Shh... don't tell, can be a good defense

  Dear HCN,

I lived and worked in and near Zion Canyon for 12 years, and during that time the two old pioneer towns at the mouth of the canyon experienced rapidly rising population pressures, both from visitors and new residents.

Most of the work available in the canyon entailed contact with a portion of the million-plus visitors to Zion National Park. This can be stressful to those who winter-over with a few hundred others in either Springdale or Rockville.

One Sunday, after an exhausting six-day, two-job week, I refused to open our little rock shop for a belligerent tourist from New York. He pulled out his wallet, extracted his credit card and shoved it in my face. That sent me crying into the hills - which have since been built on.

The closest swimming hole became increasingly popular, far beyond hope of privacy. The best, and best-hidden, local escape was publicized by one woman on T-shirts, but word of mouth was what really ruined it. The last time I went up, gangs of kids with blaring ghetto blasters had taken it over. Then, the most incredible petroglyph panels were so indiscriminately disclosed that the kind of people who aren't satisfied to "do" it, but who also feel they must "have" it gained access.

I toyed with the idea of writing about the country for years, but came to see many travel writers as unethical outsiders who profit by "selling" the local quality of life.

It also became clear to me that our society has no real sense of the sacred and the need for retreat. Democracy does not create equally respectful or responsible citizens.

Some of us have learned. You don't speak of places that touch one's soul to those who will not respect them. If unsure, I suggest acting conservatively; protecting place, privacy and the community's quality of life. For me, it took years of living in one place to develop this ethic. The first line of defense may be silence.

Lynn C. Bornholdt

Olympia, Washington

P.S. I enjoyed Stephen Lyons' "Don't worry: Have a Kokopelli day." Then I saw this Golfer-Pelli in the Wireless catalog.

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