Monday, April 25, 2011

I have hit Rock Bottom, and consider it a good thing

Rock Bottom Ranch, Basalt, Colorado is my new home, and my new place of work. It is already beginning to feel like a home, even though I only arrived yesterday afternoon. (This entry was composed on April 24th.) I am connecting fast with the landscape, the animals, the people. I have a good feeling about this place. However, work proper begins on Monday, so I should not jump to conclusions too quickly.

First impressions: a quick sketch of the pasture from the porch of the ranch house

The Ranch is located in the Roaring Fork Valley. I stay in a ranch house, next to a stream, with tall willow trees about, whose leaves are now yellow-orange. We are surrounded by pasture, which leads to forested mountains, then snow-capped peaks in the distance. Yesterday, I stood on the back porch and did some quick sketches of the landscape. It snowed this morning, and the snow turned to rain. The pigs deigned to avoid the icy drizzle, and stayed in their pen. The cows and burros seemed to mind less, and were still out grazing. A Canada goose stood atop one of the structures, face to the wind, experienced the elements. The goose stayed there for the duration, and walked back and forth. Whether the bird was out to enjoy the view of the valley, take a cold shower, or something else entirely I do not know.

The ranch is run by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Being an Environmental Educator and Ranch Hand, I will guide youngsters on educational programs involving caring for the animals and learning about ecological agriculture, as well as exploring the wetlands, fields, and forests and learning of the ecosystem therein. I'll also do my bit to care for our local population of chickens, cows, pigs, burros, and garden vegetables.

I have high hopes for this endeavor. I feel that it is in the spirit of The Homestead. It is thanks to The Homestead that I have made pursuit of opportunities like this one; the community in Ohio is the intellectual and emotional impetus for my eco-agrarian ambitions.

It was a long road trip from Seattle to Portland (where I visited Nisus and Stumptown comics shows, and Wealth Underground Farm) and then across Oregon, Idaho, and Utah, to reach Basalt, Colorado. Aerosmith contends that while “On the Road Again,” “you can do what you want.”1 I, however, found that I couldn't do much other than drive for most of the days, so great was the distance. Huge continent we live on. Makes me not even want to think about the size of the Milky Way Galaxy, much less the universe.

Somwhere in Idaho

Somewhere in Utah

Near the end of my journey, I managed to do a bit of tourist activity, at Dinosaur National Monument, mostly on the Utah side. The pastel red and yellow plateaus and desert quietude captured my attention. So did the bones of a giant sauropod, which I viewed on a guided tour.

deserts of Dinosaur

sauropod femur (species unknown)

I also took in the Desert Voices Nature Trail, which had a set of interpretive signs, which were considerably more impressive than what we typically see. They were rich in their level of philosophical depth, and their use of the wisdom and artistic visions of children.

I camped at Green River, where pelicans and Canada geese flew by. The night was cold, and so was the early morning. So much that I became motivated to dig through my tightly-packed Subaru, find my backpacking stove, and use it to boil water. I sipped hot chocolate in the cold desert, and felt like a king, with camp chair as throne.

I shall miss my Homestead-alum friends, most of whom now dwell in Seattle. Such a great group of people I know. I shall also miss Crater Lake, and its supportive community. But I do look forward to my new adventure. And I hope to stay at Rock Bottom Ranch for a while. We shall see how events play out.

1. Pandora's Box disc 1

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