About the Cover Artist: Susan Mayfield

Susan Mayfield is an artist known for her color- and light-filled pastel and oil paintings of the landscape of the Southeast and Southwest. She is a native of South Carolina and spent most of her life in the Charleston area until 2008, when she and her husband, Lee Hunnicutt, moved to Salida, where she paints in a studio with a view of the Collegiate Peaks towering over the Arkansas River Valley.

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Salida Depot

The postcard below, depicting the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot and  “Mount” Tenderfoot was provided to us by Christopher Kolomitz, a collector of Colorado memorabilia. Judging by the parked cars, the photo was probably taken sometime in the mid to late 1930s.

We thought it would be fun to take a modern photograph from the same angle (at right). The depot is gone; there is now a bike and footpath along the river, there are more trees, and a parking lot where the depot once stood. The old bridge, the “S” and the lookout are still in place.

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Leah Cerise: Evolution of an Artist

By Sue Snively

He stands in the middle of the field, looking strong and personable, just waiting for the silly dog to charge. When the dog does, you can almost hear the bird laughing as he caws and flies away, only to return to the ground and wait for the next charge. The artist captures him with her camera and then draws the raven from the photograph. Ultimately this beautiful, smart bird with his iridescent feathers appears as a solar-etched monoprint.

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Who Shaved the Cat’s Butt and Why is There a Bomb in the Pantry?

 By Jennifer Welch

Okay, so the cat’s butt didn’t actually get a shave … yet. There was merely an attempt involving a feline, a pair of blunt-tipped scissors, and a boy – my boy. But I assure you, the intent was there, and I have no illusions that this intent will subside any time soon. The reason for this belief is that I live with boys. I am, in fact, outnumbered by them. As is the poor, poor cat.

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Dispatch from the Edge

By Peter Anderson

Other than a blue hole off to the west, from which a late afternoon sun throws a promised-land glow over the hills south of Del Norte, we are driving under a woolen-gray February sky. Crossing over the Rio Grande, gusts of Wolf Creek wind carry billowing sheets of snow down the frozen river toward the ranch where my daughter and I are headed.

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Down on the Ground at a Real Allegorical Cliff

By George Sibley

Over here on the west side of Central Colorado, we seem to have achieved another victory over the underlying realities of modern life. The Bureau of Land Management bowed to strong local pressure and called off – for the time being – the leasing of some 20,000 acres of public land in the northwestern part of Gunnison County for oil and gas development. The leases would have permitted drilling in shale for the “tight” oil and gas resources that require “fracking” – pumping chemical cocktails under pressure into horizontal drill holes to fracture the shale and release the oil and gas.

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The Dog Particle

By John Mattingly
When the world’s physicists broke the big news, I heard about it secondhand from an ornery, partially deaf neighbor: “Well,” he said, shaking his head in wonder, “I guess them scientist fellers finally found that diggers’s bone.”

After a courteous pause, I ventured confirmation, “Do you, by chance, mean the Higgs boson particle?”

“Does anybody ever listen to me? Isn’t that what I just said?!”

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The General Store Cornucopia

By Phillip Benningfield

Older roadside establishments in the San Luis Valley are scarce, happy to serve, and hard to resist. Ones that have endured hold on to putting one at ease and know being present is more important than speed. In our neck of the woods – or high desert – a handful of places have registered time and again in my memory as giving one the sincere feeling of being appreciated. The people I have met are unassuming and friendly – but even more so, mindful of your need to be left alone. And to sweeten the taste, these stopovers are on the quieter roads of Colorado.

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Proposed Endangered Listing for the Gunnison Sage-Grouse

On Jan. 13, 2013, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed the Gunnison Sage-grouse (GUSG) for listing as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The GUSG is only found in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. The GUSG is a unique species of bird, and in 2000 became the first new North American bird species in over 100 years as recognized by the American Ornithological Union.

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Colorado’s Transportation Pioneer, Thomas Jefferson Ehrhart

By Don Love

The first miners and ranchers in Colorado’s mountain country depended on the rough roads that connected them to each other and to the world beyond. Popular interpretations of western history hold that railroads, which came to the mountain country in the 1880s, gave the region an economic boost that wagon roads had failed to completely exploit.

But the mountain West never could be confined to the routes and schedules that made the rails such a progressive force in much of Gilded Age America. The mountain west traveled a more independent road, and even before the advent of the automobile, a Chaffee County rancher and politician paved the way to a modern highway system. This month, we recognize the accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson Ehrhart, who, 100 years ago, helped establish the agency we know today as the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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Seeds: The Missing Link?

By Tyler Grimes
Photos by Beth Johnston

The conference at Joyful Journey Hot Springs near Villa Grove was at capacity. People of all ages came to share seeds, offer gardening tips and celebrate the upcoming growing season. The Sprout Cafe offered organic concessions and Joyful Journey’s 42-foot grow dome was open for tours. Beekeeping information was provided and the Saguache Library presented books and documentaries on gardening and local food. All were part of the third annual San Luis Valley Seed Exchange on Feb. 16.

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News from the San Luis Valley

By Patty LaTaille

Severe Drought

SLV residents experienced the second worst drought year on record for Colorado since 1895. 2012 was right up there with recorded extremely dry years at the height of the Dust Bowl.

The U.S. Drought Monitor currently shows all of Colorado under dry conditions, with the eastern plains under extreme or exceptional drought conditions. Only Mineral county differs from all the rest of the San Luis Valley counties, experiencing severe drought, but not extreme or exceptional.

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Cross-Purposes Breed Cross Politics

by Martha Quillen

We’ve all heard about people looking for love in all the wrong places. But where are you supposed to look for purpose in your life? At work? Home? Or Walmart? From family? Friends? Or religion? Through email? Or on Facebook?

My husband died in June and my mother in December, and I keep wondering what I’m supposed to be doing. A lot of what I thought I’d be doing, I won’t be, and much of what I’ve always dreamed about doing suddenly seems irrelevant.

“This too shall pass,” I tell myself in an attempt to squelch the unsettling feeling that I have no idea what I want to do. This feeling is not the same as grief, which fosters disbelief, shock, loneliness and yearnings for the person you’ve lost. This sense that life has lost its purpose feels more like a void.

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I Say Saleeda, and You Say …

 By Kevin Patrick

“I’m callin’ about the stay away.”

“The stay away?”

“Yeah. The stay away.”

… “The STAY away?”

We began again. The serves and whiffs went on for a ridiculous minute before I realized a transplanted New Englander was responding to an ad I’d run to get help rebuilding a stairway (“stay away”). What you say hinges delicately on how you say it.

Place names tend to be less confusing, as they’re generally embedded in a rich contextual stew of language, geography and history. But even if the meaning is clear, many within earshot generally stand ready and willing to be offended by your pronunciation.

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From the Editor

KHEN Community Radio, 106.9 FM, is turning ten years old this month and as a birthday gift, will soon be relocating to larger digs in a building that most recently served as the local constabulary.

I was lucky enough to have been one of the “early birds” to witness and participate in the initial hatching of the fledgling, low-power, 100-watt, all-volunteer station back during the heady days of the G.W. Bush, post-911 years. Right out of the box, the station made clear it was not going to shy away from politics. The invasion of Iraq had just begun, and I distinctly remember Democracy Now with Amy Goodman’s somber broadcast “the ground war has started,” emanating from the tiny studio off of a back alley downtown.

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It’s time for gun owners to talk about gun control

By Hal Walter

I can distinctly remember the last time I fired a gun. Last summer we had a cow that had been sick for several months, and despite ongoing veterinary care, her condition was worsening. Finally, we made the decision to donate her carcass to the local wolf sanctuary, and I had to put her down.

A single gunshot was the most humane and effective method. Cattle are fearful of strangers, and a lethal injection would have rendered the meat inedible by the wolves.

Later in the fall I took my rifle out into the field in search of wild game but never fired a shot.

This is all to say that I am a gun owner and have been for many years. I received my first .22 caliber rifle at the age of 12 after completing a hunter safety course. Though not very versatile (there’s an old ranching joke that “if you cain’t do it with fencin’ pliers it probably don’t need doin’”), a firearm occupies that odd space between lethal tool and recreational equipment. Between rights and personal responsibilities.

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