FILMFEST … I know it happens every year, but every year I’m amazed to see the film folks transform the town into a Western Slope Cannes. The crowds are interesting, the films fabulous, and the atmosphere festive. What a grand tradition our festival season makes – both economically and energetically … Thanks to all the film organizers and staffers who made this wonderful event a success once again.
MUSHFEST … Happily, the 29th Telluride Mushroom Festival was a great success as well, although the mushrooms were shy critters this year and hid from the assembled fungophiles (a few chanterelles popped up and a number of unusual specimens, but no bountiful fungal harvest, as we often have in the San Juans) … The Telluride Institute hosted an event that drew a newly enthused crowd of several hundred mushroom-lovers eager to hear more about entheogens, forest regeneration using mycelial mats, medicinals, fungal yeasts that help us make beer, toxic toadstools, mycohistory and ancillary topics like the place of lilies in Egyptian, Hindi and Mayan cultures. Forays combed the hills around for what few mushrooms could be found – a day traipsing in the woods being a delightful adventure even if the pickings were slim. Tomten Farms had a hands-on mushroom cultivation workshop and passed out bags of inoculated oyster mushroom growing kits … But perhaps the biggest draw this year was the movie that Ron Mann made at the Telluride Mushroom Festival several years ago that tackled the world of fungi from our North American mycophobic perspective. Full of facts, cartoons, engaging tales and humorous flashbacks, the movie tried to explode the myths surrounding toadstools and replace them with actual facts about the startling and amazing world of fungi. Know Your Mushrooms is just starting to get play in this country, and is likely to spur a renewed interest in mycology and the Telluride Mushroom Festival … Certainly, the annual main street parade on Saturday demonstrated that Telluride’s enthusiasm for mushrooms hasn’t dimmed in the least. Already the Institute is making plans for a bigger and even more exciting 30th Mushroom Festival next year – the week before Filmfest. Mark your calendars and let’s hope the monsoon rains smile on us a year from now and bring us a bumper shroom crop.
TRAFFIC STOPS … Eventually we all get stopped for doing something objectionable on our state or county roads, usually for being in a hurry and not paying attention to the maximum allowable speed … When I was growing up, my dad only had one maxim for teaching me to drive. And I think it was a very smart thing to remember – never drive faster than you feel safe. Luckily, since I’ve mostly owned near-wrecks and beaters, you always knew when you were driving too fast. The vehicle shook, shimmied, and let you know that you were pushing things a bit. The trouble came when I graduated to more sophisticated modern cars, like my Honda Civic. It runs so smooth that you can’t always tell you’re going too fast. Plus, in my case, some electrical gremlin has permanently turned my interior dashlight blind, and so I have to use a flashlight to see how fast I’m going at night. Annoying, but functional … However, the last two times I got stopped by law enforcement officials, it wasn’t for speeding … The first was several weeks ago coming back from Montrose after driving 3000+ miles without an incident or traffic stop. It was late, almost midnight, and I was negotiating that accident-alley between Colona and the Montrose city limits, keeping an eye out for deer and elk. A very nice State Patrolman pulled me over, and said he was concerned because I was going “too slow.” Which must have been somewhere between 50 and 45 mph (it is a 60 mph speed limit zone). All my ID checked out and I was soon back on my way with just a courtesy warning – but how odd, I thought. To drive to the West Coast and back without incident but to get stopped in my own region for going “too slow” … And, as if that wasn’t funny enough, I got stopped the other night coming back to the Norwood from Telluride along the infamous Spur. Again, the officer (from the Telluride Marshal’s Office) was very nice. “I stopped you because you were driving on and over the hash marks,” he explained. I thought “hash marks” were the lines they used in football games, but he was talking about the solid stripe on the outside edge of the road. Again, his reason for pulling me over stopped me in my tracks. “Well, yes, of course I’m driving on the far right side of the road,” I explained. And then I launched into a tirade about the Town of Telluride not having a fund set aside to fix the Spur which everyone knew would cost a fortune to repave then the state granted the road to the town in order for them to build a bike path, instead of the four lanes CDOT wanted to build. After months of bouncing in the ruts and patches of a barely passable road (even at the new slower speed limit of 35 mph), I have learned to drive on the unrutted edge, in order to save my car from jolts and to have better control at night. So, yes, I told the officer, I drive on the only part of the town’s road that’s still sufficiently paved not to bounce me all over hell … He sent me off with a “verbal warning.” Now it was a Saturday night and the officer was only doing his job making sure I wasn’t a drunk or otherwise challenged driver. But I think it’s not fair for the town marshal’s office to hand out even “verbal warnings” for driving on the better-paved edge of the road rather than the rutted, patched, miserable middle of the Spur … Two traffic stops. Both for trying to drive safely – one for going slow to avoid deer and elk and the other for trying to avoid an unsafe driving surface on a town road. It may not be paleohippie profiling, but it’s sure a curious way to keep our highways safe.
THE TALKING GOURD
Sailing Towards the Southern Ocean
The southern swell remembers the cold
and races north
to meet the eastern wind waves.
Together, they hiss and whisper
the names of the dead
lying on the bottom somewhere near here.
It is my night watch; I am awake and listening.
Were you lost because someone fell asleep on watch,
a system failure, a storm?
I’m sorry, but what is it you want now?
Is it like this:
the body remembers past pain, which the mind forgot
and when you were touched you knew
‘Flash – yes, this happened?’
Or is it like this:
a smile is the international code, and the laugh behind it
a thesaurus of synonyms,
but something was left out – a syllable perhaps?
You’ll have to speak more clearly
if you want a tomb, a choir of angels,
a message sent home.
Oh, perhaps it’s like this:
you forgot to tell something;
you’re running up on deck to wave,
to yell, ‘I love you, take care,
remember….’ and then the words were lost?
What whispered word
Is carried on Southern Ocean waves?
What is it
to be remembered?
Passage from Minerva Reef to Opua, New Zealand