Sunny, still weather has persisted here into December, and at the Diner coffee shop on Grand Avenue, talk turns inevitably toward fear of drought. The West Elk Mountains, our backyard hills, look merely dusted with snow, and old-timers say this is shaping up as an "open winter."
Not to borrow trouble, but no snow now could mean no irrigation water this summer, and that would mean no summer hay or fruit crops.
Meanwhile, deeper in the Rockies, ski areas are preparing to harvest their lucrative Christmas crop, thanks to several recent dumps that have given them what we assume ski-town old-timers call a "closed winter."
New for the winter
When new intern Jenny Emery heard Paonia was a small town, she expected something like Corral, Idaho, with its one building. Instead, she found a movie theater, two grocery shops, and even a knitting store on Paonia's two-block main street. In place of the nondescriptive word "small," she classifies Paonia as "bustling."
Jenny grew up in a place some would call small - Twin Falls, Idaho. And over the summer, while working on a BLM fire crew fighting range fires, she became a connoisseur of small towns that had momentarily become fire camps. She especially remembers the food.
"When we camped in a city park," she says, "local restaurants sometimes catered dinners consisting of veal parmesan and chocolate cake. That was a welcome change from "ready-to-eat" military meals."
Jenny graduated in June from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where she majored in English. After HCN, she'll decide about graduate study in either law or literature.
An editing error in Pat Dawson's essay Nov. 27 transformed Dusty Steinmasel's hope for reward money into certainty. Though Steinmasel turned in his friend for shooting a wolf, the prosecution made no deals, says Dawson.
Logan Norris of Oregon State University wrote to tell us we mistakenly identified him as the teacher of courses in forest genetics and forest protection in a story in our Nov. 13 special issue on forestry schools, "Seeing the Forest and the Trees." Norris doesn't teach the courses, but directs the Forest Science Department in which they are taught. In the same story, we misidentified John Beuter as a member of the OSU faculty. He used to work at OSU, but went on to work in the Bush administration's Department of Agriculture and is now a private forestry consultant in Corvallis.
The issue explored the painful change Western forestry is undergoing. We sent the issue to a couple of thousand members of the Society of American Foresters, and their responses were predictably fragmented.
Some subscribed, some emphatically declined (-Your paper is made from my trees," one wrote from Eugene, Ore. "Take it and stuff it." ) And a subscriber from Idaho wrote that her father, an 86-year-old former logger, "read every word of the issue with a magnifying glass."
Research Fund appeal
If third-class mail is working, you may have received a letter asking you to make a contribution to the High Country News Research Fund. We rely on the Research Fund to make this nonprofit newspaper work: It avoids the constraints that advertising creates and binds us ever more tightly to you, our readers.
We ask readers to contribute only once a year and every year, 20 to 25 percent of HCN's subscribers help keep the operation afloat. If you did not receive a letter this past week, it probably means you responded promptly to our first appeal - over 1,600 of you did - and we thank you.
NewtWatch and us
During the week of Dec. 4, HCN's internet website was featured as the Site of the Week by "What's New in Activism Online," a project of Seattle-based Progressive Networks, which also makes RealAudio, a program that allows users to replay sound-recorded material on their computers. Part of HCN's site-of-the-week gig was a tape-recorded interview with HCN's publisher and associate publisher, Ed Marston and Linda Bacigalupi. Visitors to "What's New" can play back all or part of that interview as well as others such as NewtWatch, the Endangered Species Act On-line Guide, the Critical Mass Energy Project and Mitch's Environmental Action Page. You can find "What's New" and download RealAudio at: http://www.wnia.org/WNIA/.
We will host a holiday get-together Dec. 19, at 5 p.m. at the HCN office, and readers within range or passing through are invited to join staff for food, song and good cheer. As with most HCN events, this one is potluck; please bring an hors d'oeuvre to share and call 970/527-4898 to tell us you're coming.
*Betsy Marston for the staff