Thursday, July 28, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
"When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing - just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?" __ Ralph Marston
I am not real sure of the details, but when I was a young buck, there were a couple of ponds near the river in the upper end of the town of Dolores, Colorado. One pond was fenced all around by a big chain-link barrier with locked gates and had something to do with the drinking water supply. The other was for recreational purposes, I guess. At least that is the way we looked at it.
My compadres and I spent fair amount of time at what we called “the town pond,” or the one sans chain-linked barrier. It was a favorite year-round destination.
In the winter, the fire department would sometimes flood it by pumping water out on the top for a refreeze and its smoothing effect to make a better skating surface. We played hockey for hours there, but later found larger and better options downstream near the bridge as you come into town.
I remember at least once, a group of high school kids dropping a small car, part of the way through the ice into the pond, while cutting doughnuts out there.
But the summer fun I recall quite fondly because of the “lively” aspect of our endeavors and the ‘nature’ of our experiments,
The ecosystem included, but was not limited to, frogs, ‘crawdads,’ snakes, salamanders, various sucker-fish, ‘mud dogs,’ carp, small trout, maybe blue gill?, or even Pike, and bugs galore. Perhaps even a small pet alligator or two, at least until the first hard freeze, may have found freedom there … I don’t know. It was a lively place.
I personally owned a seine, with a tightly meshed bow-crossed frame about three feet square, that you could drop in the shallow, crawling waters … wait a few minutes, and then pull to the surface with all manner of evil creatures on it. I remember pulling it up several times, only to drop it right back in hurry, because I was not sure what the wiggling mass discovered flopping in the netting was when I brought it to the surface.
Another favorite feature was a makeshift raft, (let’s just call it ‘The Calypso,’ Aye, I sing to your glory,) created by nailing two sheets of four’ by eight’ plywood on each side of several square wooden fence posts. You could pole it anywhere in the mucky mess of a pond and fit three or four of the delinquent, would-be life scientist passengers on at a time.
When archaeologist excavate the area 1,000 years now, imagine the significance they will ascribe to the thousands of unpaired canvas shoes they find in progressive layers of fossilized tar pits … slime, muck and goo, that would suck a Converse All Star Chuck Taylor Special, right off your feet and down deep into the mire, never to be seen again for thousands of years.
There must have been selenium, or other mutation-inducing glop filtering into the pond because, to this day, I have never seen freshwater crawdaddies, the length and girth of those Big Boys wrestled from that location.
Dam building was also a beloved activity, acquired skill, and required course of education, incumbent on students of pond-life. Small streams fed into the top end and often, an overflow ditch, cut in bank between the pond and the river, ran a healthy watercourse between the two connected bodies of water. But what flow could not stand a few modifications and improvements by a troop of adolescent human beavers?
Nearby, just downstream, on the river bank, were the Post Office is now, was a huge willow thicket with bent over clumps that made excellent lodges for the beaver army that tunneled through, and wove together, and dug under room-like caverns, hallways, and hidey holes. And then, down from there, the Big Rock with a diving hole right off the point, and long dark suckers swimming in the backwater behind.
You learned to respect the river, and love it. You cared about the pond. You lived and played in the willows. The crawdads, frogs, snakes, and mud dogs were just some of your friends. No matter how much you dammed it, altered it, slopped in it, swam through it, rafted on it, trapped creatures from it – in essence, it flowed through you. But, I guess, I am not real sure of the details.
Monday, July 11, 2011
By Rob Carrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
"I wish I could find words to express the trueness, the bravery, the hardihood, the sense of honor, the loyalty to their trust and to each other of the old trail hands. They kept their places around the herd under all circumstances, and if they had to fight, they were always ready. Timid men were not among them — the life did not fit them. I wish could convey in language, the feeling of companionship we had for one another. Despite all that has been said of him, the old-time cowboy is the most mis-understood man on earth. May the flowers prosper on his grave and ever bloom, for I can only salute him in silence."
Goodnight owned and operated the opera house and many business properties in Pueblo, but when the panic hit, it just about wiped him out.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
The Comanche were skilled horsemen operating in loose-knit bands that ranged through New Mexico, Southern Colorado, Oklahoma, Southern Kansas, Northern Texas and Northeastern Arizona. As a people, it is estimated that nearly 50,000 roamed the plains in the early 1800s. Most language experts think the word “Comanche” is a Spanish corruption of their Ute name, Kohmahts (those who are against us). The Sioux word ‘Padoucah’ was often used interchangeably by the early French traders for both Comanche and Plains Apache.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
To steal a line from Willie Nelson, “my heroes have always been cowboys, and they still are it seems.” But whom do cowboys choose as their hero? I think it just might be Charlie Goodnight.
Monday, July 4, 2011
I know the rest of the country is entitled to celebrate Independence Day but there seems to be something uniquely tied to Colorado and Fourth of July, in my mind.
Maybe it is just fond recollections from July Fourths of the past, in places like Telluride, and Monument, and Dolores, and up in Teller County.
Legendary celebrations have been held here and after all, we are the Centennial State.
Congress had approved Colorado admission to statehood in March of 1875 and laid out provisions and conditions of statehood but it wasn’t until August 1, 1876, when President Ulysses Grant ratified admission. Communities all over the state had already begun celebrating, and really, have never slowed down.
In Denver in 1890, in celebration of the Fourth and the completion of the Capitol building, reportedly five miles of tables were set up for the barbecue attended by over 60,000.
“There were no greedy gluttonous displays, but every man, woman, and child clamored for food until they had their fill. Just think of it! Three hundred and fifty sheep, 75 calves, 237 fat steers, 13,000 loaves of bread, 3,000 pounds of cheese, 10 barrels of pickles, not to mention a 1,000 gallons of lemonade,” itemized the Rocky Mountain News at the time. “The run on the beer saloons was unprecedented.”
Ouray Teamsters and Packer Union, Fourth of July, 1906
Float in front of the Munn Brothers Assay Office, Second Avenue, Ouray. The float consists of an eight-horse team hitched to a wagon decorated with stars and stripes and young girls in white dresses. The horses have tassels on their heads and blankets with the letters O.T.P.U. Western History and Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library
Palmer Lake on Independence Day, Fourth of July, 1893
Three photographers photograph the Palmer Lake resort on Independence Day. Two men and a boy stand behind them and watch, water squirts out of the lake fountain and Denver & Rio Grande passenger parks at the depot water tank.
Western History and Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library.
Celebration in Victor, Fourth of July, 1898 or 1999
Man on tight wire walking between commercial buildings in tights, and with a balance pole. Western History and Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library.