It seems like it’s hardly begun, the proper Southwest monsoon has barely taken hold, yet here we are and summer is almost over. Just a few more weeks before school starts, and even before then, the true autumn bellwether will have made the scene. I speak, of course, of Halloween candy; is it just me, or does it turn up in supermarkets earlier every year? Marketers propel the changing of the seasons these days, when it should be the vegetation. Here’s to late summer: all that’s great, green, and blooming.
Once Upon a Forest in Durango
Luc Jacquet, director of the sumptuous documentary March of the Penguins, released an equally beautiful film titled Once Upon a Forest late last year; the Hollywood Reporter called it a “visually exquisite exploration” of life above and below the canopy. You can see it this weekend in Durango; the screening kicks off The Southwest’s Old Growth Forests Conference, a two-day get-together for scientists and naturalists (to which the public is invited) celebrating big, ancient, and unfortunately endangered – by drought, pests, fire and more – tree species of this region. At press time, topics were tentatively scheduled to Current Trends and Future Prospects for Old Trees and Ancient Forests in the Southwest and Globally, and Effects of Wildfire in Old Growth Ponderosa Pine Stands on the San Juan National Forest. The conference will honor the forests’ beauty not only with compelling (though dire) facts and figures, but with more beauty, in the form not only of Jacquet’s film, a “sensory immersion in the primeval splendor” of a rain forest deep in a tropical jungle, but also through musical performances and poetry readings in celebration of nature and Native American culture. The conference takes place on the Fort Lewis College campus August 4-5. Once Upon a Forest screens at 7 p.m. this Sunday, August 3rd, in the Smiley Building. Doors open at 6 p.m.; there’ll be food, drink and alcoholic beverages available for purchase. A panel discussion, and a raffle, follows the film. Proceeds go to the Mountain Studies Institute, one of the conference’s sponsors, for research and education in the San Juans. Buy tickets ($10-$12) in advance at Pine Needle Mountaineering, at 835 Main Ave. in downtown Durango, or at the door.
Art in Montrose
The theme of this Friday’s First Friday Stroll is Blossoming Artists, as in, art works by youngsters or amateur adults. But with the help of artist Gina Grundemann, a member of the Montrose Botanical Society, a dozen local youngsters between the ages of six and twelve took the “blossoming” bit literally and recently created a 4’x 6’ mural at the Botanic Gardens. “It was a really nice day,” Around the Corner Gallery Associate Anne Britton recalled, and the kids had a blast, not only creating the piece, but a few of them returning to the Garden in days that followed to admire, and sign, their work (so exciting, to have been part of something that big and public). Though the mural hangs at Around the Corner Gallery at the moment, it will return to the Botanic Gardens for permanent display the day after the show. See it, and pick up lists of all the works in the Blossoming Artists show – on exhibit in Main Street emporia – from Around the Corner, Canyon, or A+Y Design galleries this Friday evening. Then vote on your favorites; People’s Choice Awards will be given to artists in each age group, from kindergarten-second grade on up. There’s one other collaborative, “Blossoming” project you may want to return for: a piece of abstract art created during Session 4 of Hilltop’s Spanish/Art Summer Camp, completed just today, and on display at A+Y beginning tomorrow, August 1st. It’s up for silent auction; proceeds benefit Hilltop.
The San Juan/Four Corners Native Plant Society prowls some of the most varied, stunning terrain in the U.S., from jagged, coniferous peaks to red-rock desert, for (as they put it) “fabulous scenery, beautiful flowers, one-on-one learning and friendly companions.”
So far this season, the group has taken field trips to see wildflowers in (among many other places) Mesa Verde; Moab and Canyonlands; Cross Canyon (near Hovenweep National Monument); Sand Canyon Trail, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument; and the Dolores Plateau, on May 11 (the trip description read: “Under the snow-capped gaze of Lone Cone and El Diente, we will wander several meadows just after the snow is gone so we can find Buttercups, Glacier Lilies, Townsendia, and more,” in a slow-paced sojourn with “plenty of time for folks to explore, to photograph, or to sit and stare.” Who wouldn’t be charmed by that?).
The group’s last wildflower trip of the season is this Saturday, August 2nd: to see the high montane wildflowers in Bolam Lake Meadows, west of U.S. 550 above Purgatory. The trip will be led by Bob Powell & Jim Wakeley (“Come for one day or camp for several days with Bob Powell”). Email or call Bob at 970/385-8949 for more information and reservations, or visit the website at swcoloradowildflowers.com. The group’s last trip of the year is August 23, Mushroom Hunting with John Sir Jesse near Lizard Head Pass – one of its most popular.
Shine on, O moon of summer.
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
All silver under your rain to-night.
An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
to-night they are throwing you kisses.
An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
cherry tree in his back yard.
The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
white thoughts you rain down.
Shine on, O moon,
Shake out more and more silver changes.
– Carl Sandburg