Friday, September 28, 2012

Coming Cold

Windows closed for the first time since June in response to the biting cold. Air from the first high country snow settled into our valley. I slid into the refuge of my down jacket to indiscriminately harvest tomatos. I've ditched my meticulous search for the ripest, most promising colors with the coming frost looming around us like a a wild cat ready to pounce.  We're a week past our first frost date. Vine ripe tomatoes that make it into October are a gift from the gods.

I'm struggling right now to find ways to support the kids I mentor in making healthy choices--vegetables are obscure, extra pounds pile on, sugary drinks are consumed daily, family members struggle with diabetes... it's a complicated want to help others if they aren't asking for it. Any time I try to broach these subjects I'm weighted by self-righteousness and judgment--an equally unhealthy lifestyle choice.

I invited one kid to my house for a lunch full of garden veggies.  Another one went for a walk with me up my favorite ass-whooping hill. After divesting myself from the weighty layers of wanting to change them I saw the obvious...that having fun doing these healthy things together seems way more effective than any didactic rant. Yet judgement uncomfortably hangs around me like an oversized costume.

In the mean time, I've been thinking about the future a lot in a I need to run away from my problems kind of way.

Note to self: this doesn't work. Deal with your shit. (Gently. Softly. Compassionately...of course)

The color of my evening's bounty mirrors the morphing aspens and scrub oak. Burning reds and bursting golds scatter the mountains. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

"Legitimate" Love for My Town

If I haven't convinced you of Paonia's provincial quaintness with my photos of poetically sagging barns, kaleidoscoped meals, mountains that inspire our lofty will, and animals that melt your heart, well, start paying attention. Obviously, it's a beautiful life here. 

For the complex creatures that we are beauty is not enough to bind us to this spot. A healthy dose of mainstream recognition adequately fuels my defense of our redneck existence. My vanity demands it, and the world graciously provides.

To start anecdotally, my friend Sarah, the director of the Conservation Center here in town, helped orchestrate our effort to fight off oil and gas development on lands that directly surround our town. When Sarah met with our Congressional State Representatives in DC several months later they gave nod to Paonia. Never before had they received so many letters about a single issue in all their years in office.

This past July our local hairdresser and former town councilman stepped in front of an armory of war tanks that made their way into our Fourth of July parade. He thrust a sign above his head, daring the tank forward. It read, "Democracy bought and sold," a message intended for our local billionaire, Bill Koch, owner of the tanks, a coal mine, and arguably the coffers of our political representatives.  This event catapulted Tiennamen Sid into the national media limelight and earned him some air time on both Rachel Maddow and Amy Goodman's evening news.

You can imagine my delight when the New Yorker ran an article chronicling our on-going saga with Bill Koch on his proposed federal land swap (Page 34 of the Sep. 10th issue).

Everything done in our town tends to be externally validated. You get a new job, DJ a radio show, cut your hair, find romance, stand in front of a tank, get sick, buy a house, hunt down an elk, go out of town, stand-up for our community --whatever it is, people know and they generally get pretty excited about it. 

It makes sense to everyone who lives here why we stay--it feels good to have people care and pay attention. It validates that burning desire to have your existence acknowledged. When the magazines my family reads or the shows that my friends watch feature our humble town I can't help but swell with pride.

And even though I am surrounded by people who feel the dynamic pulse of our town thumping along, it feels good to have a some "legitimate" evidence to point.

One of my Paonia favorites is leaving in a matter of weeks for good. Another failed attempt by the Paonia Youth Retention Comittee. I write to console my sad heart and to encourage those who persevere. 

I thought this one deserves an explanation-smudging the space and each other in preparation for Shawn and Chelsea's wedding workday party. 

I love when meetings run late and I get to hang with my co-worker's kiddos.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Older, But Still Sassy

My twenties are rapidly drawing to an end, and while I can't remember how old I am half the time, this birthday had me feeling a little squeamish.

Nothing cures a case of the Get Your Shit Together Pierce, You're Almost 30 like heading to the wilds where concerns amount to rain clouds, blistered feet, and hoisting excessive amounts of food 15 feet into the air. Take that bears! I didn't think for a moment about my aging ovaries, my limited financial prospects, and the adolescent nature of my love life. Heck Yeah!

And if you think I'm sounding a bit melodramatic about getting older, you're right. I haven't grown out of that habit yet... maybe when I'm a more grounded, wiser 30. Or when I succumb to living in a hermitage.

I'll keep you updated.

Best birthday ever. I am so glad for friends who giggle and love and think about interesting things. And for their busy lives without which we might have only had one birthday dessert instead of two!

Momo made an amazing three layer carrot cake which she hauled on her back for  over ten miles.
The gang (minus Ari) making Gado Gado for dinner.

Google and Cally. He brings her his bowl when he's hungry!

Tent after the rains.
Sarah pumping water.

My favorite princesses, Anna and Ruda.

Peruvian Purple Potatoes for breakie.

Happy campers on the way home.