GUNNISON CONFERENCE … With one scheduled event falling though, I got to attend the 19th annual Headwaters Conference in Gunnison last month after thinking I wasn’t. I was delighted. I haven’t missed a one. Why? Because it’s a great discussion, no matter the topic, with some of the Headwaters Region’s best and brightest (with definitely a tilt to the progressive side of the political table – just where I like to sit) … Another Headwaters elder, Ed Quillen, who writes a weekly column for the Denver Post (the big leagues), also publishes the Colorado Central magazine monthly out of Salida (www.cozine.com). His latest issue (I’m a long-time subscriber) has a great account and extrapolation of the conference this year, “Politics, Power and Hard Times,” ranging from Dr. Duane Vandenbusche’s great account of L.L. Nunn’s groundbreaking AC power project at the Gold King Mine (well done) to the need for distributed generation for security and economic health (absolutely spot on) … Order the December issue for only $3.50 or wait till Ed and Martha (his mate and co-publisher) put it online (only the August issue is up now, so you might have to wait a few months).
GOOD OMEN … I know. We’re teetering on the brink of a Republican-led depression once again (don’t you love capitalism boom/bust exuberance?) … And yet who can feel bummed when Telluride opens with a powder day? … This is the year I promised my 10-year-old that he can teach me how to ski. I mean 30 years and it’s about time, right? And I think I picked a great year for learning.
BASKET SHOW … Mick Hill has kindly agreed to hang a show of my woven coil baskets from the last decade at his Steaming Bean Coffeehouse in Telluride … That’s one piece of good news. Haven’t set an opening party date yet, but we’re working on it … The other is that he got a new lease and he won’t be moving out, like he was worried about. And that’s good news for us all.
SIGN OF THE TIMES … At the edge of Gateway, Highway 141, in the shadow of the Palisade, “Got Purpose?”
GLOBALISM … rewards quality at low cost. In the home markets that means cutting back on quality to lower cost, since labor and eco-laws justly funded, are dollar expensive (though socially invaluable). And so American-made can’t compete with foreign exports … I use a lot of incense in my studio, and I hate lighters and their flammable fluids. So I buy small box matches. For years I was stuck with one brand. It may not have been a monopoly, but it was the only kind of match that the stores carried – Diamond “Strike On Box” Matches from Jarden Home Brands headquartered in Muncie, Ind., and in big letters the proud insignia read “Made In America” … And I watched over the years as the red tip of phosphorus got smaller and smaller. Pretty soon the matches were smoldering instead of sparking into flame and lighting. Smoldering phosphorus gives off a vile smell … So I started looking for substitutes. Aside from specialty box matches available at certain restaurants and taverns, I didn’t see much else … And then, down in Durango, I noticed that Kroger’s Hardware Store had its own brand of box matches. I bought them. Reading the fine print, I saw they were (surprise!) made in China. And they did the same thing as the American matches. About half of them smoldered and never caught fire on striking. They cut back on phosphorus to the point of sabotaging the very function. It was quite depressing … Eventually, out in California this summer, I found a house brand at Raley’s Markets (a regional chain prominent on the West Coast, like City Market is here). These were made in India. Their heads were big and red. They burst quickly into flame with a minimum of striking. These were the matches I wanted, would be willing to pay a little more for – matches that actually worked. From India … It’s not just that foreign goods come at a better price, they often come at a better quality. And that’s just as depressing.
SALT CEDAR … What is also commonly known as “tamarisk” (actually eight imported species of salt cedar) has been listed as an invasive weed and slated for eradication, especially on our riverine corridors here in the West. Even ex-Governor Owens jumped into fray and called for a concerted effort to eliminate salt cedar from Colorado rivers, citing the common knowledge that tamarisk drank up huge quantities of precious water and that an eradication program would free up hundreds of acre-feet of water for human use … Now a recent University of Arizona study is challenging the idea that tamarisk is a wateroholic and that it doesn’t provide good habitat for critters (another “common knowledge”) … According to Dr. Ed Glenn, a senior research scientist in the Environmental Research Laboratory, part of the University of Arizona's department of soil, water and environmental science, "What we've found using remote sensors calibrated with ground measurements is that salt cedar only uses three feet of water per year, which is less than your backyard lawn, and even less than the native trees. In comparison, farmers apply seven to nine feet to their alfalfa fields, of which the plants use about six feet, and the rest is lost to runoff or deep infiltration." (http://uanews.org/node/22298) … And Glenn also noted that tamarisk provided good habitat for some species, like the southwest willow flycatcher, a species on the brink … Of course, not all tamarisk infestations are benign, and one has to do site specific investigations to see whether tamarisk is a positive or negative in one’s watershed. But once again, in our rush to stop all exotics from colonizing our region (curiously, the exact process we used as Europeans in coming to this continent), we have demonized a plant that good science is now showing us is not that bad an actor on the scene … The lesson here is that before we go declaring war on plants, even introduced exotics (a.k.a. “weeds”), we ought to first learn everything we can about them. Not afterwards … At the same time, not all tamarisk invasions are benign. And site specific.
IRIS IN BORNEO #2 … “I left Kuala Lumpur bright and early for Sandakan in Borneo, where I headed straight for Uncle Tan's remote wildlife camp on the Kinabatangan River. I spent two nights and three days at the camp, which we accessed by boat up the serene, jungle-lined river. The camp consisted of several basic wooden bungalows for sleeping, which included mosquito nets, but lacked the creature comforts of fans or running water. While at the camp we took several boat safari's down the river to see wildlife and saw a baby crocodile, two pythons, a proboscis monkey, which looked strangely human-like in profile due to its big protruding nose, an owl, with its big eyes and bobbing head, and many colorful tropical birds. We also went on two jungle hikes on foot, one by day and one by night, where we saw many crazy insects, including a black scorpion, a millipede (which I had the pleasure of holding), a leech (which our guide held), frogs, lizards, birds, spiders, and more creepy crawlers. Also, during some down time at the camp a group of long tailed Macaque monkeys took over the eating area. At first we encouraged the little mohawked cuties to come closer so we could take pics, but once the whole pack began to advance toward us we realized the invitation may have been a mistake and we retreated, as they stole our Pepsi and rummaged through the trash before we were able to scare them off.”
© 2008 Art Goodtimes
THE TALKING GOURD
“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you –
Ye are many — they are few."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
thanks to Lindamarie Luna