UP BEAR CREEK | Cruising Into Summer With Telluride Mountainfilm 2014

05/23/14 | By | More

MASON’S HALL … If you’re in town for this year’s outdoor film adventure-politics-culture extravaganza (otherwise known as Telluride Mountainfilm), stop by the Mason’s Hall over Timberline Ace Hardware on Main Street. I have the privilege of serving as MF emcee for some of the shows at the coziest venue in the festival … I’ve been coming to MF since I first came to Telluride over 30 years ago. One year I got to sit down next to Gov. Dick and Dottie Lamm. Another year I had some great one-on-one time with Interior Secretary Don Hodel (1985-89). Hearing Capt. Paul Shepherd describe looking from his dinghy into the eye of a dying whale he was trying to save is one of those heart-stopping moments you never forget … And, maybe best of all, the San Juans are all around you. If your eyes get glazed staring at the bouncelight, walk along the river trail for a moment. Wander onto the Valley Floor the townsfolk protected from all future development. Hike up Jud Wiebe or Bear Creek … This isn’t just Mountainfilm. These are the Mountains.

SAGE GREEN JOURNAL … Lito Tejada-Flores, one of the MF founders, is a dear friend of mine. These days he and Linde alternate winters in Chile and summers in Crestone. We’re expecting them for MF this year – make a point to give thanks for their helping bring this wonderful MF tradition to us … Lito’s graphic chops are legendary, among his many skills – climber, skier, filmmaker, writer, publisher. And since I’m hopelessly hooked on what San Francisco poet and Pulitzer Prize winner George Oppen calls “the lyric valuables,” we’ve teamed up to start an online (mostly poetry) litzine called SageGreenJournal (dot org). Check us out.

CLOUD ACRE … Course, it’s a challenge to leave my irrigated spud fields in the headwaters of Maverick Draw. I live west of Telluride, on Wright’s Mesa, looking south to Lone Cone. I can see the mountains around Telluride from my house. But, in Spring, when everything is blooming and buzzing and the waters are flowing the ditches, it’s hard to drive anywhere … The cherry trees took it on the chin with the last May frost, but some buds survived. So about half the brilliant alabaster blossoms are tinged with brown. But my main Macintosh apple tree is in full bud-burst … My son is painting his new clubhouse. I’m building raised beds with old lumber. And the project list has o’errun the refrigerator door.

LIT FEST … Used to be that MF marked the start of the summer season, but Daiva Chesonis and a bunch of us pulled off the first annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival last week. Ah Haa kicked things off with an intense dropping of the veils at Take It All Off – A Literary Burlesque. Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Sarah Gelman, Ellen Marie Metrick, Amy Irvine McHarg and Kierstin Bridger exposed more than just their bodies. They uncovered their pain, their passions, their Jungian depths in a multi-layered performance/happening emceed by celebrated writer Craig Childs … There were literary walks around town, a kids’ make-your-own-book workshop, and a poetry sharing circle with Lithic Press publisher/poet Danny Rosen and surprise guest, Rumi translator Daniel Ladinsky … Veterinarian poet Frank H. Coons of Grand Junction (whose chapbook is a finalist for the Colorado Book Award) and Patrick G. Metoyer, also of Grand Junction, took second and third prize respectively in the 16th annual Mark Fischer Poetry Prize competition. First prize went to German born Natasha Sajé of Salt Lake City. Mark’s widow and my commissioner colleague, Elaine C. Fischer, was on hand to present the awards … There was a wild literary dance party at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon and lit talks by Childs and Pam Houston … If you stop by Between the Covers Bookstore, you can get a first fest T-shirt: “I Got Lit in Telluride.”

CORAM … The Durango Herald editorialized, as Colorado’s legislative session ended recently, criticizing our 58th District Colorado Representative Don Coram for acting more a  lobbyist for the uranium industry than a legislator insuring that new and old industrial mining practices don’t inflict a Summitville Mine Disaster on the taxpayers of this state … I have to say I’m disappointed. I supported Don in the last election (given the choices), but leading the fight to prevent regulatory safeguards is myopic and self-defeating. Some of his constituents support the uranium industry, some don’t. But as our legislator, he should be helping insure a regulatory framework that protects the health of the land and its citizens, in the event another uranium boom happens. Not lobbying to make his mines and the mines of his friends cheaper to operate.

URANIUM … The bill that Rep. Coram fought, but which eventually succeeded, was Senate Bill 193. As Grand Junction’s Daily Sentinel explained, Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita) was one of the co-sponsors of the bill and he was dismayed that the final bill was watered down (thanks to Rep. Coram’s “lobbying”). Wright had amended the bill to require that all uranium and thorium mines not using conventional open or underground techniques obtain a radioactive materials license. But the final bill merely requires mines to restore any contamination of groundwater to its pre-mining baseline quality. That was the compromise that won the day. But I think it’s worth hearing what Rep. Wright, a Republican, had to say on the House floor last week, as quoted in the Sentinel … “Every time a new technology has been developed in the history of uranium extraction, such as in-situ leach, we in government were told that it was safe and new and improved, and would result in little or no contamination, and yet, guess what? It resulted in devastating contamination depending on its use. Don’t believe me? Just ask the people with contaminated groundwater wells who came to testify in front of our committee.


High Above

a Nameless Tarn


limestone boulder perched

for millennia at the pass

slowly tilted and fell, urged


down the cirque, its echo off

lakeglass answered by thunder

fading and finally still


and we stood on the summit of

Square Top Mountain

under thickening skies,


silent with wonder, nourished

from climbing August slopes

above treeline, our big dog


delirious in a riot of

wildflowers, white sun, wind

pouring over the divide,


everything one thing,

the virgin wood and the

raised ancient seabed, the


nameless tarn a dark mirror

spun with the blacker shadow

of a spiraling raptor


- Chris Ransick

Poet Laureate Emeritus of Denver

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Category: Commentary, Opinion, Up Bear Creek

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