TALKING GOURDS … Such an intimate weekend in the woods, at Dolores LaChapelle’s famed Chinese Mountains, this 20th Gourds gathering. Off and on rain didn’t dampen spirits, and big tents proved fine shelters as we read new poems and old, under starry skies and stormclouds, chanting to the drumbeat of raindrops (and hail) on canvas. Communal meals. Warm fires. Performances and stories. Folks from as far afield as Steamboat, Aspen, Grand Junction, and Denver … But the cowpies were too numerous by the Courthouse Rock trailhead for even the hardiest of campers and there’s talk of moving the Gourds weekend to a different (if nearby) site for next year, and maybe to switch the event to early August … Poets stay tuned.
CCI PUBLIC LANDS … Local constituents don’t take much notice, but there’s a state arena for county commissioners in which we jostle with peers – Colorado Counties, Inc., or CCI. Each of the state’s 64 counties is a member, and usually one or more of a county’s governing board show up for its conventions and committee meets. Getting elected locally is the sine qua non for political viability. But getting involved in CCI makes for high visibility statewide. And there’s a certain cachet in being recognized by one’s colleagues as a leader. Particularly as the political pendulum swings predictably back and forth. Conservatives ran CCI for the past decade or so, with Republicans in most leadership positions. Now it’s the liberals who have the majority edge, with Democrats winning many leadership spots … As a Green, who likes to roam the radical middle, it’s been an honor having been elected chair of CCI’s powerful Public Lands Steering Committee, and thus winning a seat on Colorado’s eight-person delegation to the National Association of Counties (NACo) Public Lands Committee – where commissioners vie with colleagues from all over the country for NACo’s favorable lobbying position on issues … Out-of-county involvement means state and national access to legislators, say in legislation as it is being shaped in the congressional meat grinder, and often a nudge in the direction of federal dollars towards local county coffers …. Just one example – after years of lobbying and advocacy by CCI and NACo and Colorado commissioners, we were able to get Interior Sec. Ken Salazar, back when he was Senator, to sponsor a Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) bill that will bring over a million dollars into San Miguel County’s general fund over the next four years – pre-stimulus money that came to us just in time to help off-set declining revenues from the current downturn … All of that preamble to last week’s drive over to Denver to chair a meeting, discuss policies and strategies for the upcoming NACo meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, and catch up on the latest skinny with my peers all over the state. Honestly, given it’s midsummer, I’m sick of driving, tired of meetings, and eager to be out in my potato fields watering and weeding and fertilizing. But in politics, things move very slowly. And one has to slowly accumulate information, knowledge, chits and connections before one can really get important things done … It’s a responsibility I take seriously, having been entrusted with it by you, my dear readers.
DREAMTIME … After Denver, coming back to the Slope, I veered off the Interstate to attend Dreamtime – and had a fabulous few days as always at the Talking Gourds camp that Tara Miller and Sam Brown set up for this wild music, spirit & lifestyle event. A kind of Bluegrass/Burning Man/Rainbow Gathering/ Oregon Country Fair all rolled up into one. Modest but intriguing. I’ve attended five or six of its eight years, and enjoyed each one … Got to chat with Steve Wolcott, on whose farm near Paonia Dreamtime takes place. One of the first wave of hippies to the region, Steve’s family goes back several generations in Colorado and he is a most relaxed and wise fellow – one of the North Fork’s unsung heroes … Even caught up there with the amazing Andrea Benda of Telluride and the charming Julie Huldin of Rico, as well as poets Kit Muldoon and Gypsy Nick of Denver, Celeste Labadie and her beau MC Cosmos of Boulder.
CAPTAIN JACK … Came home from Paonia’s Stucker Mesa to find a message in my email box from the good Mr. Carey (gently reminding me that I hadn’t answered a previous post about his expert local timber-clearing business that he was ramping up as forest health has come to the fore as a pressing local issue). Like most long-time Telluriders, I was devastated by the news … Few people embodied the wild spirit of this untamed box canyon and its environs than Jack Carey. A figure (almost literally) larger than life … Logger, hang-glider, promoter, wily coyote who roamed the back slopes, who made a home of this place by dint of his wiry strength and long-bearded wits, and called many of us friends … His feats and escapades were legendary. His smile infectious … I want to turn on that permanent KOTO signal in the aether and tune in Captain Jack once again reporting from the loftiest thermals above his beloved San Juans … Bless you Jack. And our sincerest condolences to Monica.
THE CASA … Here’s an old Paonia standby that’s just reopened under new management (I once read poetry in their great attic years ago). The breakfast Gorio and I had was amazing – fruit designed to entice one as well as taste good, real potatoes sautéd with care, deep yellow yolks, modest price … In fact, we went back a second time. A few snafus, of course. Things were not settled into routines, some systems were ragged, bugs to be worked out. But it’s an eatery in Paonia that I’d highly recommend.
JOAN LOGGHE … Don’t know if I mentioned seeing one of the Southwest’s best poets down in Española on my way back from Rainbow several weeks ago. Joan has a new book in the works, The Singing Bowl … Watch for it. Her poems are wells sunk deep into the sandstone of interior life and after running underground come springing up out of the New Mexico desert as cholla, passionflower and the most brilliant of bougainvilleas.
ANA MCARTHUR … Made a mad rush down to the Santa Fe Art Institute after Rainbow just to catch the latest show of former Norwoodian and master laser artist Ana McArthur. Where Light Meets Water: Murmuru on the Equator T12a featured a detailed cast of one of Brazil’s most amazing native plants, the giant water lily, Victoria amazonica … Ana and I had the privilege of traveling together to Manaus and Rio Moa back in 1993. She has in turn gone down for several more trips to Brazil, fascinated by the plant and its light-capturing structure. A scroll of her journeys, a video and several installations accompanied the cast’s display … For more info, go to
Bringing the Old Songs
Back to Life
-for Terence Winch
translating the ancient poems of
Sappho, Aeschylus, Euripides
(& my fav Archilocus)
into Brooklyn emo
or San Fran fusion
leads to lesser lyres
& eventually Thucydides
with his insider tell-all
about the treacherous
warring, slave-owning citystates
of Attica & the Peloponnesus
of so-called democracies
tyrannies run amuck