LIGHTNING HEART … Fred Haberlein was a muralist of note. Some 140 or so of his pieces grace Colorado walls, water tanks and municipal parks, as well spots in several adjoining states. He grew up in the San Luis Valley. Lived a ranch life. Got bit with the artist bug, and spent some years in Oracle, Ariz., learning his craft, and forging a lifelong association with the Yaqui people of the American Southwest. Every spring he attended their ceremonies. Danced with them. Practiced their traditional rituals … I had the good fortune to meet him through my brother-in-law, Wayne Goin. And we’d been friends every since. Artist and poet – two cultural creatives with a bent for indigenous wisdom … He and his wife Teresa lived in a sprawling log-cabin studio perched on a bench above No Name Creek outside Glenwood Springs. I’d visit them on my not-infrequent trips to Denver for state county commissioner business. They’d have a bed for me, and we’d stay up for hours talking, sharing stories, reflecting on our lives and the life of the Republic … Lightning Heart would come to the Telluride Mushroom Festival and offer an invocation, calling in the seven directions. It was how we began the event for the last dozen years … He’d had a tussle with cancer last year, but it seemed to be in remission. I’d stopped to catch up with them on a trip last month to Boulder. But no one was home … Then a week later I got a message that he was gravely ill again. I took my son to the Democratic Assembly in Broomfield before visiting my daughter Sara and her boyfriend Dylan in Steamboat Springs, where the two had gotten work for the winter as ski instructors. On the way to the Front Range, while my son slept in the car, I visited with Lightning Heart … Teresa ushered me into the bedroom, where he was lying, stretched out, resting. His face lit up with those scintillating sparks of Haberlein good humor when he saw me, and we spoke of various blessings (a word he kept using). We told some stories. Laughed … I didn’t stay too long. Hugged Teresa and her sister Lucy. Kissed Lightning Heart on the hand … He died the next day.
DALE PENDELL … Back in Sixties California, Dale Pendell was a poet allied with Gary Snyder’s back-to-the-land movement. He put out a journal of backcountry writing that included Snyder, Jerry Martien, Steve Sanfield, and others, calling it Kyoi/Kuksu. The name came from a pre-settlement Native Californian religious cult prevalent throughout Central California. I had a letter published in it, and I treasured every issue … Pendell went on to write an apothecary trilogy on plants, poisons and herbal craft, as well as philosophical treatises and poetry. I met him at an entheogenic conference in San Jose a dozen years ago. He was one of the literary honchos of the foothills of the Sierras, where many a Bay Area poet landed … He passed away in Santa Cruz, where he ended up. My Nevada City buddy Doc Dachtler sent me a slim chapbook of his early poems, Physics for the Heart (Exiled-In-America Press, 1986). He was one of those strong California mountain poets.
MARCH FOR OUR LIVES … Whatever the citizens of my generation may think about gun control, it’s clear that the youth of this nation are wresting the momentum of this national debate out of the hands of the NRA … In D.C. my youngest son, Gregorio, attended the rally earlier this year along with hundreds of thousands of like-minded Americans. And he said many of his American University students were there to hear speaker after speaker call for federal action to limit easy access to weapons of mass murder … Similarly, my oldest daughter in San Francisco, Iris – and her partner Bert and my granddaughter Aurora Willow Fan – all marched on the West Coast in solidarity with my youngest on the East Coast … As a rural citizen, I understand and support the reasonable right to bear arms. But increasing limitations on some guns – as already occurs with automatic weapons – seems justified. Even limitations on ownership in urban settings, or for individuals with mental-health problems, may be necessary … I think Governor Hickenlooper was right on a recent CPR interview to suggest that politicians ignore the youth of this nation on this issue at their own peril.
PETER PINO … The Telluride Institute, the Telluride Historical Museum, the Wilkinson Library and Ah Haa have an off-season treat in store for regional folks in mid-May – a free lecture Wednesday, May 16, at 6 p.m. at the Wilk by Zia elder and artist Peter Pino, as well as an Introductory Petroglyph Making workshop at Ah Haa from noon to 5 p.m. the next day, May 17. Call Ah Haa to reserve a place, 970-728-3886.
DANDELION FEST … Our old friend Katrina Blair, the wild-foods guru, is hosting Durango’s 10th celebration of wild plants, Beltane, pollinators and organic land stewardship on May 4-5 … Maypole dance, local food, dandelion ice cream, dandelion beer, live music, drum circle (BYOD), healing dome, educational workshops, thrift store, kid’s activities, live music and performances … Call Turtle Lake Refuge for more info, 970-247-8395.
OUT & ABOUT … I bumped into Norwood School Transportation Chief (and former Dolores County Commissioner Chair) Ernie Williams in Clark’s Market and he was all excited about a new Bluebird schoolbus he’s just purchased for the district … Ute elder Roland McCook of Montrose took first place at the Denver March Powwow in the Buckskin/War Bonnet category … Highway Sign Seen: Depresso = That feeling you get when you run out of coffee.
MATTER … In the context of normal existence, mystery is perhaps the ground of being, but it’s not usually something we tend to contemplate, even in our most curious moments. Which is why articles like this one that appeared in Science News recently are not near the top of anyone’s reading list, “Striving to Solve Antimatter Mystery: Quest to Identify Nature of Neutrino’s Alter Ego Heats Up” … Neutrinos. Quarks. Antimatter. For many of us in the arts, our minds start to glaze over when we encounter the vocabulary of quantum physics’ microhabitat. But it’s actually a big deal. Maybe numero uno … As MIT neutrino physicist Janet Conrad is quoted as saying, “The biggest mystery in the universe is who stole all the antimatter. There’s no bigger theft that has occurred than that” … The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the early universe. But today, everything we see from the smallest life forms on Earth to the largest stellar objects is made almost entirely of matter. Comparatively, there is not much antimatter to be found. Something must have happened to tip the balance. So how did we get this matter antimatter asymmetry, theoretical physicists ask? If everything balanced, matter and anti-matter would have canceled themselves out. But as it is, we exist. Matter exists. And what some scientists are trying to figure out is how did we get imbalanced enough to come into existence … The answer may have something to do with neutrinos, which don’t have an anti-matter complement … Or it may have something to do with Western Civilization, which the Hopi have identified as Koyaanisqatsi.
THE TALKING GOURD
on his tombstone
So delighted to live
didn’t expect to die