NEW YEAR… I know it’s nice to celebrate and party in the middle of the darkest time of year. But it’s a Northern European kind of start to things. Most traditional cultures kick off things in the spring, when life is beginning anew. They face East to the beginning of the day’s sun … But we begin our calendar count just past the darkest day of the pagan year. In a way we face North in the icy cold to where light is a promise or a dream … As that wonderful Bay Area used car salesman used to say after a spot of TV car pimping in my California youth, “Out of the mud grows the lotus.”
GOING TO POT … Couple of rad Facebook posts went viral after Jan. 1 when Colorado began allowing legal cannabis sales for adult use, regardless of medical status … One was a funny tongue-in-cheek headline from the Daily Current (a kind of on-line Onion): “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization”. Supposedly the accompanying story was from the Rocky Mountain News (which went out of business in 2009). While most of us laughed at the spoof, a few were angry and worried that some people would actually believe it … And the other was a pix of a resin-dripping bud with a text noting that this winter there were 15 injuries and one death on Black Friday among American shopaholics, but exactly 0 injuries or deaths from the first ever legal cannabis sales … By the way, publisher Ron Bain (Western Slope Watchdog) has started a new hardcopy magazine, Western Slope 420. Watch for it on newsstands. Arcturus Goodtimes has a new column in it – “Loafing in the Grass”
SAGE GROUSE … Been a lot of furious activity over the holidays trying to craft a letter to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from our Western Slope 11-County Coalition, which Gunnison County commissioners have spearheaded – trying to let the Feds know that they need to work with local and state governments on a Rangeland Management Plan and not merely invoke federal pre-emption with an ESA listing, if they truly care about saving the bird ... Not that the Feds should walk away. The Gunnison Sage Grouse is going to need significant help to survive -- given all the encroachments on its habitat by humans, crows, coyotes, eagles, oil&gas drilling and real estate subdivisions. It’s just that working collaboratively with local communities makes far more sense than using a listing club to swat down all the local protection efforts underway … Yes the bird is endangered. But it’s also a Yes that local communities and both states are well aware of the peril, have been working for years to turn that status around, and have had some success.
ELAINE FISCHER … It’s great to see our former mayor and current commissioner from the Town of Telluride girding for battle with chemo and its many side-effects, as she begins to move into healing mode. It’s a big change to go from healthy and active to challenged. But it’s not like there are a lot of choices … Still, as she told me the other day, she’s blessed to live in such a great community. One so ready to give back for all she’s given to us in a lifetime of public service (and fine art!) … Hopefully we’ll hear Elaine joining in by telephone on important issues at commissioner meetings, as she adjusts to her new now.
VANISHING HYPHEN … The Anglo-Saxon roots of English featured many kennings – the combination of two words to mean something else, like “ship-path” for “ocean” or “battle-sweat” for blood. It became the accepted usage to signify neologisms combining two old words to form one new word by inserting a hyphen between the two words. It often was a clue that the two words joined together could be used adjectivally, and were not meant to be read as stand-alone nouns … It used to be that “e-mail” had a hyphen in the “early days”. But written words that get used repeatedly in a combined form often lose their hyphen and are accepted whole into the language. Actually, verbal language is quite fluid and dynamic. New words and usages are constantly being re-invented. It’s the written language that’s slow to change … But the 21st Century’s hyphen boat is gathering speed as it abandons port. It came home to me recently in reading an issue of the popular Science News that I subscribe to. In one of their lead stories “co-leader” was written “coleader”, which on first glance I confused with “colander”, until I examined the word closely … Guess hyphens are on the out, and fused word neologisms on the in.
PET PEEVE … Speaking of hyphens -- a grammatical mark that I use a lot -- I hate it when people confuse a “dash” with a “hyphen”. I realize it’s easy to do on a keyboard, typewriter or computer. A dash is not always supplied, and one often has to make do with two hyphens (which, with some software, fuse into a dash) – for, you see, the dash is longer than the hyphen; and a dash is usually bracketed by a space on either side of it, while the hyphen joins two things closely without any spaces … Glad I’m not editing for a living these days. I’m definitely turning into a curmudgeon on nitpicky, point-of-a-needle grammatical issues. Especially when using formal English, which my jobs force me to do, sometimes.
THE TALKING GOURD
the way little brown birds
flock to the newly stocked
the way the frozen air drifts
through the lowest ebb of
last year's sun
the way the christmas tree
draws up water through its arteries
so the toddler can push
ornaments onto its fingers
pope francis makes
in clunky shoes