What has been on my mind in the two months since I was last in this space? Here’s one small sample. I find myself wondering if there is a relationship between the genuinely horrid, double-negative combination that is a Chelada (Budweiser combined with Clamato, which is tomato juice combined with clam juice, with a touch of salt and lime in a can—also available in Chelada Picante with a spicy kick) and the propensity for littering. My wanderings over dozens of miles of roads and trails behind our rental house tells me that Budweisers of all types are the beer can of choice for littering. I’m a self-confessed beer snob, anyway, and I wonder why people drink something so tasteless? Is the bland sense of slightly fermented barley water why they have to add tomatoes and clam juice? I’ve walking my dogs more in these glorious, balmy days. Once we’re away from any possibility of traffic, off in Forest Service land, I listen to audiobooks, take notes on my phone, and try to learn the Colorado wildflowers. The blue hues of Budweiser cans, occasionally substituted bythe orange-reds of Chelada cans, can’t be found in my wildflower book. The sandy aluminum I pluck out of the ditches held tasteless hop-water tossed into nature by even more tasteless riffraff.
The hills are alive with Memorial Day campers and our world has changed. This morning the two blues and I headed out for some “alone time” in the national forest, as has become our habit. We were accustomed to tents in a few camp sites along the road as the weather has been warming, but this morning each one was filled.
When we rounded the bend for the parking lot I felt dismay when I saw the brown, iron gates that had blocked the roads on either side of the fork were now wide open. Since we moved here they had been closed to regular vehicles and only available for snowmobiles in the winter. Since mud season began we had been hiking in our own personal playground: the only souls in sight the trotting elk tails and also tracks from moose, deer, and bear. All that has changed.
We drove down the road we’ve walked a dozen times at least, parking where we normally turn around for our walk. Maybe half of the campsites along side the road had RVs, tents, and one white Subaru with a contorted yoga form we left in a cloud of dust.
Our untried trail claimed to be a loop and we found ourselves at the fence line of houses keeping watch over massive hayfields and the lake. The ancient mountains looked back, keeping watch over them.
The loop met up with the road, Stillwater Pass, and as we approached, two vehicles a few minutes apart passed in different directions. We trekked the gap down the road back to our truck, ready for cars, managing to jump off the road for the last one we met near where we parked. For months we had been alone. I had come to feel as if we were in our own backyard where my only concern was avoiding animals and their babies.
I’ve never been one for change, even though change is the one thing that we can count on. Still, with one ear cocked for ATVs, the other heard birdsong and squirrels. I was surrounded by pines and aspens, brand new flowers, and a vista sparkling with a lake and dripping in melting, snowcapped mountains. It’s just another day in paradise.
Purple haze, afar,
Blossom blur, tender and sweet,
Now and forever
We walk among the dead.
Decimated by an epidemic of
A literal graveyard.
834 million trees standing, dead.
One in fourteen trees, dead.
Death is a gray haze on a hillside,
Foreshadowing the smoke of future fires.
The physical presence
Merely a symptom
Of the thing we have imagined,
The thing that shall no longer be named.
Dry warm nights inviting, welcoming
First the mountain pine beetle (3.4 million acres)
Now also the spruce beetle (1.7 million acres).
Admire the blue-stained wood.
Make guitars, snowboards, skis.
Carcasses carved and cooked.
Sing songs about the days when
Snow piled under snowboards and skis.
When forests had winters.
When trees could grow.
And for our final (optional) prompt, I’d like you to take your cue from Borges, and write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact. It could be an odd piece of history, an unusual bit of art trivia, or something just plain weird. While I cannot vouch for the actual accuracy of any of the facts presented at the links above (or any other facts you might use as inspiration!), I can tell you that there are definitely some poetic ideas here, just waiting for someone to use them.