DAVID LACHAPELLE … After a long bout with cancer, David passed away July 21. David was the son of Dolores and Ed LaChapelle. All were known to Telluride and Colorado and even beyond, but for different reasons. Ed made a name for himself as one of the country’s pre-eminent avalanche researchers. His book, The ABC of Avalanche Safety, became a bible of sorts for those interested in avalanche work. I knew him the least, but made his acquaintance in Telluride at the Mountainfilm Festival a few years back. A most charming man, and brilliant … His ex-wife, Dolores, was my teacher, mentor and friend. She became a grandmother to me. I studied her work in deep ecology, soaked up her books, studied tai chi with her, went skiing and hiking at her side, founded Talking Gourds based on her principles, and made the trek over to Silverton countless times to visit with her. She was well known in many countries for her many writings, although not as revered in the states, since she was a multi-disciplinary scholar not associated with any university – a no-no in a nation steeped in the academic mindset. The Way of the Mountains was her study, and she pursued it assiduously. Silverton was far from the centers of power but smack dab in the middle of the San Juan’s largest caldera. She died just in January of 2007. I was coming back from New Mexico when I got the news. A half hour later, distraught and distracted, I slammed into a cow elk and totaled my car, escaping shaken but unhurt (miraculously) … Just a few days after the memorial service that David led and Ed attended, Ed collapsed of a heart attack on Monarch Pass while skiing … Now two and a half years later, David has passed too. His spiritual teachings and workshops had drawn a wide circle of followers from Alaska to Boulder. I myself had gone on a vision quest with him at a very low point in my life, and David had brought me acutely into awareness and out of my depression. He too had become a dear friend and icon in my life. We had started plans on how to continue Dolores’ work in the world and carry on her legacy, considering plans for a Way of the Mountains Center in Silverton. And now, all too soon, he also is gone … A most amazing family. Ed, Dolores, David. All of them passed on now, into the mystery. For me, there is now such a huge gap in the veil that separates this world from the next. I am sad, grieving, and yet enervated and gifted. To have had such amazing people in my life. In our lives. May their spirit live on in us and all our relations.
SHI SHI … It’s a fabled stretch of beach along the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Dolores LaChapelle talked about it wistfully – it was a very special and sacred place for her. I have a picture of her and her young son holding hands at Shi Shi in my studio at Cloud Acre – a gift from David when Dolores passed … As you read this, I’m trekking at Shi Shi with my son – carrying on a tradition that I know Dolores would approve of.
JOHN CORBIN … At the Telluride Mushroom Festival, John Corbin has long been a perennial favorite. His growing workshops, where pasteurized straw would be inoculated with oyster mushrooms, and bags given to festival participants to grow at home, have been wildly popular. A colorful figure himself, his bagpipes were one of the standbys of the mushroom parade … Unhappily, John has developed cancer and has had to move from his Hawaii home to the Veterans Hospital in Palo Alto, California. His prognosis is not good at this point, and he has lost a lot of weight. If anyone would like to contact John, please get a hold of me. I’m hoping to visit him in California on my return from Shi Shi.
CAPTAIN JACK … As life would have it, I got an email from Jack Carey shortly before the accident that cut short his life. He was explaining to me about the forest work he’d been doing in the area since 1983. I hadn’t realized he’d done the clearing work for Aldasoro’s first phase, for the Preserve, MacKenzie Spring, most of the cleanup at the Ski Ranches, the Zoline property, Lawson Hill and others. He called his one-person operation Captain Jack’s Tree Service. As he wrote in the email, “I kind of specialize now in the removal of standing dead and fallen dead, so as to reduce the spread of forest fires. I love my work, having grown up in the forests of southern New Hampshire” … Not only have we lost one of San Miguel County’s best citizens but a local forest health specialist who will be hard to replace … Missing you, Jack.
WEEKLY QUOTA … “One must live the way one thinks, or end up thinking the way one has lived.” – Paul Bourget
THE TALKING GOURD
I married myself, again. With spirit presiding, this delicate matter, I was a mad mean hatter
And a delicate lady, The perfect partner
For of this moment, Humbled. I did and I didn't
And I still do, And no announcement
Was made. No one attended
Except me. This ceremony calls
My intentions forward, Again to this great lover
partner painting of my choosing.