Possibilities Arrive in the Mail

Yesterday I got GREAT mail, not any diamonds or rubies, but some great stuff appeared in my maimed mailbox. I got my fishing license which will allow me to take the dogs to the Wildlife Areas when they open next week.

Colorado has a new law that’s due to the increased traffic of people going, “Holy shit, the mall is closed! What are we going to do?” The new law could provide additional revenue and/or keep people off the trails. Initially I was, “What????” But it turned out to be a good deal — under $10 for seniors and to my delight part of that money goes to search and rescue. Compared to California this is a bargain. In many parks and wildlife areas in California, people pay $5 at the door and there IS a door. Not in most of the places I hiked, but lots of places especially those where people actually want to go such as Mount Palomar campground and the trail up to the observatory, and, naturally, various trails in the Redwoods.

After working for a wilderness park, doing trail rehabilitation and organizing volunteers to help with maintenance on heavily used trails, I’m all for keeping ignorant people off trails. I think schools should offer — require — a class in “How to go outside and visit natural landscapes with respect for and consideration of wildlife, plant-life and the ground you walk on.”

I got a new mask. It’s very special and I like it a LOT. It is snowflakes on a winter-sky-blue background with fog and glitter that looks like ice crystals in the air. I don’t think anyone likes wearing a mask. To avoid it I just don’t spend much time where I need one. I go to the store every two weeks and in all this time I’ve made one trip to the vet. Masks are hot and make my glasses steam up and they are, for all of us, reminders of the ubiquitous treachery of a semi-living thing floating around that could hurt us.

It’s weird in these times because what I’m doing right now is actually preserving my life through the choices I have to make. Sometimes I wonder “What the hell is going on?” and then I remember the point of it all which is really December when I can reasonably expect the first snow. It could be sooner, but I see no reason for hoping with reckless abandon which would be snow on Hallowe’en, or throwing caution to the wind and expecting snow in September. It could all happen, but… This little mask looks like the world I’m saving my life for. It’s really that. I just want to go skiing.

Yesterday’s mail also brought the Willow Creek Journal. The Willow Creek Journal is a little literary magazine put out by the Creede Arts Council. It’s a beautiful publication, and I have had paintings published in it two years in a row, including this volume. My painting — Rio Grande in January. — is on the last page. On the same page is a little poem — “Zoetrope (Girl on Skis)” by Wayne Sheldrake. It’s a poem about seeing a girl/woman cross country skiing in the back country and catching her image as she skied a tree-lined trail. I had to look up “zoetrope.” I recognized the word, but it was way back in the convoluted back chambers of my brain, something my brother would say, but its meaning? Lost, lost, lost. It’s perfect, though, for his poem.

Here’s his poem:

From a shuffle
of piked trees,
(still-life on white),
a swiftlet blue
swiftlet of blue
ignited by snowshoe slope
quickened through ice-platinum shadow.

She strobed St. Elmo bright
and lighter than gravity,
through the frozen trees,

like a bird
a strange bird
that knows many secrets
(the invisible looms
and wickets of sylvan
winter flight).

As she turned,
darted away,
bent for open
ice-platinum air,
the trees, bestirred,
sighed with me.

Wayne Sheldrake

The mail was full of promises and reminders of things I love most and I am grateful. I hike at the Wildlife Areas in winter so I can visit the frozen river, a river depicted in my published painting.


19 thoughts on “Possibilities Arrive in the Mail

  1. The mask is beautiful–very you. And glitter, too! Your painting printed in the news. The poem could have been written for you, about you. What a great day for mail.

  2. I’m still waiting on the mail…sigh, but so happy you got mail! Thanks for sharing Mr. Sheldrake’s poem. I loved the lines “a swiftlet blue, swiftlet of blue” I can just picture it…

  3. That is a lovely poem.

    In the National Forests near me, in order to park in a lot, at a trailhead, or use any “improved” site, one is supposed to have a National Forest Adventure Pass. It costs $5 a day or you can get a yearly pass for $30. They don’t mention it but there’s a second vehicle pass available for $5 if you buy the regular yearly pass. It doesn’t apply to those campsites taken over by concessionaires. They get to charge whatever the market will bear.

    Most campgrounds not taken over by concessionaires are simply closed. Or they are remote enough and small enough to be ignored. Rangers spend most of their days behind desks as managers and administrators. I’ve never met one on the trail. Interfacing with the public is mostly done by volunteers.

    All search and rescue is done by local law enforcement and volunteers. All the trail work is volunteer. Sometimes the volunteers come from low-security juvenile facilities and I have no problem with that. Do them some good to get out in nature and see a world that is not drug and gang-infested and slowly decaying.

    There is some National Forest responsibility for fighting fires on federal land, maintaining a few NF dirt roads, maintaining the very few remaining public campsites, coordinating volunteer activities, a couple of the remaining fire lookouts, and collecting money from those who utilize national Forest land for various enterprises.

    The Adventure Pass money goes to support the local National Forests. They don’t get much from the general fund anymore and resource extraction has greatly declined as a source of revenue. Most money comes in from leasing property to organizations for retreats and camps and such. We have quite a few recent buildings and private enclosures along the roads these days.

    I buy a pass and a second vehicle pass every year though I really have no economic reason too. The “fine” is equal to the daily pass cost and never seems to be collected other than on weekends at popular sites. Doesn’t even qualify as an infraction and I don’t think there’s a collection mechanism if you don’t pay. I think it just makes me feel like I’m giving back a little bit.

    I just ponied up the $80 for the Senior Lifetime Interagency Pass via the USGS web site. My account shows that I ordered an Interagency pass back in 2008. I don’t remember doing that and I certainly didn’t receive one. I wouldn’t have been old enough for the senior pass at that time anyhow. Very strange.

    • I forgot about the Adventure Pass! I bought one every year. I needed one to hike in the Lagunas which for a long while I did every day.

  4. Congrats on the fishing license. And the published painting – very nice! I like your new mask too – it just looks cool…on so many levels ๐Ÿ™‚
    I agree – a batch of positive uplifting mail in the mailbox can make one’s day!

  5. All good, supporting wildlife and wild spaces by paying for passes that maintain them and visiting them so that you can paint them and write about them to inspire others to preserve them.

    Coming from the more populated Seattle area where access passes were required to rural Idaho where none are, it’s a bit of a shock. I keep thinking I’d happily pay an annual fee for access if it helped maintain trails and parking areas with pit toilets and garbage receptacles, but the idea hasn’t reached here yet. Give it time.

    Beautiful painting!

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