Peter Shelton

Giving Thanks, With Reservations

Posted in Personal History, Watch columns, Weather & Climate by pshelton on November 22, 2012

I’m thankful for the way the election turned out. Not all the races, certainly, but for sure the big one, President Obama’s re-election. As New Yorker editor David Remnick wrote, it is OK, recommended even, to sigh a huge sigh, to let the shoulders drop, breathe, relax . . .

But just for a day or two. Now, as they say, the hard work begins. And I’m not at all confident that the president has the political or the personal wherewithal to accomplish the things I’d like to see him accomplish: push for a more progressive tax code, cut the defense budget, lead an effort to reform our shameful campaign/election system, and stake out a leadership role for the U.S. on global warming as an economic and moral imperative.

I’m thankful we don’t live in Gaza.

I’m thankful for the beautiful weather we’ve been having, weather that has allowed me to ride my bike far higher and way beyond the date I should be riding . . .

But, the beautiful weather is, of course, anathema to what all skiers (and irrigators) wish for – the onset of winter. I’m too old to be itchy for first turns in November, but at some point soon I will become concerned about the forecast “No Niño” regimen, which is historically not good for Colorado’s snowpack. And, even more serious, I’ll worry that the experts are right and winter is becoming shorter and warmer, thanks to carbon emissions, and we’re not doing a damn thing to stop it.

I’m thankful for turkeys this time of year, for obvious reasons. Even when my stomach is full, like right now, I can make my mouth water just thinking about a turkey drumstick, the skin crisp and buttery, and the meat nut-like and falling off the bone . . .

But, there I was the other day riding my bike past a nearby farm, and the CSA ladies were pulling in some late harvest, and their Thanksgiving turkeys were all over the yard – big, handsome birds, tall and alert – up on the picnic table one of them was – like pets. I remembered that turkeys are sensitive creatures; they can have heart attacks. I imagine the ladies don’t dare give them names.

I’m thankful for The New Yorker. I don’t know what I’d do without its weekly dose of intelligence and sanity . . .

But there’s no question it feeds my reading addiction. It sucks up hours on the weekends, and more morning coffee time. And it never fails to remind me, thrill and chastise me: Really good writing, the stuff that seems effortless on the page, takes tremendous energy, requires an appetite for hard work.

I’m thankful for the flood at The Watch offices. That sounds horrible, and I’m half kidding, because the unattended, overflowing penthouse toilet that wrecked this newspaper’s basement offices in Telluride a couple of weeks ago is nothing short of a catastrophe for the owners and staff up there . . .

But I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed having them all down in the Ridgway office, to which they’ve retreated, and will remain until the repairs are complete. The quick-witted banter, the debates over headline and caption wording, the ringing of phones, the exclamation and bustle of a newsroom out of the movies; it’s been fun.

I’m thankful that my kids and their families seem to be doing splendidly in their new homes . . .

But they’re so far away! Cecily and Mike and Boden are in California. Cloe and Adam and Alexander and Lily are in Oregon. Getting everyone together for a holiday visit is out of the question, this year at least. We’re spread to the four corners of the continent: Mike’s family is in Alabama, and Adam’s dad is in Maine. So thanks, I guess, for the jet airplane, and the artificially cheap gas in America. Let the gallon price of gasoline float up anywhere near the cost to produce and burn it, without the oil company subsidies, and, like Europe, we’d be driving cars with 50-80 mpg capability.

And finally, apropos of the Yvon Chouinard quote from a couple of weeks back, I’m thankful for the profusion of surfing videos on the Interweb. We may be 900 miles from the nearest ridable waves, but thanks to high-def digital and some really inventive videographers, I can ride a vicarious curl while waiting for the snow. And chewing on that drumstick.

One Response

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  1. Kayla said, on November 23, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Come to SC and you can watch some live surfing.

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