- Spiritual Centers
Driving to Denver I continue to see more and more homes in the vast stretches of formerly wide open ranch land. Further up I-25 I grieve for the lost farms and barns that were between the Front Range towns of Boulder, Loveland, Fort Collins and the interstate. Now it is a sea of big houses and shopping malls.
It’s the same all over the country, all over the world, a nearly never-ending expansion of humanity. People. There are just too many people on this planet.
In the 1970s there was a Zero Population Growth movement which proposed that every person only have one child, to replace themself. People were realizing then that there were only so many natural resources, and we had to allow space for the animals and wild places if we were to preserve our planet’s ecosystem. Our population has more than doubled since then.
My mail is full of “save this and save that”. But, never a mention of human over-population as a cause. No campaign to disperse birth control, offer free sterilization, encourage having less children. Just the opposite. Mention “family planning” and you are attacked.
As I watch the candidate debates and world news, over-population as the cause of war, famine, poverty, climate change and environmental degradation is never mentioned. It is a subject that is off the table. Taboo.
We need to have a world-wide informed conversation about the importance of population control. Offer incentives. Provide education & economic help. If not, nature has a way of dealing with runaway species, and I’d really prefer that not be the way.
Time is running out for our planet—and humanity. It’s time to act like an intelligent species.
January, 2016. The Crestone Eagle now celebrates its 27th year. Wow. Never saw this far ahead when I started the newspaper. It was a job I could create—creating your own job is almost a prerequisite for living here. There was a need. No other regional newspaper covered the news and happenings of Crestone. The building of spiritual centers was mostly ignored by other papers. Too far away. Too strange.
More people came here, drawn to these centers or just wanting to be in a place that carried that energy; or into alternative building; or the mixing of New Age with ancient age in an awesome mountain wildland. This community grew, and the Eagle grew as well, giving image and voice to something that on the surface is barely visible.
Visitors come to Crestone, having heard about it, driven around downtown and then said “where is it?” Maybe go around the block again and you’ll find it. Maybe pick up the home-grown independent paper and get a view, a map, an insight to what is here.
Small town newspapers are, I think, an especially valuable resource in creating and sustaining a town. They are often the longest running business in their town—like the Eagle is. When a small town looses its paper, it isn’t long before its identity is lost—gone to the wind or gobbled up by corporate chain publications. The residents’ own personal concerns are ignored and their political clout diminished.
The success of the Eagle, like any local business, has depended so much on community support: writers, advertisers, photographers, dedicated staff and especially the readers!
Thank you all for helping us get to 27 years. Wishing us all prosperity in the New Year!
As I follow the news, my heart aches at the plight of the Syrian refugees. Seeing the images of people washing ashore in overcrowded rafts—of small children sleeping in fields being terribly afraid—of parents trying to protect them, carrying babies as they hike across Europe. Soldiers standing in lines turning them away at borders. I’m appalled when I hear Americans speak against these people who have lost everything while fleeing from war and terrorism.
Jump to act two, scene one of the Christmas story.
There is a man with a very pregnant woman riding a tired donkey. They have been forced to leave their home and have been traveling for many days, sleeping rough along the road. Seeking shelter, they have been turned away with doors closed against them. The woman is about to give birth with no safe place to be until a compassionate stranger, a humble innkeeper tells them they can bed down with the animals in his stable.
This is not just a story of humble beginnings of a babe born in a stable and placed in a manger. But one of kindness and compassion by a man (and most likely also his wife) who helped strangers. There were no kings present, no angels singing noel or telling the innkeeper to “be not afraid”, just a road-weary family needing help. They were aided, fed and sheltered.
As we enter into the winter holiday season let us consider the Christmas story. And whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanuka, Milad un Nabi, Solstice, or just the wonder of life itself, let us think of those fleeing refuges, reach out and encourage that they be helped and given shelter.
I found reading all the thank you letters this month inspiring. Every single letter was an expression of gratidue. So I thought I’d get into the spirit of the page.
I would like to give thanks to our great Eagle staff. We have a great team that pulls this baby together every month. Smart, hardworking, capable and fun! Who could ask for anything more. Thanks to all those who are part of the Eagle but don’t work in the office—writers, reporters, photographers and contributors of all sorts. You really help to make the Eagle happen. Your excellence makes us look good! And a BIG thank you to those who advertise with the Eagle. It’s your advertising dollars that keeps this small town independent newspaper in business.
As I took a walk today with my two doggies along the road with no noise and almost zero traffic, looking at the blue sky, the golden colors and the amazing peaks I gave thanks for my good doggies and for being here. Thankful for this extended autumn—the cool rain, the touch of snow, the mornings with a fire in the wood stove.
I give thanks that we don’t have any obituaries in the paper this month—last month was hard saying goodbye to friends.
I so deeply appreciate and am in gratitude for my family. So blessed by children, their spouses, grandchildren, my partner. Such a grand circle of loving friends I have!
As I look around this community, report on things that are happening, on those who are creating and giving to make life here better, I give deep thanks.
All of it. ALL of it, makes life so worthwhile.
This morning I read the news that the US Senate defeated Republican efforts to use a funding extension bill to cut off money to Planned Parenthood. For months there have been threats by Congress to actually shut down the government rather than fund women’s health care.
This is only a temporary stop. For me, it shows just how far right-wingers will go in their campaign against women. Playing politics with women’s health is unacceptable. As the protest sign said: “I can’t believe we’re still protesting this sh-t!”
Planned Parenthood is one of the few non-local non-profits I annually donate to. Why? Here are some facts from the National Organization for Women. “By one estimate, one in five women in the U.S. has used Planned Parenthood’s services at some point during their lifetime. Attacks on Planned Parenthood attack the patients who depend on their care the most: low-income women and families, young women, and people of color. Family planning clinics (and mammograms for older women) save the lives and health of these women and men every day. Ninety-nine percent of sexually active women have used contraception. Reproductive health services are basic healthcare for women and must be safe, affordable and medically appropriate for every women in the U.S.”
Despite misleading information, taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood do NOT cover abortions. But, one of the best ways to prevent abortions is to provide contraceptives, education and services for families.
Of all the stupid things our government spends money on, which would be worthy of “shutting down the government”, women’s health care is not one of them.
This month we have a news article about there being a problem with meth and heroin in the greater Crestone area and Saguache County. This is a “heads up” article on a subject we will be following more frequently and indepth.
Methamphetamine and heroin can be a HUGE problem to any community it moves into. These drugs devastate lives. And not just for the short term. They cause serious addiction problems, ruin a persons health, destroy relationships, lead to crime and all too often cause death.
I have been hearing from people about the heroin problem. First-hand accounts. Names have been given to the Sheriff’s department. But any real sucess of winning this particular drug war in our community is going to have to come from friends, family and neighbors getting involved.
Attention parents: We are hearing that many new users of these drugs are teenagers. The drugs are cheap, available and a real temptation. Want to get high for only ten bucks? Are you cool? Pot’s easy and common—want to get really stoned?
You may sometimes think your teenager looks stoned—probably it’s only marijuana you assure yourself. No big deal you may think. But, are you sure? Really sure? Maybe it’s meth, maybe it’s black tar heroin. Maybe your kid is starting on a path to hell. Maybe you really need to pay attention and take action.
Who is cooking meth in the hood or selling heroin? Let the police know. Talk to your kids or your friends if you think they are using. If you know someone who is using, try to get them help.
It is time to save some lives here—and our community.
I stepped away from the computer shaking my head. Facebook. Jeez. Jump into the drama or leave it alone? There are a couple of local Facebook groups that chat about local events, who has or wants what, who did what, and what everyone thinks about that. Small town gossip goes digital.
On fb we learn that the government is spying on us with military helicopters while using search and rescue operations as a cover. (Nefarious ops for sure)
Complaints about traffic—some people have an old-fashioned idea that people should stop at stop signs and obey traffic laws. Others think they are special and should be exempt. Always there are complaints about dogs. Dogs running loose and causing problems and the rights of dogs to run loose (free the hounds!). 100 comments and going strong.
You can find out who is doing drugs in the park—well, supposedly. Maybe that was said by the person annoyed with barking dogs.
UFO sightings are always fun. We live in such a well-visited place! Then there are the opinions on police protection. We should have more, we should have less, we shouldn’t have any at all and let everyone be self-aware and self-policing and we’d all have a perfect world.
Opinions are stated as fact. Facts are pulled from unvetted websites that look like “news”. Might sound really crazy, but it’s all true! I swear!
I have to admit at the end of the day it can be greatly entertaining. I might even jump in with a “like” or add a historical “fact” (there’s always a spoiler or two in the crowd). And I have to confess, I do like the cute videos of cats.
Enjoying the summer fun,
For the past few years I’ve been socially pulling back. I’ve avoided many social occasions, meetings, performances and group get-togethers. There are people I’ve stepped back from conversing with. I have turned over many conversations with customers at the Eagle office to the staff. I’ve withdrawn more and more from a confusing, sound-filled world.
Why? I’m very hard of hearing. My old hearing aids have been way underpowered. Sound was distorted. It has either been nearly impossible to understand what was going on—or just not worth the effort it took.
But now I have great news and great new hearing aids. State-of-the-art aids courtesy of the Colorado Dept. of Vocational Rehabilitation and Dr. Kelley Halligan.
It’s a new world.
Truly. Not just in conversations (I can now understand my youngest grandson and am not afraid to approach an office visitor) but I’m suddenly hearing what I haven’t heard in a decade. My footsteps across the floor. Birds singing outside my bedroom window in the morning. A high buzzy whine sound in my car I couldn’t figure out until the mosquito landed on me.
When I stand outside there is now a soundscape I didn’t know was there—a car driving a block away, people talking across the street, the rush of the creek sound bouncing off the cliffs, a dog bark, the wind in the trees. My cat Hermes sits on my chest and I now can hear his rumbling purr. Amazing.
Oh, I still take the hearing aids out at night and enjoy the blessed silence. But I am so very grateful. Hearing is such a gift.
Enjoy the summer,
Grace’s and yellow warbler, both pygmy and full-size nuthatch, yellow finch, goldfinch, red finch, pine siskin, flicker, junco, sparrow, and bluebirds who built a nest in the birdhouse at my garden. Yellow & orange, black & red grossbeaks, mud swallows, red-wing blackbirds, grackle, hummingbirds, robins, owls and hawks galore. Crestone has become a bird-watching paradise.
Every evening I head out to my garden and watch and listen. The place is abuzz with birds. A large raven swooped low over my head, so low I ducked, and on its tail was a fiercely pursuing magpie. The golden eagles fly out from the cliffs above town along with turkey vultures. Raucous jays in the piñons compete with relentless robin song.
I’m seeing birds here I’ve never seen before—unidentified flying objects—until I grab my binoculars and bird book. Migration change? Or return?
This spring has been one of the wettest on record and is greener than I’ve seen in decades. Most all of us have gotten tired of all the rain. Can you imagine us being tired of rain! After a dozen years of a drought so fierce we used terms like “100-year”, then “1000-year”. When we prayed for and blessed every single drop of rain that fell. (A bit soggy, but I’m still blessing the rain!)
As we enter June, the Sangres are still covered in deep snow. White when just a few years ago they were bare and on the edge of burning. The creeks are running full to overflowing even though snowmelt still hasn’t fully happened. Our yards could get even wetter with overflow. Maybe next month I’ll spot water birds in Crestone—like ducks, geese and wading herons!
Happy green summer,
As we finish this issue of the Eagle we got word that Kalisama had died. She fought as long as she could and then let go. At first the world felt like a lesser place without her. Smaller and not as bright. A huge large-as-life passionate exuberance was gone. Then I looked out and up at the sky over the cliffs—bluer than I’d ever seen it—and the light on the mountains so brilliant, so clear with such depth that it lit up the insides of our souls. A strum of music, a flash of color, a belly laugh. That grand always-up-front woman was freed and shining brighter than ever. Of course. Just what you’d expect from her. Go Kali go.
And thank you.
In the June issue of the Eagle we’ll have a proper obituary for her. After family and friends catch their breath and the Kali-sama stories pour out.
But right now I’d like to acknowledge all of those who cared for her during her several-year journey and battle with cancer. So many people stepped up and helped her. Friends, family, hospice, her greater community. They really, really rocked. They walked with her every step of the way and carried her when needed. They cooked, drove, visited, helped, encouraged, loved and held her close.
Sometimes I am in such awe of the people of this place and the broader circle of friends we connect with. How they come together in often quiet unannounced ways. I honor you so very much for your big generous hearts.
with deep appreciation,
Janet and I took a vacation in March, travelling far away, seeing new places, visiting friends. We love to travel. But this time we were especially glad to get home to our peaceful valley. Why? Noise.
The world is becoming louder and louder as people move into all the corners of the world, filling up the spaces. Even at the “restful” beach, there was music blaring from multiple sources, taxis honking, motorbikes revving, dogs barking. Cacophony.
Quiet is an endangered resource.
We came home and stood outside and soaked up the brilliance of a dark night sky. In the early morning there was a hush broken only by the sounds of birds singing.
Many Crestonians moved here for the quiet, for a contemplative life, for beauty, wildlife, and for getting away from the rush and buzz of urban living.
We bemoan those “outsiders” who would harm our cherished landscape. But, I see as our own population grows, that we ourselves can be our biggest threat. Those from more urban areas may have gotten used to noise as much as us mountain hermits have gotten used to quiet.
We all make noise, sure. I like it when my pooch lets me know there is a bear in the yard. I may run a generator mid-winter on snowy days or fire up a chainsaw. We may have the occasional yard party.. Music and sound is part of a vibrant downtown life.
All things in moderation.
After experiencing unrelenting sound for two weeks I know that I am even more aware of the noise I may make. Thank you to all who are aware of the great value of quiet.
On an early morning in February I attended the cremation of a dear community member at the Crestone End of Life Project’s cremation site. A whole circle of family, friends and neighbors came to pay tribute. As the fire was lit and flames rose in the cold dawn air, stories were told, prayers offered, love given.
So magical, this transformation of fire. I looked around the circle at so many people I knew and saw how we come together, how we are linked. How, in so many ways, in life and death, we are woven together. A tapestry so uniquely our own.
I remember an old saying that “home is where, when you show up, they have to take you in”. But after living so many years in this tight-knit community, I’d say that home is where you are known and loved, and when you die, you will be remembered and missed. Celebrated. Where people will tell stories about you—good things and bad. Funny things you did, even embarrassing things you had hoped people had forgotten. No, they’ll remember—and tell on you.
This month we have four obituaries—a lot for such a small community. They were all people who enriched their families’ and friends’ lives. They shared their gifts. Several have left lasting impacts on Crestone—working to protect the environment, helping the community, gathering artists, leading hikes into the mountains, influencing their families and so much more that it would take books to tell.
There is a hole where they had been. Hopefully a legacy is passed on and younger ones step up, integrating into life’s web and weave, joining the circle.
Really welcoming spring,
On page 3 we have a news story about a pack of 4 dogs chasing, taking down and fatally injuring 3 elk in the Baca Grants.
I was contacted while this was happening and immediately posted notices on Facebook hoping that whoever owned these dogs would go get them and stop the rampage. The several people witnessing the event tried to chase the dogs off—fearful and horrified by what they were seeing. They took photos to document the dogs and elk and sent me at least a dozen pictures of the dogs and dying and dead elk.
The numerous comments on the fb page “Crestonians”, after my postings, were very revealing. People started telling their own stories of problems with loose dogs in the Baca—being chased while walking or on a bike, fears for their children or own pets. Others defended the “right” of dogs to run “free”. Someone even said that dog packs were taking the place of wolves in thinning the herd. (By maiming in a way a wolf pack would never do?) A couple posts suggested that running dogs should be shot.
Person after person wrote about the problem of dogs running loose. How it is dangerous when these pets pack up and become aggressive with the thrill of the chase. And how it has to stop.
All three dog owners were heavily fined. One of the owners had their dog put down.
We have a serious problem with loose dogs. While the POA may be able to become stricter in their enforcement (Crestone enforces an “at large” and leash law), the solution will ultimately come from people taking responsibility—creating fenced yards or making sure their dog does not leave the property. I pray that they will do so before a person, a child or more wildlife are hurt.
Brrrr. The snow comes in a series of storms, piling up a foot deep or more in places. Muffling sounds, putting the forest to bed.
The snow lies across the valley turning it into one giant sunlight-reflecting bowl. The deep freeze settles in. Below-zero temps at night, below-freezing temps for the highs.
On the slopes we look down on a thick cloud. As we drive down into the morning fog, temperatures plummet, hoar frost transforms the landscape. Otherworldly. Scary in its extreme arctic beauty.
Deep winter. You have to be kinda crazy to live here in January. If you do so, you have to embrace it. Doing a combination of hunkering down and getting out and enjoying it. Feeling the exhilaration of skiing in fresh powder and then the warmth of a wood stove on sub-zero nights.
You have to survive it. Native peoples didn’t stay here in the winter for a reason. For those who do, it can be a challenge. Frozen pipes, cars that won’t start or get stuck in the snow. Elderly people dealing with icy, snow-covered steps. Young families dealing with sick children. Many people dealing with low or no income, heating bills and cupboards just a little too bare.
Beneath the beauty can be hardships. Who needs help?
I’m very proud of how this community responded over the holidays—raising money for the food bank, buying winter coats and gifts for families in need. Pitching in. Then lighting up the town in celebration right during the winter’s darkest nights.
Today the mountains are under clouds. More snow is on the way. Cabin fever can sneak up on you, so go visit friends. Make soup. Check on your neighbors. Stay warm everybody—in body and heart.
Wishing you all a very good and happy New Year,
As I sit down to write these notes the Town of Crestone is all lit up during WinterFest. There has been a big effort spearheaded by Elaine Johnson and Steve McDowell to have lights and trees go up around town. Michael Divine and many other volunteers also helped in support of WinterFest. It is fun to see the town lit up at night and so many people out enjoying all the festivities. Many thanks to all those who “got the spirit” going.
I love December, the warmth of the woodstove on crisp nights that make me feel all snug in our cabin. Deep vast starry skies that you only see when the air is so cold and clear. Mornings when we wake to fresh snow or hoar frost that transforms the landscape—turning dried brush and fences into works of art.
Winter is the time for quieting down and introspection. For finally getting together with close friends now that the summer hyper-buzz of activity is over.
For me as I go into winter I have much to reflect upon. The auto accident that I was in 3 months ago has changed me in some ways. I think close calls with death or trauma do that. It makes you realize what is really important in life. How important people, love, good health and friendships are. And how unimportant are so many of our self-created daily dramas.
Every day is a gift. People are a gift, be kind. Live in gratitude. Do not let your own true self and dreams get passed by. Be happy. So simple really.
I’ll soon be putting up my winter solstice tree—a small little one covered in colored lights to delight my spirit.
Wishing all of you a joyful and light-filled holiday season.
When I drove home from work yesterday those brilliant orange/red aspens along Carbonate still glowed against that deep blue sky—framed by rocky cliffs and crags touched by high snow. Such beauty all around.
November being the month where we take notice of the blessing in our life and give thanks, I would especially like to thank the contributors to The Crestone Eagle. I often hear that the Eagle is such a good newspaper for such a very small community. That is all because of consistent community involvement. Thank you.
I wish to thank my outstanding staff. They work so hard and so well under deadline pressure. When last minute changes threaten to drive us all crazy, they push us across the finish line. I’d like to thank the writers for their dedication. Some are regular underpaid reporters and columnists who, month after month, go to meetings, get the news, research the facts, and tell stories of history or people. Many others contribute their articles or feature stories for free. They write about the things they are passionate about or involved in and want to share with their community. That is a treasure and resource that many small newspapers do not have. Such a gift!
Photographers and artists contribute, gracing our pages with beauty, recording life in our part of the world.
This small town publication is made possible by its advertisers. Their dollars keep this whole thing going. Please shop with them or use their services. They have invested in us, please invest right back.
And I personally would like to thank all of you readers. Without you, what would be the point? Thank you for your ideas, support and encouragement.
With appreciation and joy,
August 28 the September Eagle was printed in Salida. With my 4Runner loaded with boxes of newspapers, I started home. South of Villa Grove and just north of the Highway 17 turnoff I noticed a pickup truck on the shoulder. Just as I neared him, he abruptly turned off the shoulder, right into my path, No time to stop. I was going to plow right into his driver’s door, so I swerved left. He slammed into my passenger side, yawing me around back to the right side of the road. Sliding sideways I hit the dirt and rolled. I went airborne, spinning again, hitting and rolling and then landing on my wheels.
There is a moment where pure terror meets pure grace. I opened the door and stepped out.
My beloved green 4Runner was totaled. I was banged and bruised, twisted and thumped hard where, despite my seat belt, my chest hit the steering wheel. But I’m whole. The people in the pickup truck aren’t hurt. People stopped to help.
I wish to thank, first of all, the angel riding on my shoulder. Then thanks to my family, Talmath, Erin & Janet who were there so soon. To the traveling paramedic who stopped to help, the Saguache ambulance EMTs, firefighters and to one particular State Trooper and an ER doctor.
The trauma of the accident surfaced in the form of colorful bruises, emotional stress and bone-deep pain. But injuries that will heal. A deep well of gratitude to Janet who has carried an extra burden. Thanks to the Eagle crew who picked up the slack, and to all you friends, family and neighbors who signed cards, brought cookies, sent flowers, called and emailed. Who, when I finally made it out and about gently hugged me. The outpouring of love still fills me. Special thanks to the healers in our community who continue to help me.
I’m recovering. It’s a process. There were other recent accidents not far from where mine was. People who did not fare as well. I send love to them and their families and wish us all safe travels.
With deep gratitude for grace, to all my relations, with love,
Lots of letters this month. So many that we’ve had to hold some over until next month. More letters of support for Lakish, Brooks and Theriault. Letters, like the ones we printed this month, from people who bring up points they wish readers to actively consider. And letters concerned about governance.
That’s always a big theme—what sort of governance do we want? Not just in form, but also in action. When you have a community, how do we define our common goals and rules and enact them? Not always easy. It requires rule of law, participation and active listening.
I’ve been attending POA meetings on and off for 30 years. Like most governments, sometimes a good team is on the board and it functions quite well. Sometimes there is discord and disfunction. Like now.
As mentioned in the letters and our own POA report, things have gotten bad at the POA. At the last meeting I attended I saw people during their public comment period being shouted down by the hired chair. Members with requests speaking respectfully—with concerns about commercial pot-growing in the Baca, lot consolidation, or legalities of the POA newsletter—were interrupted, argued with and cut off. I understand about keeping order at meetings and moving things along—about getting the work done; but that can happen without such rudeness. Let people speak, thank them for their comments and truly consider what they have to say.
There are big decisions being made. Let me encourage all of our governing bodies, with open public input, to make the right ones.
ps. Thank you to our Saguache County Commissioners for making the right decision regarding property taxes in Crestone.
Today I’m wearing my favorite Crestone Music Festival shirt, getting ready for Crestone’s premier yearly event. As we go to press, preparations are moving into high gear and the golf course is buzzing with transformative energy as the stages and tents go up. There’s a feeling in the air like hearing the symphony start to warm up. A pulse of anticipation.
This will be the festival’s 16th year. It’s gonna be a good one. Big-name excellent bands, talented diverse musicians—and they all come here to our little town. Visitors travel from afar. They think they are coming to the middle of nowhere—and then they find THIS. World class music with the mountains sprouting rainbows and brilliant Sangre de Cristo sunsets.
While we don’t have much control over the light show, it is amazing that such a small community as ours creates such a grand festival every year. I see it as wonderful example of what can be achieved by creatively working together. Bring your talent, make it happen.
Big kudos go to Tom Dessain, director of the festival, and to Robin Rosenberg—two dedicated and hard-working people. Numerous volunteers (and that’s a long list!) and staff pull together and pull it all off. Board members work all year behind the scenes. Members, sponsors, grantors, attendees, sellers and advertisers bring in the money to keep it going, make it better.
The reward for all that effort? The joy of seeing a community dancing.
I’ll see you there, wearing my new favorite festival T.
(ps. The monsoons have been very active. Bring rain gear, and warm clothing for nighttime.)
I’m wondering what it is going to take for our County Commissioners to do the right thing—to work hard to get correct tax assessments and evaluations done in Crestone. Will it take another lawsuit? Filling up the courtroom with protestors? I hope not.
Tax assessment has been problematic in Saguache County for a while. As we discovered in the past few years, too many properties were not on the tax rolls or were wrongly assessed. We’ve heard the cause was an overworked, understaffed Assessor and a troublesome new computer system. The backlog of work not getting done finally led to the State stepping in and taking over the job.
However, the State really screwed up when it came to properties in the town of Crestone. They did a mass evaluation without regard to differences in properties—which is supposedly against state statute. They didn’t have enough sales for accurate comparables, and the numbers they chose to use created great financial hardship and inequity. And then last year, the County Commissioners, sitting as the Board of Equalization, did not correct the problem.
The County got sued. They couldn’t or didn’t defend their decisions and were forced to settle. More accurate and fairer evaluations were agreed upon for those who sued. Now, numerous other townspeople are asking that their property values come in line with the court-agreed values. At the moment, they are getting denied.
This is not leadership. This is not problem-solving action. Abatement hearings should be coming up soon. There are currently 121 requests from the Crestone area. That ought to fill a courtroom.
Here’s to hoping the Commissioners get in line with the court-agreed values, approve reasonable requests for abatement, and save ALL of us any more headaches.
I sometimes wait months for days like these—the kind of warm early summer days we pull out of our memories that keep us going in January. Now, they are finally here. And wow, they have been worth waiting for!
Apple trees have been in bloom and the lilacs are just starting. Everything is so green! We had a nice snowy winter, with snow continuing into May, laying inches of spring snow onto freshly planted gardens. Then lots of rain. Last evening we stood outside during a sunset sprinkle and the sky lit up with a brilliant double rainbow. Yay, the rainbows are back! I think it’s a sign that this is going to be a wonderful summer.
Things have been very fun in Crestone. Hamlet by the Charter School was great, Radio Daze was lots of fun and the Dragon & Fairy Festival was fabulous! (Kudos to all the performers & organizers!) Art in the park will be starting again as well as lots of music at Cloud Station and the Yak‘N’Cracker. The Saturday Market is picking up speed and more markets and fairs are starting around the county.
Many events are being offered for kids—camping, riding programs, youth activities. Please take a look at our “Summer Fun” special section this month. It highlights places to go and things to do around the greater San Luis Valley and Salida regions—besides outdoor activities, there are entertainment, festivals, shopping, tours and even train rides. Please refer to it when friends and relatives come to visit.
Yesterday I de-winterized our Casita camper—so you know what we’ll be doing. And tomorrow the broccolis discover the great outdoors. Let me encourage you to also get out and up the trails.
Wishing you a wonderful Colorado mountains summer.
Dear Eagle readers: All our life’s wheels keep turning, from one phase to another. This winter I celebrated the Eagle’s 25th year—a completion.. It is time now for me to sell The Crestone Eagle newspaper business—complete this chapter in my life and open the next door.
So, I’m calling in the right person or persons to take the Eagle into its future life. Someone who sees the importance of a community-oriented independent newspaper. Someone who loves the mountains, valley and the people, who sees the richness of what is here and wants to enhance it and be a key part of it.
The Eagle has grown greatly over the years, from a 12-page paper up to 60 + pages. We went from putting out the paper in a spare bedroom to a beautiful building with great staff and a host of wonderful contributing writers. Our website keeps expanding with a wealth of content and many visitors from all over. The Eagle’s potential, like Saguache County, continues to grow with new people, new ventures, new visions and challenges to be met. We’re looking for a steward and a business visionary—and someone with juice!
My friends have asked me “what will you do?”. Retiring sounds good. Home & garden, taking out the Casita camper to go exploring sounds marvelous. Doing my own writing is certainly on the list.
It has been hard to think of letting go of something that has been so deeply rewarding-—and so much fun. But, it is time for fresh new energy. The wheels turn. Doors open. Opportunities present themselves.
If you are the person who wants to fly this Eagle, or know that person, please contact Vivia Lawson who is our sales broker and see the ad on page B-11. Contact her for all inquires.
In the meantime, enjoy some very fine and informative articles in this month’s Eagle.
From the top of the Rockies,
The dust devil howled through the yard, swirling up clouds of dust and leaves and trash from the neighbors dumpster that the bears tipped over— splattering my melting frost-covered car with dirt streaks giving it the “camo” look.
Spring is here. The bears are back. The snow has melted and all the junk in the yard is uncovered. Time for spring cleaning. Time to rake up the wood splinters by the chopping block, (first prying the rake out of the remaining ice on the north side of the house) uncover the strawberries and hopefully find a windless day to spread dry manure on the garden. Last year’s “to do” list gets pulled off the fridge and scanned for items left undone Winter is so long and our summer is so short the list is longer than I’d hoped. I add more, and my sweetie-pie always adds more.
But, like the bears, I’m hungry to be outside. To put on my work apron and grab a wheelbarrow, hammer or mitigation saw— to brave the dusty winds and be grateful for renewal.
Our bees are out and about, hovering over tree buds, buzzing them to blossom. Columbines are up and tulips almost to bloom. Nest-building birds are grabbing bits of straw and tufts of fur from Peggy Sue’s shedding winter coat. It’s a full circle and the start of a new year.
As we welcome spring, remember these winds and warm days are drying—so keep up on your mitigation projects, be careful with fire, keep welcoming rain.
As you read this month’s Eagle, you’ll see we’ve also thawed a bit and regained a sense of humor— hope you’ve regained yours!
From the top of the Rockies on a blustery spring day,
Last Monday night I went to the second of two community public meetings of mostly Baca property owners to discuss the problems associated with the resignation of most of the Baca fire department volunteers, members’ unhappiness with the actions of the new majority on the POA board regarding the fire dept. and what changes they would like to see. Even though two of the board members, Schreiber and Lakish, called for the special meeting, because the other three members chose not to attend, no quorum was available. So, creatively, the people spoke and the people listened.
I was very impressed on how respectful people were to each other, how ideas were shared, and how differences were explored—even appreciated. No battles or name-calling took place. Common ground was sought. Important questions were asked and efforts were made out of the collective knowledge and experience to try and answer them.
I commend Pamela Ramadei for being the facilitator and along with Kate Steichen gently controlling the space. They helped us co-create ground rules and kept us gracefully on task. For the first time in many years, I felt safe enough to speak my thoughts at a POA meeting and I’m sure others felt the same.
I wish that the three missing board members could have been there—maybe sitting in the middle of the crowd somewhere. Listening. Seeing their community at work. Somehow, when they are up at the table, there is separation. There are sides and fixed positions to maintain.
How do we solve our problems and move forward? I saw people coming out and stepping up. I think we are about to see some real changes.
Last month we held an open house to celebrate our 25th year of The Crestone Eagle. We were amazed by the large turnout as people kept coming all afternoon. It was so great to have everyone come and we really felt honored by your presence and compliments. This newspaper has always been a community effort.
With the office jam-packed, friends greeted friends as they came in the door. As we mingled with people and looked over old issues of the Eagle laid out on a back table, we talked about how it used to be, environmental battles that were fought and won, changes that we’ve seen, highlights of the years, while people used the newspaper to point out the year they moved here.
We ran a slide show on our computers of photos of people from our files. This was one of the biggest hits of the party as people watched the faces go by—some still here, some much younger (and thinner), some moved away and some passed away. “Oh look, that was so and so”, and then the stories would begin. To me, that was so very special. As a community of people, we remember each other and the lasting effect we have on each other—good, bad and sometimes very funny. In a small town, you can’t hide, and we will talk about you. Photos of Kailash on keyboard, BG in her fancy hat, Enzer & Caroline with their rugs, Ken at the Sage. A lot of people have come and gone over those 25 years (some we’ve been happier to see go than others). To me, it is the people, even more than any news, that is the heart of this place.
As an independent small-town newspaper following the ups and downs and occasional craziness of life in this out-of-the-way place, we’re so glad that so many of you came to say you appreciate us and the work we do.
Thanks for the adventure,
As we start this new year, we are supposed to be hopeful, making resolutions for a better year to come. Our Crestone/Baca community could use some good resolutions.
It’s a sad state of affairs when most of our Baca volunteer firefighters feel that the only recourse they have left is to resign. Ironic that while the coveted assets of trucks and equipment sit in the Baca barn, it is the essential, knowledgeable, people asset that has transferred itself out of the fire station. I am thankful they will still be serving on the Crestone fire department. However, this does not solve the lack of a good working relationship and trust between the POA board and the Baca volunteer fire department.
We live in one of the highest fire danger areas in the San Luis Valley. How about a New Year’s resolution that says “this problem will be fixed before the start of fire season”?
However we feel about districts and taxes, dues and assets, elections, board members, and all the functions of governance, we should strive to move past our differences to work better together. And, to solve problems we need an informed, active and caring citizenry and respectful leaders.
How about a resolution that says “I will keep myself informed and participate civilly in the civics of our community”?
We have a lot of good things happening in our community, with many hard working dedicated people. However, I feel that 2014 will be a challenging year for Crestone/Baca as we figure out how to move forward with integrity. I’ll be praying for peace, solutions and lots and lots of rain.
Happy New Year,
Last week I attended a gathering of women at the Moffat School. It was a
“Udall Women’s Policy Network” roundtable presented by Udall’s SLV staffer Erin Minks as well as community leaders Mikela Tarlow and Suzanne Ewey. We were invited to join the discussion to let Udall know what women were concerned about. Women from all over Saguache County attended, ranchers, social workers, teachers, those active in their communities. It was a great group of women and we soon saw that we had many common concerns.
Topping the list were youth, children, senior and aging issues. The need for education and the importance of agriculture and the environment. The burden of high student loans was discussed as well as literacy, affordable housing and health care. A room full of intelligent informed women made for some lively conversation full of deep compassion.
What really struck me from this gathering was when the teachers spoke about how many children come to school hungry. And when the social workers and victim advocates spoke about domestic violence. Yeah, right here.
As we listed our concerns we kept returning to economics and the need for good paying jobs. Having to live on today’s minimum wage meant the need to get food stamps, to have marginal housing, not to be able to afford the basics of life, and a huge stress on families.
As we celebrate the holidays this month, look around and see who needs some help. This heavy snowfall will mean heating and transportation problems for many. And besides maybe bringing a food basket, please lobby your congressman to increase the minimum wage. Then maybe we all can have future happy holidays.
Happy solstice to you all,
The other day I ran into a friend and asked her how she was doing. She replied not that well, and saying sadly “because when I look at what’s happening with the world . . .” I replied to her half jokingly, half serious, “Oh, don’t look at the world—look at the sky!” We laughed, looking up at the brilliant blue. Taking a quick break from nuclear meltdowns and government shutdowns.
These are tough times. Beauty and disruption walking side by side. It sometimes seems that kindness and meanness are all tangled up together. On crazy days, when it seems there is a big spin on, I’m reminded of a compost tumbler. Hoping that some good will eventually come of it after it gets a chance to rot for awhile.
Fortunately, here we have the ability to gain some perspective. Last Saturday I was in the office cranking away on a beautiful day. A friend said “What are you doing inside? Winter’s coming—you should be outside!” Truth. We shut down the office, and Janet and doggy and I headed up North Crestone Creek. After we’d hiked awhile we climbed a rocky outcrop and were treated to a vast up-canyon view of Venable Peak, and the down-canyon view spilling out to the valley floor far below. We sat in the feeling of place and peace.
That respite didn’t solve any of the world’s problems. But it brought me to center, an important place to be. And, it filled me with gratitude. Another good place to be.
As we get close to wrapping up another tumultuous year, I offer thanksgiving for the many blessings in my life. Thanks for the summer rain that kept us from burning up. I also give thanks to those who work to make our community and world a better place to be. Those blue sky people who grow carrots from compost, or when the light gets squeezed, see it prism into rainbows. Best.
In our letters to the editor this month, many people have spoken eloquently as to why they support getting the BEST grant to build a new Moffat School and passing a tax (3A) to pay our matching share of it. There are so many good reasons for our community to do this. I hope you will read the info on page 28, read the letters of support, and I ask that you vote yes on 3A.
I could write to you as a parent whose three children went to Moffat, or as a grandmother who has two grandsons going there now. But, I’m going to put on my “business owner” hat and talk economics and community health and longevity.
Good schools attract good people who want the best for their kids. If we have poor schools, people who may consider moving here just might not. If you have a 3 or 4-bedroom house for sale or are considering selling in the future, who’s going to buy it? Most likely a family who can afford to buy. A family who knows that nearly half of our children go to Moffat School and that’s there’s only a limited number of seats at the charter school. They’re going to be looking at schools as well as property. And, the families who currently live here? Will they want to see their kids in a rough modular if 3A doesn’t pass? Many won’t, and they’ll move on.
Crestone and Moffat have been growing. New homes, new businesses. We’ve been creating a bright future for ourselves. Let’s keep going with investing in that future. For our children: good education, opportunity for excellence in learning and having a healthy local economy and a new school we can be proud of.
It’s time to pay it forward. Please vote yes on 3A. Thank you.
This summer marked the 30th anniversary of my move to Crestone. Most of my adult life has been lived on the edge of the Sangre de Cristos, along North Crestone Creek overlooking the vast San Luis Valley.
What an amazing unexpected adventure this has been. With husband, 4-month-old baby, a 6- and 9-year-old, we came for a 2-week visit. Just checking it out. Got pulled right in. The dream of creating an intentional community resonated deeply.
Crestone was very small then. Maybe 50 people in Crestone and 200 in the Baca during the summer. About half that in the winter. We knew everyone’s names and where they lived. There were maybe a dozen school-age kids, and only 1 house in the Baca Grants. Town had the 21st Amendment liquor store, Curt’s Store, and Alder Terrace (Casa del Soul). The Bistro (the Desert Sage) was sometimes open. The Inn at Baca (White Eagle) had a restaurant, bar and swimming pool!
I’ve seen lots of changes—of people, places and landscape. From hardly any young families to many. A dreamed-for spiritual community flourishes. Alterative homes, organic gardens, rural lifestyle, a love of nature define us. Our commercial area has blossomed. We’ve invested in ourself.
We no longer know the names of everyone. People still arrive wondering how we all managed before they showed up. People still leave—for many reasons, and some still stick around who we may wish wouldn’t.
We continue evolving and learning how to all live together—putting our talk into our walk. Building for our future.
After 30 years, my roots have sunk deep. I’ve learned and lived so much I may have to write stories about it. But I think the title “The Agony & The Ecstasy” may already be taken!
Thank you Crestone, thank you mountains, for all of it.
Sometimes, I just really love living here.
Stepped outside this morning to the vista of the rocky cliffs above my home being shrouded in foggy clouds. Every surface was wet with last night’s rain and the air had that wonderful wet smell—earthy with a hint of pine, overtones of cottonwood.
I wandered out to the garden to enjoy the lush beauty. With the recent rains, everything is in its glory. That lushness makes up for the gritty spring winds, or the blistery, smoky pre-monsoon June. On days like this, everything is all right with the world. July is rich with rain and “August” is most aptly named.
For us desert dwellers, the monsoon season has to be our favorite. After living for months on full alert for the slightest hint of smoke in the air, praying for rain, it is such a relief to sleep to the sound of rain and wake to misty mornings. Mountain meadows have abundant wildflowers, life is in full swing.
We have a relationship with the places we live. There are the good and bad days. We see our places, and each other, at our best and at our worst. The bitter cold nights have brilliant stars. The hot summer days give way to double rainbows. Makes me feel a sense of deep optimism and thankful joy.
Oh, I know there are lots of problems in the world that need attention. And I’ll get to them on some gray November day and tell you all about them. But right now, it somehow seems more important to admire the full pollen sacs on our bee’s hind legs. Or look forward to the music fest weekend full of music, good friends, family and saying hello to a community that I love. For now, I’m making time for rainbows.
What an exciting time this is!
I’m still trying to absorb the impact of having the US Supreme Court strike down the Defense of Marriage Act on June 26—declaring it unconstitutional for the federal government to deny one class of citizens the right to marry. The equal protection clause really does mean “equal”. Same-sex couples now have the opportunity, at least on the federal level, to the same benefits and protections as opposite sex couples. I didn’t think I’d see this happen in my lifetime.
I am very grateful to my hero 84-year-old Edie Windsor who brought the case to the supreme court. After Thea Spyer, her partner of 40 years, died, Edie was hit with a massive federal estate tax—a penalty heterosexual married couples would not have been subject to. Even though they had been married in Canada, the US federal government didn’t recognize their marriage. She sued. She won. All our families won.
My other hero is Texas State Senator Wendy Davis who on June 25 stood without food, drink or breaks for nearly 11 hours to filibuster the passage of a bill that would have seriously infringed on women and family rights. Hundreds of people came, filled the courthouse and cheered her and other senators on until the time ran out for a complete vote. This was impressive for conservative Texas.
And President Obama gets big points with me for speaking forcefully on June 25 about climate change. He hammered home that this is very real and he’s doing something about it. What will happen now will not just be up to the oil & gas lobby.We the people need to keep the pressure on for meaningful change.
Something was up in late June. There were victories for people, and hopefully the earth. Maybe there’s a changing tide. Sometimes, I really love this country.
Happy Independence Day,
To life with love
This past month I received word that a good friend was diagnosed with cancer. It was a shock. She is far too young, too full of life and vitality for this. Her world dramatically shifted. All the projects and plans are put on hold while she strives to recover her health. We send her love.
Last week I got a call at the Eagle from a man who has been a long-time subscriber. He was dying from stage 4 cancer. He called to tell me how much he enjoyed reading the Eagle over the years. He was saying his goodbyes. He cried, I cried—very touched that he would call.
Life is so precious. So dear. Both strong and very fragile. These two recent events remind me on how important it is to tell those that we love, that we love them. To enjoy life every day and think about what is truly important.
I know that I sometimes bog down with trivial details, small aggravations that seem oh so important at the time. But really? Really?
I look out upon a blue sky, green summer trees, apples in bloom, bees on the buzz, grandchildren playing in the yard and snuggled on a lap, laughter of friends, love of a partner and beauty all around and give thanks for life.
There is a saying something to the effect that we should have compassion for others as we don’t know what battles they may be fighting. That saying has renewed meaning for me. So, I give thanks to you, and wish you good health and joy on this fine summer day.
This issue and for July and August the Eagle is featuring “Summer Fun” activities. We hope you find fun things to do. Please send us info on your events, or tips on places to explore. Write, email@example.com
Wild times with dog
Early evening, and our husky mix talking dog Peggy Sue is out in the yard, lazing in a dirt wallow she dug on a slight promontory. From there she can keep an eye on the house—in case we come out to do something interesting—and on the driveway, trees and open field that could suddenly contain any number of wild or domestic creatures.
I hear her give a bark—a melodic “rrra rrra” with a “woo woo” at the end. Fox. I step out and see the black fox with white-tipped tail crossing the field. Peggy Sue heads off to a mound at the edge of the property to give the fox what for, then sits and watches. Fox keeps a wary eye as she hunts for field mice. At night, fox comes in close to the house, hunting, and leaves scat on top of a rock where Peggy can’t miss it.
Later in the evening, Peggy puts out a stronger bark, followed by longer, deeper wolfy “wooo wooos”. I step out the door and she vocalizes a grumbly warning saying there are wow, wow, wows out there. Coyote. Sure enough, they are singing on the hill. Peggy heads for the mound again, returning a few barks to say “this is my turf!” —but wary, ready to retreat. The deer hear and move in closer to the houses—no time to be grazing that field where this winter the coyote pack took down an adult deer.
Late at night from inside the house Peggy Sue jumps up and gives a strong sharp alarm bark. “RRA RRA RRA!” Ruff fully up. Deep growl. BEAR! Neither she nor I go out. I turn the yard lights on and we peer through the door’s window, hoping the bear is passing on by. The neighborhood dogs sing out, giving vocal tracking to bear’s route as it heads downtown—lured away from our electrified bee fence by the tempting smell of french fries.
Next morning an insistent “oh ah wa” means it’s time for our walk with many good sniffs and tracks.
Happy dog, happy me.
Happy Mother’s Day
Nearly every night this past week we’ve watched the news about the US Supreme Court hearing the California Proposition 8 and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Amendment) cases. We’ve listened to the reporters with feelings of joy, disbelief, hope and anxiety.
I see the posts on Facebook of people supporting same sex marriage. Thousands of people in solidarity are posting the red equal symbol that represents “equality in love”—and I’m stunned.
It has been a long road. As a teenager I didn’t have any positive examples of gay people. I wasn’t taught in high school that this poet or athlete, first lady or teacher was in love with someone of the same sex. Instead I lived in fear, terror actually, that my own feelings would be found out and that I would be shunned by my friends and family. My own self-hate was like a stone in my heart. My first attempt at “coming out” at 17 was a disaster, and I retreated into “safe” heterosexuality until I was 40.
It is a terrible thing not to be true to yourself. Living a lie stops you from realizing your full potential. It is also terrible to deny other people the ability to fully love, to fully be.
Step by step, the times are changing. The next generation is growing up knowing gay/lesbian/bi and transgendered people. Some day everyone will have the same rights as everyone else and we’ll put the “before times” into the history books alongside with slavery, women not having the vote, segregation and laws against inter-racial marriage.
Even if the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, it will be a long road to full acceptance and civil rights. But for now, having gay rights come to the front of our national debate and seeing so much public support is a day I thought I’d never see.
Janet and I were fortunate last month to be able to go visit a friend in the Virgin Islands. Such a great gift. Turquoise water, white sand beaches, tropical breezes and wonderful sea-level oxygen. The ocean was vast and warm. The scenery was green—a feast for winter-weary eyes.
I had planned to work while traveling. But while waiting in the airport terminal my watch battery died. Upon arriving, internet connections were difficult to non-existent. The universe was very clearly saying “unplug, and just be here now.” Great.
Being very far away from Crestone is sometimes a very good thing. To “get out from under”, to gain needed perspective. I spent many a day just hanging out at the beach. Spent hours just floating in the great brilliant mother ocean. Slowly, the inner coils of tension started to unwind.
As I posed questions to the universe I kept getting the same clear answer. “Stand in the center of your own being.”
This was essentially the same message that has repeatedly come out of the sacred lodge, that has come from the elders. That it is very important during these times to be in balance, to be in your center. There are strong energies moving all around the world, and here as well. During these times of disruption and change, everything is amped up. Our inner selves are being pushed and challenged. How we respond is uniquely up to each of us.
It was hard coming back to Crestone from those tranquil waters. To see the intensity of conflict and harshness here at home. Wondering how I could make things better. Realizing, that maybe I can’t.
With appreciation for those who do,
Just keep it
A few days ago I got a call at the Eagle from a woman at a Crestone business seeking the phone number of the ambulance. There was an injured person at their establishment. They weren’t sure what number to call. I said probably 911, but I also gave her the Saguache Sheriff’s Office’s dispatch number—just in case. You call the sheriff for a fire in Crestone, but 911 for a fire in the Baca. This ambulance event was in Crestone. So? I know this stuff, but was suddenly unsure. While they were busy calling me for the answer, the injured person waited. To call for an ambulance in Crestone or the Baca, you dial 911.
This month the Eagle has much content, both pro and con, on whether the Crestone Fire District should be dissolved. For me, I see no compelling reason to dissolve it.
When the vote for the district first passed, it showed community support. When the mil levy failed, twice, it showed that many people in the Baca just can’t afford to pay higher taxes now. As a homeowner myself, I totally get and honor this.
But, the many reasons for a unified public entity still exist.
Several years of hard work, lots of money and good collaborative agreements went into creating the fire district. This district, and all of the effort that went into it, is a valuable community investment and we shouldn’t just throw it away. Let’s leave our options open.
Down the road, we may be able to solve its problems and make it work for all of our benefits—maybe in ways we’ve yet to explore. Let’s give it a little more time. A vote to keep the district is not a vote for taxes. Any future tax funding would have to go to a public vote.
As someone who was an ambulance volunteer for 14 years, I encourage you to vote No on March 5.
Endings along the way
The ending of 2012 was a rough one for me. We are often encouraged at the end of a year to let go of things. That can be hard. It is even harder to have to let go of beings we love.
Over the Winter Solstice our orange tabby kitty of 14 years took ill. What started out as a bad tooth ended as kidney failure on Dec. 23. We were spared having to decide whether to put her down. She passed peacefully on her own. It’s amazing how much you can love a cat that takes up way too much bed space.
The next day brought news of dear Bertha’s passing the night before at home. I had just visited her on the Solstice. We had just laughed together and hugged. How can she be gone? As I struggle with the loss I know that she is not gone in heart, wisdom shared, stories told. Not gone in all the ways 29 years of friendship with this amazing being helped to mold me. Not gone in the perspectives of unconditional love, humility and the joy of pure creativity. For all of us whose lives she touched, we will always carry a part of her with us. As she carries us on with her.
Even now, drinking from a cup shaped by her hand, I hear her light laughter warming my heavy heart. Telling me to be happy, letting me feel a bit of her joy, her wonder. Still close. Shining a light on the path we will all travel someday.
And the cat—she showed up in my dreams. Jumped into her favorite chair, shaking her tail while I petted her and welcomed her back home.
Yes, lots of tears during the ending of the year. But, that is often the way of life; so are new beginnings and the love of good friends with whom we share our lives, and for whom I’m so grateful.
Wishing us all a peaceful and joyful New Year.