UP BEAR CREEK
Taking Stock of Where We Are and Where We’ve Been
by Art Goodtimes
Jan 06, 2011 | 803 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CHILL WINTER … A week ago I was hiking with friends in the sunny warmth of the Maze, in Disappointment Valley – enjoying the clear view, smell of sage and lichen-tagged rocks. Tonight I’m holed up in my ramshackle bungalow on the road to Lone Cone feeding the fire to ward off the cold … Winter has come at last, with a vengeance.

NEW YEAR … On the county level, that means changing of the guard. Time to rotate the chair. I get to give up the gavel, and go back to my basketweaving during county meetings. Running a meeting takes all one’s energy. You not only have to have a strong grasp of the agenda, but there’s your fellow commissioners and staff to lead through the decision-making hoops, and an audience to deal with. Mostly just a few faces, but sometimes a roomful. And not always friendly … I’ve been attending board of commissioner meetings in this county since 1982 – first as a journalist, and now as a commissioner. For 20 years I wrote down everything that was said – kept copious notes. And fashioned what I’d heard into stories for the paper (the Telluride Times, now long gone) … These days, I don’t need to scribble. We have a tape recorder. And there are journalists (occasionally) in attendance. But, being addicted to tactile activities while listening, I’ve found basketweaving a wonderful way to pay attention to what I hear, while keeping my digits actively engaged. Call me Mr. Kinetic. But Buddha’s welcome contemplation in silence on one’s zafu has never suited me well. When I meditate, I channel poetry. It’s how I reflect and ponder. And sitting still and listening was what I never got fully acculturated to. When I talk on the phone, I’m one of those who has to roam. No stationary chit-chat. It’s peripatetic conversations for me … And basketweaving is a good metaphor for politics. Pulling various-colored strands of twine into some co

STATE & NATIONAL … Kind of an exciting time for Colorado. With Hick at the helm, we’re hoping the Centennial State can kick against the goads and dig itself out of this financial disaster that Wall St. manipulations of unregulated mortgage markets and straight-jacket Colorado Springs initiatives have imposed on us – but without giving up the environmental ship to corporate pirates … Without Farmer John Salazar in D.C., it looks like the San Juan Wilderness Bill died a sad death with the lame-duck Congress’s failed Public Lands Omnibus bill. Even if Sen. Mark Udall had gotten our wilderness bill to committee in the Senate (why he didn’t still mystifies me – he is an enviro supporter, isn’t he?), the omnibus package was still dead in the backwater of a Republican landslide … Two-and-a half years of work, and now we have to start all over again. With less allies and more enemies, alas … Nevertheless, with Sen. Michael Bennet on our side – and Telluride was a stronghold for his narrow victory – there’s more hope than many states, where everyone’s political kaleidoscope was seeing red … For those of us so blue we’ve turned green, the foreign wars go on. And the change we hoped for (and the Dems promised us) seems further away than ever … If there’s one sad way to remember this year past, it was the year Norwood’s Aaron Cruttenden – a notoriously wild but kind young man – lost his life, and his daughter lost a dad.

ONE YEAR TO GO … Of course, for the New Age crowd, where a preponderance of my friends lie, the coming of the fabled Mayan 2012 end-of-the-calendar time is at hand … I remember the approach of 1984 and the trepidation that ominous date brought, thanks to George Orwell’s legendary dystopian novel of 1949 (when I was four). Regardless, my first-born made the scene in 1984 – a glorious event in my personal pantheon of significant dates. And the first Rainbow Gathering in California’s Warner Mountains of Modoc County happened quite magically – my amanita-mobile doing double duty as makeshift hippie bus hauling dozens of rainbows up and down the mountain walk in, people & gear thick in the short bed and wild ones hanging on to the wrought iron truck rack at all angles and in all states of induced ecstatic bliss … And then there was that Harmonic Convergence when the Grateful Dead came to town. The dancing was great. The music was fair. And the momentous event was more fizzle than fiesta … So, no great hopes for the calendric apocalypse. It’s probably just another numbers game in a world of lobster pot climate change – change so slow you don’t even know your goose has been cooked.

HISTORICAL QUANDARY … In correspondence with Lito Tejada-Flores, a Tellurider in voluntary exile in Chile & Crestone (half the year in each), we happened to start talking about Leopard Creek and the name, reputedly, the Dominguez & Escalante expedition gave it – “El Rio del Cado.” At least that’s how I’ve always seen it in the history books. But Lito, a Colombian in ancestry and fluent in Spanish, sent me an interesting question. Turns out “El Rio del Cado” doesn’t mean “The River of Elbow” or “Crooked Creek” like I’d been told. El Rio del Codo means that. Cado is a much more obscure word meaning “rabbit burrow, or, by analogy, a hideaway for criminals on the lam” … So, was Leopard Creek a hideaway route for slave-trading miscreants back in 1776, or did the good padres misspell what they’d intended to name the place? … Now there’s a juicy local mystery worthy of some attention. Anyone want to weigh in?

THE TALKING GOURD

Curved Window


Streams swollen after head-
long rains, late light
caresses a tree’s waist.
— Tu Fu

I always thought the trees stood still,
but, awakened from my nap, after travel,
my eyes tricked me: a young fir was an old woman
who swayed from hip to hip, to songbirds,
the arch of each foot barely flexed,
rocking, rocking as she waited.

I always knew that John Muir,
high up a sequoia in a coastal squall,
in shorebird squawk, must have felt
the shallow root hairs slip and tear
below the sandy duff, whipped back
and out over the steep moon-flooded bluff.

But, trying to better understand,
to get beyond this bulge of glass
like all the others in the sociable hotels,
now I see she is the wallflower
who wishes to be moved by a merest breeze,
by phoebe’s song or vesper sparrow’s whisper,
but whose shy sashay, though it mimics us,
the dancers, is really just a tease.

– Michael Daley
Mt. Vernon, Washington
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