Dear Friends

  Heading for the highway


High Country News has adopted a three-mile stretch of state Highway 133 just outside of Paonia, and on Saturday morning, Nov. 21, volunteers from staff plan to pound the shoulders, picking up debris. A Sept. 23 story in the Salt Lake Tribune gave some of us pause, however. It was headlined: "Urine Trouble: Disgusting habit creates hazard for cleanup crews." The habit is the growing practice by long-haul truckers of throwing plastic jugs filled with urine out of their windows. Most of us thought major hazards might be road-killed deer or skunk, which we don't have to remove, or even the occasional gun. Readers are welcome to join the crew; give Betsy Marston a call at 970/527-4898. And if you live in Colorado and belong to a group that might want to care-take a stretch of highway, call Diane Gutierrez at the Colorado Department of Transportation, 303/757-9536, or e-mail: adopt.a.high-way@dot.state.co.us





Odds and ends


Radicals in the "60s used to say that who you were was shaped by what you saw out your kitchen window. What we see from our office window to the south is elk, deer and (only once in a while) bear. All are dead, freshly killed by hunters and brought to the Paonia Food Bank, a not-very-accurate name for the meat locker and processing plant next door. The black bear pictured was shot by Paonia resident Ray Jensen, who surprised the 300-pound male on a ridge inside Gunnison National Forest. News of the bear brought over a few kibbitzers. Lifeless, the bear looked disconcertingly human.


We can't take responsiblity, though our review (HCN, 8/31/98) was a rave, but we were delighted to learn that the recently re-released "Sounds of North American Frogs' from Smithsonian Folkways has been climbing the charts.


Thank you to an anonymous subscriber who bought High Country News a subscription to the Chinook Observer, a newspaper from western Washington state. We're especially pleased because the Observer's editor, Matt Winters, is a nephew of Tom Bell, who founded High Country News in 1970. There may be something to this genetic stuff after all.


Stephen Lyons' column (HCN, 9/28/98) on whether God forgives Helen Chenoweth for past-tense hanky-panky inspired more letters than we could print, including a sky-blue post card from "God" claiming Lyons as "a particularly good friend of mine." We also received a call from a new subscriber, who canceled his subscription because he didn't want to read "extremist" garbage. When told of this, Steve Lyons suffered remorse: He says he spent the day at an elementary school blackboard, writing 500 times: "I will never write anything that causes a reader to cancel a subscription."


Congratulations to C.L. Rawlins, former poetry editor of this newspaper, for his latest good news: a new book of poems, In Gravity National Park, published by the University of Nevada Press as part of its Western literature series.





Late fall visitors


Clear fall weather has brought lots of readers to enliven our days. Monica Piergrossi and Pat Steadman came by while campaigning against two ballot issues in Colorado that would limit a woman's right to abortion. A slew of conservationists said hello on their way to a Colorado Environmental Coalition meeting at the Mad Dog Cafe in Crawford: Don Thompson, who said he'd been reading the paper since its founding in Wyoming, Bill Myers, Kathy Glatz, Jo Lynn Jarboe and Stacy Groll.


A couple from Apache Junction, Ariz., Howard Benyas and Joyce Reynolds, told us they had one state left - Alaska - in their quest to camp in every state of America.


Jim Zinanti and his wife, Reda Herriott, came by with an extremely well-behaved border collie, Zane. Jim edits the newletter, Friends of Great Salt Lake, one of the best produced in the West, according to our story (HCN, 5/11/98).


J.B. Smith from Pagosa Springs, Colo., said hello in person, while Mark Seaton and Suzanne Devore of Mosca, Colo., left a note one Saturday, finding no one toiling on a weekend. Bill Hargleroad, a surveyor from Gypsum, Colo., stopped in, as did landscape photographer Robert Turner, whose work will be shown at the San Diego Natural History Museum until early January. Rutha Hart from nearby Cedaredge and Vada Sandes, from Los Angeles, bought some HCN T-shirts while visiting. Vada is a great-granddaughter of Samuel Wade, founder of Paonia, and the man who brought the first fruit trees to plant in this valley, in 1881.


Annie Cooke, from nearby Carbondale, Colo., stopped in with friend Cathy Wild, a writer from Sebastopol, Calif. William Campbell and Maryanne Vollers, from Livingston, Mont., talked to us about our mutual passion: the West. He is a Time magazine photographer; she is a freelance writer.


Perhaps our happiest visitor was Rebecca Lorenz, a Colorado Springs attorney. She told us she had just convinced a federal district court judge in Denver that, for 40 years, Cotter Corp. had been polluting the air in Caûon City, Colo., with heavy metals and radioactive material. The company must now pay 14 residents at least $2.9 million and also monitor their health. Victory was sweet, she added, since, "as far as I can tell, I'm the only attorney crazy enough to do this."


* Betsy Marston for the staff