« Return to this article

for people who care about the West

Ringing in the new year with an avalanche of mail

The holidays and a new year bring more subscriptions and visitors.


The holidays may be over, but we’re still singing “Let it Snow” here in Paonia, Colorado, home base of High Country News. We woke to the first flurry of the season on the winter solstice, but warm temperatures and sunny skies soon melted the flakes and only a few more have fallen since then. Now it’s just raining. In January.

But we’re not letting the lack of snow wither our spirits. Over the holiday break, we took full advantage of restful days at home and rejuvenating trips with family and friends. Some of us even managed to encounter the wintry weather we’ve been missing on our travels: Editorial fellow Emily Benson notes the snowbanks were a couple of feet high and the mercury hit 30 below on New Year’s Day in her hometown in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

A holiday trip brought Shelby Robinson and Michael Balogh of Mancos, Colorado, to our office at the end of December. The pair stopped by to say hello on their way to ring in the New Year with family in Snowmass, Colorado. Shelby, a longtime subscriber, wanted to let Editor-in-Chief Brian Calvert know that she especially appreciated his feature essay on reckoning with the ecocide (“Down the Dark Mountain” HCN, 7/24/17). Happy New Year, Shelby and Michael!

The turn of the year is always an extra-busy time for our hardworking customer service staff as they sift through an avalanche of subscription renewals and donations. We received more than 1,600 pieces of mail in the first week of January, including more than 900 on a single day — about nine times as much as an average day. Most of those were subscription requests or donations to our Research Fund, the reader support we depend on to tell the stories of the West.

Leo Hakola from La Barge, Wyoming, sent High Country News this fun illustration on the back of his subscription renewal. We enjoy reading and recieving your personalized notes and art.
Leo Makola

Sometimes we even get a wonderful surprise when we open the mail, like a personal note or a hidden piece of artwork. One reader from Wyoming, Leo Hakola, delighted us by adding both a brief note and a sketch to the back of his subscription renewal. Thanks to the generosity of our readers and subscribers, the customer service department is swamped — but they wouldn’t have it any other way. And the rest of us here at HCN couldn’t do our jobs without them!

Finally, we have a couple corrections to make. A recent essay on the seasonal shifts in a wildland firefighter’s thoughts (“Come Spring,” HCN, 12/11/17), stated that the Mann Gulch Fire occurred in Idaho. In fact, the 1949 blaze, which killed 13 firefighters, happened in Montana. And in a feature story exploring a bear sanctuary in Alaska (“Bear Essentials,” HCN, 12/25/17), we incorrectly identified the shotgun carried by researchers; it was a Remington Model 870. We regret the errors.