Celebrating the harvest and a few fall visitors

Plus, a look at our strategic planning and a correction.

  • HCN’s grape stomping team, right, “The Grapeful Dead,” competing at Paonia’s Mountain Harvest Festival.

    R. Benjamin Lehman

It’s fall in Colorado’s North Fork Valley, and so far a mixed bag: Early-season elk hunters are bringing their kills to the meat processor next door, and those of us with late-season tags are eyeing the shorter days and falling temperatures. But an early bloom and late frost this spring hit our orchards hard, so we’re short on peaches and -apples, and, up the valley, another local coal mine just announced a round of layoffs. Still, we’re having a fine-enough autumn, with dry trails for the mountain bikers in the piñon and juniper, and fiery orange leaves in the Gambel oak, where the black bears hide.

Every fall, Paonia, where High Country News is headquartered, celebrates its farmers, gardeners and vintners with a Mountain Harvest Festival, which includes a charity grape stomp. This year’s HCN team exploited managing editor Brian Calvert and editorial interns Paige Blankenbuehler and Gloria Dickie, who competed as “The Grapeful Dead,” deadpanning lyrics by Jerry Garcia, et al. We received second place for audience donations but brought in less than five pounds of juice despite three minutes of valiant stomping. The winning team, from the Paonia Library — four women dressed as Lucy Ricardo in neon ’80s workout gear, leg warmers included — mashed out well over seven pounds of juice.

The harvest festival brings a lot of folks to town, and our office saw a lot of visitors.

Trish Miller and Tim Maher stopped by from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, having just visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, south of town. Neither of them were readers (hadn’t heard of us), but a tour of headquarters inspired them to subscribe. Their wedding theme was “Tree of Life,” so they were excited by the June 8, 2015, issue of the same name, and even purchased our “Tree of Life” poster, based on that issue’s cover art by Bryce Gladfelter.

Michael Verdone came by the office for a quick tour following a friend’s wedding in nearby Redstone. The Boulderite was introduced to the magazine on climbing trips with friends nearly a decade ago, as they discussed urbanization and public lands. Now, Michael says, his brother is an avid reader, too, and often swipes his issues before he gets a chance to read them. Two words, Michael: gift subscription.

Paula Rinaldi and Steve Howe couldn’t pass up the chance to visit our office in early October. The Boulder couple was getting a head start on a weekend of camping up on Grand Mesa, north of town. Steve, a retired graphic designer, was eager to see the production process. Unfortunately, the magazine isn’t printed in-house, so he’ll have to head to Denver to see our presses.

In our Oct. 12 issue, we messed up the name of the Natural Resources Defense Council. We do value all our “national resources,” but we also regret the error.

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