Dear Friends

  • Fall interns Jason Lenderman and Sara Phillips in Paonia orchard

    Cindy Wehling
  • Wolf spider crawling upon a copy of High Country News

    Betsy Marston

The gardener's payoff

The best thing about the rain that continually pelted the West this summer is that gardens grew to gargantuan size. Now they're flooding larders with zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, late corn, patty pan squash, calendula blooms to color a salad, dill and much, much more. This is the reward we reap, not by weeding or tilling, but by having watched the rain. Sometimes we even measured it, sagely remarking, "Now, that was a rain." Grasshoppers, of course, are of gargantuan dimensions, too, and we have heard tales of slugs completely sliming gardens elsewhere. But these are just details; the earth has provided a bonanza for freezing, canning or devouring right now. Coming on strong: apples.

New fall interns

Intern Jason "Andy" Lenderman came to High Country News this month after driving 10,000 miles to Alaska and back in his battered Dodge truck. Last May he graduated from the University of New Mexico, where he studied literature with writers such as John Nichols (The Milagro Beanfield War) and Chris Offutt (The Good Brother). The college daily addicted him to the news business, he says, and working with the New Mexico Green Party gave him opportunities to learn about politics.

Jason grew up on a grain farm in southern Indiana, where his life revolved around family, food and work. He says he'll miss October in the Ohio valley hardwoods and going quail hunting with his grandfather.

During this summer's trip to Denali National Park, Jason tells us, he came across a grizzly bear while hiking up a mountain. Luckily, the bear ran off, and so did he. Since his Alaskan diet consisted of a few fish and canned vegetables, Jason says he's ecstatic about the lush gardens in Paonia's North Fork Valley.

New intern Sara Phillips is glad to be home. A Colorado native, Sara grew up in Boulder and then migrated in 1990 to Washington, where she studied English literature and classics at the University of Puget Sound. After college, Sara spent time exploring Costa Rican rivers and tried to improve her rusty Spanish in Honduras and Guatemala before moving to McCall, Idaho.

From there she worked as a commercial whitewater guide on the Snake and Salmon rivers. In search of a social life and a good bagel, Sara returned to Seattle last year for an internship at The Mountaineers, writing and editing a conservation newsletter that focuses on environmental issues in Washington and Oregon.

Most recently, Sara joins us from Jensen, Utah, where she was an instructor in the Colorado Outward Bound School's rivers program. Although happy to trade in her paddle for a pen, she says it might take some time to get used to an indoor schedule, where slathering on sunscreen and bug repellent aren't part of her morning routine.

Late-summer visitors

From Seattle, former High Country News intern Gingy Anderson, a hydrologist, and husband Rob Molacek, a teacher "who actually likes junior high kids," came by during their reconnaissance of western Colorado. They'd just been married and radiated happiness.

June and Bernie Pausback of Snowmass, Colo., delivered a care package of apples and peaches to intern Sara Phillips, a family friend. The fruit came from a nearby orchard run by June's uncle, Ben Eastman, an Olympic silver medalist in track in 1932. Artist Norman Browne of Edinburg, Texas, dropped in while visiting locals Tom and Ali Morse, and showed us his remarkable paintings of Western fish; he's still missing a native cutthroat trout for his series.

We enjoyed meeting Lindsay Aun from Boulder, Colo. She works for the National Audubon Society and says folks back at the office "race to see who gets to read High Country News first." She was en route to Ridgway, Colo., to talk about habitat with Black Canyon Audubon Society members.

Crossing the mountains on a fruit foray was Robert Sharp, also from Boulder, an environmentalist who tries to "get people involved." We chatted with reader J.T. Thomas, who inquired about our intern program before heading out for 19 days on the Colorado Trail.

We also talked to physician Ted Hiatt, from San Rafael, Calif., the "land of wine and llamas," as he put it, and from the panhandle of Texas, Greg Holthoff, an environmental scientist for the Department of Energy, who dropped in during his vacation to give a friend a gift subscription.

Reader Pamela Mausner, who lives in Bailey, Colo., 45 miles from Denver, stopped in during her search for a home "not surrounded by suburbia." She could also do with less target practice in nearby backyards, she said. Frances and Ed Sheppard, from Albuquerque, N.M., visited during their 100-mile walk from the Buena Vista area to Creede, Colo., and long-time subscriber Liz Carver said hello while picking up a new HCN T-shirt. With her were children Evan, Ruth and Joe, and their friend Philip from Bremen, Germany.

Petronella and Bob Benton of Steamboat, Colo., told us about growing resistance to the proposed Tie Camp timber sale on the Routt-Medicine Bow National Forest. The sale would bring roads and clearcuts to a 6,000-acre roadless area.

Alan Maurer from Salt Lake City, Utah, dropped in to see the place and renew his subscription. An emergency room doctor, he told us he'd spent some time in Yellowstone National Park treating tourists who had been gored by bison and mauled by grizzly bears. That's nothing compared to what he sees in the E.R. back home. Gangs are on the rise in Salt Lake, says Maurer, and on his last shift he treated two gunshot wounds and a knifing victim. He said he was happy to be out of the hospital and hiking with his brother, though they were caught in an early snow above Aspen.

Readers Thanos Johnson, a sculptor from Marble, Colo., and Charles Jones of Prairie Village, Kan., dropped in and entertained us for an hour one afternoon. They brought two friends from Wales, Samantha Cowell and Gwyn Ingman, for the royal tour of the Colorado Rockies.

Thanos informed us that contrary to popular belief, the name Paonia did not come from the Latin name for the peony flower. Instead, he said it came from the name of a Greek province. But a local Paonian stopped by a few days later and informed us Thanos' story was hogwash. He wouldn't give his name, but he's a born-and-raised Paonian, and ought to know. Maybe.


The Wilderness Society tells us it recently selected T. A. Barron, the Boulder, Colo., writer, conservationist and former Rhodes Scholar, to receive its Robert Marshall Award, the nonprofit group's highest honor. Tom's latest book is The Seven Songs of Merlin. We also heard good news about another Boulder resident, Evan Cantor, who has been invited to participate in a conference of artists dedicated to preserving old-growth pine forests in northern Ontario, Canada.

Farewell, Paria Skip

We were saddened to hear of the death of Rodney Schipper. Affectionately known as "Paria Skip" because of his knowledge of Paria Canyon in southern Utah, he died Sept. 13 when his truck rolled off the road between Page, Ariz., and Kanab, Utah. Originally from Michigan, he worked for the BLM in Kanab for nearly two decades. He helped with the agency's original Utah wilderness inventory and for many years served as the Paria ranger. A faithful supporter of this paper, "his passion was the land," says friend Nancy Zaneger. Memorial contributions can be made to his alma mater, Hope College, care of the Development Office, P.O. Box 9000, Holland, MI 49422.

* Betsy Marston for the staff

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