UP BEAR CREEK
Friends and Family Celebrate Montrose Icon
by Art Goodtimes
Apr 05, 2010 | 1232 views | 1 1 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HELEN WOOD … Although my connection to this matriarch of Menoken was tenuous at best – she was the mother-in-law of my brother-in-law from an ex-wife, I was amazed when I attended the celebration/wake the Wood family held two weekends ago. First that I was invited at all. And second that I was welcomed by folks who hadn’t seen me in ten years or so … Helen was a most amazing woman of the Uncompahgre Valley. She lived in a lovely old Victorian ranchhouse in a grove of trees not far from the river. Lived and made a lively community of a family that took in all kinds of folks – from an old Republican cowboy storyteller to a pediatric eye-doctor to a hippie hydrogeologist. She made everyone feel at home, and she treated everyone with respect. I still recall fondly the Christmas dinners at her house singing carols and telling stories. It was the kind of big Western family that I never had, and it felt wonderful … Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last. The split was rancorous. And I kind of drifted out of touch with her and the Wood clan, having lost my connection. But what I realized at Helen’s celebration was that the connection was still there. Her spirit of generosity and inclusiveness was still alive in her family, and I felt welcomed back like an old friend returned home … I think it’s an amazing testament to a woman, one of those pioneer Western women, who forged real community out of the rag-tag elements of blood and law – a community that lasts beyond her own life … Thank you, Helen. And thank you to all the Woods, who carry on the memory of her kind ways.

TEN DAY PASS … I was all excited last year when I skied downhill for the first time in 20+ years. Good equipment and enough time and cash to enjoy the luxury, I found skiing delightful. So, this year I purchased a ten-day pass – about all I could afford, but I had a whole season to ski, right? … Well, an unfortunate attempt to demonstrate the splits on the concrete steps of the hodgepodge that passes for boardwalk on the tourist strip at Lembongan (a small island east of Bali) led to a long delay. It wasn’t until just a month ago that I got over my Lembongan limp and thought my left knee was ready for the slopes. The first day went great. A few spills but mostly remembering how to make turns on double greens … The second day I got adventuresome. I’d taken on a blue run earlier – falling, but kind of building confidence and control. My last run, I took a wrong turn and ended up on the same blue. I was tired. I started slow this time. Kept in control until just before the bottom. Blam. Got up and then blam, a second time. And this second time I heard my knee go pop … OK, I probably didn’t hear a pop but I kind of thought I heard something when my knee smashed into the groomed snow. It hurt. Not bad. But it was cold. And I’d forgotten my waterproof pants. So I was able to ski down the steep part of the blue and back down to the Meadows … I spent the next day (I had to be in town for a wedding) hobbling around Telluride on a cane. The left knee hurt bad. And even with a fabric brace I had trouble limping along the sidewalk … Two days later and I’m walking around okay. The knee’s sore but not damaged. Just a bruise … But there goes my ten-day pass. Two days of skiing this year (maybe three if I make closing day). Four last year. I’m hoping I can get a full season in one of these years.

NORWOOD SCHOOL BOARD … My friend Marty Schmalz-Hollinbeck is on the Norwood School Board. She talked me into attending a recent meeting to discuss the possibility of a four-day school week next year, both as a money-saving strategy and as a way to maintain a vibrant work environment. It was impressive to watch a school board respond to a controversial proposal for four days school instead of a full week. The audience had proponents and opponents. But everyone was respectful. People kept their sights on their concerns, although you felt as though folks were really listening to each other … In the end, the split vote was three against the four-day week, and two for. And maybe that was a good reflection of the community. Most folks that I talked to on the street afterward were happy with the vote. Four days is a big shift, not just for kids and teachers but for parents and families. I’m sure it’s a bit demoralizing for the teachers, who’ll lose some of their classroom aides in the further budget-cutting the state is forcing local school districts to make. But it will give folks time to prepare for four days, which is very likely coming next year – given the dire situation of most of our taxing districts in Colorado thanks to the TABOR act and the state’s fiscal peculiarities … And it’s expected only to get worse if several proposed initiatives on this year’s ballot get passed – ballot measures brought to you by Douglas Bruce and the same conservative one-noters who think less taxes is the answer to all government, as if service and taxes weren’t directly proportional … But that’s another column. Let me just say I was very impressed with the current Norwood School Board – conscientious people who listen to their community as well as their teachers and pupils.

NUMEROLOGY … Numerologists find correspondences in numbers, just like astrologers find correspondences for us in the stars. My pal & hard-working local Hardly Able uncovered this curious synchronicity in the math … 37 percent of Americans approved of the job Bush was doing during his second term … 37 percent of Russians approve today of the direction their country took under Stalin … And yes, 37 percent of Germans voted for Hitler in the April 1932 presidential runoff elections -- shortly before he took emergency control of the nation.

THE TALKING GOURD

Mountains
-for Dolores

that’s what she called it
her favorite rendezvous
in the silvery San Juans

not wanting to draw
attention to something
she relished

thick spruce
rock spires
& high alpine hoodoos

drenched
in a calligraphy
of mist

took us there
as hunter/gatherers
of earth wisdom

telling bardic tales
around a small fire
our voices smoky

& wild
in the deep
starry sky
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Art Goodtimes
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April 16, 2010
typo:

the name of the poem is "Chinese Mountains" not "Mountains"