SKIING … It had been 25 years or so. Back in the early Eighties, when I was editor of the old Telluride Times, I’d been given a free pass for the ski area. I tried downhill a couple times, but I was too busy running a paper to make use of that great bennie … Then, by the mid-Eighties I had a kid and family, and was barely making ends meet, so buying a pass and equipment was lower down on the purse-string totem pole than a whole lot of other basics … Fast forward to 2008. I’d spent the summer with my dying dad, Vincenzo, and hardly any time with my youngest son, Gorio. So, when I came back to run a re-election campaign, I made my boy a promise. If I won the election, I’d let him teach me how to ski … He thought it was a great idea. I wasn’t sure. At 63 my once athletic body had suffered from too many years stuck behind a desk. But I’d always wanted to learn to ski. And I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather ski with than my 10-year-old … So last Monday, after pushing past a first-of-the-year angiogram and then a colonoscopy (both without significant adverse results), it was show-time. I went to the Boot Doctor in the Mountain Village, and the good folks there fixed me up fine. Great skis, great service, great price … And before I knew it I was out on the slopes. Okay, just the Meadows. Doing the snowplow. But hey, it was fun! I fell a couple times. Most embarrassingly, getting off the lift the first time. But by the end of a lovely day, I was up on 10 making snowplow turns flaw(and fall)-lessly, and enjoying the view, the day, my boy and the alpine pleasure of sliding downhill on groomed snow … Yes!
ARCHITECTS … This is one of several sectors of the local economy that are feeling the downturn hurt big time -- the results of eight years of Republican wasteful spending, foreign wars and economic incompetence coming homes to roost along the San Miguel … Driving past Redvale on the way to Naturita at the northern end of Highway 145, you can’t help but notice what happens when someone builds a house without help from a competent architect – constructing a home as though it had no relationship to its surroundings. Check out the roadside new construction at mile marker 141 … Let’s see who’s the first reader to find this architectural sore thumb by telling me this home’s true colors.
IRIS IN ASIA … (Continued) … We flew into Yangon [Burma], where we spent one day wandering around the hectic, poverty-stricken capital, which seemed closer to India than any place I've been to yet. We went to one of the most amazing temples I've been to in Southeast Asia, called Shwedagon Pagoda, which was an amazing complex of gold stupas, with one giant gold stupa in the center with prayer flags radiating out from it to other smaller stupas and temples below. It was stunning. Shwedagon has played an important role both as a spiritual site and a major meeting point for many of the pro-democracy demonstrations that have been violently put down by the junta. As we walked around this amazing site, we were approached by numerous men, some old enough to be my grandpa, offering to be our tour guides. The Burmese people are so poor and their government wants to keep them that way. We often heard the same sad stories of jobs lost when the military took over, of not being able to afford the $500 a year college tuition, of families at home to feed. These people depend on tourism. They are hardworking, friendly and eager to learn about you and your country. However they can become annoying when you truly don't want a guide, because they appear at every corner offering their services … One of the truly amazing things about Burma was the lack of other tourists there. We were there in the high season, and having just come from Thailand where tourists are everywhere and accommodations are often booked up, it was strange to see so few westerners at the tourist sites. It's great as a tourist, but sad for the people who depend on tourism to survive in a country where their government isn't helping them. This shows that the anti-tourism campaigns abroad are really working, but to the detriment of the people who need help the most … After our short stay in Yangon, we flew to Bagan, the ancient capital of Burma, where the ruins of 4,400 pagodas and stupas dot the landscape. It is truly breathtaking to look across the land and see so many old pagodas made of stone and gold paint, glowing in the sunlight. We splurged and stayed in Old Bagan in a nice hotel with a swimming pool and a view over the river, where we watched a couple stunning sunsets. We spent four days exploring the sites by foot, by bicycle and by horse cart, which was by far the most fun. Although not very fast, bicyclists were passing us by. But we sat comfy in the shaded carriage and watched as we trotted by stupas, gigantic temples and locals selling pottery, sand paintings and anything else they think a tourist might want.”
NORWOOD POETRY … Apologies for anyone who tried to attend the monthly Norwood Writers Guild readings at Two Candles last Monday. I was sick in bed with a version of the sore lung sneezes that have afflicted many this season, and (it turns out) the venue was closed when Elle Metrick went there to lead the session… So, we’re going to suspend the Norwood first Monday of the month readings until we can clarify a venue, and recommend instead the readings that Susan Culver has pulled together in Naturita, where the Tabeguache Writers Guild has been holding gatherings on the third Thursday of every month, upcoming on March 19 at 7 p.m. -- currently at the Naturita Community Building. Once construction on the new Naturita Library building is done (likely April), the meetings will take place there. All poets and writers in the lower San Miguel Basin are invited to attend.
THE TALKING GOURD
Tao Is Up
as the DOW dives again today
we plunge our shovels in
rich llama dung
worth more than gold in this valley of the verdant
we laugh about our great fortunes
on this hot day of March's debut
net worth of our garden soars
the ultimate in carbon sequestering
this market of soil and poop opened early this year!
microbial communities finding consensus
no bipartisan struggle in this omni-liscious governing
pumping shiny bio-currency into garden soil,
mycelia running marathons for the good of the network,
delivering nutrients faster than a courier to wall street
our news is good today: the worms have multiplied
no bailout needed here -- a bale of straw will cover it all
our long term investment pays off viscerally as
we're surprised by over-wintered dividends
lavender, onions, carrots, greens and spearmint
hand to mouth we hunter-gather
onto our palate gritty lusciousness of spring's explosions
going off like unscheduled fireworks
our camaraderie index soared today
tied to the futures of our rich Mother Earth
our funds entrusted to her majesty