Partnering with a Border Collie

GeorgeOld Gold

Partnering with a Border Collie by George Sibley   Barring strange accidents or chance, I’ve partnered with my last dog – mostly because my last dog was such a superior partner.  She was a border collie, Zoe; and Zoe was actually the only dog I’ve ever really been invited to partner with, however unworthy I was at it. There were a couple other dogs in my life when I was a kid, but they were just family pets. Bred for petdom. Border collies aren’t bred to be pets; they are bred for intelligence and bred for work, and they more or less insist on – I would say, deserve – a working partnership. And my partnership with Zoe was not really a “fulfilled” partnership because I didn’t really have any work for her to do that was worthy of her skills and willingness. Our daughter brought her into our lives; Zoe was a gift from her godfather, Steve Allen, a … Read More

Dancing in the Streets Crested Butte Style

GeorgeOld Gold

From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.                                                                                     – T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”               In a strange mix of grace and craziness, a group of costumed women doing the stately Morris-dance lead down Elk Avenue a much less stately mob that is howling imprecations at a huge puppet on trial for its life, toward a big bonfire into which the puppet and a lot of old skis and grudges will be thrown. Or a midwinter parade comes down the street with masked and costumed krewes letting it all hang out (or as much as is possible in February) before the hibernation into Lent. Or a few hundred people dress up in red costumes and masks and dance to suggestive music in celebration of an event most of the celebrants weren’t around to know about. Or the floor of the Eldo literally bounces to the … Read More

Sawmill I: Working the Gate between Worlds

GeorgeOld Gold

  First published in High Country News, Sept. 16, 1985; the sawmill job had been in the late 1970s.   Sawmill I: Working the Gate between Worlds   In the realm of interesting things that confuse me and confusing things that interest me, the relationships between trees and humans are high on my list.  As with almost all plant-and-animal relationships, we humans come off as dependents – we need the trees a lot more than the trees need us. At the most basic level there’s the oxygen they pump out. They aren’t the only source of oxygen on earth, but they are certainly an important one. This is some mutuality to this dependency since they need the carbon dioxide we generate – and we have become substantial generators of carbon dioxide; studies currently indicate that most tree species are appreciating this and are doing what they can to take care of all that extra carbon dioxide. But in all our … Read More

Desert Empire

GeorgeEmpire, Old Gold

‘The Desert Empire’ is a long essay Sibley wrote for Harper’s magazine in 1977, a drought year throughout the American West, and one of the five driest years in the recorded history of Colorado River flows. It is part celebration of the accomplishments that enabled the Colorado River Basin to survive that year on close to a ‘business as usual’ status, part a reflection on the history that led to those achievements, and part a rumination on how more of the same in a heavy growth environment could undermine the whole river enterprise. In its desperate search for water, the American West meets the limits of the technological ideal. ~ George Sibley Anyone interested, for whatever reason, in the :study of water in ‘the West will in the end concen-trate on the Colbrado, wildest of rivers, foaming, raging, rushing southward-erratic, headlong, in-congruous in the desert. ~ John McPhee · Encounters with the Archdruid “THIS IS A STORY about a river, … Read More