January 2009

Coming to the last of another four seasons

By Art Goodtimes

END OF THE YORE … At least in the Christian calendar, as modified by Pope Gregory the Thirteenth (lucky us) from the Julian fasti memores of the Roman Empire’s Pax Romana, the year is over on Wednesday the Thirty-first … For those of us earth pagans, the solstice’s changing of the heavens is a sacred time – a wheel far older than our civilization. And tribes of the species H. sapiens (or ludens, as I prefer) have always noticed the Sun standing still on its southern swing on the dusk horizon (at least in the northern hemisphere). That held true even among the most rural of peasants of the land [ecce: paganus, Latin for “county people”]. This same sacred time was designated by early Church Councils as the birthday of Jesu of Bethlehem, the Anointed One (Chrystos, in the Koine Greek of the early New Testament) … Of course, the pun on year by a cognate, yore, has an interesting etymology -- Middle English from the Old English ge’ara, the possessive form of ge’ar, “year”. These days yore is an anachronism used, almost exclusively, in literary works to mean “long ago” or “in earlier times” … Personally, I prefer a more indigenous Turtle Island calendar of 15 millennia (instead of 2) tying my measurement of the passing of time to when archaeologists most conservatively estimate that our kind first set foot & began to inhabit this wild continent, what Europe knew as the New World (tossing in an extra thousand years or so, for mystery & good measure) … But human minds rarely leap from the known to the unknown with the ease of a trapeze artist. I realize innovators need to weave a bit of the old together with the new to initially mesh the two. Which is why I’ve settled on the upcoming year as 15,009 in my North American keeping of the dates – a nod to the Holy Roman Empire & Egypt & even Mesopotamia (our civilization of yore) yoked to the first coming of human hunters among the mastodons & saber-tooth tigers – our “birth” in this place.


Battlefields of the past.
Bloodshed for freedom.
Darkness upon the Eagle’s back.
We stay in the war because we must
Beat ‘em.
Sitting in my box full of trepidation.
Many different shades of color.
I live in America, our great nation.

Lindsey Moore
Southwest Open School
Cortez, Colo.

BASKET CASE … The basket case is me, as I’ve been weaving coil baskets for 40+ years. Mick Hill, owner of Telluride’s Steaming Bean Coffeehouse, kindly offered to do a showing of

some of the better examples from the past 12 years. They should be on display through January. “Art by Art” … Since I often weave in the numerous meetings I attend as a commissioner, many people who’ve seen me at work have asked what the finished product looks like. This is a chance to see a bunch of them … No, I didn’t take basketweaving in college. But I was just out of college when I took a basketweaving course with a world-famous Pomo basketweaver and healer, Mabel McKay. Gregory Sarris wrote a wonderful biography of Mabel called “Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream” (Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley, 1994) … The Pomo nation of Northern California was famous for its basketry work, and examples of its dazzling pieces are in Native American collections all over the world. Mabel once showed us a finely woven basket the size of a pinkie fingernail using traditional materials … But I don’t use traditional materials — reeds and other native plants, which have to be harvested, trimmed to size, and soaked before use. In fact, arthritis of the hands is one occupational hazard for many traditional basketweavers. Instead, being a non-traditional kind of guy, I use a combination of hemp twine (strong but limited in colors), hand-dyed churro wool yarn from the La Tierra collective in Los Ojos (N.M.) and whatever kinds of colorful wool and alpaca and unique yarns I find in fabric stores and on my secondhand shop and yard sale forays. For me, the color’s the thing. And while the baskets can be used for utilitarian purposes, I prize them for their kaleidoscopic designs and mostly display them on walls in my house ... Folks ask how long it takes to make a basket. And I’ve taken to saying, anywhere from 20 to 40 meetings, which is fairly accurate. Hard to start and finish, the basic task is a simple wrap and tie, but to turn out a finished product luck and good fortune comes into play too, as designs often work themselves into new and exciting patterns … The baskets aren’t for sale. I either give them as gifts (usually for weddings and retirements) or keep them for my own collection. But they are available for viewing. So, if you’re in Telluride, stop by the Bean and take a looksee.

ROADLESS VALUE … Republicans are perennially trying to open up roadless areas for exploitation and resource extraction, citing economic value and jobs, but a study commissioned from a team of economists by Forest Guardians, which was released in September 2006, found that New Mexico’s inventoried roadless areas on U.S. Forest Service lands generate tens of millions of dollars each year in economic value, as well as direct jobs and income for residents. The study, peerreviewed before publication, carefully analyzed the market and non-market economic benefits roadless forests provide for the state including recreation, property values, carbon sequestration, water, direct jobs and income … Non-motorized recreation generated nearly $25 million annually water-quality benefits account for $20 million to $22 million annually; between 563 and 880 jobs can be attributed annually to roadless areas; and as much as $21 million in annual income. New Mexico has 1.6 million acres of inventoried roadless forest area.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.