PLANTING POTATOES … The asparagus is gone to seed. The snow is melted on all but the distant peaks. It feels like it won’t freeze again till next winter (good luck!) … But years of planting over 50 varieties of Solanum tuberosum have led me to a late May/early June scenario for putting my spud crop into the ground at Cloud Acre’s 7000 feet. It was a particularly challenging task this year since my acre of land spent last spring/summer/fall going completely feral. Weeds proliferated, after years of careful thinning. Potato fields laid fallow. Weren’t mowed, rototilled or sown with cover crops. The pond pump hasn’t worked in three years … But of late a change in family relationships has led to a lot of time alone, and it’s been wonderful to work my fields, sculpture paths in my jungles of quackgrass, watch the pond fill up to overflowing. The coyote willow are flourishing. The introduced elms forming elegant vases of shade … I want to especially thank Peter Pitts and Steve McHugh for answering my call last year, when I was doing hospice for my dad, and growing seed potatoes for me. The blessing (and the bane) of potatoes is that they are clones. You grow direct copies of tubers with last year’s crop. If you grow potatoes from seed, varieties can cross. But clonal crops don’t cross … The trouble is, you have to keep growing varieties each year, or you lose your seed – as potatoes only store a year. After developing my seed stock to some 49 varieties – some no longer available from seed sellers like Ronniger’s or Milk Farm, it would have been disaster not to grow. I took most of my seed to California, and grew a crop there (although I had to abandon it in July and come back to harvest it in November). But Peter had his gardeners grow big bags of selected varieties of heirloom spuds from my seed stock (and his potatoes were HUGE and very healthy). Steve did the same, although his spuds were more like mine – small and rugged, having survived insufficient attention, drought and other adversities. Still, thanks to Peter and Steve, Cloud Acre is once again in the business of growing heirloom seed potatoes. Thank you both … And my front porch has a (small) box of potato seed left over, as long as they last. First come, first served. Free to all.
HAZARDOUS DAY … Kudos to Kathy Green who was part of a group of citizens catalyzed by Betsy McKinney of ReStore Our World, who pressed local governments to address the issue of recycling hazardous wastes. Which was one of the first task forces formed by the Intergovernmental council of governments under the leadership of former mayors John Pryor and Davis Watson. I was proud to serve as first chair of that IG Recycling Task Force. And with great support from Joan May, Dave Schneck, Nina Kothe, Kris Holstrom, Denise Mongan, Jonathan Greenspan and a score of others we piggy-backed a hazardous waste day onto the annual town cleanup and expanded it to a general cleanup for all town and county residents in the region. Later task force members Joanna Kanow and Michelle Haynes (Green Party, Norwood Town Council) teamed up with Deb Dion, Brendon Wells and Chris Trosper of Bruin Waste to keep recyclables and hazardous waste from getting dumped into our regional landfills like citizens here had been doing for a hundred years -- until government stepped in to provide a service the private sector was unable to …This year I hauled two years worth of toxic paint, mercury lightbulbs and dead batteries to the high school dropoff site (thank you Telluride School Board) where Chris Smith had a well-oiled crew processing wastes, and Lita Bilotti had done good publicity. I’d saved up a lot of stuff to dispose of. However, thanks to the Sheridan Opera House yard sale and the recyclables at the town cleanup station out by the edge of the valley floor wetlands (accessed through Shandoka), my polka-dotted red Amanitamobile drove back to Norwood with more stuff than I came with. Guess I’m just a recyclist by nature … But we shouldn’t get too smug flaunting our PC Sustainability mantle. Scanning the minutes from a Recycling Task Force meeting of Jan. 31, 2006, I find myself sharing Denise’s frustration – why can’t we come up with better incentives to move citizen behavior in a more sustainable direction? … Denise Mongan expressed frustration that there is no emphasis in this country on reducing and re-using, as there is on the efforts to clean up post-consumer waste. Everyone agreed. Something to think about: How can we incentivize better consumerism? … But mostly I wanted to point out one of the good news items we ought to be proud of as a community – where government partners with the people (mostly volunteers) to do the right thing by the environment … And to praise Kathy Green, who was there helping out at the towns/county annual recycling and computer disposal site this year (computers have toxic metals and hazardous compounds wired into them). This isn’t the first recycling program she’s helped build. But, as most know in our community, it’s rarely one person alone that gets good things done. More often it’s a team of locals willing to pitch in and expand on a good idea. Kathy Green just happens to be a member of a lot of those teams.
CRDC … The Colorado Rural Development Council, in partnership with the Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium and the Colorado Workforce Development Council, is proud to present the first ever, Annual Report on the Status of Rural Colorado. Check it out at < HYPERLINK "http://www.ruralcolorado.org" www.ruralcolorado.org> … I think it will be a great way to educate "urban" Colorado on the importance of "rural" Colorado to the entire state. Kudos to to my old buddy Clarke Becker, CRDC’s executive director … The 2009 Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace will be in Grand Junction on October 9th, sponsored by CRDC. Watch for details!
THE TALKING GOURD
Fort Juniper, Midsummer
Scything down the overgrowth
around the cabin, my sweat drops in rhythm
to the swing of each swing of the blade.
The sprinkling of sap pelts
the understory of birch and oak
from the towering branches of white pine.
An amber rain falls through the simmer of wind
from the canopy in the sunlight.
When I stop to rest, and lean
on the scythe's handle, I inhale
the sweetness of the fragrance released
by the fallen sheaves of cut swale—
listen to the lucid notes
of a thrush's song honey the air.