We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Venn Merging

Beltane                                                                                  Woolly Mammoth Moon

Yesterday two worlds came into contact, even if only briefly. The first was Kate and mine’s current world, the world of the Rocky Mountains and Reconstructionist Judaism, Evergreen and Shadow Mountain. The other was our old world, the world of the Land of Lakes and the Woolly Mammoths, Andover and the Twin Cities.

First, Ode showed up at mussar. Then, Tom and Paul. The middot of the week is grace and reading Rami Shapiro’s book, The Art of Loving Kindness, carried us into a discussion about shabbat as a “counter-cultural rebellion” which encourages living one day a week as if work and worry are not the point of life. Has always made sense to me, BTW, long before Beth Evergreen, but I’ve never acted on it, never observed a sabbath day.

Anyhow the context of the conversation made me realize what a grace-full moment it was for me when Tom, Paul and Mark showed up here in Colorado. It was, in one sense, perhaps even the best sense, ordinary. I knew they would find the conversation fascinating, because it was a conversation we’d been having for over thirty years. How do you live? What about life is important? How can we move ourselves into a more meaningful, graceful, gratitude filled existence?

So that moment at the synagogue smooshed together two venn diagrams, Minnesota and Colorado. And it felt really good. They met Rabbi Jamie. Debra referred to the four of us as the quadruplets, older white haired white guys of similar size and habitus and life.

Then the party moved over to Shadow Mountain. My slow cooker Irish stew was, well, partly there. The lamb was tender, but the potatoes were not. Neither Kate nor I, though she is much more able at it than me, are big on hosting events at our house. Too busy at one point, now a bit less able. But these were friends who would forgive an underdone potato for the  conversation around the table. And the occasional poking of Rigel’s head under their arms.

Kate went to bed, then got up, came out and said, “You have the best friends.” Indeed, I do.

This morning at 8:30 we’ll take off in the giant SUV that Tom has rented. First stop, the Crow Hill Cafe, then The Happy Camper. Maybe the Sasquatch Outpost? Certainly Kenosha Pass, South Park, Fairplay. On down through South Park. Maybe we’ll look at the Rocky Mountain Land Library, maybe we’ll stop in Pagosa Springs for a soak in the hot springs. Not sure. Doesn’t matter.

We’re headed to Durango in the southwest corner of the state. The 416 fire, north of Durango, as of yesterday:

“While residents in two areas were allowed to return to their homes Thursday, the 416 Fire grew to 32,076 acres with no update on containment.

The fire, burning just 13 miles north of Durango, is still being worked by over 1,000 firefighters who are battling this thing from the air and the ground. Burn out efforts, that is, efforts to burn up the fire’s potential fuel, continued throughout the day.” 9News, Denver.

Here’s a link to a Durango Herald article on fire analysts, very interesting.

Projects, More Projects and Lost Gold

Beltane                                                                             Sumi-e Moon

Ted of All Trades came by yesterday. We want to add a screen door on the front so we can keep the front door open during the summer. Screen not for bugs, in this case, but dogs. He offered a couple of suggestions, one we’re considering. Maybe have it open left instead of right. Why? Chinooks and other high winds, often well 0ver 60 mph, can catch, in our situation, a right hand swinging door and wham it against the house.

The Gap

The Gap

There’s a gap between our composite deck at the east facing door and the garage. For younger folks, not a big deal, but for Kate, with neuropathy in both feet, the jagged surface created after several snows becomes treacherous. We had a work around the last two years with rubber mats I threw over the snow once I shoveled it, but that’s an imperfect solution. The advantage of the composite decking is that I can use a plastic snow shovel and just shove the snow off. A back preserving snow removal method and one I can then extend all the way to the garage. Ted proposed a floating deck extension. Sounds fine.

Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad2In other trade folk news I had Will out on Tuesday to talk about stump grinding. Two years ago I cut down about 60 trees for fire mitigation. I can do it, but I can’t leave stumps cut very close to the ground, too hard for me to hold the saw steady far below my waist. Lots of centrifugal force on a chainsaw blade and I tip it into the ground. Instant dull blade. With 60 I’m not going to do it. He’s not gotten back to me with a bid because he usually bids stump removal by the inch diameter and I think he’s shocked at the potential cost.

Anyhow he knew a lot of cool stories about our area. Two for instances. Back when Denver was being built, end of the 19th century, there was a mining railroad that ran from Denver all the way to Fairplay, about 60 miles. It ran along the present route of Hwy. 285, our main thoroughfare east and west now. Ore on the train, into the Denver. Smelting.

But. Some smart guy realized that the train also ran through the mountains. Which had lots and lots of old growth Ponderosa and Lodgepole pine. Never been forested. Wait. So much building in Denver, all this wood. Aha. The lumberjacks left the forested east face of the Front Range untouched, a first acknowledgment of a view shed, I suppose, but between there and Fairplay they clear cut everything! Made sense back then. Just trees. Far away from civilization. Free. Today though the small, evenly aged forests that we have, that create much of the fire danger for us are a direct result of this work. Young forests, never thinned, and now with a century + of fire suppression. A combination of the worst possible forest management techniques.

A building left in Webster, now a ghost town

A building left in Webster, now a ghost town

Second story. The Reynolds Gang gold. This was one’s good if you’re a little short on retirement funds. Back in the same time period there was a rip-roaring, bar and brothel filled town called Webster beyond Guanella Pass but before Kenosha Pass. There’s no visible evidence of Webster from 285 today, but then it was a place where miners and lumberjacks came to relax. Or, their equivalent of that idea. Not the sabbath, for sure.

Lots of gold and silver. The Reynolds Gang, twice, robbed Webster, getting away with a substantial horde. A railroad guy asked then governor of Coloradao, John Evans, (a main Denver thoroughfare is named after him), for help. “Sure,” he said. He sent out the Colorado Militia, a group of state paid thugs who had recently mustered out of the civil war. They knew killing.

Reynold's Gang robbingOne night they found the gang around a camp fire somewhere still in the Webster area. The Militia, which I think was modeled after the Texas Rangers, did not what any upstanding law enforcers would do. They went in with guns hot, lighting up the night with muzzle flashes. All dead, except a small group, maybe 2 or 3, who escaped with the loot. No one saw them leave and they ran in the dark so they didn’t pay attention to where they ran.

Reynold's gang lootYes. They dug a hole or found a small cave or animal den, stashed the loot and ran on to escape the militia. They lived long enough to mention to somebody that they’d stuck a knife in a tree to mark the sport. But the militia caught up with them later. Dead. So somewhere in the mountains around the former townsite of Webster is a tree with the tang of a knife protruding, probably about 20 feet up now, allowing for the growth of the tree.

And, no. No one’s ever found it. Get out the metal detector. Or, Kate suggested, power up your drone. We could live large in the third phase on Reynold’s gang gold.

4/20, Dogs

Spring                                                                           Mountain Moon

Just as I imagined I would after I turned seventy, Kate and I drove over to our local marijuana dispensary, The Happy Camper, to celebrate pot’s unofficial holiday, 4/20.

The Happy Camper on the flank of Mount Rosalie. Decorated. Sort of.

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A local food truck offered fried chicken, pulled pork, baby back ribs as part of the 4/20 celebration.

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Rigel and Gertie came along.

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Often when I go up to the loft, these treat loving dogs await me. They push past me to get there first.

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Yesterday in Pictures

Spring                                                               New Shoulder Moon

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Looking north from Happy Camper, Mt. Evans

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dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

dogs who lunch

apres snow, Monday

apres snow, Monday

view from loft balcony

view from loft balcony

The Future of Food

Imbolc                                                                           New Shoulder Moon

third plate Mentioned The Third Plate a few posts ago. A book by chef Dan Barber, owner of the Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan and a principle in the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County.

SELECT TASTING OR DAILY MENU
Rotation Grains
smoked farmer’s cheese and broccoli pistou
~
Maine Diver Scallop
bacon, winter squash and kohlrabi
~
Stone Barns Pig
tsai tsai, horseradish and pickled grapes
~
11 day dry-aged bolero carrot steak
mushroom, kale and onion rings
~
blue hill farm milk
yogurt, turmeric and ginger
~
Malted Triticale porridge
White Chocolate, quince and Beer Ice Cream
Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

He uses four big concept areas, pictured at the top: Soil, Land, Sea, Seed to tell a story about what he sees as the future of food. He’s trying to take the conversation about food beyond the now well known critiques of books like Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Aldo Leopold’s The Sand County Almanac, and any number of books published in the late sixties like Eull Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher. Throw in Wes Jackson’s Becoming Native to This Place, almost anything by Wendell Berry and the thought world championed by John Muir and Edward Abbey and you can see the big conceptual field Barber has tried to plow.

He seems on to something. Using examples like the dehesa in Spain that produces jambon iberico, The Bread Lab run by Washington State plant geneticist Stephen Jones, the farm of Klaas Martens who teaches him about reading the language of the soil, Veta La Palma, a Spanish aquaculture corporation set up in an estuary of the Gulf of Cadiz, and Anson Mills, a fascinating concept by Glenn Roberts who uses landrace farming to resurrect old grain crops and nurture new ones, he seems to propose a recursion to localized crops, that is, wheat, for example, that grows best in upstate New York.  This recursion includes animals, too, where their rearing takes on the characteristics that oenologists call terroir in wines.

nutrition

This recursion would have chefs take their cues, their menus, from what farmers can grow in their immediate area and from those sites with a focus on sustainability and ecosystem regeneration. The fascinating aquaculture experiment that is Veta La Palma  uses the Guadalquivir River and the salt water of the Gulf of Cadiz to farm high quality sea bass. The focus does not have to be only local or regional but can include instances of food production with ecosystem supportive techniques.

This seems similar to the disaggregation idea in power production, local solar and wind and geothermal and hydro.  Anything that deemphasizes the industrial and the corporate in favor of the local and ecological.

EatLocal

He talks about his idea in agriculture as middle agriculture, that is agriculture smaller than corporate, but larger than the small family farm or the boutique garden. He’s trying to get to scale sufficient that it could actually feed large numbers of people.

It makes me want to cook in the way he suggests. That is, find food grown here in the Rockies, use it along with food sourced from the Veta La Palmas, the dehesas or the Bread Labs, and build our menus at home around it, changing with the seasons. Right now that would take a good bit of work, but it might be possible and it would certainly be worth it.

A continuing theme.

The Rockies, near home

Imbolc                                                                 Imbolc Moon

Looking east from the summit of Kenosha Pass

Looking east from the summit of Kenosha Pass

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Through the Platte Canyon, over Kenosha Pass, onto the highplains of South Park, past Fairplay, into the Collegiate Range and finally to the Liar’s Lodge in Buena Vista on the Arkansas River, not far from Leadville. Picked up Kate and Valerie, two Bernina’s, lots of cloth, a suitcase, cutting boards and other accessories of the sewing life. Also petted Sadie, the dog who greets all who come to Liar’s Lodge, then reversed course through a light snow that made the drive out of Buena Vista picturesque.

About ten miles out of Buena Vista, on a hill, with no traffic in either direction, a man in a black SUV pulled onto the highway into my lane and I had to swerve to miss him. Sent my heart rate up. This is steep, curvy country with so many possible sources of accidents, but this one? Would have been stupid, stupid, stupid. Other than that the drive was uneventful.

Here are a few photographs. I stopped along the way, taking time to look, to see. So much more to explore here in Colorado. And all this is within an hour and a half of home.

The Lazy Bull, South Park

The Lazy Bull, South Park

Tarryall Ranch, now public land. Good fishing.

Tarryall Ranch, now public land. Good fishing.

Tarryall

Tarryall

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Inching toward 71

Imbolc                                                                  Imbolc Moon

As any who’ve paid attention to the top line of these posts over the years know, the moon has always been important for Ancientrails. The Imbolc moon, at 2%, will preside over my 71st birthday. I’ve just received a copy of Lunar Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao, meditation that follow the traditional Chinese lunar calendar.  I’m looking forward to both reading Ming-Dao’s work and considering how a similar book based on the Great Wheel might look.

The silly season is well underway. Caucuses here in Colorado are on March 6th. I drove over to Dorothy Lane in Evergreen yesterday for an event at Nancy Friedman’s. It was for Lisa Cutter, a candidate for the State assembly. She’s running against Tim Leonard who has the opinion that the government should not be involved in k-12 education. He’s part of the weirdo branch of Colorado politics, but a branch that includes many voters here, a Libertarian variant that has redolence of the range wars and anger about far away corporate control of Colorado.

After walking into Nancy’s, I remembered a reason I stopped going to these events. I couldn’t hear. Even with my hearing aid, the crush of people and noise, her dining room, living room and kitchen were full, hit me like a flood, physically repulsing me. I spoke to Lisa, put my check in the bowl, greeted other members of Beth Evergreen that were there and left.

Kate’s been gone since Friday. This morning I’m driving back to Buena Vista to pick her up. The road there is beautiful, a drive I look forward to.

 

 

Moose

Samain                                                                    Joe and SeoAh Moon

Moose, Superior National Forest, Minnesota, USA

Moose, Superior National Forest, Minnesota, USA

The Moose.  Been awhile since I’ve written about my totem animal. I didn’t gain the moose in a sweat lodge or a vision quest. Nor did a psychic or friend suggest it.

Nope. Got to thinking about myself a long while ago. Introverted, wandering the forests by myself, not easily cowed, even by predators. Usually alone. And the moose came to mind.

May not be pretty, but they stand tall and act with vigor. I know no one picks a field mouse as their totem animal and that self-selection is sort of frowned upon; but, moose just seemed to fit.

Up here they live not far away, wandering the Arapaho and Pike National Forests. In fact, a male showed up in the meadow at the base of Shadow Mountain just over a month ago. Their only foe, the wolf, is no longer present here, so their numbers have gone up after a recent re-introduction by Colorado Natural Resources. The moose in Minnesota are in trouble, thanks mainly to global warming. The winters are no longer cold enough to consistently kill off the ticks that plague them. Not sure why that isn’t true here in Colorado.

I guess what appealed to me about the moose is its solitary nature, its home turf in the wilderness, its majesty. Moose are one of the iconic animals of the north along with wolves and loons and ravens. Out here in the Rockies they join the buffalo and the wild horse, the grizzly bear, the mountain lion, the elk. I see myself as a man of the north and now, too, of the west, but especially the mountains, so we share a home range, two of them in fact.

Mountain Life

Fall                                                                             Joe and SeoAh’s Moon

happy camper2Business meeting at the Crow Hill Cafe. This a modest place, a hometown joint. It has regulars, including us, several were in yesterday morning. There were the two older ladies who parked their car at a diagonal in the parallel places, paid for their breakfast out of envelopes and shared a meal. There was the long table of folks, maybe a church group, who chat. Well, most of them chat. One guy with long hair and a beard, an older biker, must have hearing loss from loud pipes. He TALKS REALLY LOUD. There was, too, a table of three men with WWII or Korea hats, talking about The War. Older than Kate and me. Because it’s on 285, Crow Hill also gets tourists headed west toward South Park.

One reason we choose Crow Hill Cafe on Tuesdays is that Happy Camper has 20% off on edibles on Tuesdays. Your average dispensary, we’ve been in a few, has a definite sixties, Haight-Ashbury vibe, but I’m not sure it’s intentional. Most of the workers are young, some ordinary looking, like the woman who rang us up yesterday, but others, like the man who checked our I.D., “Cool, man.”, are definite stoner types. There are pre-rolled joints, bud, flake, many kinds of edibles, bongs, and other accessories for the green life.

Yesterday Sandy came, our house cleaner, so we also went out for lunch to 3 Margaritas. While there, we discussed our disaster planning. This is a good time to do that since a forest fire is much less likely, cooler weather and some snow tamp it down. We have snow predicted tomorrow.

20171022_071909Still tired from the Georgia trip. Traveled Thursday, was up all day and into the night with Joe and SeoAh both Friday and Saturday, then back home on Sunday. Not used to being on the go that much. Don’t know how buddy Tom Crane manages all the travel he does. Wears me out.

Over to Beth Evergreen last night to help set up for Minyan Makers, a short course on prayer. Saw Rabbi Jamie, Tara, and Anshel. Since the setup had already been done, I turned around and went back home. Needed the rest. But. There was a warmth just from seeing those three. Beth Evergreen is a place that gives me joy. I’m very glad to have it in our life.

20170902_163055Gertie gets around pretty well considering four tears from the teeth of Kepler. She had sedation and stitching up at Sano Vet on Monday. With the wounds to her haunches and her arthritic left leg she has considerable trouble on slick surfaces like the loft floor and the downstairs wood floor. I’m going to buy some more rugs for the loft so she’ll have better surfaces to get around on. Right now I have yoga mats down. They work ok, but it’s not their best use.

Trips like the one to Georgia produce, for all their brevity, life long memories. This one, in addition to seeing Joe and SeoAh in their first house, will always have Murdoch’s homecoming as its centerpiece. Dogs. He’s playing in the wood chips in the children’s playground in the picture above. That was at 5:30 am.

 

 

Awe

Lughnasa                                                                        Eclipse Moon

20170821_113508Totality in Tetonia, Idaho

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Mountain Spirit at home

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Bristlecone pine cones, Mt. Pennsylvania, outside Fairplay, Colorado

August 2018
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