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Home Explore Telluride Magazine summer 2021

Telluride Magazine summer 2021

Published by deb, 2021-06-01 04:22:56

Description: We Are All Related, Embrace the Amphibian Within, West End Renaissance, Treetop Flyer, and fiction by Danielle Evans


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18 • SUMMER/FALL 2021 DEPARTMENTS CONTENTS 21 WITHIN FEATURES So it goes 50 Treetop Flyer 26 LOCAL FLAVOR Telluride Canopy Adventure is the newest extreme experience By D. Dion Backyard beekeepers 54 Mitakuye Oyasin: We Are All Related 28 INSIDE ART Native Americans rise in response to 2020’s Crises By Christina Callicott Fashion show hits the actual runway 60 West End Renaissance 32 MOUNTAIN HEALTH From ranching and mining to recreation and tourism By Sarah Lavender Smith Medicine Ranch’s natural treatments for respiratory health 66 Embrace the Amphibian Within Four Corners Guides helps human beings transition from land to water 36 ASK JOCK By Rob Story Athletic advice from our ESSAYS mountain guru 40 Shaman Balls 38 ENVIRONMENT The shared geology of Earth and Mars By Craig Childs Southwest drought alters the landscape 42 Still Life With Fence and Raven The fall of the wild buffalo 72 INNOVATION By Maple Andrew Taylor A primer on mRNA technology 44 Wildfires, Tradition, and Climate Change Reckoning with uncertainty 74 NATURE NOTES By Matt Hoisch Wildfire catalyzes forest changes SUMMER/FALL 2021 80 HISTORY Inside the Telluride Film Festival’s third decade 88 FICTION “Anything Could Disappear,” by Danielle Evans and “The Dust That Remembers,” by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer 100 TELLURIDE TURNS TASP turns 25, wolf reintroduction, recreational use surges, Free Box memories 108 COLOR BY NUMBERS Index of facts and figures 112 LAST LOOK Summer ski touring by Sue Hehir


20 • SUMMER/FALL 2021 Magazine Telluride Magazine is produced by Telluride Publishing LLC, Contributors DANIELLE EVANS a locally owned and operated company. Danielle Evans (“Anything Could Disappear,” pp. 88–97) is the author of the story collections The Office of Historical PUBLISHER Corrections and Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. Her TELLURIDE PUBLISHING LLC first collection won the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, and the Paterson Prize and Hurston-Wright award ~~~ for fiction; her second was a finalist for The Aspen Prize, ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE The Story Prize, and The LA Times Book prize for fiction. She is the 2021 winner of The New Literary Project Joyce JENNY PAGE Carol Oates Prize, a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts ~~~ fellow, and a 2011 National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree. Her stories have been anthologized in The Best EDITOR American Short Stories 2008, 2010, 2017, and 2018, and in DEB DION KEES New Stories From The South. She received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop and currently teaches in ~~~ The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. CREATIVE DIRECTOR KRISTAL FRANKLIN CHRISTINA CALLICOTT ~~~ Christina Callicott (“We Are All Related,” pp. 54–57) is a ski DISTRIBUTION instructor, river runner, and anthropologist. She teaches TELLURIDE DELIVERS anthropology and environmental studies part-time at Fort Lewis College in Durango. She spent much of the past ten ~~~ years shuttling back and forth between Telluride, where she recreates, northern Florida, where she earned her PhD WEB ADMINISTRATOR in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Florida in SUSAN HAYSE Gainesville, and Peru, where she studies medicinal plants and practices with a group of Indigenous farmers in the ~~~ upper Amazon. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Christina Callicott, Martinique Davis, Danielle Evans, Elizabeth Guest, Matt Hoisch, Jen Parsons, Paul O’Rourke, Sarah Lavender Smith, Rob Story, Maple Andrew Taylor, Jonathan Thompson, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Regan Tuttle, Lance Waring, Lorraine Weissman ~~~ CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS & ILLUSTRATORS Ryan Bonneau, Christina Callicott, Lizzie Fike, Sue Hehir, Steve Fassbinder, Michael Mowery, Melissa Plantz, Whit Richardson, Stephanie Morgan Rogers ~~~ WWW.TELLURIDEMAGAZINE.COM Telluride Publishing produces the San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide and Telluride Magazine. Current and past issues are available on our website.. © 2021 Telluride Publishing For editorial inquiries call 970.708.0060 or email [email protected] For advertising information call 970.729.0913 or email [email protected] The annual subscription rate is $15.95. Cover and contents are fully protected and must not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher. SUMMER/FALL 2021 KRISTAL FRANKLIN $4.95 | priceless in Telluride Kristal Franklin, the designer of the cover art as well as the WE ARE ALL RELATED • WEST END RENAISSANCE rest of Telluride Magazine, was actually born in Telluride. TREETOP FLYER • EMBRACE THE AMPHIBIAN WITHIN She went on to study graphic design in Tempe, Arizona, “ANYTHING COULD DISAPPEAR” BY DANIELLE EVANS and has a degree in visual communications. What she likes most about design is creating beautiful, colorful things; ON THE COVER butterflies, flowers, and also the Fibonacci spiral on the The Fibonacci spiral or sequence is a natural cover because of its ubiquity in art, animals, and nature. phenomenon, a reminder that there is some higher She is a golfer, a camper, and a lover of good food, sunshine, and animals—all animals, but especially her Aussiedoodle order in the universe. The photos are by Sophie and her orange tabby Willy. Meilssa Plantz and the design/illustration is by Kristal Franklin. DIGITAL PARTNER SUMMER/FALL 2021

Within h SO IT GOES Nobody really knows the meaning of spiral p. 50), and that Lewis and Clark did not foresee Climate Change,” p. 44). “Is this what living in the petroglyphs, the prehistoric art etched by the innovation of rubber rafts and mountain bikes Anthropocene means?” he asks. Indigenous people throughout the world. used in combination (“Embrace the Amphibian Those ancient artists might not have learned Within,” p. 60), and yet here we are. A rhetorical question, but the answer is yes. It’s about the Fibonacci sequence and the golden always yes, no matter what era we inhabit, or which ratio, or that the universe itself is expanding at an Everything moves onward, supported by the foun- ring of the spiral we are on. It’s a forward march. That increasing speed; and yet, there is something even dations that were laid before. When the pandemic doesn’t mean the things we do don’t matter, whether in the simple spiral form that evokes the same con- struck, we didn’t realize how prepared we were, from it’s creating an inclusive community (“Silver Anni- cept of life and growth and progression. the existing mRNA framework that provided new vac- versary,” p. 104), sharing what we have (“Missing the cines (“Shot in the Arm,” p. 72) to the ancient natu- Magic,” p. 106), or trying to save the bees (“Game of I think it’s a belief inherent in all of us, that we ropathic wisdom (“Breathe Easy,” p. 32). Hives,” p. 26) and the wolves (“Wary of Wolves,” p. 100). are building from what was and advancing toward the future. We certainly recognize our progress, In the West, we’re moving headlong into drought, We can celebrate what we’ve accomplished whether it’s the rise of a Native American woman climate change, and record-setting wildfires. Jona- and simultaneously understand that we are just a to the powerful post of Interior Secretary, charged than Thompson writes of how the parched earth part of a much longer story, one rung on a ladder, with managing all the nation’s resources (“We Are is altering the landscape (“Yukigata,” p. 38) and one circle in an endless revolution as the universe All Related,” p. 54) or the rebirth of a region’s tour- Deanna Drew reminds us that wildfire is a part of continues on its inexorable path. Perhaps Kurt ist economy after the ebb of its industrial economy a natural pattern of change and rebirth (“From the Vonnegut said it best in the way he punctuated his (“West End Renaissance,” p. 64). And I’m sure that Ashes,” p. 74). Still, humans are resistant to change. famous book Slaughterhouse-Five, marking every the biologists who first bravely traversed forest We lament the incontrovertible process, the layer- transition with the phrase: “so it goes.” canopies by zip line for expedience never imagined ing of old over new. Essayist Matt Hoisch writes people would want to do it for fun (“Treetop Flyer,” eloquently about tradition and return being upset We hope you enjoy this issue. by the forces of nature (“Wildfires, Tradition, and Deb Dion Kees SUMMER/FALL 2021 21

22 • ETEVELLNUTRCIADLEEFNADCAERS Summer • Fall 2021 CALENDAR of EVENTS THESE ARE SOME OF THE SIGNATURE EVENTS THIS SUMMER AND FALL IN TELLURIDE. MOST EVENTS ARE TENTATIVELY PLANNED AND ALL WILL OBSERVE PUBLIC HEALTH PROTOCOLS. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT EVENTS, VISIT TELLURIDELIBRARY.ORG, TELLURIDEARTS.ORG, AND AHHAA.ORG. MAY JULY Telluride Mushroom Festival August 18–22, 2021 Mountainfilm in Telluride Ride Festival May 28–31 (May 30–June 6 online), 2021 July 2–11, 2021 SEPTEMBER Telluride Americana Music Festival, JUNE a benefit for the Sheridan Opera House Telluride Film Festival July 18, 2021 September 2–6, 2021 Telluride Balloon Festival June 4–6, 2021 KOTO Fall Street Dance AUGUST September 11, 2021 Telluride Bluegrass Festival June 11–13 & 17–20, 2021 Wild West Fest Telluride Blues & Brews Festival August 2–7, 2021 September 17–19, 2021 Telluride Wine Festival June 24–27, 2021 KOTO Duck Race Telluride Autumn Classic (née Cars and August 6, 2021 Colors) Telluride Yoga Festival September 23–26, 2021 June 24–27, 2021 Telluride Jazz Festival Original Thinkers Festival August 13–15, 2021 September 30–October 3, 2021 Telluride AIDS Benefit June 25–26, 2021 OCTOBER Telluride Plein Air June 28–July 4, 2021 Telluride Horror Show October 15-17, 2021 RYAN BONNEAU



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26 • LOCAL FLAVOR GAoMf E HIVES Backyard beekeepers are the unstung heroes of pollinators By Jen Parsons Of the more than 100,000 beekeepers in the U.S., backyard beekeepers—hobbyists with fewer than twenty-five hives—make up the vast majority. And they don’t mind sharing the buzz with the uninitiated. Cathy Barber, the Pla- cerville keeper of Meant to Bee Apiary, bounces when she describes her bees. “You have a queen. The drones are boys. A ‘Bee Story’ is wrong; the workers are girls. Girls! Girls! Girls!” she chants. Barber gets animated when talking about her hives, which total six. You can understand why when she describes the complexity of the bee magic: To begin a hive, spring is best. Barber buys a “package,” a three-pound box which contains approximately ten thousand bees. One mated queen remains apart from the rest in a small, mesh covered “basket,” and the rest of the work- ers feed from a can of sugar syrup. To transfer the brood to their new hive, Barber removes the food can. “It’s crawling with bees,” she says. A hive is comprised of stacked boxes with sev- eral wooden frames inside for the bees to build their comb into. Bees are emptied into the bottom box and like to construct upward. Barber flips the package upside down into the lowest box of the hive and installs a top feeder. The workers eat sugar water and secrete wax from glands in their abdomens to build their hexagon holes. And it’s fast. Unlike Rome, comb was built in day. The queen lays eggs, one in each small cham- ber. She can lay a thousand in a day. Over and over, this pattern continues: more hive built, more eggs deposited. Ultimately, a hive could have near fifty thousand bees, which makes locating a single queen a 3-D version of Where’s Waldo. The female workers build the comb and col- lect nectar to convert into honey, which will sus- tain the hive in winter. “They make a sphere, and the queen goes in the center to keep her warm. All SUMMER/FALL 2021

CLIMATE CONDITIONS, uncork tonight WEATHER, BEARS, QUEEN WARS; SUMMER/FALL 2021 27 YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT. the drones are kicked out of the hive, and then guard bees block them out to conserve resources.” In contrast, males have a singular purpose. Successful drones mate, then die. “The drone only does their one thing,” says Barber. Yet there’s little predictability in bee behavior. When Bar- ber couldn’t pry one hive open, she found the comb built into the lid, rather than the frames. She scraped it off. They rebuilt there again. She discovered a new queen cell—the hive planned to swarm! She split them into two broods to prevent the queens from a death battle. But the old queen still ran an unruly hive. She faced a decision: How do you off a queen? Enter the bear. Last September, she found the hive frames scattered in the yard. “I cried over the loss,” she says. Afterward, she and her husband Fletcher Otwell slept on their deck. They installed a rope and bells, then a motion sensor which tripped on loud music. The bear returned. She installed a game camera which alarmed her iPhone. They strapped the hives tightly together, fenced it off, but the bear came back, over and over. Even in cold November, the bear ripped their shed apart for remnants on scraped-clean frames. They put a bottle of ammonia on top, a supposed bear deterrent, which the bear knocked over in her quest, unfazed. “There’s not a lot of sleep during bear season,” she admits. Every year, every hive, every queen offers a new challenge. “You get ten beekeepers together and you’ll get ten different opinions on what’s going on.” This fascinates Barber and keeps the thrill going for her. Even as we speak, she consults the thick “Beekeeper’s Bible” to find answers. Climate conditions, weather, bears, queen wars; you never know what to expect. Last year, she wanted more hives, but they’re expensive to start. So Barber enlisted help, using a model like a CSA farm but with “bee shares.” Seven people, all women, joined in. Now, two of them started their own hives. Typically in a hive, female workers far outnumber male drones, so Barber’s clan of lady beekeepers seems fitting. “It’s really important for women to care for bees.” She also seems to embrace another quality of bee colonies: the communal, cooperative way the bees work together and sup- port each other. “I even feel there should be a word for it other than beekeeper. I don’t keep the bees, they keep themselves. I help the bees.” \\


PHOTOS BY JASON HICKS OF JASON AND DARIS PHOTOGRAPHY. OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP RIGHT AND BOTTOM IMAGES: FEMALE MODELS WEARING CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES FROM TWO SKIRTS; MALE MODEL WEARING CLOTHING FROM HERITAGE APPAREL. With the board’s support, she got the Telluride AIDS As always, the TAB models went through the audition Benefit Fashion Show scheduled for June 24–26 at TEX, process and then spent five weeks of rigorous rehearsals to the Telluride Regional Airport—you know, six miles out of support the show’s flow and feel. town, the top of a plateau, sweeping views of the Wilsons and other peaks, natural light, majestic clouds, mountain Audience members are definitely in for something spe- breezes—can it get any more flamboyant? “It’s the perfect cial—and exclusive. In COVID-friendly seating pods of two, pivot,” Galbo said, agreeing that the landscape was an obvi- four, six, or eight, runway guests will lay eyes on the first ous backdrop for the dramatic production that the fashion outdoor TAB experience ever. “It’s pretty epic, and the air- show already is. In fact, using the outdoor runway space port is a great partner,” Galbo said. had been brewing in her imagination for some time, even before the pandemic hit. The truth is that the fashion show hasn’t really missed a beat. The benefit did happen in 2020. In fact, it was one of Galbo spent springtime of 2021 planning and produc- the last big things Telluride residents actually got to do last ing this year’s unique fashion show. She also hired director year before the ski mountain and everything else shut down Katy Parnello, who’s thrilled to be working in the new out- in mid-March when the pandemic struck the United States. door venue. While the Conference Center in Mountain Village— where the show has been hosted for decades—sort of had it all in place as far as connectivity and infrastructure goes, Galbo has had to iron out the intricacies of “plugging in” in the middle of the San Juans. Though she’s been involved with or even leading the Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB) Fashion Show for the last six years, this year requires even more creativity. For a trial run, she oversaw the Telluride High School student fashion show directed by local teens. That gave her the framework to rise to the new challenges of orchestrating a complex, choreographed performance with masks, social distancing, and electrifying the TEX runway. The student show was preparation for her to really bring it this summer for the full-blown version. SUMMER/FALL 2021 29

30 • INSIDE ART THE LANDSCAPE WAS AN OBVIOUS BACKDROP FOR THE DRAMATIC PRODUCTION THAT THE FASHION SHOW ALREADY IS. And this year, it’s still on—just pushed back a bit, happen- These are unusual times, and “in a year like no other,” a ing at the onset of summer, rather than the end of ski season. phrase that seems to have caught on with the organization, it seemed like all bets were off. But Telluride AIDS Benefit And let’s not forget it is a benefit, Galbo reminds every- is upping the ante...with flair. one. While the show is continuing, some HIV funding is not. She wants the public to know that there are some 400 The fashion show has been one of Telluride’s signature people on the Western Slope living with the HIV virus, and events since 1994, but the pandemic has made TAB’s mis- sadly, funding for some programs has been cut during the sion all the more urgent; and this year’s exceptional event COVID pandemic. is ready for takeoff. “COVID created the opportunity for innovation on so many levels,” Galbo said. “It’s harder to Every year, Telluride AIDS Benefit supports things like do in some ways, but this also kind of simplifies it; it’s a HIV testing, education, prevention and more, and for this smaller, one-of a-kind experience.” \\ reason, the show truly must go on. “Many of our beneficia- ries are hurting,” she said. “HIV testing is down 85 percent in some areas. That’s a long-term effect.” Galbo said rural places, including those in Colorado but especially abroad too, need support. “It’s an equity issue,” she said. “Vulnerable populations are hardest hit, because of access to healthcare—and the fastest rising HIV cases are in young people. This is an issue we can’t sweep under the rug.” What’s more, Galbo pointed out that designers in the fashion industry have also taken a big hit as a result of COVID. She’s especially happy to promote local vendors and designers this summer—it’s something Telluride AIDS Benefit has always done through the fashion show, but is even more significant as regional businesses recover. Leading up to the 2021 runway debut, the feedback she’s received has been “overwhelmingly positive.” She had peo- ple stop her on the street in Telluride to discuss TAB’s move to the open air. She’s grateful for the continued support. BOTTOM RIGHT: PHOTO BY JASON HICKS. DRESS FROM TWO SKIRTS, MALE CLOTHING FROM SCARPE, AND LUGGAGE AND BAGS FROM THE PEPPORIUM AND CATHERINE FRANK’S PERSONAL COLLECTION. SUMMER/FALL 2021

ABSTRACT #244, 2017 by James Hayward oil on canvas on wood panel, 58x48”

32 • MOUNTAIN HEALTH BREATHE EASY Medicine Ranch has natural treatments for respiratory health By Martinique Davis Soothing sounds and subtle JOSHUA GEETTER AND JUDY GODEC with the fact that practitioners of all PHOTO BY ABIE LIVESAY herbal scents emanate from the medicinal herbs on his property down valley (for scopes in this town tend to put their entryway at Telluride’s Medi- which Medicine Ranch is named), and has prac- patients’ welfare first, and actively cine Ranch Apothecary and Acu- ticed acupuncture in Telluride for nineteen years. refer to each other.” puncture Clinic, beckoning visitors He understands intimately the challenges moun- to an immersive experience within. tain town residents face, not just on the physical It was through this conscious col- Inside, an arrangement of soft-tex- plane but emotionally and spiritually as well. lection of local health and wellness tured robes, scarves, and clothing And while the Telluride environment may pres- providers that Geetter was able to meld with earthen elements like ent unique difficulties for those seeking balance, spring into action during the pandemic, minerals and crystals, metal jewelry, the community also boasts a vigorous network of providing regional clinics’ staff and and leather bags, all set before a health practitioners of all designations that fre- other frontline workers with support- backdrop of expansive windows that quently collaborate to meet patients’ health and ive herbal remedies like his COVID-19 face the mountains. wellness needs. “The bar is set very high for inte- Support tea and capsules and Respira- grative medicine here,” he says, pointing to the tory Badass essential oil inhaler. But this space is much more than local medical doctors, physical therapists, mas- a finely curated shop, as the glass sage therapists, psychologists and more who reg- These were the same formulas bottle-lined walls attest. Rows of ularly refer to one another when treating various Eastern-medicine doctors prescribed tinctures, essential oils, and organic ailments of both body and mind. “That has to do to frontline workers in China during skincare crowd the north wall. the SARS and COVID-19 epidemics. Behind the register, shelves carry an As Geetter explains, Eastern medi- herbal apothecary, the contents of cine has a long history dealing with which are identified only by fine pen- epidemics, specifically of the respi- cil drawings of plants and flowers. ratory kind. And while he is careful not to make any medical claims of As co-owner, licensed acupunctur- diagnosis, treatment, or prevention ist, and Traditional Chinese Medicine of any disease as his remedies have practitioner Joshua Geetter explains, not been evaluated by the Food and Medicine Ranch is meant to be a Drug Administration, the herbal healing experience from the moment blends he creates are based on liter- you walk in, from the front-of-the- ally millennia of use in the Chinese house retail to the back-of-the-house medicine tradition and are meant to acupuncture and wellness center. “It act as a complement to the body’s harkens back to the classical idea own responses. that besides overt medical practice, supports such as clothing, jewelry, Opting to keep the herbal and and perfume were intrinsic to culti- essential oil side of the business going vating health embodied as our best throughout the pandemic, even during selves,” he says, noting that in many the months of acupuncture lockdown, cultures—both ancient and mod- wasn’t a hard decision. “It felt like the ern—wellbeing is about finding bal- most important moment in Western ance in both the internal and external history for Eastern medicine. I was realms. And it is that ethos that has shaped Medi- not going to shirk my responsibility cine Ranch’s philosophy since its inception in 2015. and that opportunity to serve,” he says. With COVID-19 cases on the decline, Geetter’s In a hard-charging town like Telluride, and focus has pivoted from fortifying the immune sys- most especially in the current societal climate tem to supporting the body’s response after receiv- of stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, ing the vaccine. The use of peri-vaccination herbal Geetter and Medicine Ranch co-owner Judy support falls perfectly in sync with the overarching Godec, a designer and essential oils expert, aspire goals of Chinese medicine, he says, in that they are to provide a much-needed space for grounding and meant to support the body’s own inherently intel- healing. Godec’s stylistic panache is evidenced ligent responses. in the retail side of the business, while Geetter Geetter is quick to add that the Medicine brings the nuts-and-bolts elements of herbalism Ranch philosophy aligns with a community-based and acupuncture–which together form the yin and ethic that optimum health and wellness should yang of the Medicine Ranch brand. be available to everyone, regardless of economic standing. “We will never let someone in need go Across Asia, doctors were traditionally war- without care due to lack of money. In both the riors, mountaineers, and wildcrafters of herbs. clinic and retail areas we are totally here for every- Geetter is of the same ilk; he arrived in town in one; just come talk to us.” \\ 1982 as a climber and backcountry skier, grows SUMMER/FALL 2021

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36 • ASK JOCK ASK JOCK Athletic Advice from Our Local Mountain Guru Fanny Pack Comeback Dear Jock, Q Lately, I’ve seen hikers and runners wearing fanny packs instead of traditional backpacks. The last time I recall anyone wearing a fanny pack was back in the 1970s. Is this a new trend or an ironic tip of the hat to times gone by? —Just Wondering Dear Wondering, A I haven’t noticed a marked uptick in fanny packs on the trails, but maybe I haven’t hiked enough with the hipsters. If I had to guess, I’d suspect you’ve uncovered another clever ploy by the outdoor industry to sell more stuff. If I were a crafty gear marketer, I’d remind people how hot and uncomfort- able a pack feels when you’re out on a simple day hike and just need to carry a snack, water, and light layer…wait a minute. Come to think of it, that’s all true! And I’m pretty sure I have an old fanny pack hanging in my gear closet right next to a weathered Bota bag. See you on the trail, Wondering. I’ll be the guy with a vintage fanny pack hiking in waffle stompers with a head band, glacier glasses, a rugby shirt and a pair of tattered canvas shorts while listening to a Grateful Dead bootleg tape on my Walkman. Won’t you join me? — Jock Trail Etiquette Gravel Grinders Dear Jock, Dear Jock, Q I’ve been coming to the Telluride region for many summers to enjoy Q I was driving on a dirt road on the mesa the other day and passed hiking in the high country. Last summer, I was stunned by the num- a couple of bicyclists. I slowed down because I didn’t want to cover ber of people on the trails. I saw meadows trampled by folks straying off them with dust and noticed they were riding what looked like road bikes trail. I saw way too much litter. And don’t even get me started on those with drop handlebars. I didn’t know skinny tires and road wheels could little plastic bags of dog poop people leave behind or the mountain biker handle bumpy dirt roads. Were my eyes deceiving me, or did these riders who yelled, “Get out of my way!” as he careened by me on a narrow take a wrong turn off the pavement? stretch of the Wasatch trail. I’m glad folks are getting outside, but I worry the mountain environment —Curious Observer isn’t able to handle so many visitors. Is there a way to limit the number Dear Observer, of people in the Telluride backcountry? A You probably passed a couple of cyclists riding cross bikes. As the —Concerned Nature Lover name indicates, these are a cross between a sturdy mountain bike Dear Nature Lover, made to handle rough terrain and a nimble road bike built for speed on smooth pavement. A Your observations and concerns are valid. Last summer was extremely busy—not only here, but in mountain towns around the West. I don’t Cross bikes (aka “gravel grinders”) have increased in popularity among think the Telluride region, however, has reached the tipping point where cyclists who don’t seek the technical thrills of single-track trails and prefer permits should be required to recreate in popular areas. to avoid the dangers of riding on the narrow shoulder of a busy highway. At first glance, cross bikes look much like a conventional road bike with Instead, the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village, San Miguel County, drop handlebars and a rigid frame, but cross bike tires have more tread, the the Telluride Tourism Board, the United States Forest Service, and local non- wheels sets are durable, and the frame geometry is relaxed for comfortable profits including the Telluride Mountain Club and Sheep Mountain Alliance riding on gravel and dirt roads. joined forces this summer to focus on visitor education emphasizing “Leave No Trace” and “Share the Trail” ethics for backcountry travelers. You can find this As the driver of a vehicle passing any cyclist, you did the right thing to information at slow down and yield space. Maybe the next step is to go to your local bike shop and ask to demo a gravel grinder. Even with these educational efforts, not everyone will get the message or do the right thing. Pretty places close to town such as Bridal Veil Falls and Perhaps you’ll decide to ditch your vehicle and explore country roads Bear Creek draw crowds, which impacts the landscape. When I choose to on two wheels. go to those popular places, I commit to bringing a good attitude and a trash bag. When I seek solitude, I range farther afield. — Jock — Jock SUMMER/FALL 2021

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38 • TEENLVLIRUORNIDMEEFNATCES YUKIGATA Southwest drought alters the landscape By Jonathan Thompson For four decades, my grandparents ran a farm in the Animas Valley north of Durango, Colorado. They knew when it was time to put out the tomatoes they had started indoors not by looking at the calendar, but by keeping an eye each spring on a particular northerly facing slope on Missionary Ridge. When the snow was all melted from the slope, usually in late May or early June, the threat of a killing freeze had passed, meaning the tomatoes would be safe outdoors. Their planting calendar, based on the shifting, melting snow patterns in spring—known in Japan as yukigata—isn’t unique. No matter where you go, so long as there’s a hill or mountain in sight, farmers follow a similar ritual. Over in the Montezuma Valley gardeners wait until Ute Mountain is free of snow to plant. In the Grand Valley of Colorado, it would be foolish to plant before the Swan’s Neck has melted. And in the North Fork Valley of Western Colorado, gardeners wait for the Devil’s Neck on Mt. Lamborn to “break.” And, pretty much no matter where you go, diminishing pre- cipitation and a warming climate are disappearing the yukigata ever earlier in the year—my grandparents’ was almost gone by mid-April—throwing the planting schedule out of whack and potentially subjecting seedlings to a killing spring frost. But this isn’t just about frozen tomatoes and folk wisdom. This is visual confirmation of what the data show: The planet’s climate is off-kilter, which is causing our region to become more arid, which is resulting in changes both subtle and dramatic, all of which could have serious consequences for the communities of the Southwest. You don’t need to be a farmer to see what’s happening. Just walk outside and allow the sensory clues to reveal themselves: The pungent smell of smoke on a summer’s day, the green scum that grows in the tepid water of a depleted stream, the sound of a raft scraping bottom, the waxy orb of the smoke-tinged setting sun, the wilting crops after the ditches are turned off in August for lack of water. A dramatic sign appeared last fall, when the high country should have been covered with snow and visions of skiing were dancing in the collective mind. Instead, Coloradans were blud- geoned with bare peaks and a roiling plume of smoke rising into the cloudless sky. A wildfire was burning, in October, in what had historically been referred to as the “asbestos forest” for its flame-resistant properties. It was a disturbing finish to what had been a smoke-filled summer. Considered in isolation, 2020, or even 2002 or 2018, each could be passed off as just another drought year, like those of times past. There was so little snow in the winter of 1879, for example, that the yukigata were gone by March and the high-mountain passes clear by May. A fire that summer torched 26,000 acres of high-altitude forest south of Silverton, and the Lime Creek Burn would stand as the largest wildfire in Colorado history for the next 123 years. And experts are warning that we could be in for yet another catastrophic fire season. The Lime Creek Burn held onto its sta- tus as Colorado’s biggest fire until 2002, when the old record was shattered six times. Surely those records would stand SUMMER/FALL 2021

Ophir Animal Camp Dog Boarding for Happy Dogs another century or more. But alas, more dry years followed, the forests 60 Acres in Ophir Valley turned to tinder, the fires erupted again and again, burning more and No Pens ~ No Cages more acreage, and the records kept falling—the three largest fires in state history burned last year. The Lime Creek Burn is no longer even in [email protected] the top twenty. By comparison, the snow this year was bountiful enough to make for 970.728.6345 decent skiing—along with a lot of deadly avalanches. The snowpack lev- els at their early April peak were around 80 percent of average in most SUMMER/FALL 2021 39 places, which looks pretty good compared to those dry years of yore. The problem is that the snow fell upon ground that was already parched by the cumulative effects of more than twenty years of nearly unrelenting drought. And those THE PROBLEM IS effects have been further exacer- bated by warmer temperatures, THAT THE SNOW which cause those yukigata to melt earlier, the soil to dry out sooner, and water in rivers and FELL UPON GROUND lakes to evaporate more rapidly. THAT WAS ALREADY It all adds up to a bleak situa- tion on the ground. The San Juan River isn’t quite a series of mud PARCHED BY puddles, yet, but it only ran at THE CUMULATIVE about one-third of its usual flow in early April, which could further stress endangered native fish EFFECTS OF that ply its murky waters. Rafters had to choose between dragging MORE THAN TWENTY their boats across the silt bars in the river’s lower section or can- YEARS OF NEARLY celing their trips altogether and forfeiting coveted permits. The UNRELENTING Colorado River is also in trou- ble: thanks to low inflows, Lake DROUGHT. Powell’s bathtub ring, left behind by receding water, is growing— the reservoir’s surface level has dropped by almost thirty-five feet from a year earlier. Projections for Lake Mead suggest water levels will fall below 1,175 feet this summer for the first time, which could trigger water restrictions for millions of downstream Colorado River users and affect water-use agreements with Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming; and less water moving through the Hoover Dam will also decrease its hydroelectric power production. Even as I write this, in early April, large swaths of Colorado are under red-flag fire-weather warnings, the forecast calls for high temperatures and sunny skies, and I can look out the window and see my grandparents’ yukigata. It will soon be gone. \\

40 • ESSAY Shaman Balls The shared geology of Mars and Earth SUMMER/FALL 2021

ON MARS, THEY ARE CALLED BLUEBERRIES. ON EARTH, THEY ARE KNOWN AS SHAMAN STONES, MOKI OR MOQUI BALLS, OR, MY FAVORITE shaman balls.FROM A HIBISCUSMOONCRYSTAL WEBSITE, TBy Craig Childs | Photo by Whit Richardson stone was closer to three million years old. he earth is a producer of oddities. These two ages represent periods of ground- Crystals curl around each other water flow seventeen million years apart. like fiber optics and groundwater The younger concretions formed about the stains rock like Van Gogh. Geologic time the Colorado River began downcutting byproducts come out faster than Linnaeus through the region, and are made of the black could name off species, lava bombs, pseu- crystal, goethite, while the older are mostly domorphs, barites that look like roses, and red hematite, telling of changes in groundwa- copper that grows like mushrooms. When ter composition over time, the influence of a you find fields of little geologic eggs, you river on the land millions of years ago. begin to think Darwin may have been short- sighted focusing only on organic life. When water percolates through bedrock, filling aquifers between sandstone grains, What are these oddities, ball bearings of impurities are filtered out. Stripped and left the desert? You find them all over the Colo- behind, they oxidize and change. Around rado Plateau, iron-rich concretions that erode cracks or faults, minerals meet and alter out of parent rock in the form of spheres. their life courses. They oxidize at different Some are red, some orange, and some so rates, uniting or repelling each other, which black sunlight gives them a purple sheen. I’ve creates layers of unique chemical reactions, seen them small as peas or bigger than bowl- underground fireworks. One theory is that ing balls. They can be as hard as musket balls microbes in the groundwater turn iron car- or crumble to the touch. On Mars, they are bonate into hematite, creating the balls in called blueberries. On Earth, they are known an organic-mineral exchange. as shaman stones, Moki or Moqui balls, or, my favorite from a hibiscusmooncrystal website, I mentioned Mars, where they are called shaman balls. To quote the unnamed source blueberries. In 2004, the Opportunity rover on the site: “Shaman balls contain hematite investigated a similar field of concretions, and silicate in their outer shell (the center is finding much the same composition as sandstone).” Absolutely right. Mostly. Some shaman balls, forms of iron gathered into are iron through and through, squeezed into spheres the same size as those on Earth, and the sandstone like seeds. When the sandstone equally weathered out on the surface. If the wears away, the harder iron concretions concretions are formed along with microbes, remain. this could be evidence of some form of life on Mars. If not life, they are at least evidence of Their origin is hinted at by their age. A persistent groundwater. More recently, this shaman ball might be 300,000 years old, but has been called into question. On Mars, they is found in sandstone 250 million years old, may be metallic spherules that are often dated by the decay of radioactive elements found within impact glass at meteorite cra- that came to rest when the formation set- ters. On Earth, they are made from life and tled. The concretions came well after the water interacting with minerals. sandstone formed, when minerals flowed through groundwater inside the rock and This is the kind of thing geology gives lodged like iron gall stones. birth to. Tectonics feeds up mountain ranges and pushes crustal land down to the In one case, a layer of marbles from mantle to be digested and reabsorbed, or southern Utah was found to have two differ- twisted into taffy veined with quartz. What ent ages and distinctly different composition. blossoms on the surface is like a coral reef One group formed around twenty million of rock and mineral, and one of the species, years ago and the second from the same sand- or maybe a genus, is the marble that rises from sandstone like a pearl. \\ SUMMER/FALL 2021 41

42 • ESSAY Still Life With Fence And Raven

THE FALL OF THE WILD BUFFALO IN COLORADO T by Maple Andrew Taylor which is the strand closest to the earth. And the his supervisor’s supervisor on down to him. That his patchy, narrow, two-lane highway drums raven now stands in colorless contrast as that last relic nomad of a buffalo was killed for this reason: beneath the car like light chop against the buffalo must have stood facing the young warden’s so that it wouldn’t die at the hands of a rancher. hull of a motorboat. I’ve just driven down old breechloading rifle, the heavy old gun handed The State of Colorado would then have to charge a steep, long incline and the sky is clear down to him, as if the old gun and the young war- the rancher with a crime, the agency enjoining a and the prairie rumples in swells, breaks like surf den shared a destiny, that heavy big bore rifle once fight it could not possibly win; the rancher’s neigh- against the mountains on the horizon. Over on the shouldered to fill wagons with hides. Once shoul- bors crying in protest: We have the right to pro- passenger side there is a raven standing beneath dered to extirpate the buffalo from the limitless tect our property! In America we protect what is the low wire of the pasture fence. More an emblem plains, thereby crippling the economy of native ours! It is the law! of a bird than bird, it contrasts most starkly against peoples who were in the way of new people who the pale prairie. Gone now as the fence posts held their destiny manifest. But he did not say how it was the beast fell, approach slowly, quicken, reel past in a blur. Like or how long it took to die. Only that it fell near old film slipping the cogs of the projector. THE WARDEN’S ORDERS a fence. I was wet behind the ears myself when CAME FROM ABOVE, he told me of this and I did not truly understand, But the image is not gone. Prairie. Raven. didn’t understand at all even, until I saw that raven Fence. Frozen in my mind’s eye like a still life, FROM THE TOP STRAND DOWN beneath the fence flash by my window, invoking that bird stands commonly, declines the posts and TO THE BOTTOM STRAND, an image from another time—the image of the strands of wire as places to perch. Seems to ignore WHICH IS THE STRAND young warden leaning forward, aiming the solid the fence like it isn’t even there. Fence and Raven CLOSEST TO THE EARTH. old breechloader, cheek tucked tightly to the butt- could be the title of that work of art in my head stock, the smell of oil-soaked wood and machined (and a work of art it truly is). That warden shot one of the last wild buffalo in iron, that old, scarred marlin of a once-wild buffalo all of Colorado and it fell near the fence, without just standing there. Oh, big, black raven. Yours is a horn of plenty. witness, except him, the shooter, who spoke this to Is there any place you don’t perch or stand, any me over the wet sputter of a dimming gas lantern And how many times has he had to shoot that place you don’t crick and croak? Your impunity one dark night around a table, ample brown whis- big old bull. Had to look over the iron sights, then close enough to absolute. Even in literature: key sipped from thick, old coffee mugs, the faint through them, the recoil jarring his shoulder sav- death, foreboding. Quoth the raven. smell of woodsmoke from chunks of cedar snap- agely, the massive old beast humping roundly at ping and thumping in the cast iron stove. the shock of the bullet and backing up a couple Aren’t you something? of stilted steps before its mad, vertiginous tumble. Fence continues to fly past the frame of my This I thought of when I saw the raven, image A tumble not unlike its first hard stumble after it window, nothing for miles but strawed stems of indelible now, contrasting the pale grass beneath the dropped from its mother and shed its bloody birth grass and big sky and the snapshot of the bird in fence, along the highway, posts reeling. And oh how sac and tried to find its legs, tried to gain some my memory, standing singly and very much alone the old buffalo once fought the fences like Heming- purchase on the madly spinning Earth. beneath the bottom wire. Standing like the wire way’s Old Man Santiago fought the sharks: Eat that isn’t even there, ignoring the barbed wire like galanos and make a dream you killed a man; eat that Did the Earth register the seismicity of the the last of the great buffalo must have ignored it, fence and make a dream you killed a buffalo. great beast’s last fall? Did the Earth, for a millisec- standing near the fence but not seeing it, seeing ond, wobble untrue on its axis? Did it do so in def- past, far past; the fence no more holding the buf- But it was no dream when he raised that heavy erence? In profound sorrow and abject grief? Did it falo than thorny brush. old rifle. He told me how he was wet behind the do so in recognition of the profound, the closing of a But there was something the buffalo could not ears and had his orders, and how the ranchers great circle, the terminus of the arc of the narrative ignore: a young warden dispatched by an admin- were up in arms over their damaged fences and of one of the greatest North America stories? Like a istrator from headquarters in Denver to shoot scattered livestock, and that the order came from spent arrow must finally thunk the ground? that buffalo after many cattle fences were broken, wire strewn, posts snapped like arrows. I spoke to Surely, as he watched the beast kick at the that warden many years ago just before he retired earth and die, the warden must have lowered the and he told me about one of the last wild buffalo rifle. Surely, all these times, all these years, as he in Colorado and of broken fences and an irate watched the beast kick at the earth and die, the rancher. The warden’s orders came from above, warden must have lowered the rifle. A man cannot from the top strand down to the bottom strand, hold the heavy iron barrel up and out and level for very long before he tires. No man is that strong. Only in a still life can a man do this. \\ SUMMER/FALL 2021 43

44 • ESSAY Reckoning with uncertainty by Matt Hoisch DURING MY SENIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE IN MASSACHUSETTS IN 2018, I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO WINTER BREAK AND RETURNING HOME TO WEST HILLS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. BUT A MONTH BEFORE BREAK, INSTEAD OF STUDYING FOR FINALS, I WAS GLUED TO A COMPUTER SCREEN IN THE LIBRARY, REFRESHING EVACUATION MAPS FOR FIRES THAT HAD RAVAGED MY HOME STATE. I WAS LOOKING AT PICTURES OF UNFAMILIAR INFERNOS WITH CAPTIONS AND MAPS OF FAMILIAR PLACES. AGOURA. SIMI VALLEY. MALIBU. WEST HILLS. I was fortunate: my house wasn’t threatened It would take time to see that difference. In and, for many, to wear white. To seek purity as we by the Woolsey fire that burned more than 90,000 fall 2019, I was home for the Jewish High Holy leave one year and enter another. acres in Los Angeles and Ventura County in 2018. Days. My rabbi’s sermon was about the trauma and But many of my friends and family evacuated, and the scars of those fires. I was right. My community A lot in Judaism, I’ve come to realize, is about many lost places and structures that were dear to had changed. Not just at a physical level but at a transitions: the connecting moments and tra- them. I saw them post about it on Facebook thou- spiritual level. ditions that bridge us from one state to another. sands of miles away from where I sat in a library. That seems to apply to religion in general. The They marked themselves safe, which was a bless- The High Holy Days are about renewal. The word religion, after all, comes from the latin root ing. But the landscape was—and in many ways roughly month-long period begins with Rosh “lig” meaning “to tie” (like “ligament”). still is—charred and changed and uncertain. Hashana, the Jewish new year, and ends with Sim- chat Torah, a holiday that marks when we restart In Judaism, for instance, every week ends with I didn’t know what it would feel like to return the year-long reading of the Hebrew bible. In the Sabbath, a day of rest. It begins Friday night and to Southern California that December for the hol- between is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year ends Saturday night with a short religious service idays, but I knew that the community I left would in Judaism. It’s a time to atone for sins of the past called Havdalah—a Hebrew word that literally means be radically different than the one I came home to. year and ask forgiveness. It’s customary to fast, “separation” or “division.” We mark these divisions in time by lighting candles. We mark them with fire. SUMMER/FALL 2021

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46 • ESSAY Fire seemed to punctuate another change in my Is this what living in the Anthropocene means? So much of how we live and plan our lives is life. A few weeks after my rabbi’s High Holy As fires and hurricanes become more destructive, rooted in an assumption that we are moving and Day sermon, on the morning of October 11, 2019, can we be certain every time we leave our homes dynamic but that from one year to the next, our I was still in Southern California and woke up to and our hometowns, they will be standing as ref- journey can still bring us back to a place that is a forgotten but familiar smell: smoke. Once again uges of familiarity when we return? Can we con- similar enough to where we were—like a helix I was refreshing evacuation maps on a computer tinue to find strength and comfort in the familiar that moves upward in one plane but circles around screen. Once again, my home came out untouched. when the familiar becomes increasingly fragile and around in another: advancing and return- And just a few months later, in January and threatened? In times of changing climate and 2020, I moved to Telluride. growing natural disasters, how attached can we ing, advancing and returning. I have become to places that have an increasing chance the sense many of us depend on these That summer, several fires in Colo- of radically changing in a few hours? cycles for our happiness and sanity. rado—many of the largest in the state’s So what does it mean if that return is history—prompted evacuations in sur- threatened forever? rounding communities. Smoke from fires across the west also drifted to the area What we’re losing in the Anthro- and led to several days of unbreathable pocene is stability and continuity and air and rust-orange sky. Some of it from as predictability. We’re losing places and far as California. patterns and times, the practices that hold life together. In this context, tra- By the end of the year, fires burned dition becomes desperation. Something more than 600,000 acres across Col- certain amid the chaos. orado. The Cameron Peak fire—the largest in state history—accounted for I know places and communities about a third of that. morph over time; this isn’t a nostalgic plea for home to remain the same for- According to the USDA, since the ever. It’s a reckoning with a new reality 1970s, wildfire season in the Western U.S. of an exponentially faster rate of tran- has extended from five months to longer sition. It’s not the gradual change of a than seven months. We’re now in wildfire season more friend moving away or a store going out of busi- often than not. If anything, wildfire season should be ness; it’s the day-to-day tension of knowing that the new baseline and we should mark the time when what was stable a week ago—an hour ago—could we’re out of it rather than in it. vanish tonight. \\ SUMMER/FALL 2021

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