but rare black bears that are born white … One Plastic Beach wasn’t so much a call to action as a paean to the beauty possible even in the castoff detritus of our wasteful society. It didn’t try to preach. It just showed how a visionary couple from California had transformed plastic jetsam into masterful works of art. It just so happened that the beach they patrolled to find the plastic curiosities for their sculptures and prints is a special place in my geographical pantheon – Kehoe Beach, on the Inverness Peninsula, north of San Francisco – the inspiration for one of the seminal poems in my own book, As If the World Really Mattered … While I got to see a number of great adrenaline films – The Fall Line, The Desert River, In the Shadow of the Mountain, On Assignment: Jimmy Chin, my favorite had to be Pete Mortimer and Nick Rosen’s Swiss Machine. Watching alpinist Ueli Steck summit the north face of the Eiger in under three hours was unbelievable.  Let me say that again – unbelievable. If you’re a climber, you’ve got to see this film … Perhaps the most endearing flick and performance had to be Oscar Bucher’s Waiting for a Train and the songs that Toshio Hirano sang for us at the Mason’s – bluegrass classics, a couple Jimmy Rodgers tunes and the one original piece Toshio’s has written. We learn of Hirano’s ah-ha moment hearing a song of Rodgers for the first time as a youth in Tokyo and his life odyssey following his bliss to the Blue Ridge Mountains and eventually the San Francisco Mission district (two blocks from the hospital I was born in). Every year Mountainfilm seems full of such synchronicities and surprises … Hard not to mention two short charmers – Matt Morris’ Mr. Happy Man and Gail Dolgan and Robin Fryday’s The Barber of Birmingham. Johnny Barnes of Bermuda is the subject of the first, a loving eccentric bringing a little bit of joy to island commuters; and the second captures the span of the civil rights struggle in this country from the Sixties to today through the memories and life of one’s of its foot-soldiers, Mr. Armstrong, a barber. Both Mr. Armstrong and Ms. Dolgan passed away before this film was completed, and it’s a monument to both of them as well as a testament to a nation’s shame turned redemptive dream come true … Finally, the most personally moving film I saw was Patricio Guzmán Nostalgia for the Light – a haunting exploration of the astronomers’ search for light from stars in the far distant past with the on-going search for bones of the Disappeared from the Pinochet era by family and friends in Chile’s Atacama Desert … Of course, Mountainfilm was so much more. But even my little Mason’s slice of the festival was a dazzler. Now, let our summer begin.

TALKING GOURD

Growing Up

Over the basketball rim
the wild rose
dunks
a couple of pink blossoms
through
a shred of net left.

Looks like
the kids
have grown up too.

-Doc Dachtler
From Skid Marks and Snow Geese
(Larkspur Press, Kentucky, 2011)

Up Bear Creek / 26may50011


Looking at the shape of local roads

CHIP SEAL COMING SOON … No one likes delays, but thank the goddess CDOT is about to start resurfacing Norwood Hill after all the dings it took during and after last fall’s rockfall mitigation work. Scaling slope’s topknot brow – giving the hill a haircut, if you will -- and putting up wire mesh protected some dangerous spots. But, faithful to Murphy’s Law of Unintended Consequences, the work also unloosened a slow avalanche of unstabilized rock this spring  -- the hill shaking off loose locks, as it were … Boulders the size of Volkswagens now sit, scooped to the side of the road by our hard-working local road crews, squatting in the hillside toe ditch chock-a-block with fractured sandstone debris … Keep your eyes looking up, as well as ahead, when driving Norwood Hill.

DETERIORATING … State Highway 145 from Society Turn to Lizard Head Pass (except for a few short patches) is in terrible shape. It’s only marginally better on the Dolores Watershed side. One hopes there will be money for the state to fix things on this important tourist-access stretch of road, like the Town of Telluride has begun to do on the Spur (thank you, Stu & the Town Council).

VIRGINIA GOLDSWORTHY … I must have missed the obituary locally, but my friend Zea Beaver of Dolores emailed me a couple weeks ago: “We lost another of the old old-timers … Virginia Goldsworthy died in Denver ... She was the Social Services person in Telluride in the ‘70s and early ‘80s” … Zea goes on to recount how Virginia, and her husband Fred, took her into their home, so she could finish high school in Telluride when she was a young girl. That wasn’t uncommon in the old days -- one of the downsides of the rural Western change from one-room schoolhouses to consolidated industrial education sites (I almost said factories) … Would that we all may be remembered beyond our lives for just one act of kindness

FORT COLLINS … Dashing off, as I write this column, to Fort Collins for a workshop I’ve been invited to – Stepping Toward the Future: Marketing Environmental Services on Working Lands of the West … It’s part of my fellowship with Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation, and the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) pilot project that I’m working with the San Miguel County Open Space Commission to set up for rare plants in our county … A few years ago we had Botanist Peggy Lyon of Ridgway inventory the county for rare plants on public lands. We have that report and it’s a good one. There are several species endemic to San Miguel County, and working with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, we have those locations listed and monitored. However, no such program exists for private lands. My fellowship was to work with landowners and the Colorado Cattleman’s Association to try and set up a program to pay ranchers and landowners to let us inventory for rare plants on private land. And, if found, to try and monitor them, giving the rancher/landowner some remuneration for giving us access to private property. PES, or paying folks for the ecological services they provide is a relatively new concept in the environmental protection toolbox … The workshop will get all of us involved in PES projects an opportunity to learn what’s being done in Colorado and around the country … In addition, I will be meeting with representatives from the Colorado Cattleman’s Association, as we try to mesh our ideas for the program with theirs.

ANASAZI SOLAR … Well, that item title may be a bit misleading. I attended a dedication at the BLM Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores a week or so ago for a 400-panel solar array in the center’s front yard. Working with Empire Electric Association, they’ve installed meters that feed back into the system, when the power isn’t being used for the center … New State BLM Director Helen Hankins was there, and in spite of losing my muffler in Slick Rock (I managed to rope it back on and drove another 600 miles before I was able to get it fixed – at Cortez Muffler – a wonderful place, fast, efficient and inexpensive – 501 S. Broadway), I managed to make the lunch on-time, and spend a bit of time talking with Helen and San Juan Supervisor/Director Mark Stiles (the Durango office is a Service First office – where the Forest Service and BLM line officers are combined) … Always good to know those folks on a first-name basis, in case we have need of contacting them.

THE TALKING GOURD

The Bones of Words

I bury words
in my garden,
like a dog his bones.
Words like "deciduous"
I bury deep in the mud.

Deciduous, deep in the ground,
sprouting orchards of words.

I bury the word Mother
and grow a forest.

I bury the word Fire
in my garden,
and I can feel it
burn
beneath
my naked feet.

I bury words
in my garden
all day long
and wait...
'til they are good and ripe
and ready to harvest.

-Valerie Haugen
Glenwood Springs