It's a frequent occurrence in Neighbors when I award someone bragging rights. But in this instance, it's the state of
Colorado that is telling the residents on Silverton Avenue that they can shout their kudos as high as the tree that
towers over their neighborhood. It has been named the largest Rio Grande cottonwood in the state. The tree got a
plaque and everything.
The statistics are pretty impressive. The tree stands 103 feet high, its trunk is more than 26 feet in circumference, and its crown spreads a voluminous 73 feet.
On April 27, a Tree Toasting and Neighborhood Gathering was held to celebrate the tree's designation with cheese and
crackers accompanied by beer courtesy of Ska Brewing Co. Between 30 and 40 people attended, including Durango Mayor
Michael Rendon. Attendees of all ages marveled at the tree's grandeur, discovering that it took
seven adults with arms stretched wide to reach around it.
The State Champion Tree is one of two huge cottonwoods in the neighborhood. Silverton Avenue denizens can also claim
the state's second largest Rio Grande Cottonwood tree. In fact, it took neighbors a little while to figure out which
was the champ because the two trees are so close in size.
Which leads to the question: Just who figures out that a tree is the largest in the state?
Peter Schertz, who had become fascinated by champion trees, scouted out the second largest Plains
Cottonwood in Cortez and could see that his neighborhood's trees were much larger.
So he consulted Google on the subject and discovered the Colorado Tree Coalition. Among other responsibilities, the
coalition keeps statistics on different tree species in the state and trains verifiers, people who can take accurate
measurements of nominated trees. Several of them are foresters with the Colorado State Forest Service, who came down
to check out the aforementioned trees. Not only are both trees huge, the foresters said they were probably at least
200 years old.
The neighborhood was right on target holding the celebration between Earth Day and Arbor Day. The trees should be
honored for both.
Schertz created a nifty invitation for the gathering, including a wonderful quote by J. Sterling Morton: Other
holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future."
These trees do both.
Enjoying wonderfully spring birthdays are Rollie Roth, David Kidd, Sandy
Beebe, Frank Anesi, Kim Buffalo, Phyllis Tucker, Jerry Hanes, Travis Von Tersch, McKenzie James, Roberta
Day, Alta Lunsford, James Gehrki, Makayla Safran, Isabell Walt, Darlene Cheesewright, Chris Larson, Clarice
Huckins,Hillary Wolfe,Sherri Libby,Rinda Slack
Special greetings go to Carl Hotter, who is turning the big Five-Oh this week. Welcome to the club.
Some couples fall in love with candlelight and roses. Others find a more distinctive way to court.
For Guyand Lynn Poland, it was love on horseback and the gift of a magnificent
horse named Koko that sealed the deal. The couple met at the Parelli Ranch near Pagosa Springs. Guy Poland bought
Koko for his new sweetheart when she was living in Maryland, and after two years of a commuting love affair, Koko and
newlywed Lynn Poland were living in Southwest Colorado.
The couple still loves horses, but Lynn Poland just wasn't getting enough time to ride Koko, so she decided to donate
her horse to the Cadence Therapeutic Riding Center. Koko will get the attention he deserves and can touch lives in a
The folks at Cadence say he is a truly great horse, gentle, affectionate, responsive and good-natured. He will be
working into the rotation at Cadence as they get to know him.
I have to admit that ever since I was nipped by a pony at a birthday party when I was little, I have been a little
afraid of horses. But the results I've seen at Cadence, which works with everyone from at-risk and grieving
adolescents to wounded warriors, seniors with chronic health problems to children with physical and developmental
disabilities, show that riding therapy is powerful medicine.
Cadence is currently working with about 30 clients with 24 to 26 volunteers. Among them are a young naval
electrician's mate who suffered a brain aneurysm and families of those who are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. (Did
you know that there is a 70 percent divorce rate in armed force reserves marriages because of the stress of multiple
I know people who were told they would never walk again who were able to after riding at Cadence. I know children who
have lost a loved one who were helped through their grief by working with a gentle horse.
One other thing I know is that a charity that involves horses costs some money to run. They need to eat and run up
vet bills occasionally, but the reward is worth it.
The group has two fundraisers coming up. First, Sheryl Lynde, an out-of-state horse trainer, who is quite highly
regarded, will be running clinics over the Memorial Day weekend at Echo Basin Ranch near Mancos. Contact Cadence at
info@CadenceRiding.org to learn more.
And coming up on June 19 is a trail ride at Echo Basin. I wrote about the fall trail ride and heard from a lot of
riders that they would have gone if they knew about it. So now you can't say I didn't give you a heads up!
To register for the trail ride, visit the American Competitive Trail Horse Association website at www.actha.net.
If you are moved to donate, it would be much appreciated. Checks can be sent to Cadence Therapeutic Riding Center, P.O. Box 9009, Durango, CO 81301.
The Reading Club of Durango has finished up its two-year study of Asia with two fascinating programs. Lynn
Maytold club members about the Hmong Hill Tribe of Southeast Asia at the home of Linda
McCannellon April 8.
A group of people who have spent millennia just trying to live peacefully within their own culture, the Hmong
migrated from China to the hills of Laos after the Chinese tried to stamp out their lifestyle and beliefs.
In Laos, they have traditionally practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, and their main crop was opium. While they are
generally pacifist, the Hmong sided with the U.S. and French in the fight against communism, and thousands of their
young men died in the Vietnam War.
I didn't realize that Laos was the most heavily bombed country in the war, and one of the problems the country faces
today is the thousands of unexploded bombs still on the ground.
When the Communist Pathet Lao came into power, thousands of Hmong fled to refugee camps in Thailand. Many came to the
U.S., but a number still remain in horrific conditions in the camps and face being deported back to Laos, where they
would face a grim fate.
Those Hmong who came to the U.S. have found their culture at odds with another once again. One of the big challenges
is differing medical practices. Accustomed to shamans who intuit what is wrong, American doctors and their personal
and intimate questions make the Hmong very uncomfortable.
May has gotten to know some Hmong through her husband, Don May's, association with Engineers without
Borders. The local chapter is based at Fort Lewis College, and its volunteers are even now in Laos working on
bringing clean water to isolated villages.
For those who'd be interested in learning more, May recommended the books The Spirit Catches You and You Fall
Downby Anne Fadiman and Tragic Mountainsby Jane Hamilton-Merritt.
On April 22, the club met at the home of Susan Daviesto hear about the book The Snakehead: An
Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dreamby Patrick Radden Keefe in a program by
It put a different look on illegal immigration in a study of Sister Ping, a grandmother who became the FBI's most
wanted Asian organized crime figure for five or six years. She was a snakehead, or people smuggler from China to the
U.S., beginning in the early 1980s in an enterprise that eventually brought in more than $40 million.
Her enterprise came to light after the Golden Venture, a ship that was carrying about 300 undocumented Chinese, ran
aground near Long Island, N.Y., in 1993.
There is no count on how many people have died looking for a better life by going through snakeheads.
Donand Ann Briscoeare receiving perfect spring weather for their anniversary.
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