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.