UP BEAR CREEK | Pondering the Complexities of Marriage

07/07/14 | By | More

VISITING FAMILY … I had my oldest child, Iris Willow, visiting me at Cloud Acre in Norwood this past weekend. Together with her fiancé Bert Fan. They’ve been living together for seven or eight years now in San Francisco, but Bert finally proposed on a vacation they made to Iceland this spring. They set a Memorial Day wedding date for next year, and are planning to let me officiate as minister (and dad). It’s of course exciting … Marriage is a complicated thing in our society. For gays it’s a right they’ve long been denied. So the push to be treated equally has focused on the injustice of marriage laws in this country. Happily, that is turning around. For paleohippies like myself, it’s tricky. Back in the Sixties we tried to see if we could bypass the dipole yoke and experiment with various alternative intimacy arrangements – serial monogamy, polyfidelity, group marriages. While most of those experiments weren’t successful, traditional marriages have been hard to uphold for a lifetime. Many of us jumped into marriage too soon and found ourselves breaking up. Some of us seem to have even emulated our People magazine icons and survived multiple marriages … So, it’s actually been refreshing to have my children take their time entering into a life contract with another. But in their thirties, after years of being partners, it’s time for Iris and Bert to make the leap. And really, as a Universal Life minister who’s married dozens and dozens of folks over the years, I understand marriage as a coming together of families, as much as a joining of two souls. By holding a ceremony, a couple announces to the world and to all their relatives that a new clan is being formed of two separate families. I like to emphasize when I officiate that a wedding is really for the families. It’s a fun but formal way to get everyone on the same page and establish proper relationships between in-laws, as we call those who are connected through marriage rather than blood or friendship … Having Bert as a new son-in-law is exciting to me, just as I hope having Iris as a daughter-in-law will be exciting to Bert’s parents and sister … So, it was great having Iris and Bert out here in Colorado to hang out with my sons Rio and Gorio and with me. My daughter Sara got to spend time with Bert when she went out to California last month (I tried to make that get-together, but car troubles kept me in Colorado) … Thanks to a lovely dinner with the Waldor family in Telluride, we all got to see this year’s fireworks – a great show after several years of disappointing cancellations. And we’ve taken hikes up around Lone Cone and visits to the Ouray Hot Springs and Orvis (two of Iris’s favorite memories). We even had a great dinner at the Bon Ton in Ouray, a family ritual that used to be an almost weekly occurrence back in the 90s, when Iris was little. She even ordered lasagna – our favorite dish there for years. I had salmon ravioli in a white sauce that was heavenly. How many restaurants can you point to that you’ve been eating at for 25 years that still have the ability to surprise and delight? … It was a short visit. But rewarding. And at breakfast one morning at the Happy Belly Deli in Norwood we caught up with John and Lori Herndon. Lori was the head teacher and instigator for what we called the Sage Hill School in Norwood back in the day. Iris and a handful of her friends attended this alternative education experiment. For Iris it was her 8th grade, and I think it really prepared her well for Manzano High School in Albuquerque where her mom Betzi Hitz lived … Old memories and future ones – family get-togethers are great for that … I hope all of you, dear readers, get to enjoy some special time with your family this summer.

CLYDE GRIFFITH … I attended the graveside service this past weekend for a retired Road & Bridge foreman at San Miguel County’s Dry Creek Basin shop. When I first got elected to office, Clyde was still working for the county, doing a great job. He seemed to have the respect of all the folks I met, keeping the county roads maintained in a huge area with hundreds of miles of mostly gravel and dirt tracks … He had one expression that always made me smile. When a road needed attention, he’d say how he had to “sweeten” it up. Indeed, he was one of those unsung heroes in our society who worked hard to sweeten things up so all of us could continue to go about our busy lives. Thank you, Clyde.

SPRUCE BEETLEKILL … Looking at the slopes around Ouray, it’s hard not to be worried about the number of dead trees mixed into the forested slopes of our region. It seems we have an epidemic and one wonders what can be done about it. The Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison Forests are proposing a 10-year treatment program. But it has many environmentalists and even forest researchers from Colorado State University concerned that what’s being proposed may not have any significant ecological benefit, although a consistent timber cutting program will do a lot to keep the Montrose timber mill from falling into receivership again. The Public Lands Partnership has stepped into to try to find consensus on the issue. San Miguel County has rejoined PLP, after several years’ hiatus. If you’re interested in public land issues, this is one worth getting more involved in. For info, see publiclandspartnership.org




For the Birds


How completely

that little wren

eats thrown sesame seeds


I enjoy them

at the same time

crunch them as eagerly


gone to seed

for the birds

for this simple


moment of mutual feeding


-Jack Mueller

from Amor Fati (Lithic Press, 2013)


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Category: Commentary, Opinion, Up Bear Creek

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