Dear friends

by Jodi Peterson

Author David Gessner came to chat while on assignment for OnEarth magazine. He's written six wry and irreverent books of "nature writing" including Soaring with Fidel, an account of osprey migration from Cape Cod to Cuba. As a creative writing teacher at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, David copes with the competing demands of writing and teaching by developing a "pedagogical split personality" (see his video "The Professor Transforms" at http://tinyurl.com/4w4guf).

Paonia recently beat out France as a destination for 11 chefs-in-training from Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder, Colo. School Director Joan Brett brought the students over to the North Fork Valley instead of taking them to France, she said, because of our great locally produced organic food and wines. On Sept. 16 at the Zephyros Farm, the chefs produced a feast for 90 local folks. It featured a roast lamb the group had butchered in the morning, and "everything but the olive oil" was grown in the area, said Brett. She's now looking for another Western venue; Brett said her first choice was Oregon. For more information about chefs going local, see culinaryschoolrockies.com.

Steve Snyder, the editor of the Texas newspaper Cedar Hill Today, stopped by on a tour of the Southwest. He visited New Mexico and spent a few days doing astrophotography in Utah, then moved on to Colorado, where his tour of Rocky Mountain National Park was cut short by a freak August snowstorm.

Chris and Coreen Herron dropped in on their way from Fort Collins, Colo., where they attend Colorado State University, to Flagstaff, Ariz., where they planned to see a concert and visit the Grand Canyon. Chris is getting his master's in restoration ecology, and Coreen is getting her degree in nursing.

Brothers Tom and Jim Szymanski of Spencer, Ind., and Algonquin, Ill., came through Paonia on their way to Moab. It was a Saturday, though, so we learned of their visit only via e-mail: "… Along with Jim Stiles' Zephyr, (you're) the best on keeping me updated on the workings (good and bad) in the West." Thanks, and sorry we missed you.

Longtime subscribers Teresa and Marty Perry, of Bellvue, Colo., stopped by on Sept. 5 with Lizz Grenard, also of Bellvue, as they made their way to nearby Delta. They were on the road volunteering with MaxFund, a Denver-based nonprofit that provides a mobile spay and neuter clinic for low-income pet owners. So far the organization has "fixed" more than 20,000 dogs and cats — way to go!

Longtime subscriber Julia Brandreth stopped by as she made her way home to Los Angeles. She'd just spent a few days in Billings, Mont., at a clinic on wildlife contraception. Julia, a photographer, is working on a project about wild mustangs.

CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE
We failed to credit Anne Sherwood for the Helena deer photo that appeared on page 5 of our Oct. 13 edition. Our apologies, Anne.

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