Mailbox surprise

by Sarah Gilman

The staff and board were surprised and deeply humbled by the generous check that arrived in our mailbox last month, a bequest from the late Gerald Hollingworth of Steamboat Springs, Colo. Gerald was a longtime reader who shared High Country News articles with his friends and engaged them in long conversations on many Western subjects, including one of his passions, water rights. He was also an innovative artist. We grieve his passing and are grateful for his kindness; his gift will be put to good use.

If you're interested in remembering HCN in your will, please contact our development department, alyssap@hcn.org.

Visitors

Sometime in October, not long after a weird 4:30 a.m. thunderstorm, autumn in Paonia, Colo., flipped on as if by a switch. Drifts of golden leaves appeared on the ground nearly overnight – crackling like electricity underfoot – and deepened through a string of crisp, blue days.

Who can be blamed for wanting to travel at such times? Certainly not our readers, who gusted through our office like so many leaves.

Among those who came in late summer were professors Christopher Still and John Gutrich, who were on their way to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in nearby Gothic, Colo., where Still is studying carbon and water cycling in trees. Still, who grew up in Colorado's San Luis Valley, now works in Oregon State University's department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. Gutrich works at Southern Oregon University's Environmental Science and Policy department.

For their first family vacation, Mason and Amy Adams returned to Paonia, a town they both once called home. Amy worked on a local farm and later followed her agricultural interests to Virginia. Mason, a 2001 HCN intern and freelance writer, works at a nonprofit. Together with their son, Noah, they farm 15 acres in Floyd, Va.

New Paonia transplant Jenny Bauer Chapin, who moved here from western Massachusetts, visited HCN with her brother, Carl Bauer of Tucson, and his 9-year-old daughter, Halle Bauer-Bedrick. Carl, a "Western water geek," teaches water policy at the University of Arizona. He wanted to pay his respects to HCN, he said. To which we replied: "But Carl ... we're not dead yet!"

Speaking of leaves …

John Delventhal of Cornville, Ariz., so loved Andrea Appleton's recent essay, "Pilgrim at Shit Creek" – a meditation on searching for nature in Baltimore – that he sent her a copper tile with an impression of an ailanthus leaf, along with a note to "hang in there." The ailanthus, also called the Tree of Heaven, is known for persevering even in the most inhospitable conditions. As Betty Smith wrote in her classic novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: "It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly ... survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it."

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