This has been a great summer for tomato plants in Paonia. They grew husky. And the law of the garden jungle was repealed for 2001: The hated, voracious green tomato worms never appeared.
Moreover, the plants bore lots of fruit: large, dark-green, rock-hard fruit. In a pre-cholesterol world, that would have been fine. Fried green tomatoes are good. But we were after red tomatoes.
So in early September, we stripped off every branch that didn't have fruit. We whispered love poems to the plants, a la Findhorn. And when temperatures turned cool, we covered the garden at sundown with sleeping bags (polyester and down), quilts and blankets. What transformed the tomatoes from environmentalists into communists we will never know, but over the last two weeks, the fruit has gone from light green to orange, and now to a glorious red.
Ray Ring rejoins High Country News as an editor based in Bozeman, Mont. It is Ray's second tour with HCN: he was a senior editor in Paonia for a year around 1994, before moving to Bozeman.
He has more than 20 years' experience reporting, writing and editing. He has written for Outside Magazine and been on staff with the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. At his recent post with the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, he created niche monthly papers covering agriculture and business, then was assistant managing editor, directing seven reporters.
Before becoming a reporter and a novelist with three published books, he ran a support crew at the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station and was a professional firefighter.
He can be reached at 406/585-2432 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The first time Krissy Clark tried to capture the West through sound was during a transcontinental bicycle trip she made with a childhood friend. Armed with a cheap and tinny tape recorder, she rolled along the back roads from Oregon through South Dakota. Birdsongs, the roar of big-rig trucks, and conversations with folks she met at the combination cafe/pool hall/post office/grocery store in each little town all made it onto her audiotape. Then her equipment broke, and she never produced the story.
But she's found her second chance to make radio in the West. By the time she arrived in Paonia on Aug. 13 to join Radio High Country News as the production assistant, she'd learned a few more lessons about recording equipment and the art of gathering sound. She comes to HCNfrom California, where she was reporting and producing for public radio in the San Francisco Bay area. On the West Coast she found solace in the sound of ocean waves. Now she's adjusting her ears to love the chirping crickets and the whistle of the coal train. And she's figured out that if she positions herself just so along an irrigation ditch, she can almost feel a cool sea breeze.
The last temple
Poet and entrepreneur Charles Potts has shut down the Temple poetry magazine after what he calls "20 issues of the alarmingly independent poetry quarterly" based in Walla Walla, Wash.
We would say we are sorry to see the Temple's end, except that Potts is not: "The Temple is over, done, finished, complete, ended, kaput, toast, history. Like a coyote with too many children, I grew weary of trying to nourish and attend to them all."
And he ends his column by saying, "Kindly refrain from writing and sending any more letters about how you wish it would continue, how much it will be missed, and how sorry you are that you didn't subscribe or contribute more but just never got around to it. They will go unanswered."
Evelyn Roether, who is on the Williams, Ore., town council, thanks us for writing about her town's effort to buy a forest from Boise-Cascade and put it into a Williams Community Land Trust. The first step, she says is to raise money for an appraisal of the land. They've raised $4,000 so far. Contributions can be sent to the Williams Forest Fund, Box 484, Williams, OR 97544. For further information, call Evelyn at 541/846-7643.
Everyone who stops in at HCN is interesting, but Chuck Thomas was especially so. He stopped by to say hello, and pretty soon the retired geologist and petroleum engineer was telling us what changed his life: Earth Day and a divorce. The Anacortes, Wash., resident is now writing a book about how the human race can back away from all its destructive knowledge and avoid global war. He visited on Aug. 8. Urling and Hugh Kingery of Franktown, Colo., came by after visiting the Grand Valley Audubon Chapter, in Grand Junction. They saw Wilson's warblers, Bewick's wrens and ruby-crowned kinglets. Hugh edits the Colorado Bird Atlas.
"I could watch the Pentagon burn from my balcony," says Judith Roales of Washington, D.C., who dropped by with friend Miriam Potter to say hello. They'd last come through 17 years ago, when HCN was in an office-bungalow across the street. Both are media folks. Roales retired last year as publisher of the St. Petersburg Times in Florida and now helps Russian newspapers. Unfortunately, because there is no advertising, Russian newspapers sell stories to make the rubles flow. Potter is veep of Morris Multimedia, Inc., in Savannah, Ga., which owns newspapers, television stations and magazines across the country.
They said they'd see us again in 2018.
Jay Fetcher, a rancher from Clark, Colo., came by on his way from one meeting to another. He is on the committee that is reapportioning Colorado's state Legislature, and he said one thing is very clear: Republicans are way better than Democrats at turning out for public meetings on the subject. He was on his way to Delta from Glenwood Springs.
Evelyn and Brent Bingham of Globe, Ariz., stopped by during a road trip. Evelyn is an environmental coordinator for the Pinto Valley copper mine, and Brent is a former geologist. Evelyn used to work for the Sunnyside gold mine near Silverton, Colo., but she says you haven't seen mining until you've seen Arizona: "I used to think I understood tailing piles, but you can't really understand them until you've seen what they do in Arizona."
Paul Hanissian, an M.D. from Hanover, N.H., rode his motorcycle into town to tell us about his brother, Jeff, who was an intern here in 1991. Our kind of internship apparently didn't take. Jeff became an M.D. himself, though he is now working for a mutual fund on Wall Street.
We were sorry to hear of the unexpected death of Cate Gilles in April. She had just started work with the Yaqui Tribe in Arizona as a public relations officer. She was a longtime reporter for the Navajo Times, and wrote for High Country News. Her most recent article, in the June 8, 1998, issue, was titled "Navajos may say no to nuclear waste." She had also been a 1990-1991 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado School of Journalism. Cate last visited our offices in the summer of 1999, when she shared some valuable advice on reporting in Indian Country.
Contributions can be made to the Cate Gilles Memorial Fund, Tohono Chul Park, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704.
We were also sorry to hear of the passing in August of Jim Corbett, who was one of the founders of the Malpai discussion group, which eventually led to the creation of the Malpai Borderlands Group in Douglas, Ariz. In 1992, Jim wrote the "Malpai Agenda," much of which has been implemented. He was born in 1935 and worked as a cowboy and goatherd, and was active in the sanctuary movement, which harbored refugees from Central America's civil wars in the 1970s and 1980s.
The West pitches in
From Cora, Wyo., Robin and Kathie Jacobson sent their entire inventory of dog booties - 1,700 sets - to protect the feet of search and rescue dogs combing the rubble of the World Trade Center. The Jacobsons run Husky Express, a dog-racing supply company, reports the Pinedale Roundup, and the couple was asked to help because the dogs' paws were getting shredded by glass and metal shards.
From rural western Colorado, we hear some elementary school children are gathering pennies to buy an ambulance for New York City; other kids are working to help the families of survivors. We'd like to know if communities in your town or county are pitching in. Please e-mail accounts and clippings to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
A Hotline in the Aug. 27, 2001, issue of HCN incorrectly reported that Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth had testified to Congress on bypass flows ("Who mans forest flows?"). Randy Phillips, then Deputy Chief for Programs and Legislation, testified for the agency.