Carbondale has good bones. This is part of the problem. The ultra-wealthy have been buying up all the land around, while the rest of us play frogger in traffic all day just trying to pay the bills. And, the worst part, they buy raw land and then give it a mani/pedi … What is with all the fences and gates and “No Trespassing” signs blocking the view, not to mention the wildlife’s access to water? This endless need to insulate themselves from the rest of the world reeks of insecurity and unresolved childhood trauma.
My childhood trauma involved watching calves roped and held down while cowboys vaccinated, branded and tagged them. Even though I knew we were doing it all in the name of responsible animal husbandry, I couldn’t help imagining how I would feel if I was roped, dragged, shot up, and burned before being turned loose in the pasture on wobbly legs.
My family has ranched here for generations and life on the ranch gives you calluses — inside and out. From my experience, it’s more nature than nurture. My youthful commiserating with the dead head mounted on the cabin wall was met with relatives’ stares as blank as the glass eyes in said mount. It was obvious early on that I was too thin-skinned to be a rancher, and to this day when I get dental work done, I shudder as the burning smell flashes me back to branding day on the ranch.
My family’s land was just south of town along the Crystal River, where Mount Sopris looms large. Recently, half of the hill known as “the cut” on Prince Creek Road was removed by the new billionaire landowner, and young marmots are paying the price. These innocent critters end up as roadkill because they are now forced to live across the road from their water source.
Since we can’t be talked out of driving our cars, I think we should enlist the help of local realtors to solve this. Realtors may be able to influence the moneybags, convincing them to care about the fate of our local landscape and all of its critters. This includes Carbondale characters, who also need to cross the road once in a while for a drink of water — or something stronger.
If I ever found myself on the barstool next to a billionaire, I would buy him a drink and then I would say, release your trauma and follow your heart. Not because it leads to a bigger ranch on a bigger hill, but because the demons we face determine our legacy. Our actions create our story, which is the only thing that really lasts. In order to fully tell my story, I need to create a new word.
Desiderium rei exoptati, in Latin, means nostalgic for something that has never been, and now definitely won’t happen. I know, you’re wondering how I can be nostalgic for something I’ve never known, but this is a very real feeling I get every time I drive past land that once held the potential for a peaceful coexistence between beauty and beast (mankind is the beast.) Now, an empty field surrounded by miles of fence, it just feels melancholic and less like home.
Affordable housing is no joke for any species. A place to live within a reasonable distance of work and a watering hole, is not too much to ask. But if we continue to let these guys fence everyone/thing out, then the heart of Carbondale will stop beating right there on the hot pavement next to that marmot’s.
Good Bones, by Maggie Smith
Life is short, though I keep this from my children. Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways, a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least 50% terrible, and that’s a conservative estimate, though I keep this from my children. For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird. For every loved child, a child broken, bagged, sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world is at least half terrible, and for every kind stranger, there is one who would break you, though I keep this from my children. I am trying to sell them the world. Any decent realtor, walking you through a real sh*#hole, chirps on about good bones: This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful.