Dear friends


Pear wars

We're not sure how to describe the $5 "Pear Insurance Contract" High Country News just signed. But two Paonia High School students assured us that after the "time of combat," which in the past has meant teenagers gathering at night to hurl fruit at each other, "all you need to do is let the school know that your business has been "peared," and we'll be there to clean it up."

Last year an apple found its way through one of the office windows, so we're not sure if assuring cleanup sends the right message. But we signed, liking the delicate linking of inevitability and sympathy in the last paragraph: "We can't stop the pear wars from occurring, but we can help you for the troubles you have endured."

We're crossing our fingers.


A hello from the recent past came from Susan Harlow, who in 1981 wrote her master's thesis on High Country News, and from Marjane Ambler, an HCN editor during the 1970s, who tells us she has taken on a new job: editing the quarterly Tribal College: the Journal of American Indian Higher Education. The magazine is published by a consortium of 30 tribally controlled colleges and is now based in Mancos, Colo. Its next issue, due in early November, will focus on agriculture. For more information, call 303/533-9170.

Because the letter came from Mali, Africa, it took awhile, but the reaction to our story on the "new servant economy" April 17 was interesting. Reader June Howard in Boulder, Colo., had sent the issue to her friend Omar Beer, who works with the Peace Corps in Mali. Beer wrote back that the picture on the cover, of Lakamy Maguiraga in a suit, captured the spirit of the people: proud and immaculately dressed.

"Even the poorest people have at least one nice outfit," he says. "Peace Corps volunteers tend to be the sloppiest ones around." Beer also reports that nearly every Malian he meets wants help to get to America and find a job.

Thanks to Brian Kinner of South Bend, Ind., for saying "never let my prescription expire" and for the photo of a grizzly taken in a Montana wilderness.


A note stuck in the front door told us Janiece Pompa, from Salt Lake City, Utah, stopped by one Sunday with her son Nicolas and friend Susan Tippets, but found no one minding the store. Mary Gilbert seemed to dash in to note that she'd spent a fine summer climbing some of Colorado's 13,000-footers after polishing off all the even-higher mountains in summers past. Readers Dave Jones and Deb Callahan of Evergreen, Colo., said hellos after vacationing in the nearby Ragged Mountains. From a distance the range looks like a curtain draped by the artist, Christo.

Joan Leon, a transplant from California who'd become a prominent Democrat in this county of mostly Republicans, dropped in. She and her husband, Ron, moved back West to Orcutt, Calif.

Fresh from a 40-day tour of Canyonlands, Yellowstone and Yosemite - just to name a few of the wonderful stops - came a class of college students and professor Howard Horowitz, who usually teaches in Ramapo College, N.J. His students in this movable course on geography and environmental issues of the American West filled four vans.

John Ong came through from Fairfield, Iowa, and Robert Kamela, an airplane pilot now moving from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Jackson Hole, Wyo., stopped in with his dad, Benjamin. We guessed they might be readers after looking at their car from the window: It was loaded with a canoe, mountain bike and skis.

From Wichita, Kan., came Chuck Campbell, who was doing research on an "activist map" of Colorado, and from Boulder, Colo., we met Bill Kroek, who was headed for a float trip down the San Juan River. That week we also visited with former Paonia fruitgrowers Harvey and Phyllis Baer, who now live in Denver.

- Betsy Marston for the staff

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