August 2013

Keeping an eye out for the deadly tiger

By Art Goodtimes

AEDES ALBOPICTUS … An article in the recent issue of Science News caught my attention, “In the Eye of the Tiger.” It was about the global advance of the Asian tiger mosquito (A. albopictus) that health experts were concerned could spread tropical diseases into temperate regions. Journalist Carrie Arnold characterized the invading pest as “an aggressive hit-and-run biter” that feeds on everything – humans, dogs, livestock, birds, etc. – and attacks during the middle of the day, not just at dusk. It’s well established in the Southeast, with just three sightings (unconfirmed) in Colorado, according to the article’s accompanying map … What got me all worked up -- reading about how a 2007 outbreak of chikungunya virus in Italy alerted disease experts to the potential danger of this new invasive species of mosquito in transmitting all manner of tropical scourges, including dengue fever, West Nile, yellow fever and several forms of encephalitis -- was that I’d just seen a striped mosquito on my forearm while working in the Cloud Acre spud patch several weeks earlier. Its markings were different than any mosquito I’d seen before, and I took a moment’s notice, before squishing the bug prior to its biting me … Now I was realizing I might have seen this new mosquito, and I figured I should tell someone. An Internet search led me to Dr. Chester G. Moore of Colorado State University, an expert in medical entomology, who’d been keeping a database of possible A. albopictus sightings, and I explained my experience. He wrote me back immediately, and was very keen to obtain a specimen – suggesting the following possibility for capture … “A technique that usually works pretty well is to use a small jar (like one used for spices) to cover the mosquito when it comes to bite. Usually it will fly upward into the jar and you can put the lid on to trap it. An hour or two in the freezer will kill it and you will have a good specimen for identification. Once the mosquitoes are dead, we usually place them in a small box between multiple layers of Kleenex or toilet paper to protect them from moving. These boxes can be mailed to our lab at CSU” … Of course, not all of us would have the presence of mind to employ an entomologist’s methodology when a mosquito is attacking. So, Dr. Moore also suggests, “As an alternative, if you have a smart phone with a good camera, it may be possible to take a picture of the mosquitoes. You can send me the photo as an email attachment, and I may be able to identify it that way” … If you happen to notice a suspiciously striped mosquito, feel free to contact me, and send a photo, if you can get one. And I can alert Dr. Moore. There are many good identification photos of the Asian tiger mosquito on-line, if you want to get an idea of what it looks like … One behavior that facilitates the spread of this new insect is its ability to breed in small puddles of water in old tires. Unhappily, I’ve been using old tires at Cloud Acre as weed barriers and support structures for new tree plantings – a re-use practice I plan to discontinue … So, if you have old tires around your place, you might particularly keep on eye out for the Asian tiger mosquito.


Nothing Lives Long

Mary was a kind woman
& a great mother
A new age spiritualist

who lost me in the channeled sources
but danced with the universe
A dakini

You had to worship that!
I’ve turned her yurt at Cloud Acre
into a chapel/columbarium

where I go
almost every day
& sing to her ashes

CAT TALES … That’s the name of a new column in the Dove Creek Press by Cathe Hill – for the last several years music teacher at the Dove Creek School and now retired. Cathe, a marvelous singer, and her painter husband Bruce used to live in Norwood and continue to have lots of friends in both communities.

BOOKS … I know. I’m old-school. I love books. Real bound paper with pages that you can turn. It’s been a life-long failing. Something I inherited as a curious young man in those pre-computer days when encyclopedias were the source of all knowledge on the home front. That and libraries, where I’d wander the stacks checking out books at random … These days I surf the net, check Facebook and am actually hoping to get a smart phone … But I still read. Below are a few of the recent books that captivated me.

OTTO MEARS AND THE SAN JUANS … By E.F. Tucker (Western Reflections, Montrose, 2003), this is a balanced biography that treats Mears critically as well as heroically. He was clearly a man of his times. An amazing man. A flawed man … As an immigrant Russian Jew, there’s no question he did amazing things, building toll roads and railroads into some of the most treacherous mountain terrain in the country. He got things done, where others often failed. His drive and determination were boundless. He learned Ute, at a time when indigenous people were discriminated against, and became a friend to Chief Ouray … But his main goal seems always to have been money. Not an inappropriate goal, but it colored everything he did. Including his morals. He made and lost fortunes and did all his work in the hopes, always, of getting rich. He bribed tribal members to wrest treaty lands away from the Utes to feather his own nest, and had a hand in the forced removal of the Uncompahgre Utes from the Western Slope – which helped him make more money. He used political influence to lobby for projects that benefited him first, and maybe the public … Tucker gives us the man, warts and all, whose stained-glass image graces the Colorado capitol, the Pathfinder. That he was a jack-ofall- trades who worked alongside his men on amazing projects, like the Rio Grande Southern that opened up Telluride to the world, was admirable. That he had an almost lifetime appointment to a state agency that gave away political patronage was shameful … Aside from a nice cover, the book is cheaply set and designed, the illustrations are uniformly amateur, and Western Reflections is notorious for never promoting their books, so it’s not surprising I just found a copy at Taz’s Dolores Food Market (Unexpected Gourmet) with its racks of used books. Tucker does a solid job, has good reference notes, and writes cleanly. Recommended.

THE DARK GNU … Subtitled “And Other Poems” by Wendy Videlock (Able Muse Press, San Jose CA, 2013), this is a dazzling book, illustrated by the poet in the most amazing alcohol-ink illustrations. The poems have the jaunty rhymes of Mother Goose with the wisdom of Laozi chiseled into them, like bas relief koans … Wendy is a master of the unexpected lyric that pleases and teases and blows your house down … This is one of those great volumes that makes an unrivaled gift – beautiful almost beyond belief and perfect for reading aloud to a pack of young animals or meditating on quietly under a tree in your backyard … “An odd little book for drifters and dreamers, the tygers and sages, and the children of all inconceivable ages” … Highly recommended.

EMUS LOOSE IN EGNAR … Subtitled “Big Stories from Small Towns” by Judy Muller (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2011), this is a book I’ve been meaning to read since it came out. Especially since Norwood is Judy’s home (where her brother John Mansfield settled years ago). And she writes about Norwood (its Book Burning episode with Rudolfo Anaya’s classic Bless Me Ultima) and about Egnar and the Dove Creek Press (one of the few papers I subscribe to – as an avid fan of editor Doug Funk’s weekly column, Phunque’s Desk) … Unbelievably, she even writes about Hardin, Montana, and the Crow Indian Reservation where I served as a Vista volunteer (1965-66). And about the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a flaming radical paper from California’s Mendocino County that I once subscribed to. And our own curmudgeonly Jim Stiles of Moab, who’s made enemies of almost everyone he ever befriended (me included) … The stories of small-town editors writing truth to power, getting fired, or threatened, or having their paper burned down – it’s a great collection of all the reasons why community journalism is something very different from the kind of journalism practiced in our cities. … Muller’s a great writer. She pursues her idea across the country, and the result is a fine read and good expansion of what journalism means to a democracy. Highly recommended.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County (Colo.) commissioner.