Hunting season has begun with a bang, so to speak, in the mountains that surround Paonia. Staffers have had to compete for parking on Grand Avenue with vehicles festooned by dead deer, and out one office window which faces a very busy meat packing plant, we can see a procession of slaughtered deer lugged out of four-wheel-drive vehicles. One morning there was a large black bear hung upside down by its hind paws. Not visible was the tribe of swift and shy alley cats that skulk near the back door of the meat locker. Perhaps this is an alley ecosystem.
Several inches of snow fell during the first week of rifle season, sending dozens of hunters into the town's cafes. And on the sidewalks of this three-block town, population 1,400, camouflage fashion still seems everywhere. Most stores feature a blaze-orange sign that says WELCOME, HUNTERS.
Some of us feel besieged by the hunters and what passes for in-town traffic. Sometimes three or four cars will stack up at an intersection (the town has no traffic light). In a few weeks, however, the last hunting season will come to a close, and snow that now regularly dusts the peaks will drop down a few thousand feet to blanket this valley town. Once again a feeling of remoteness will return. Then we can go back to morose thoughts about rural isolation.
Continuing our series of encounters with writers who can give us perspective on making this paper better, staff met for an engrossing day with Bruce Selcraig, who traveled from his home in Austin, Texas, along with wife Beth Hudson, a Washington Post reporter, and their son Cole.
Bruce, who most recently profiled Santa Fe Mayor Debbie Jaramillo for HCN, has worked as an investigative reporter for Sports Illustrated magazine and for a Senate subcommittee looking into organized crime. Much of what he led staff to talk about centered on this newspaper's need to dig more, to tell stories about the region through the lives of people who live and work here, and to never assume that readers agree with even the premise of a story. He said the paper should look for surprising ways to do the standard stories about wildlife or inanimate objects that need help - subjects he called "worthies." Some of his suggestions included extending coverage of the paper to health issues such as AIDS or the role of doctors in small towns or on a reservation. He also wanted to see more on immigrants and the border with Mexico.
Dropping by while on their honeymoon were Lorraine Higbie and Keith Fairmont from Boulder, Colo., and later that day Chuck Miller, a 12-year subscriber from Mt. Prospect, Ill. Another long-time subscriber who came by was Carol Oldershaw, a nuclear waste activist who was visiting the Four Corners area. Ted and Betty Bezzerides visited from Golden, Colo., where she is an editor at the National Renewable Energy Lab and he is a retired petroleum geologist.
Ed Dobson, a watermaster for the Bitterroot and Musselshell rivers in Montana, stopped in after attending a reunion of the 44th Bomber Group. His father was a pilot with the group during World War II.
While she did not visit, former HCN intern Susan Bridges brought us up to date on her busy life: She recently married Todd Robertson, former public lands coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Coalition, and the couple is living in Durham, N.C., where she working on a master's degree in public health.
Actually in the office were Joe and Barbara O'Shaughnessy from Wilmette, Ill., who were visiting their daughter Meg, who works as HCN's promotion person.
" Betsy Marston for the staff