My Stories: The Quest for the Mountain Pearl Collection

                                                   The Quest For The Mountain Pearl


A Quest for the Blade of Olympus


           From The Hallowed Halls Of Shambala


In a Golden Warrior's Pose

I let fly my Poetry and Prose. 

May it's flight be swift and true

And find the mark and breach the fortress 

Of the Great Wall of China

And pierce the mind, hearts, spirits and souls

Of all of those too weak or frail

To Rise up against the fear of Imprisonment and Retribution.

May you Find the Strength, Courage and Fierceness

To Grasp the Golden Rings.


I Can Feel Him In The Morning, Grand Funk Railroad



Read each tale of Life, 

Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

From North American Forests and Mountain Peaks




Here in Lies My Quest For The Mountain Pearl.

There is no Brighter nor Elusive Gem in the World.

My Obsession to Caress and Possess the Pearl,

Consumed my Youth to the Point of Madness.


"This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental."

Matthew 22:21 Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." Romans 13:1 "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.


                The Quest For The Mountain Pearl


For Kathleen Marie,

                                              The Rainbow Warrior

                                                 Albert Bianchine


     The Aspen’s of Gold Peak were blossoming green and shimmering in the breeze. The snow glittered as it melted. It trickled down the Gore Range to form a cascading stream joining Gore Creek from the top of the Grand Traverse. It echoed loudly off the walls of the Vail Transportation Center as it rumbled through the Upper Eagle Valley. The young man and the girl with him sat on a bench under the eaves of the building. The Express Greyhound from Los Angeles would arrive in fifteen minutes. It stopped briefly in Vail before going on to Denver.

     “Isn’t that a snow cat pulling a trailer?” the girl asked, pointing toward the mountain.

     “Yeah, I guess they’re going to ski the back bowls,” the boy said.

     “You mean there’s still enough snow to ski?”

     “The bowls hold it pretty well. The corn snow must be great.”

     “It’s funny but there aren’t many trees in the bowls.”

     “It wasn’t always that way.” The boy turned to face her.

     “They must have had a hard time clearing all those trees to develop the back of the mountain,” she said

     “They weren’t cleared for development. The Legend is that when Lord Gore came through with his hunting party in the late 1800’s, the local Native Americans started great forest fires to drive them out. They were incensed by the sheer desecration of all the animals killed just for sport.”

     The girl looked at the snow cat as the sun glistened off a window as it disappeared over a rise in the mountainside. She turned and faced the boy.

     “It must have been awful-the fires I mean, all that destruction. The Natives destroyed the trees as well as animals.”

     “The hunters had driven off most of the game or already killed them.”

     “Violence never solved anything! They still lost their land. What are you going to do next Tom, join Earth First?”

     “I have to go, I have to go do this Susan.”

     “I don’t see why! You don’t care about me or you wouldn’t go.”

     “That’s not fair. You know I care.”

     “You could stay and spend the summer with me, here in Vail. You could get a job landscaping or something, instead you have to run off to Boulder. Why do you have to help Greenpeace protest against the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Facility? God knows where you’ll go after that.”

     The boy rose and walked to the cement retaining wall of the transportation center. He listened to the rushing water of Gore Creek. The leading edge of a spring storm moved rapidly down the valley. A brilliant rainbow formed in the mist of the advancing snow squall. The girl joined him and slid her hand into his.

     “This creek full of fresh mountain water flows into the Eagle River at Dowd Junction,” he chose his words carefully. “The river is now rust colored and mineral laden. It is contaminated from the tailings pond of the Eagle Mine. It’s a Superfund cleanup in the middle of a pristine wilderness. Don’t you see now why I have to go?”

     The Greyhound pulled alongside the terminal. The girl reached inside of her backpack and pulled out a book. She handed it to the boy.

     “The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey, something for the Rainbow Warrior who has everything,” she smiled.


Brother's In Arms, Dire Straits



For Mary, Melissa and Angela                                 

"Where Do The Children Play ?" Yusuf/ Cat Stevens"





                                       The Lure of the Mountain King

                                              Albert Bianchine

                                              Gordon Grey     



     The red Mercedes slid to a halt on the loose gravel of the roadside. The young hitchhiker stepped to the door, loosened his backpack and removed it. He slid into the passenger seat.

     “Thanks,” the young man said.

     “No problem,” the driver replied, as the Mercedes moved forward.

     The young man eyed the older warily. His tanned skin was weather checked, like that of a sailor who has seen the salt of the seas.

     “Where ya headin?” asked the old man.

     “Arapahoe Basin, my name is Tom, Tom Dillon, ” he smiled a warm ivory smile. He liked the weathered sailor.

     “ Hi Tom, I’m Joe, Are you a native or just passing through?”

     “Just passing through, I was on my way to Big Sky, Montana, but met three young ladies I’m living with from my home, I’m from New York originally, upstate New York. You tell people out West you’re from New York and right away they think of the city. I’m from Albany actually.”

     “Oh yeah!” he brightened, “I was in Troy once.”

     “Troy,” the young man chuckled. “If the world ever needed an enema, Troy would be it.”

     The old man exploded laughing accentuating the deep wrinkles around his eyes.

     “Let’s just hope they don’t stick it in Colorado.”

     The young man grinned. He took off his brown Stetson, looked at the rattle snake skin rimming it, and ran his fingers through his long black hair.

     “So you want to ski the Basin, eh?” the driver asked.

     “Yeah, every day if I can, the hell with Daniel Webster, I’d sell my soul to the devil himself for another powder run.”

      “I know what you mean,” the old man said. “Did you ski much back East?”

     “I skied the Adirondacks and Green Mountains. I even climbed Tuckerman’s Ravine on the backside of Mount Washington, it just wasn’t enough,” he confessed.

     “I’ve heard the headwall at Tuckerman's is pretty steep.”

     “Yeah it’s righteous, but it’s nothing like Mount Baldy at Alta. The Baldy chutes are intense, real gut suckers. Once you’re up there, there’s only one way down.”

     “So you’ve skied Utah!” he looked at the younger man with a new respect. “How about Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, and Solitude?”

       “All of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. I’ve climbed all day to ski powder where there are no names for the trails. They’re just called things like the big rock trail. Places where if you miss a turn you will die!”

     “Let me tell you something son,” he looked directly at the young man. “I’ve skied all over the world, and I’ve never found better powder than a good March in Utah.”

     “I know steep and deep.”

     They both laughed.      

     “Blackcomb and Whistler in British Columbia have some of the finest leg burning verticals I’ve ever skied. Blackcomb is a mile of vertical, and Whistler has some incredible glacier skiing. It’s just that the Pacific Northwest snow is usually wet and heavy. I fell a thousand feet in Saudan’s Couloir and dislocated my shoulder severely. The only thing that saved me is I had my skis cranked and was able to spin and carefully grab an edge. I thought I was dead,” the young man wiped his brow grinning.

     “Isn’t that named after Sylvain Saudan, the father of extreme skiing,” said the sailor, his eyes shining brightly.

     “Yeah, I spent a few years following in his footsteps.”

     “Couldn’t think of a better role model, he created a whole ski industry outside, out of bounds.”

     “There are only 2% of skiers that venture that far out. I get real quiet in those places,” the young man said reverently.

     “I know it certainly is God’s Kingdom in the wild.”

     “I think the Grand Tetons of Wyoming are just about the greatest mountain ranges I’ve ever seen. I love Jackson Hole. It’s one big- rock,” the younger man said.

     “Jackson! Jackson is special! Corbet's Couloir is pretty gnarly!”

     How much like himself he thought this young man was. He had loved every mountain also, that is until he skied A-Basin, the Legend. He was about the same age. What was the lure? What drew men to mountains? Because they were there, that just wasn’t good enough. He was indeed the King of the Mountains. He looked over at the young man. The young man staring out the window, the awe radiating from his face. What would drive his dreams for the rest of his life? His grip on the wheel tightened, baring the big white knuckles of his calloused hands. These had been his golden years. This was his last golden year. He had been a young man with a dream, the grandfather of all dreams. When you are the King there is always someone after your crown. He had always known they would come, the multinational corporations. Christ, he had hoped they wouldn’t. Looking at the young man again, he knew he would spend the rest of his life coming back. Once you have been on top, you simply know of no other place to be. There is a fine line of tempting fate in the mountains. It will always be there. Some men live and thrive on that challenge. Some men never know it. If you accept it and step over it, you have got to conquer it, or it will forever conquer you.

       “Ever skied New Zealand or Australia?” 

     “What are they like? I didn’t even know they had mountains down under.”

     “It’s a lot like the Alps, Mt Aspiring in New Zealand is often referred to as the Matterhorn of the South. They’re jagged and mean like the Rockies, the Alps of the South. I’m thinking of retiring on a ranch there someday soon. Their winter is our summer, I know some ski patrol man that live in perpetual winter.”

ve in perpetual winter.”    He guided the Mercedes into the parking lot of A-Basin. The car stopped in front of the large A-frame lodge. The two men got out.

     “Thanks for the lift,” the young man reached out with his hand.

     “My pleasure,” said the older man. He shook his hand, smiled and walked away.

     “The highest lift operated mountain in North America,” the young man said.

Steep runs and open snow filled bowls were common in the Rocky Mountains. They could be found anywhere. It was Arapahoe Basin’s claim to fame, being the highest, that separated her from the rest. The Continental Divide was a few hundred feet up the road.

     He was at the Top of the World. The silver grey peaks spiraled up all around him. The soaring rock spires rose up to touch the sky and there formed a giant dazzling bowl, filled with precious white powder gold. He thought that high atop its thirteen thousand foot summit he would be able to reach up and like chalk, with his fingernails, scrape the blue from the sky. He was and enigma to a modern day society. He knew every inch of every trail and every mountain peak in America. This was the crown jewel. He would ski here every day this winter.

     Wheeling about, he faced the lodge. Its blue tin roof is dotted by a double row of skylights. A white pole topped with a large brass eagle flew the red white and blue colors of the American Flag. It was flapping lazily in the pristine morning breeze. Starting across the lot briskly, he reached the third step when he stopped abruptly. His big hand was shaking unsteadily, he grasped the rail, he had not yet acclimated to the thinness of the air. He breathed deeply. There it was his friend. The first faint trace of the dampness of winter in the air, he had maniacally waited for that smell. Methodically, he had brought out his equipment and readied himself to leave, to who knows where.

     “Ker, ker, ker,”

     The flutter of wings startled him. Two rock ptarmigans were hovering above the lodge. The male already winter white. The female partially turned speckled autumn blending brown. Something deep inside him told him that this was his last winter on the circuit. The season hadn’t even begun and already there was talk of Targhee next year. Grand Targhee, Wyoming, first and last with the snow. Breathing a deep breath, he ascended the remaining stairs.

     A picnic table with six men sitting at it was on the deck. They were playing a game with three little pink pigs. One of the men rattled the pigs in a small brown cup and threw them onto the table. One pig was mounted on the other.

     “Makin bacon mate, I win,” a man said with an Australian accent.

     “Hello,” he said to the nearest man.

     “What can we do for ya?”

     “Where do I go to fill out an application for a winter job?”

     “See that building with the lift ticket sign,” he pointed across an open courtyard with empty ski racks. “Go in there and talk to Joe, I just saw him pull in before.”

The young man stood bolt upright.

     “Do you mean the man who just drove up in the red Mercedes?”

     “That would be the one.”



     “Looking for me,” Joe said, standing with his hands resting on his hips.

     “As a matter of fact, I am”

     “What can we do for you?”

     “I’d like to fill out a work app, I’m pretty handy with mechanical things.”

     “ I’m afraid there’s no more jobs available. We filled them all. But, if you repair some of the things in the restaurant and the lodge rooms, I’ll give you a season’s pass.”

     “Repairs for a pass, you got it. When do I start?”

     “Be here first thing Monday Morning,” Joe said as he turned and walked away.

     “The young man walked across the parking lot and up into an adjacent meadow.  He had a season’s pass to the highest lift serviced mountain in North America. He was not impressed by fame, or by claims to fame. Having searched out and conquered each and every claim, only to become disillusioned and bored by them. He was America's greatest ski bum, or so he thought. He smiled to himself smugly. It was the self -assured cocky smile inherent in a young man accustomed to challenging and conquering nature in the mountains. If he had only known this snow capped earthen rock mound, where a century earlier the melting spring snows would come cascading, crashing off a slope now called the Professor, and her seven cornices, like her seven saintly sisters, unimpeded by the tarmac of Route Six. A place where the Uncompaghre Utes, dwellers of the turquoise skies, lived in harmony with the elements, in a land they called (Nah-Oon-Kara) the Valley of the Blue. If he had any inkling, this earthen rock mound would alter the very core of his existence forever. He wouldn’t have smiled so smugly.  



Nether Lands, Dan Fogelberg


For Gordon Grey 

“It Doesn't have to be that way                                                                                                                          

The Love you give comes back to you. 

You can never throw it away.


                                                       Live Free and Ski

                                      (Yes Lyn, There Really Is A Snow God)

                                                         Albert Bianchine

                                                            Gordon Grey


     “Psst,” piercing green eyes peering from under the brim of the tattered black cowboy hat. A raccoon’s tail dangling from a rawhide beaded string. The red bandanna tied loosely around his neck, his face showing the stubble of a beard. Both of his arms extended from beneath the sleeves of the crumpled white long rider coat. It was buttoned at the third and only big black button.

     “I’m a spirit guide,” he blurted out. “Are you one?” he asked intensely. 

     “I, I don’t know,” I replied, confused. “I’m a skier, a poet and writer.”

     “Poets are spirit guides,” his smile reflecting the warm Colorado sunshine.

     A cradle rocking by the hand of its mother, the red gondola swayed gently from the cable, propelled by the mountain breezes. Two sets of inhabitants facing one another. One set ascending toward Mid-Vail. The other being drawn from the clock tower of the gondola shed at Lionshead. The clock read ten fifteen.

     Turning, he slowly walked bowlegged, a few short steps. His red and white laced hiking boots, protruded from beneath his patched jeans. They squeaked across the newly shoveled square. Bending over an army surplus knapsack, he gently extracted a multi-colored horse blanket, along with a weathered sitar. It left a worn saddle.

     “Why do you carry a saddle?” I questioned, as he walked toward me.

I removed my gloves. Casually, I stuffed them into the frayed leather trimmed pockets of my black preacher coat.

     “My grey mare she, she went and died on me,” he shook his head slowly. “I live in an abandoned mine shack. It’s in the mountains outside of Minturn,” his arm pointed west.                                                               

“It’s too damn far to walk for groceries.”

Raising his head, he focused his gaze toward the Vail Mountain Summit. The silence between us was interrupted by the banter of the sightseers.

     Feliz Navidad, I thought bitterly for having arrived too late for the Vail employment draw. Dashing my ski bum’s dream, it left me in dire straits. I was accustomed to it, having been on the circuit for years.

     “I went to Steamboat to visit an old friend. He lives in a tepee outside of town.” 

     I knew he looked familiar. He had appeared eerily silhouetted by a street lamp in a snowstorm, standing on the corner. I had just arrived in Steamboat on the last Greyhound from Vail. There was already eight inches of fresh powder down. Hoping for a foot and a half of new, the legendary stand of aspens had been beckoning me. A friend, who worked the puma lift at top, had procured a free pass.

     “Tomorrow, I’m getting another horse. There’s only enough money to buy it. I need a place to stay this evening,” he spread the horse blanket out. Sitting down and crossing his legs, he placed the sitar on his lap.

     “I’m Daniel,” he smiled and began playing.

     “Where are you headed poet man?” his facial muscles were twitching with the chords.

     The notes of Ravi Shankar, from the music for the starving people of Bangladesh, began filling the Village Square.

     A dangerously hanging snow cornice, the ivory crystals coated the roofs of the surrounding lodges and stores. There were crews of men shoveling, precariously balanced by guide ropes. They were working feverishly against the warming sun’s rays. The sound of it striking the earth, a drum beat to the rhythm of Daniel’s music. They were cajoling one another in their effort to rid the roofs of their weight.

     “I’m looking for day labor,” I pushed my Stetson toward the back of my head. I pulled off my green knapsack and laid it on the ground. It made a perfect cushion between my jeans and the cold courtyard.

     “I thought I could help clean the roofs. I’m living with my ski patrolman friend, Touloose. He has a trailer in the Vail employee park, Tin City. I overslept and spaced out the shuttle from Edwards. It woulda been enough money to ski Beaver Creek,” I struck out menacingly at a chunk of snow.

     “What kind of poetry do you write?” His picking gathered momentum.

     “Mostly about mountains and some powder snow poetry,” I replied.

     “Have you published a manuscript yet?” his eyes softly questioned.

     “Not yet,” my voice cracked with embarrassment. “For many years, I just stopped writing; I said there wasn’t any money in it.”

     “You should never stop writing,” he ceased playing. Shaking his finger, he admonished. “Writing like making music is a gift from God, make money at it if you can, but you should give your gift freely, without attachments.”

     “I was young and selfish, I wanted the whole world,” I looked away from his direct glare.

     My eye caught the motion of a skier. He was snaking his way through the troughs of the moguls in the snowfield. Moguls are sleeping serpents. Avoid the head of the serpent and you can’t be smitten. I had spent a lifetime upon the mountains of America, desperately avoiding the ugly reality of the serpent’s head. I had just prolonged my inevitable confrontation.

     “It’s never too late to change you know,” he smiled and resumed his picking.

     “I know Daniel, I’ve realized I love mountains and I love children. I’m going to unite the two with my gift.”

     “Fancy that poet man,” he laughed loudly.

     The crowd had increased, their ski outfits reflected the colors of the rainbow. They stood shoulder to shoulder with their heads bobbing and weaving to get a better view. I felt like a caged lion in a circus, I wanted to roar.

     “I just get so lost in the cities, Daniel,” I raised my arms in despair.

     “I’ll tell you what poet man,” his body swayed rhythmically. “Every full moon, I’ll play my sitar to the stars. If you become confused, just look to the mountains. You can see my light and hear my music. Maybe it will help you to fulfill your promise to children. Now, why don’t you take off our Stetson, turn it upside down and toss it out in front of us,” he motioned to the crowd.

     The sitar music began growing in strength with his renewed spirit. It’s mystical quality attracted the attention of more tourists with a faint trace of a smile, a slight glimmer in the eyes of some, as they recognized the music.

     “How about reciting your poetry for these people,” Daniel’s eyes looked toward the crowd.

     The chords of his sitar allowed my poems to flow freely. I recited all I could remember the words too. Exhausting my limited collection, I sat back to enjoy the music. To my surprise, the crowd warmly applauded. Grinning sheepishly, I nodded. The intense mountain sunshine was warming my upturned face.

     Finishing his music, Daniel received a rousing round of applause. The people were reaching deep into their pockets, and tossing coins and bills into my hat.

     “There aren’t many like them left,” I overheard a voice say.

     Daniel had risen and was in conversation with several people milling about.

     “Hey poetry man, count the cash,” he motioned to me. His hands were in constant motion, his feet danced back and forth. I counted the money.

     “How much profit is there?” 

     “Eighty-seven fifty,” I handed him the cash. I was astonished at the amount.

     “What’s the price of a lift ticket to Beaver Creek?”

     “A full day is forty dollars,” I shifted uneasily.

     He counted out a large pile of bills.

     “Here’s sixty dollars, buy breakfast before you ski,” he patted my shoulder. “These people are musicians,” motioning to the group. “I can stay with them, for sitar lessons, they are even going to take me to get my horse,” he clapped his hands and pranced like a child.

     He bent down and picked up his blanket and shook the snow from it.

     “Grab the end of this will ya?” he asked.

     Taking the corners, I began folding the blanket.

     “I-I can’t accept this, Daniel,” I started to protest.

     “Nonsense,” he waved his arm to silence me.

     Turning, he scooped up his possessions and started walking away with his new companions. I was left with money in hand, standing in awe. After several strides, he stopped, spinning on his heels, he turned to face me with his knapsack, bedroll, and saddle in one hand, and his Sitar clutched in the other. The excess string bouncing from the tuning pegs his entire face lit up in a broad grin.

     “Live free and ski in poetry,” he chortled, his entire body convulsing with his laughter. Wheeling about he leapt into the flow of people toward Lionshead. 


We Don't Need Another Hero, Tina Turner (Thunderdome)


For Ed Cox

"The Bucklemeister"

Thank You for the Western Trip In your

Volkswagen Bus to the Mountains of Colorado, Utah,

and Wyoming. I never really came back.

                                                          The Last Sweep

                                                                    Albert Bianchine


     Tom Dillon skied up to the Plateau and rested his weight on his poles. He glanced out across the Teton Village, Jackson Lake, the National Elk Refuge, and the Hog Backs. Kicking down hard on the edge of his skis, he stepped out of his bindings. He flexed forward in his boots and felt the familiar ease of pressure on his shins. Standing erect, he reached up and loosened the straps of his backpack. He tossed it into the freshly fallen powder. The crystals whooshed in a billowy cloud as it hit the ground. Tom reached down and scooped up a large armful between his gloved hands and parka. He blew strongly on the crystals and watched them dissipate into the dry, crisp, Wyoming air.

     “Yi Ha!” he yelled heartily, his smile as big as the Grand Tetons themselves.

     How many fresh powder turns had he taken? How many deep, waist deep, chest deep, turns had he taken? How many endless, agonizing, thigh burning powder turns, until his life had become one long powder turn? The American Mountains didn’t hold much allure to him anymore. He thought he might try Europe next. There were no more frontiers.

     Tom thrived on the challenge of conquering nature. The chance of ultimate defeat, like jumping into Corbet’s Couloir. He had traded away security for the thrill of the moment his entire life. The greatest moments were the ones that no one else but he knew about, like the thrill of the high traverse across Alta, Utah. The heavy morning fog hanging low and the snow blowing freezing your eyelids shut. The smell of ozone in the air, the hair on your neck standing with static electricity and fear of lightning with nowhere to hide, your right leg clamped securely clutching the track, your breath coming in short gasps knowing full well that to catch your left tip in the crud would send you careening downhill into the rocks and certain death below. The urgent need to be off the top, traversing, endlessly traversing, toward Eagle’s Nest, desperately searching just barely able to make out the small wooden sign, “Expert’s Only! No Easy Out!” Traversing and waiting, waiting for the fog to burn off, and the heavy snow to dissipate, catching your breath at the first glimpse of the blue, blue skies and deep powder and steep, ever so steep sides of Little Cottonwood Canyon. 

     Staring out across the sharp jaggedness of the Grand Tetons, he took a deep fresh breath of mountain air. He was glad that he hadn’t traded away one moment of his youth spent on mountains. His nostrils flared as the breeze sent mounds of snow sloughing from the boughs, instinctively, he jerked his head upright at the hooting and hollering as his friends came crashing through the evergreens.

     Touloose, The Captain, and Fast Eddy, the Bucklemeister, skied up to the plateau.

     “Hey! Touloose, what took you so long?”

     “It was the Captain, Tom, ya know em he got too close to an evergreen and got sucked into a well.”

     “Got in pretty deep?”

     “Up to his ears, right up to his ears,” he cackled. He reached up and pulled his Sherpa hat from his head.

     “Aaayuh!, Aaayuh!, Aaayuh! Life’s a beautiful thing here in the mountains,” the Captain’s irrepressible smile greeted Tom. “Life’s a beautiful thing.”

     He pulled his glasses free from his face, reached in his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. He began wiping them dry. Walking up close to Tom, he stuck his face right up to Tom’s.

     “I can’t see ya without me eyes. Let me tell ya something sonny,” his voice lowered to a whisper. “It’s a reaaal funny thing about them snow snakes ya get a little too close to those pits and they reach up and grab the tips of your skis. They suck ya right down into the pit.” He grabbed Tom and wrestled him to the ground laughing and rolling in the snow.

     “Great Run!, Great Run!” Eddy said breathlessly.

     “Let’s start the fire.”

     They all walked out on the plateau and began picking up rocks, and driftwood.

     Tom bent down over his backpack and pulled out several pre-wrapped steaks, onions and potatoes.

     “Touloose, start the fire,” Tom said.

      He walked across the snow, his mountaineering boots leaving deep impressions in the snow. He bent down over his pack, reached in and extracted a small vial of clear liquid. Walking over to the fire pit, he unscrewed the top and poured it on the wood. Extracting a slim red metal container from the pocket of his bibs, he opened it.  Scratching the striker across the flint, he stepped back as the sparks hit the kindling. A small flame flickered on the damp wood. A wry smile spread across his face. A loud wumph, followed immediately by roaring flames drove him back from the circle of stones. The long fingers of flames, orange and glowing brightly reached up and snapped at the crisp Wyoming sky.

     “Works every time,” he smiled smugly, “a little aviation fuel out of the silver streak, my BMW motorcycle.”

     The men instinctively moved closer to the fire, pulling off their gloves and warming their hands over the flames. They all chuckled.

     “Did ya hear about Tuckerman’s Ravine last year Tom?” Eddie asked.

     “No, I didn’t, how was the headwall?”

     Eddie laughed.

     “Pure disaster,” he said.


     He reached over and placed a collapsible metal screen wrapped with foil over the fire and set the food on it to cook.

     “Bad trip in? Bad trip up? It’s been years since I’ve been to the ravine, but I still love it. It reminds me of Mt. Baldy at Alta, that is the steepness, I mean. People out West don’t think there’s any radical terrain in the East. Sometimes I think powder is for pussies, it takes a real man to ski Tuckerman’s covered in blue ice,” Tom expounded.

     Eddy adjusted his glasses and bent down close to the fire.

     “A little bit of both, a little bit of both.”

     He looked over at the Captain and he smiled sheepishly.

     “Well to start with,” he began, “ We were packing for the trip and we bought frozen dried foods, to keep our packs light. That is all of us cept the Captain, it seems that the Captain had to have large cans of stew, soup, and those little white potatoes.”

     “Jesus,” Tom said, “ How much did his pack weigh, that’s a very long hike in.”

     “It was heavy, believe me,” said the Captain, “damn heavy.”

     Tom burst out laughing.

     “Well anyway,” Eddie continued, “it seems we started into the Ravine, and we're hiking for a while, when the Captain here starts to sit down. He starts complaining like an old woman, moaning and complaining, just like an old woman, tossing out cans of stew, soup, and potatoes, huffing, puffing, and complaining about the cans that we would have to split and pack out! He complained all the way into the ravine about the weight of his pack.”

     “That true Captain, what he’s saying?”

     “It be true”

     “It’s just the beginning, Tom,” Eddy continued.

     “Once we got into the lean-to, we met some Canadian climber’s, and started partying with them. They had brought Ouzo and we got pretty smashed. I started feeling dizzy, so I went inside and slipped into my mummy bag and zipped it up tight. Started to doze off, when all of a sudden I got the chills and began getting sick.”

     He paused and reached up and turned the steaks, the fire crackling and sizzling with the dripping grease.

     “Anyway like I said, I started getting real sick, and I was pretty hammered. But my zipper was broken, I was clawing and scratching like hell, but damn if I could get that bag unzipped. Here I am, I got the chills, I’m plastered drunk on Ouzo, I’m zipped to my throat in my mummy bag, and I’m getting sicker and I can't get the bag unzipped. I’m like a cat trying to claw my way out of a sack.” 

     “What happened?”

     “Well nature took care of it, I just rolled down over and out of the lean-to, and puked my guts out!”

     They all burst into laughter.

     “Sounds like a real bad one. How was the skiing?”

     “Awesome Tom, Awesome, you know the wall.”

     “Foods ready,” Touloose yelled. “Hey, Tom.”


     “Did the Captain tell ya how he came to be married?”

     “No, No,” Tom replied.

     “Look, don't start this,” the Captain said.

     “Yeah come on tell me, I want to hear this.”

     “Yeah tell us,” Eddie chimed in.

     “Well the other day out of the blue, the Captain says, Touloose , don't ever get married. So I ask him why? If you hate it so much, why did you do it?”

     “She made me do it,” he whined.

     They all sat down around the fire chuckling. They looked out across the piney rock ledges of the Tetons, across the fenced ranch lands, the silver sagebrush, to the blue, deep dark shimmering blue of Jackson Lake, under the marine blue of the pristine Wyoming sky with the Hogbacks darkening purple in the waning sun.  In the town of Jackson, the sun flashed and glinted off the windshield of an old pickup truck. The cold began to settle into the trees. The ivory crystals started hardening. Far up, very far up on the hill just above timberline, above the lichen encrusted rock ledges, just below the little red tram with Jackson Hole lettered in white on its side. The Ski Patrol began descending among the evergreens. The eerie silence was split momentarily by the solitary cry, “Laaaaaaaast Sweeeeeeeep!!! Laaaaaaaast Sweeeeeep!!!"



The Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel


For Robert J Bauer

Thank You for introducing me to Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons of Utah

"Steep and Deep"



                                 Bobaloo and the Blue Leader

                                          Albert Bianchine


      Boom! The report of the seventy-five millimeter recoilless rifle echoed through Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch National Forest of Utah. Bobaloo looked across the expanse of the slope of Evergreen to Mount Millicent where the Blue Leader and Brighton Ski Patrol were performing avalanche work. A giant slab of snow fractured and cascaded down across Lone Pine sending snow and debris all along the big scree slope. He flexed his hand against the cold, reached into his pack and removed a one half -kilogram charge of DHP plastic explosive.

     Tightly gripping the pull start igniter, he jerked his hand and tossed the charge into the hillside. Wumph! A muffled explosion created a twenty- foot crater in the snow. He skied over to the hole and examined the edges of the hole closely and gazed across the fall line of the slope. There were no cracks or large fractures apparent. Three and one half feet of light powder had fallen overnight. It was resting on a sunbaked base of granular crystals that resembled little ball bearings, and was extremely unstable. Bobaloo reached down to his chest and picked up the radio hanging from its sling.

     “Brighton two, this is Brighton three.”

     “Go ahead three,” Patrick the blue leader answered.

     “I’ve just finished bombing Evergreen and it appears stable.”

     “Roger that Bobaloo, I’ll meet you at the big rock below the dead tree where Sol bright cuts into Brighton.”

     “Ok,” Bobaloo grinned.

     He slipped his pack over his parka and his grin widened. The ivory crystal shimmered and sparkled in the spring sunshine, a waiting silvery silken sea of chowder. Reaching down, he fastened the heelpieces of his mountaineering bindings to his boots on his powder skis. The traversing and climbing had ended. It was time to jump into the steep chute and waiting powder in front of him. He dropped in quickly and cut across the top of the slope at an angle, dragging his downhill pole. Nothing moved. Reaching forward with his pole to plant it, he felt it disappear into a bottomless sea of white. He quickly made his first turn around the pole. He followed rapidly with the second, and then third as his speed increased rapidly. The hillside fell away faster and faster and the slope grew steeper and steeper. A large plume of snow arose and splashed into his face at every turn. He howled in sheer delight. He had traveled several hundred yards down the chute avoiding the jagged rocks that lined the narrow path at every precarious turn. It leveled slightly and opened into a large meadow lined by pines. The boulder appeared one hundred yards away.

     Suddenly there was a wet stinging against his neck and Bobaloo heard a loud hissing sound. He strained and struggled to make the boulder. Snow erupted around him as an avalanche exploded from the mouth of the chute spilling into the meadow. Trees snapped all around him as snow pushed him down the hill. He dove behind the boulder as a giant wall of snow broke over the top and roared over him. The morning sunshine disappeared.

     Kodi Do stopped at the edge of the meadow; large chunks of rubble blocked the path. She raised her head and sniffed for the scent of man. The muscles of the big German Shepherd’s chest strained against the blue harness that held her avalanche beacons. The trained avalanche rescue dog leapt over fallen trees and around debris searching for him. She stopped by several large rocks that had been pushed up by the slide. Kodi Do caught the scent of man and bound to an object sticking from the snow. The dog stuck its nose into Bobaloo’s wet Sherpa hat and goggles. She raised her head and barked sharply and loudly several times. The blue leader skied to a stop above the meadow. When he saw Kodi Do searching the area, he picked up his radio.

      “Brighton one, this is Brighton two.”

     “Go ahead, blue leader,” the radio crackled, “I’m on Evergreen above Sol bright. There’s been an avalanche and I believe Bobaloo is buried.”

     “I copy two; will send assistance, one clear.”

     The blue leader turned to Kodi Do.

     “What did you find girl?”

     The dog barked loudly and ran down the hill. She stopped by an object and began barking again. Patrick skied carefully down to where the dog stood and removed his skis. He could see Bobaloo’s ski goggles.

     Bobaloo listened to the pounding of his heart in his chest his breath came slowly and agonizingly. He had managed to clear a two- foot area in front of his face and chest as he had fallen, to form a small cavern. The snow had settled into a concrete coffin all around his lower body. His leg throbbed with pain he suspected it was broken. He tried to breathe slowly, knowing that soon he would exhaust his air supply.

     Kodi Do dug frantically at the base of the boulder. Patrick pulled the pack from his back and laid it in front of him. He removed his rescue shovel and telescoped the handle out until it snapped in place. Carefully, he began digging beside the dog.

     Bobaloo slowly stopped breathing and drifted into unconsciousness. His small cavern was brightly illuminated by the sunlight streaming in as Patrick gently cleared the snow from around his face. He performed a chin lift on Bobaloo and cleared his airway. Bobaloo choked and gasped in a large breath of air. The blue leader grabbed his radio.

     “Brighton two, to Brighton one, I’ve found him. He’s alive! Bobaloo’s alive! We'll need a Life Flight as soon as you can.”


Blue Sky, Allman Brothers


 Words to the Wind                                                                                                                                            

 Memories like rain they keep falling down                                                                                                       The leaves they burn like fire and touch the ground                                                                   And timeless age decays                                                                                                            To form our yesterdays                                                                                                                 Then came the wind                                                                                                                    Words to the wind                                                                                                                         Words to the wind                                    

Jon and Dawn Bowers


                                                       The Run to Vail

                                                      Albert Bianchine

                                                          Gordon Grey


      Tom Dillon stepped off the Greyhound out of Steamboat and into Vail. He buttoned his black preacher coat against the stark evening cold. The thirteen thousand foot Gore Range and the spires of the Grand Traverse glowed fiery orange in the last light of the alpenglow. The turquoise tinged sky faded into darkness. Tugging at his Stetson and slipping into his backpack, he walked across the Vail Transportation Center and down the concrete stairs. The snow crisp, cold, crunched beneath his worn hiking boots. A thick blanket of it nestled on the roof of the Covered Bridge. It was the oldest structure in Vail Village. The crystals sparkled against the wooden shakes, illuminated by the lights of the Alpine Village. The noise of the tourists talking was replaced by the dull thud of his boots on the wooden planks. The rushing and bubbling of Gore Creek filled the evening air. Halfway across the bridge, Tom stopped and turned toward the rushing water. The flowing water tugged strongly at his heart. Silently, he stood and listened. He thought of his friend. He had always expected his greatest defeat would have come from the mountains. It had surprised him, coming this way. Sara had taken him to heights he had thought were impossible. He was just beginning to realize how great his loss really was.

     Tom Dillon was finely tired. He was tired of the poverty, the loneliness, tired of the towns, ski towns, fed up with the hustlers. He was tired of ski town dreamers and ski town schemers. 

     The sound of footfalls across the planks of the Covered Bridge captured his attention. A young couple arm and arm walked toward him. Her hair hung loosely from beneath her white ski hat.  It was flaming red, reminding him of Sara. Why? Why did he put on an act to impress her? Fool her by being something other than who he was. Why had he been compelled to drive this warm wonderful woman from his life?

     He walked down the narrow noisy Bridge Street and toward the middle of the Village. In the lit window of a local shop, he stopped to look at a pair of expensive hand-tooled riding boots that sat among the cut woolen sweaters. Sara’s voice drifted through the evening air.

      “You may know everything there is to know about mountains, Thomas Dillon. When it comes to women, you’re such a big jerk! Every time the least little thing happens in your life, you run away to another mountain. When are you going to realize that you are just running away from yourself? You’ve got to quit drinking, you’ve got to stand for something in life, and you can’t just drift!”

     Tom flipped up his collar to the cold and dampness and continued on toward Gold Peak and his friend’s town home. Tom was good at walking away, a walk away Joe. He stood quietly in front of the door. It was beginning to snow and it was late. He had nowhere else to go and no one else to see. He reached up and grasped the large brass ring around the lion’s head that rested against the plate, bringing it down hard three times, he listened. The sound of footsteps came to him from behind the door. It opened slightly.           

     “Who is it?” a soft feminine voice asked. 

     “Dawna, it’s me, Tom.”

     “Tom, Tom, come in!”

     The door opened widely and a slim graceful woman appeared. She had long blonde hair that spiraled into ringlets to her shoulders. She grasped him firmly by the hand and led him through the doorway.

     “How have you been? Where have you been? What exactly have you been up to? I want to know everything, let me wake John.” She disappeared around the corner.

     Tom collapsed into a chair. A large black box sat on an end table between a sofa and a chair. A purple neon light rose out of it, it soothed him. A crystal heart, along with a pyramid spire sat beside the light. It refracted through the crystal creating an eerie array of colors dancing on the wall. Across the room above a tan stone fireplace sat a hand hewn oak mantle. On the left of the mantle, a red and yellow clay pot held a large leafy elephant plant. A spider plant dangled over the edge to the right. A large wooden framed picture in the center caught Tom’s attention. He stood slowly, stretched, and walked to the picture. A blue suited skier was crouching extremely low, before a steep vertical among some jagged rocks. He examined it closely.

     “First Nordic Ski Descent, Grand Teton, Rick Wyatt. June 10, 1982.”

     Tom smiled to himself, leave it to John. John was the diehard of the crowd. He and Dawna were the last of the holdouts among their friends. John had been on the circuit longer than Tom. He had been to Big Sky and Bridger Bowl in Montana. John had even wintered in Alta, Utah. He had taken Tom to Honeycomb Canyon at Solitude and the Merry Chutes on Mount Millicent at Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon last year.

     “Tom, how the hell are you? You look great. You must be skiing a lot.”

     “Every day John, every day. I just got in from Steamboat, a friend procured some day passes to ski the trees.”

     Tom faced his friend. John had a thick red beard, with a long light red and blond mustache. His hairline had receded since Tom had seen him last, leaving a tanned forehead and tell tale raccoon tanned eyes. John stood several inches taller than Tom.

     “I’m glad to hear you're skiing everyday.”

     “Yeah I wrangled a pass in exchange for some work in the Lodge at A-Basin, best ski season yet. I’m well over a hundred days this year.”

     “How have you really been?” Dawna asked.

     Tom shifted uncomfortably. “Things aren’t going well right now,” he stammered.

     “What’s up?”

     “I screwed up with Sara, you know me Dawna, every time things are going well. I seem to find a way to mess up badly.”

     “Are you drinking Tom?” Dawna looked concerned.

     “I acted foolishly, I-I wrote some terrible things to her.”

     “How bad?”

     “I can’t even remember John, I guess pretty bad,” Tom looked at the floor.    

     “Don’t worry a bit Tom, we'll fix you up with a ski bunny from Vail,” John said.

     “That’s just the thing John; We were really getting close. I’ve never felt this way before.”

     “’Have you tried telling her that Tom? Maybe she feels the same way about you? Dawna asked.

     “I remember John when we were first going out. He would go out of his way to do goofy things. I finally told him to grow up!”

     “It wasn’t like that, Dawna. I lost it. I wrote some dark things. There is nothing I can do to change things. I can’t undo what I’ve done.”

     “Maybe you can change the way you do things, Tom,” John said.

     “What do you mean, John?”

     “Tell you what Tom, I can get a four days pass. You can ski Vail and Beaver Creek. I’ll take you in the back bowls. It will get your energy flowing in the right direction. There’s nothing wrong with you that a few days skiing the deep won’t cure. Dawna enjoys telemark skiing, she’ll take you to Chicago Ridge at Ski Cooper, free your heel, free your mind,” he laughed loudly.

     “Ok, John, I’ll do it,” Tom said.

     “One more thing Tom, They have A.A. Meetings at the Vail Chapel, and also at the Beaver Creek Chapel. I understand Betty Ford has a lot to do with the program at the chapel there. Dawna and I will go there with you. We think you need to talk to someone.”

     “I don’t know John.”

     “No hassle, the meetings are at noon. We’ll ski down at lunch and just pop in. No big deal. Tom it seems to me that every time you get your life in order, I mean when things are really going good, you get in big trouble and alcohol is usually involved.”

     “I know I would do anything not to have these problems.”

     “Sounds like a first step to me, it’s like committing to the mountain, Tom, and the first turn in a steep, gnarly chute is always the hardest. You know the rest of the saying.”

     “I know, I know, point em downhill and stand on them.”

    They all laughed heartily.


I Can Still Make Cheyenne, George Strait


In Loving Memory of My Mentor,

The Poet and Writer Lyn Lifshin

"Write a Poem about it.                                                                                                                Go for a wander walk.                                                                                                                 Don't make any sense! Write nonsense!                                                                 

 Make the Senator really dastardly!                                                                                             You forgot to say Poet!"



                                       The Breaking of the White Silence

                                                   Albert Bianchine


      It was morning, early frigid morning. The smoke rose slowly and drifted across the frozen waters of Nottingham Lake in Beaver Creek, Colorado. It formed small whiffs of cirrus clouds as it curled lazily among the rows of tepees and pine pole lodges erected for the Mountain Man Festival and the World Alpine Ski Championships. Vail Mountain bent the bright shafts of sunlight, at sunrise, as they rose from far below its back bowls. They came together like the patterns of a kaleidoscope touching, moving away and touching again. They were sent scattering and streaming into the steely blueness of the dawn sky. Tom Dillon, tugged down on his Stetson, turned away from the beige metal building of the Avon Stohl Port. His attention was drawn by the roaring of propane burners, two large hot air balloons began rising. A black, white, and red Mickey Mouse followed by a yellow, white and blue Donald Duck. The music crackled crisp and clear from an ominous column of black speakers. Each note, resonating from the sound check, split the twenty-five below air at eight thousand feet in elevation.

Early one morning, the sun was shining

I was laying in bed

Wondering if she'd changed at all

If her hair was still red.

Tom banged his thick ski gloves together to the beat of A Dylan Tune, Tangled Up In Blue.

     The rushing water of Eagle River flowed freely during the cold front that had descended out of Alaska across the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest, and into the White River National Forest. It had followed directly on the cusp of the freak winter storm that had deposited enough powder to cripple and close the men’s downhill competition.

     Tom watched as the darkened hill along Wildridge to the west began to lighten. The high country snow sparkled like a shining sea of grandmother’s eyes. The northernmost peak was a virgin thread looping the purple hills. The southern ridge, the ski mountain of Beaver Creek, was a thin slot before a narrow rocky valley. The ski trails a wizard’s snowy fingers clawing at the weather-checked rock, and reaching down into the evergreens.

     The Eagle River churned and grated against the icy shores as it disappeared beneath the bridge named ‘Bob.’ A dark rough wood and glass sentry post stood at the entrance to the resort. The road was lined with a bronze peasant woman carrying water pots and three young bronze stallions. The water flowed from the snowfields above Ski Cooper and Camp Hale, in the San Isabel National Forest, the training grounds of the men from the Tenth Mountain Armor Division, the first American Ski Troops. It cascaded down along the gorges and arroyos of the range. It gathered momentum pouring off the rock faces by the town of Redcliff and bobbed along past the shanty-turned new age town of Minturn. It turned sharply and wandered into the Vail Valley and mixed with Gore Creek. It traveled past Beaver Creek, the town of Avon and the New York Range at Eagle before mixing and flowing into the Colorado River Basin.

     “Caw! Caw! Caw!” a black and white magpie startled Tom. He spun quickly to face Vail Mountain. Tom was thinking of a quote and Professor Sara Lacey and what he had come away with after a workshop. “There is intelligence only when there is no fear, when you are willing to rebel, to go against the whole social structure in order to find out what God is, or to discover the truth of anything.”

     “He yaw, he yaw!” he yelled, scaring away the scavengers.

     “Hee hawhee haw!” the little grey and white paint burro, mimicked.

     “Easy Hercules, Whoa Snowy,” he said to the screaming white Appaloosa gelding with one brown spot on his nose. He pulled on the lead rope of Beau the Buckskin Stallion and adjusted the panniers of the Burro, his companion. He was looking forward to performing at the Beaver Creek Children’s Theatre for Former President Gerald and Betty Ford and his guest Professor Sara Lacey.

      Tom stood upright in the bright and warming morning sunlight and was no longer frozen up inside. He had paid some dues getting through to the mountains and had to sell just about everything he owned to get there.

                                                        *   *   *

     The Silver and grey Continental Express Stohl plane sat on the tarmac of the Denver International Airport. Sara Lacey smoothed the wrinkles in her blue shirt that the seat belt of her flight from New York had made. She set down her green and blue backpack, and bent down and tied the laces of her hiking shoes. They felt awkward on her feet. Breaking them in was proving more uncomfortable then she would have liked. She silently watched as the Jumbo Jet dwarfed the smaller one and disappeared down along the white tented topped terminal building and turned in a cloud of black smoke and then seemingly vanished, into the heat shimmer of the distant runway. Sara was tangled up in blue.

     “What do you mean?” she had inquired of the ticket agent.

     “The tickets are refundable if the plane cannot fly.”

     “Why couldn’t the plane fly?”

     “It has nothing to do with the plane. You’ll be flying from an elevation of 5,280 ft. into and over mountains in excess of 14,000 ft. in elevation. Since we have no control over the weather we offer refunds if the planes can’t fly, into the weather.” the agent had said.

     “Oh!” was her only reply.

     She picked up and swung the heavy pack on to her shoulders over her Parka. She walked up the stairs, stopped and took a deep breath, flipped her long red hair back and made her way to a vacant seat. The plane began moving slowly along the runway. The drone of the turbo propellers increased with the speed, until it became a steady throb, the plane staged at the end of the runway. The engines increased to a high-pitched whine, and the plane moved quickly down the runway. It rose rapidly, and banked steeply to the left. It climbed above the rows of houses and swimming pools. It turned and climbed high over Interstate 70 and into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

     Sara rested her head against the window, studied the lines of her face and glanced out at the snow-capped horizon. She didn’t understand the draw of this empty whiteness for Tom. He was the silent type and an odd beat, but she liked things that were different and he had never escaped her mind. Out of the desire for a change of scenery, she had agreed to be present for his reading at Beaver Creek.

     How many readings? The Mother and Daughter, the Political Readings, and the lugging of the books, the headaches and backaches, her car accident had upended her world, the world of books and poetry. She had made fun of his poems wrapped in a red ribbon.

     “Write about something of substance,” she had chastised, but was secretly pleased. It had said, I see a sunrise in your eyes across an American Nation at twelve thousand five hundred feet in elevation. They shared their days in her study writing and talking about his favorite mountains and out of bounds ski runs and her attraction to the ocean. She dressed in her soft white Hiawatha looking dress, finally having someone to share her love of writing with. She had read to him from a book of poems written by an Italian Poet of the Thirteenth Century and they had discussed how relevant the truths and words were in his mountaineering life. Discovering their mutual love of horses and Sara explaining to Tom all about her time with Ruffian, and the awful demise of the famed horse. They had laughed over Rolling Stone commenting that she looked a lot like Bob Dylan’s first wife Sara, also. They were celebrating her publishing poems in the magazine after receiving the Jack Kerouac Award for her latest book of Poetry. She had invited him, along with his friends, to her house for the taping of her movie. It had been an important event in her life. Shortly after, he had betrayed her trust. Angered, she had severed their working relationship.

     His first attempt to contact her had come shortly afterwards from Awenda, South Carolina. He had stayed along the Intracoastal waterway on a large plantation. The full moon rising out of the shimmering waters through the hanging Spanish moss, and the couples dancing cheek to cheek at the Piccolo Spoleto Arts Festival, in Charleston, had driven him to write to her.

     The second attempt from Vail, Colorado, he had been skiing the expansion of the back bowls in a sea of fresh powder snow. The exhilaration and the grandeur of the views had dwarfed him in loneliness to his pen. 

     How very little we know about life! He had called her after climbing The Grand Traverse in Vail, where he had bivouacked to watch a sunrise across the valley at 13,000 feet in elevation, the smoke from the fires of Yellowstone National Park were clearly visible. She had never answered. He was hoping to get to her somehow. She questioned his motives, and his sincerity. What would she say to him? What would he say to her?

     The plane banked sharply to the right as it passed over the Eisenhower Tunnel, the Continental Divide and Loveland Pass. She was curious and falling in love with the land. The large reservoir of Lake Dillon and the highest yacht club marina in North America became visible. The great expanse of Summit County and the Valley of the Blue opened to her view. Looking down upon Arapahoe Basin, along route six, just below the Divide, she was beginning to understand what drew him to these mountains. It was exceptionally beautiful. He had read a quote to her from one of his favorite author’s. “Wild places do not exist to be convenient, or entertaining, or safe, or useful, or even what we choose to call beautiful. They do not exist to be admired or visited or photographed. They are there for themselves alone, and that is enough.” It was from Diane Sylvain, a contributor to Writer’s on the Range, and she now understood the meaning.

     The views of Vail Pass and the Gore Mountain Range quickly gave way to the Spires of the Grand Traverse as they rose to meet the plane. She was flying over the White River National. The plane began descending rapidly and very steeply over Vail Mountain.

                                                               *   *   *

      Tom didn’t notice the tiny silver speck at first, or the twinkle of the sunlight from the wing tips. He was gazing directly at the massive earthen mound and its open snowfields.

The small lift towers were glittering in the morning sun, a millipede connected by a thin sterling string crawling out of the contrasting pines.

      He had come to realize that his Everest wasn’t even a mountain after all. It was the struggle to become a paper lion, by putting one word after another, like one foot in front of the other when climbing. Perhaps that was finally bringing them together. They were so much alike in such very different ways, they just looked at life from a different point of view.

     There! He saw it, the sunlight flashing off the seesawing wings. It had begun its perilous descent. The plane was buffeted by updrafts and unstable wind torrents. It dropped from far above Vail Mountain to the small airstrip in Avon. It landed quickly and in seconds was roaring past the odd group waiting. The large stabilizing tail rising awkwardly from the smaller fuselage, it turned several hundred yards from them and began taxiing towards the Continental Express Terminal. It rolled to a halt. The turboprops stopped creating an ominous silence. He removed his gloves and slid them into the pack of his horse. He calmed the animals, even though he felt like a young schoolboy.

     She had already overcome the butterflies of self-doubt and was descending the portable stairway, smiling brightly as she approached the group.

     “HeHaw! Hee Haw!” Hercules yelled.

      “ Tell me,” Sara smiled broadly, “Don’t I know you name?”

They erupted in laughter as their eyes met, breaking the white silence.


Silent Running, Mike and the Mechanics

For Former President Gerald and Betty Ford

Thank You for  The Halls of Shambala


                                                      Ford’s Porch

                                             (Children of a Greater God)

                                                    Albert Bianchine                


       “Why? Why on earth do they call it Ford’s Porch? Sara Lacey stood in front of her writing table. She walked briskly out onto the balcony of the Charter at Beaver Creek, Colorado. Her red hair flowing in the morning breeze, her black ballerina slippers scuffed across the decking, she stopped abruptly and breathed deeply several times.

     “I don’t think I’ll ever grow accustomed to the thinness of the air.”

     “In time, you’ll acclimate. They call it that because President Ford’s Balcony affords a view of the trail. It is also rumored that if the downhill racers hit the lip too hard they will land on his porch.”

     Tom Dillon was writing a freelance piece for Ski Magazine, covering the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships. He pointed across the Alpine Village, past the Poste Montane and Village Hall with its red stone courtyard lined with bronze statues.

     “Look directly above the yellow and white festival tents. The Ex-President lives in the back of Strawberry Park and the Inn at Beaver Creek. The home is on Elk Track Court. Spanish Prince Alfonso de Borbon y De Dampierre who was a member of the International Ski Federation was killed on that run.”

     “Killed? What happened?”

     “It was a freak accident, the Prince skied down a closed trail.

     “It happened right at the finish line below Ford’s Porch and Rattlesnake Alley above Centennial Express and the festival tent.”

     “Was he really a Prince?”

     “Yes, the Prince of Spain.”

     “I suppose he was handsome also?”

     “A playboy, carefree, reckless. He had a death wish. He was decapitated. They had warned him twice.”

     “How could it happen?”

     “A worker dropped the banner as he skied under. It severed his jugular. They brought in snow to cover the blood.”

     “How very gruesome. A royal life cut short by foolishness, I worry about you all the time, Tom! Why do you do what you do? What is the thrill? Why do you have to risk your life in the mountains?”

     “The challenge of conquering the mountain either inbounds, or especially if you climb and ski the backcountry is the thrill. I have developed my skills over the years and I don’t take unreasonable risks.”

     The grey roofed stucco inn sat nestled among the Upper Eagle River Valley. There were two days left of the World Alpine Ski Championships. The Boulevard spiraled behind the charter and under the cement walk leading to the Meadows and rose steeply passed the Highlands to the site of the Beaver Creek Tennis Classic. Their room facing the white swaths cut through the evergreen mountainside. The ski patrol and a small army of trail crew workers were busily side stepping the downhill course. He reached up and adjusted his sunglasses against the mountain glare. Two feet of freshly fallen powder had closed the events. He turned and smiled at Sara.

     “I can’t wait to ride on the sleigh with Former President Gerald and Betty Ford,” Sara said. We’ve spent hours together, but you have never given me a reading before, it is a new beginning,” Sara smiled at Tom.

     “Fresh as the promise of the new snow.”

     “I’m happy to be here, Tom.”

      “You can see now why it was so difficult for me in the city. I was a fish out of water. The evening at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York, I enjoyed your Plethora of Poetry. I knew you were a hippie when you put a daisy in your hair. I would do anything to turn back the hands of time and reset our past. The truth is you can only go forward. Leaving the city alone for the mountains was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

     “You love these mountains, I can see it in your eyes. You were so abrasive. I was shocked by your transformation.”

      “It was like Nick Nolte toward Bette Midler in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, I was fighting for my life and in a very dark place. I thought I would be in a New York prison. You were the last person I ever wanted to hurt. I can’t change the damage done. Making amends to you is something I’ve had to do.”

                                                             *   *   *

      The Percherons stood hitched to the sleigh draped in green garland and a large red bow. The bells on the harnesses jingled as the team stepped back and Tom and Sara approached.

     “Whoa, Easy,” the cowboy said.

     “They’re a beautiful team.”

The big black horse, the larger of the two, snorted and turned his head toward the outstretched hand.

     “They are from the Beaver Creek Stables and are a matched pair the smaller is Jim. John the larger is a pistol. Be careful, he will step on you by mistake.”

     “Jim is regal.”

Tom smiled and winked at the girl. “They pull the sleigh to the cook house for Kid’s Night Out with the Beaver Creek Children’s Theatre. The sleigh carries us to the theatre where we perform while the parents go out. We have a host of Western Characters along with Sport Goofy, Mickey and Minnie Mouse who are all skiers. The show is several hours long.”

     “How long have you performed here?” Sara asked.

     “About a year. I responded to an ad that the Lodge was looking for a storyteller. I had just returned from a film and screenwriting workshop in Aspen with your friends. We spent the last day at the Maroon Bells and hiked up to Maroon Lake. One of the people in the group told me about the audition. It worked out well and I have been performing at the Lodge and Theatre ever since.”

     “They mentioned it, Ian had just finished his screenplay of his book in Hollywood it was a best seller. I’ve performed with Mary and Ian at Political Readings. They liked your poetry.  Did you enjoy Ian’s workshop? You have to show me what you wrote? I’m glad you’re finally getting it out. Its been ten years since our first class together.” Sara walked to Tom and stood next to him.

Tom turned toward Sara and smiled. He looked at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain and the pristine blue sky. He wondered how this ever happened?

     “It was a very intensive workshop. I have the first act written to the plot point.” Tom replied. “ I read Ian’s book, and was really moved by it, I wrote to him. He was having some trouble placing his second one.”

     “He finally got it out, Mary and I spoke recently,” Sara replied.

     Sara and Tom stepped up into the sleigh and sat back. The Cowboy jumped into the seat, grabbed the reins and gave a quick shout. The sleigh slid forward in the deep powder. The morning silence was broken as the bells of the horses echoed up the mountainside.

     “I thought we would take a ride around the village and stop at the Chapel. I would like for you to meet Mrs. Ford.”

     “Tom, I’m excited!”

 The sleigh slid forward with a slight bucking motion and the team fell into a gait, circling around the village in a slow arc. The dark brown contemporary non-denominational church came into view as the team made its way toward the building.

     “Sara, I’ll go into the meeting after I introduce you.”

     “I feel like a schoolgirl again, Tom.”

     “You’ll be fine, just be your charming self”

Sara hit Tom’s arm as they stepped out of the sleigh onto the snowy path and walked up the stone lined stairs to the chapel doors. Tom opened the wooden door. Sara stepped inside the vestibule and quickly looked into the chapel with its large wood beams that made up the ceiling. She looked around at the grandeur of the new structure. She took a deep breath of the newness and turned to Tom.

     “It is beautiful, I love how open it is.”

Sara followed Tom through the vestibule into a large carpeted open side room with several couches and chairs. Across the room Sara could see Mrs. Ford in conversation with a young woman. She touched the girl on the arm bent down and whispered something to her. The girl smiled and laughed. She turned and walked into an adjoining room.

     Mrs. Ford waved to Tom and Sara and quickly approached.

Reaching out she shook Sara’s hand.

     “Hi, you must be Sara?”

     “Yes, I am.”

     “Please call me Betty. Good Morning Tom. Everyone is gathered in the meeting room and the coffee is made. Sara and I will talk here. I’m happy to see you here and I hope you have a good meeting.”

     “Thank you,” Tom said. “I’ll head in.”

     “Why don’t we sit down and chat,” Betty reached out and guided Sara to the couch.

Sara sat down and was engulfed by deep soft cushions. Betty sat next to Sara placing her hands on her slacks. Fidgeting with her sweater bottom Sara anticipated the coming conversation. Known for her poise. She was at a loss.

     “I hope you don’t mind,” Betty began. “ You are an inspiring woman. Tom speaks well of you. He has also confided in me about the history you share together. There are not many secrets inside these walls, Sara. Secrets don’t lend to sobriety.”

     “Thank you, Betty. I assume he told you that I severed contact during his last episode that almost landed him in jail. I was so angry with him.”

     “Yes he did. If this is too uncomfortable I will understand your hesitancy to speak of it, after all I am a total stranger and don’t really belong in your affairs.”

     “No, I don’t mind. I care for Tom. I can’t believe the changes in him.”

     “That’s just it. Tom is a pillar of the community. He along with others started the Vail Valley Writer’s Group and they have worked with the Vail Library in sponsoring Children’s Writing Competitions. I don’t know if he told you. Tom works with both the Vail Valley Community and the Children’s Theatre,” Betty said.

      “He has.”

      “I understand he is to give you a reading this evening.”


     “There aren’t any guarantees. What he has accomplished could all be gone tomorrow. You know my history and motivations. If you follow the program and live daily in the truth there is hope and salvation. It works. Tom is doing everything possible to make his future work.”

     “Thank you for your confidence, Betty. I met him when he came to my classes in New York. I offered to be his editor. I wanted to work with him. He showed so much promise. Out of nowhere, he seemed to lose it. He was arrested.”

     “Yes, I know. He was not in a good place. It devastated him. It doesn’t make what he did right, but alcoholics are like a giant wrecking ball in life. They come in and cut a swath through everyone and everything in their path. They are incapable of creating and maintaining a healthy relationship. It is as if they have no moral compass. They are on auto destruct. They might go off at any time.”

     “To be honest Betty, I’m not sure I’m willing to take the risk again. Tom swept me off my feet during our last time together. He was so gallant and showed so much promise. We spent a tremendous amount of time together and became very close.”

     “The thing is Sara, In a Glad Awakening, I speak of my journey back. It is a very difficult journey and full of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Tom seems to be doing very well with his program. There are good things to come. I trust his motivations, they are pure and from a caring place.”

     The two fell into silence. The din from the meeting wafted into the room. They could hear Tom leading the group in the Serenity Prayer.

Betty folded her hands in her lap and smiled at Sarah.

     “What happens next is between you and Tom. He is keeping his life simple. I am in awe of his progress.”

      “He is an adrenaline junky and extremely obsessive! He has been obsessed over the sale of the ski mountain Arapahoe Basin. His disdain for the Senator and Ralston Purina Corporation that purchased it and his need to tell the history has clouded his vision as a writer, I believe. He reminds me of Atlas, the weight of the world on his shoulders. I believe he finally understands what it meant to him, it has been very hard for him to put it in to perspective. He never wanted to be a Historian,” Sarah said.

     “I know you are doubtful if you could only understand the time and effort Tom has put in, it might give you a new perspective about him.”

     “He hasn’t asked anything of me, only to keep an open mind. He wants to work together again, I know that much. Tom’s exile and extreme obsession remind me of the Poet Dante’. He has expressed a desire to go to Chamonix, France and the Alps, then on to Cortina d'Ampezzo. He says, it is in Northern Italy, it's called The Pearl of the Dolomites. 

 I have made inroads and have had readings in Washington, D.C. My life is in the East. Tom won’t go back. It will always be the challenge of the next steeper mountain, the place with the deepest powder. He doesn’t just go to visit. I believe one day he will settle down, not here and now.”

     “He has to put down some roots. Jerry spoke with him about a house for sale across from ours on Elk Track Court. One would think that these mountains would be enough.”

     “I’m sorry Betty, I thought one time he was coming back to me, but the truth is, he loves mountains first and foremost, he always has and always will. It is time to make amends and go forward,” Sara looked into Betty’s eyes.

     “I’m pleased you can at least repair the broken fences. It will mean a lot in his life going forward. We have spent many afternoons sitting and talking here or walking idly along the creek. He has helped me as much as I himI enjoyed our conversation and cannot wait for this evening.”

     “Neither can I,” Sara responded.

     Tom approached the women sitting and stopped abruptly next to them.

     “My ears are on fire!” he chuckled.

      “They should be Tom. We will all ride together with Gerald. He wanted Sara to have the experience of a Presidential Arrival.”

     “We can’t wait,” Sara said.

     “The sleigh will be just outside of the stable, see you there.”

                                                           *   *   *

     Tom and Sara walked down the snowy trail toward the stables. Sara held Tom’s gloved hand as they approached the couple in a conversation next to the sleigh and the large team harnessed to it.

     “Hi Sara, I would like to introduce you to my husband Gerald,” she said, stepping to the side.

     “It’s an honor to meet you.  Please call me Jerry. Betty has spoken of you. I look forward to this evening. As always Tom, good to see you out and about, looks like you’re the man of the evening,” the former President chuckled as he gave Tom a friendly nudge.

     “I’d return the favor but I’m afraid,” Tom pointed to the team of security.

     “That wouldn’t be very prudent,” Jerry said laughingly.

     “Shall we start?” Betty questioned.

     “Let’s go,” Tom and Sara replied in unison.

The couples entered the sleigh and the bells jingled as the team stepped up.

     “Sara, did you know Tom was our Santa for Christmas this year? He rode in on the sleigh with us for the tree lighting,” Betty said.

     “I was in awe,” Tom exclaimed as the Lodge came into view.

     A large cheering crowd of brightly clad winter revelers greeted the sleigh. The crowd was separated by a barrier and security. The noise deafening to the occupants as it slid to a halt at the entrance. Former President Ford and Mrs. Ford debarked from the sleigh and waved to the crowd. Tom and Sara followed quickly into the Lodge. The noise faded and the group walked to the coatroom.

     “I’m accustomed to an audience on a much smaller scale. It’s quite overwhelming.”

     “I’m not sure you ever really get used to it,” Betty exclaimed. “It still takes my breath away.”

     “Yes, We certainly are fortunate to be apart of the growth of the valley,” Jerry Ford interjected.

     “I hope you both are famished. This evening’s menu is a local Buffalo prime rib,” Betty said.

     “I’m ravenous,” Sara said. “I can’t speak for Tom but he always seems to have an appetite. He skied all day yesterday.”

     “Where did you ski Tom?” Jerry asked.

     “Solitude and next to the downhill course, I stayed on the Peregrine lift. The snow was tremendous, they said two feet but it seemed much deeper. It was cold with the Arctic Front ”

     “We couldn’t get out, hopefully tomorrow. I’m ashamed that we ski right after they groom. Our powder days are numbered,” Jerry admitted.

     “There is a lot to be said about a well groomed trail with three inches of vanilla cream on top for carving wonderful turns in the morning sunshine,” Tom expounded.

     “Do you ski Sara?” Betty inquired.

     “No, I grew up in Vermont but spent my spare time in ballet and with writing.”

     “Sara had her work read by Robert Frost,” Tom said.

     “That’s impressive,” Betty replied. “ I understand that Tom read his poetry in a movie they made about your life.”

     “Yes, part of it was filmed at Lena’s Café in Saratoga and the other at my home. It was hard. I was recovering from a car accident. Tom was very supportive.”

     The couples entered the dinner theatre, and were greeted by a young hostess who escorted them to their table. They were immediately drawn to a loud clang and mechanical whir and the squeal of a young girl. She was seated on a saddle of a large black metal horse and was twirling a lariat above her cowboy hat laughing gleefully. A metal track extended from the horse and a small mechanical calf on wheels burst from the front of the horse and rolled down the tracks. She threw the rope and it slipped neatly over the head of the calf. The group of children gathered around her cheering with delight. A young man removed the rope and reset the apparatus. The scene was repeated much to the delight of the children.

     “What an amazing thing,” Sara said.

     “I know, isn't it?” Tom chimed in. “One of the local Ranches let the Children’s Theatre use it for the evening. All these children are either involved in the rodeo or dressage, along with ski racing. You would be amazed at the level of skill they have.”

     “I‘ve been to the ranches and watched them perform. They are really gifted and fortunate,” Betty replied.

     “We all are children of a greater God. Still I love performing for them. It brings me great joy.”

     “We are excited to see a self-professed Mountain Poet King perform for the Queen of the Small Presses. The connection you two have is somewhat Shakespearean and extremely intriguing. We will see what you have in store for us after Sport Goofy and the Children’s Theatre Performers,” Betty said.

     “Oh, Boy!” Tom exclaimed. “You’re linking my performance with Goofy now,” Tom chided the group.

     The waiters arrived with the dinners and the couples fell silent. The children ended their activity with the mechanical toys and rejoined their parents at the tables. A quiet calm engulfed the room as the server’s plated the tables.

     “Sara, it appears our friend is somewhat of a hopeless romantic,” Betty said.

     “Romantic yes. He has the propensity to be quite charming,” she smiled. “There is also a touch of insanity as well. He attempted to organize his musician and artisan friends to scale the backside of Whiteface Mountain in New York carrying music equipment to hold a concert on the top of the mountain during the Winter Olympics in 1980. The scary part of it is he was extremely serious. I honestly didn’t know what to think.”

     “The Olympic Organizing Committee would have had something to say about that. Tom you might have opened a can of worms,” Gerald Ford advised.

     “Well it would have gotten the World’s Attention. I wanted it to be like the Beatles on a rooftop in London. It was logistically possible.” Tom said.

     “For what end Tom?” Sara inquired.

     “It’s like climbing mountains, because it was there, and because you can. I am a firm believer in civil disobedience as long as it is non-violent.”

     “I’m not sure that I should congratulate you or alert security,” Jerry joked. “If we didn’t have a history I might have chosen the latter. In A Time to Heal, I had to address the new beginnings for the country after coming out of a very turbulent period. I had to gauge the need for our Nation's growth with the desire for retribution of the crimes committed against it by Richard Nixon. If you want to be an agent for change, let the change be purposeful, not divisive. There is too much division in America, today. Your reading this evening is a wonderful opportunity for you to start accomplishing that.”

     “We wish you the best of luck,” Betty said sincerely. “Let this evening be your Cameo.”

     “Words can’t begin to explain the debt of gratitude I have for you both. How fortunate I am for finding grace in the mountain refuge you have provided. Here and the Chapel also.”

     “Cheers to all our good fortunes!” Betty toasted with her water glass.

     “Tonight is yours Tom. I always knew you had the ability but you never showed the slightest interest in performing.”

     “Didn’t you perform with the Vail Community Theatre, Betty and I watched you ramble on about the buzzards of Hinckley, Ohio in reference to the swallows of Capistrano, it was hilarious Tom. You played someone’s Uncle I believe.”

     “You’re right.”

    “What a blessing you found your way to the Chapel,” Betty said fondly.

                                                     *  *  *

     A western clad figure strolled out onto the stage floor.

     “Howdy folks, my name is J.B. Tucker. Showman and promoter extraordinary,” he removed his hat and with a sweeping gesture made a deep bow. “This evening we will be attending Mirabelle’s General Store. But first I have a few friends to introduce you to. You all know Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and their cohort, Sport Goofey.”

The children erupted into cheers as Mickey, Minnie and Sport Goofey came out on the stage.

     “Ah Hi Folks! I skied with a lot of you today on Centennial. How many of you took a run with me?” Goofy quipped.

     “I did. I was there,” a large group stood and waved their hands.

Mickey walked to the center of the stage holding Minnie’s hand.

     “Minnie and I are glad you could make it to the show tonight. We can’t wait to take a peek into Mirabelle’s General Store to see what’s happening with our friends,” Mickey said, backing away from the spotlight shining into the scene.

Just then there was a loud commotion and the door to Mirabelle’s burst open. Sourdough Pete in his brown cowboy hat and crusty red long underwear backed up in the door.

     “Now, Now Sure Shot. I'm gonna make good on that claim. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, there’s gold in that mine. I tell ya.”

Sure Shot Shirley in her pink pants and cowboy vest and hat was just starting to scold the old curmudgeon miner.

     “Why you low down worthless lazy bag of bones. You’re a sorry excuse for a miner. You spend all you time flirtin with the girls than tendin to your minin. You sure have a wanderin eye.” 

     “Why if he hadn’t been a minin we might not even have a general store or a town,” Mirabelle said adjusting her bonnet and checkered blouse. “Isn’t that right Pancake?”

Pancake McKay stood bolt upright from the table and pulled down hard on his black cowboy hat.

     “Why me and Sourdough go way back, he helped me build fences on my ranch. He also helped me look for that Injun Joe,” Pancake exclaimed. “Joe knew the country the best and helped get the town started. You forget if’n it weren’t for Joe and Sourdough we’d still be on that wagon train headin west,” Pancake said sitting back down.

     “I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to get ready. So if you will excuse me. The performers should take a while longer. It’s not over until Sport Goofy sings,” Tom chuckled.

     “Break a leg,” Sara replied.

                                                             *   *   *

     Tom walked out on to the stage, buttoned his black jacket, adjusted his cowboy hat and stepped to the front.

     “Good Evening. My reading is for The Children, who in Youth will know The Strength and Find the Courage to Tempt a God of Fate. It is also for the Former President and Betty Ford and my friend The Poet Sara Lacey,” Tom slightly bowed.

     “Upon the Mountains,” Tom raised his arm and waved across the children.

     “Go upon the mountains, my beautiful innocent children. Leave the cities far behind, for they, they in their ingratitude condemn themselves to their solitude. I’m the Poet Tom Dillon and I will see it and say it and write about Mountains until all Children can hear me, because silence is a snowflake falling, until you hear me calling.” Tom paused and stepped toward Sara.

    “A Golden Poet King. Sometimes I feel as if I am a marionette of a golden mountain poet king.” Tom danced like he was puppet. “Dancing to a cosmic tune for her heart of golden strings,” a collective laugh came from the children.

    “How many of you love to ski powder?”

A chorus of voices cheered.

     “A Powder Run. Light, airy, nowhere, emerald trees, my eyes see. I hear nothing but fear. Hidden pockets of which to fall in, always reminding me of him, God’s crystalline chowder,” the group clapped in response.

     “A show of hands. How many of you like to ski moguls?” There was a large yell from the children and a great number waved.

     “This is for my dentist friend in East Vail. Dr. Bumps. He’s Fred and he’s sixty and he’s been banged in the head,” Tom smacked his head with his hand and the children cheered. “He’s the oldest living skier on the Pro Mogul Tour. That just shows you what skiing everyday does for longevity. Fred will work on your teeth as long as it’s not a good bump day!” The children laughed and clapped.

     “An Alone Poem, They said I would shine, like a light in the city. I prayed it would be like the moon across the Grand Traverse, but I was alone when I died with my powder snow poems on the plains of Wyoming. Now, there are a million children waiting for me. Isn’t that what life is?” Tom swept his arm addressing the group of children.

     “A Thought of You, I thought of you,” Tom looked at Sara, “the day they launched Atlantis. In the afterburner's gleam, I thought I’d seen, with a vision of crystal clarity, another maiden voyage upon an emerald sheen.”

     “Poet to Poet, Today, like many days lately, you have been in my thoughts. Reflections of the way life once was, images of bright white footlights and snow covered mountain peaks, cascade, as sparkling, glittering, gleaming crystals into the silence of your mirrored ballet walls. Transforming, melting, melding like flowing rivers into the sea.”

      “On a more serious note. ‘The Liberty Express,” He raised his hand and pointed his finger at the crowd. “Mark my name well against the annals of history, all of you who dwell so comfortably among the World’s Aristocracies. I have been among your peasantries! My Liberty Express is a mythical golden chairlift and it is on time and bound to the plight of truth and freedom for the children!” The crowd clapped loudly.

     Tom stepped back toward the center of the stage

     “This is my favorite Poem. Upon the Ocean’s Breezes, Listen! The ocean breezes are beckoning across the Isle Ellis. They are calling extraordinary artisans accustomed to nature listening. Apres’ her lady’s commissioning to let our collective lights shine brighter than the torch lit for Liberty, to let our collective voices be raised for all of Humanity, crying from the ocean’s depths of Peasantries, combating the silence of indifference, armed with swords of insignificance, to stem the rising tides of American Armageddons. Turning back the raging seas of Radical Extremism’s blasphemies spewing from the cauldrons tended by the World’s Aristocracies, beckoning across the sea’s of mediocrity.” A hush fell on the audience as they reflected on Tom’s words. Slowly one by one the group began clapping. Tom acknowledged the applause and stepped forward, smiled and turned toward Sara.

     “From the Belly of the Beast, Once, I stood strong and tall atop America’s highest mountain peak. Turning I faced Mecca toward the East, to my eyes came this vision of a holocaust that brought me to my knees. Touching the very depths of my soul. I saw the American Armada’s storming the seven seas. Hear my voice ring, for truth and freedom for the children! To every nation’s mountain peaks, from the depths of the belly of the beast!”

     Quickly Tom walked to Sara before there could be a reaction from the audience, he removed his hat and reached out and held her hand.

     “My Video Queen. Won’t You! Won’t You Please take my hand, Help Me to teach the children to understand, give them our Love of the American Land! Put on your prettiest dress, a daisy in your hair,” reaching into his lapel pocket, he placed a daisy in Sara’s auburn hair. “You’re especially beautiful with one there. I just remembered your stare. Hurry up! Hurry up! Don’t be a tease and don’t forget your rouge. How can I possibly wear the cloak of a Golden American Mountain Poet King? When I don’t even have my Video Queen,” Tom stood and held both of Sara’s hands and smiled amidst a round of applause.

        “Audience,” he said as he motioned to the crowd. 

     Love is the gently falling snow. 

      You are a divine creation Elohim conceived. 

      Nothing comes from the artist that is not from within the person. 


      Lesser men in station have accomplished far greater deeds when the needs arose. 

      In so much as the gypsies blood courses through my veins,

      Fools walk a twisted path, while a King chooses his path properly. 

      She is a light shining into eternity. 

      He is a beacon striving for immortality.

      Ingenious as it seems it’s not just a dream but a vision Muhammad willed to me.

      Never before has it been written, read or said as it will be when I perform for the

      Audience of the Aristocracy.”

 He turned amidst the applause, waved to the audience and walked to his table.

     “Very touching Tom,” Betty smiled warmly.

     “Well spoken,” Jerry said to his friend.

Sara, still blushing, looked at Tom with a radiant gleam in her eyes and her nostrils flaring as she spoke, “that was your best yet! 

Voice of Truth, Casting Crowns


For Brian Jones

"Follow The Yellow Brick Road"





                                                       Out of America

                                                      Albert Bianchine


     The ebony tiles shimmered in the flickering candlelight of the China Garden Restaurant. It was the summer solstice in Avon and Nottingham Lake was alive with artisans and craftspeople. Tom glanced across the table at Sara Lacey. Sara’s auburn hair glimmered against the paleness of her skin, her dark eyes flickered as she caught Tom staring at her.

     “You look like the cat that ate the canary,” Tom reached across the table and held her hand.

     “I’ve been thinking, thinking of us, how far we’ve come. Do you remember Union College and that small classroom where it all began? I brought you the rose of a color you had never seen, in a blue vase.”

     “Yes, I remember. I blushed in front of the class.”

     “I was destitute at the time and living above my musician friend’s studio and working with the Institute of Children’s Literature trying to save money.  I was heading back to Colorado to research the history of Summit County. Your workshops were a blessing.”

     “I knew you were serious. I don’t know if you realize just how intense you get when you focus your attention or should I say you obsess on something.”

     “So I have been told. If you remember you were pretty adamant that you didn’t know why I became so obsessed. It is all ancient history,” Tom looked directly at Sara.

     “That brings us to now doesn’t it Tom.”

     “The thing is,” Tom hesitated. “My friend, Chamonix Steve, has arranged a chalet for me in the Alps in France for next season. I have always wanted to challenge the mountains there. They are everything the Rocky Mountains are and then some. There are five ski resorts in the Chamonix Valley alone. Mont Blanc at over 15,000 feet in elevation has several challenging climbs.”

     “Always another mountain, I won’t go with you. I have too much to look forward to in New York, and now readings in Washington, D.C.”

    “ In Cortina d'Ampezzo there is a charm to the peaks that manifest the phenomenon of enrosadira, a reddening of the rocks at dawn. The opposite of alpenglow in the Rockies if you will, But more enchanting is the pink color of a pastel that they acquire at noon in the days of May. Sara, we are at the same impasse. Poetry and prose, the same thing can be said about us both. I can’t live, actually, I can’t stay in the cities.”

     “I whither away and shrink in the cold and mountains.”

     “And I’ve been a blathering idiot in the flatlands. You can never go back. What we had once was more than some ever have. We are from two separate worlds and they will always remain that way.”

     “At least it didn’t turn into a Romeo and Juliet syndrome and you didn’t die and I am not going to follow you into it.”

     Tom smiled, “I would have expected you to wax poetic here. What do you always say? It makes for hard living, but it makes for very good writing.”

     “So you do listen.”

     “I have an arsenal of Sara Lacey witticisms. Some day I may just use them. Steal, Steal, Steal. Speaking of stealing Ms. Lacey did I read a line ‘Nothing in Moderation’ in your last work? You actually stole a line about the Motto of Arapahoe Basin for one of your poems.”

    Sara picked up her glass and feigned tossing her water at Tom. 

    “What do you say? We take a leisurely drive to the house. It’s a beautiful evening and we have been down this road.”

     “Let’s change, change the narrative.”

     “I agree we will never see poetry and prose and mountains in the same light.

                                                           *   *   *

  Tom shifted the Ferrari into reverse and slipped out of the parking lot. It was warm, brisk and cool, Colorado evening. He shifted quickly and slid to a stop at the exit of Avon Center.

     “ Now, there’s a classic example of success for you,”

     “What? What are you talking about Tom?”

     “Right there that statue of Casey from Mudville- a brilliant man turned sculptor, dead asphyxiation in his garage. Alcohol – damn bloody alcohol the worst drug ever invented- pacification for everything- people and politics-.”

     Tom shifted as the light changed. He slid around the corner. He accelerated quickly and braked slightly as he hit the tracks before the bridge called “Bob” and over the Eagle River.

     “Please slow down.”

     “Sorry, it is just so easy to go fast.”

     “Why must you always push everything to the limit?”

He let the engine idle. He sat at the light of the entrance to Beaver Creek Resort. He glanced across the road and up at the World Alpine Championship Sign. The distinctive Beaver Creek logo with its large BC crossed. He turned and looked over at her hair shimmering in the moonlight, silhouetted against the interior of the car. The evening was comfortable and cool. The light changed and he started again, only to stop at the sentry post.

      “Good Evening Mr. Dillon,” her light green sport shirt tucked tightly into her blue shorts.

      “Good Evening to you Theresa.”

   The Lamboughini’s back end sat low as the tires spun out at the Sentry Gate. Tom shifted rapidly as he began the steep ascent up above the Beaver Creek Transit Center and the free day skier lot. He climbed rapidly and down shifted for the sharp hairpin curve at the 7th hole of the golf course. He slipped to the right as he began the long straight away that would bring him to the Inn at Beaver Creek, and toward the reddish stucco of Strawberry Park. He was still accelerating, when Sara slapped his arm.

   Tom slowed considerably as he drove past the grey stone of the Beaver Creek Chapel. He looked cautiously at the large dark wooden door. The black hinges faintly visible. How many A.A. meetings with Betty Ford? Tom thought of the afternoons and the rushing waters of Beaver Creek and long walks with her. The sound of the rushing spring waters had comforted and soothed him. The small leaded crystal glass casting an eerie glimmer on the stone walkway.  He slowed almost to a snail's crawl. The full moon flickered in the vibration of his rear view mirror. He had thought he had come home. It had been a long road. He had mistaken admiration for love in their early years together. It had been before everything happened, before his endless wanderings had brought him here.

   He had stopped, confused and disillusioned with his life. He had remembered Beaver Creek. Skiing off the loss, he had spent the winter. It had meant everything to him. He had skied all the out of bounds places at Vail he could find, places like the chutes in East Vail. Purposely he had cut across in front of hanging cornices. He had slipped off into the trees without any thoughts of what lay in them, wanting it to end, silently, swiftly, in a sea of white silence.

      Now he was going to leave it all again. The cars didn’t matter, the house didn’t matter, nothing on God’s green earth mattered. She mattered, but he couldn’t stay or as she would have said wouldn’t stay.

     She looked at him. The man she always knew he could be or hoped he would become. They had come so far in such very different worlds and their worlds would never be one.

   He turned left onto Elk Track Court. Driving slowly down the wide paved streets, he passed the recently gutted stone mansion. The mansion was gutted by an oil barren. He turned into his drive across from Gerald Ford’s. The garage door opened slowly and he pulled in and parked among his car collection. He jumped out quickly and ran to her side of the car, opening the door. She stepped out slowly and he embraced her, pinning her to the side of the car, her hands warm and burning his back.

      “I’ve wanted this forever,” he said.

      “A lifetime and then some," she replied in a husky voice. “Are you really going to Europe?”

     “Yes, I can’t go back Sara. I can’t stay here, without you either. There is nothing here.”

     “What is there? No! Don’t answer, I know what, another mountain to climb, Europe is for you.”

Kyrie Eleison, Mr. Mister


I'M Your Captain/Closer To Home, Grand Funk Railroad




In Loving Memory of  the "Lucky Dun Ranch and my wonderful years as a SNAC  (sensitive new age cowboy) and an equine massage therapist at Aspen Equine Studies





                           In Defense of My Lady Tahoe’s Honor

                                          Albert Bianchine


      I am a dying mare, well before my time. I feel the prick of the Veterinarian’s Euthanasia needle in my neck and the rush of the drugs as they course through my body, and my knees buckle and I fall helplessly to the good earth, for the very last time. The earth whose soft motherly comfort that I haven’t lain on for over a full year for fear I could no longer get up. I take a breath, a deep rattling last breath. The light begins to flicker in my eyes and with the remnant of my soul leaving my body, I think of my final days at the rescue ranch. I feel the touch of this big warm wonderful man’s hands as he caresses my chestnut face in the twilight of my setting sun. I stare into his eyes and our lights connect for the very last time. I will always remember and cherish the gentle touch of these hands, the hands of god, that caressed me with a kindness and thoughtfulness and love I’ve never known. The hands that massaged my prematurely aging and aching body and eased my burdens and gave me strength to endure the sufferings of being ridden to, and starved to near death. Then having to endure the pain and humility of the auction barns and being tossed aside without even a name. These hands, the hands that raised me up, when I collapsed at the closing of the auction gates the hands that wiped away my bloody noses, and massaged off my dead decaying skin and brought life, dignity, and vitality back to me, even if only for a short while to my prematurely dying soul. I look back over the past year and this man and his loving warm hands as the most wonderful days of my life. There were times when I felt like a young filly again and proudly pranced the fields for him. If I could only have spent many more years in he and his wife’s care and known and felt the touch of their massage students again, again and again. I leave my body now to this man and his hands and his mind that summoned the Veterinarian for this last act of kindness and compassion. I glance deep into his eyes and as the light flickers from my being, I plead. Let not my death be in vain! Please! Don’t ever let them take these hands from my brothers and sisters.


Sister's Precious Miracle


A grulla buckskin brood mare,

we knew something was funny 

when Beau the buckskin stallion stood

against the corral fence

in the furthest corner

his head leaning

over the top railing.


The student's had massaged her

during the last several classes.

"Dehydration," Katarina said.

Sister's skin was wrinkly and puffy

we had given her electrolytes orally

to stimulate her to drink

her hard dry bag had begun

to fill with milk.

She was able to walk

slowly without strong urging

the Vet said, "let her nurse

her tests are negative."

He dismissed allowing Brooks

a surrogate milking mare

from nursing her expected foal.


Sister allowed me to hold her head

tight against my chest

over her lifeless cremello foal,

she released long loud sighs

I gently caressed her masseter

there was nothing I could do.


The brood mare and their foals

lined the sides of the narrow ranch lane

their chests pressed tight against the white

paddock rails watching silently

as the diesel tractor drove past.


Sister and Beau walked slowly behind

stood quietly while the foal was buried

walked slowly around the grave

and returned to their open corral.


The Cowboy and the Vet had taken

the blood sample from Sister's twin.

Sister had eaten fescue grass

it caused a long gestation period

and the problems with her milk

it had poisoned her foal.


This fall Sister stood dignified,

head held high

next to her filly miracle "Precious,"

proudly presenting her to me

she relaxed while receiving her massage.

The little filly nibbled

at the student's blue shirt sleeve

her hand trembled effleuraging

the mare's neck,

a tear dripped off her cheek

on to the dry corral floor.


Horse Hair Poetry


I wish for my poems 

to be like horse hairs

that catch into your clothing,

saddle blankets and brushes

that cling and weave

into the fabric of your life.


                          Morning's with Jack London


        I was reminded this weekend of my early mornings on our rescue ranch with our orphaned paint colt Slick Little Fox. He was born with congenital flexural deformity and the breeder's wanted to put him down. I am and Equine Massage Therapist. I have dedicated my life to healing and not killing and I knew we could help his crooked little legs so we persuaded the owners to let us take the young colt. We orphaned him at just a few days old and needed a companion for him so we purchased a nubian alpine goat that I named Jack London. He was very young himself. I had him in the trailer so that when the colt came in he would at least have another animal to be with. Over the days I fed Bubba (my pet name for him) with a bottle and worked on his legs around the clock. The progress was wonderful and to make a long story short his legs grew strait and true and he became a fine young colt. Once he was weaned, we fed him folac a supplemental nutritional feed to help him grow because he did not have his mother's milk. Jack London took a liking to the feed and would push my friend Bubba away from it. I tried everything including raising the feeder above his reach. He still managed to get to it. He became angry and would try to head butt me to keep me from pushing him away. The days moved on and Bubba grew and Jack became known as folac Jack. Until one morning I went in to feed and the little colt stepped in front of his companion cocked his head raised his front legs and head butted me right in the chest. Down I went and the folac went flying all over the stall floor. So that Jack London could get it. Needless to say we stopped that behavior quickly.



Samba Pa Ti, Carlos Santana


For Jack London

You were the best French Alpine, Nubian Companion Goat an Orphaned Foal could ever have!







                                           Slick Little Fox

                                         Albert Bianchine


     Katie Delaney looked at the little Tobiano foal struggling to stand. There was something terribly wrong with it. It looked like a hermit crab. Its front legs curved in an arc and couldn’t be brought under it to bear weight. Its attempt to stand ended the same. It would roll to one side and fall down. Katie rushed into the large birthing stall of the arena. She slid a leather halter over the mare’s nose and buckled it.

     “Easy Foxy,” she said to the exhausted paint broodmare. “It’s Ok girl, I’ll look at your baby.”

     “Will, call the vet. It’s Foxy’s baby, there’s something wrong with his legs. Then get some straw and spread it in the corner for it to lay down.”

Will Stanton entered the stall and spread out several sections of straw for bedding. He liked Katie. He cleaned the stalls of the arena and was responsible for the general maintenance. She had asked him if he would hold the horses while she worked. He was a bulldogger.  She said she didn’t understand why a cowboy would jump off of a perfectly good horse. Will liked the young brunette therapist and took the teasing well. He listened to her singing in the mornings as she was working.

     “Here Will, take Foxy. Keep her by the grain.”

She walked to the foal and knelt down and rolled up her denim sleeves. Katie feared the worst for the baby. She could only rub its head and face.

    Susan Mckenzie entered the stall. Her long black hair pulled in a ponytail hung loosely between her cap and its band. The cap read: Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy.

    “Katie what’s wrong with the foal?” I think it has contracted tendons, I’ve seen cows like this. We’ve called Dr. Trent,” Katie replied. ''The cows she had seen had been put down.”

     “I don’t see how he can make it,” Susan replied.

     “Katie, This is Dr. Trent,” Will said.

    “Dave Trent.”

    “I’m Katie Delaney, the Barn Manager. This is Susan Mckenzie, the owner.” 

    “Hi, let’s look at him.”

    The foal was lying on its side. The vet reached down and stroked him. Foxy nickered deeply and the foal struggled to stand. It wobbled and fell. He attempted to bend its leg. He stood and faced the two women.

     “It’s congenital flexural deformity and generally can’t be cured. The animals are culled. I’m sorry to be so blunt but we have not had much success with this condition.”

    “Surely, there must be some options.” 

    “I-I don’t want a deformed horse in my breeding operation,” Susan was quick to say.

    “His legs may grow out, especially with a little massage work. He has such a strong soul, Katie countered.

    “Animals are beasts of burden and they don’t have souls, I put them down all the time, it's just nature.”

    The hairs on the back of Katie’s neck stood on end. She swallowed deeply in an effort to control her anger before speaking.

    “Are there any alternatives?” She glared at the vet.

     The vet took a step backwards. He looked closely at her. Her hands were clenched, her shoulders were square, and her jaw jutted forward poised for confrontation.

    “Tetracycline is an antibiotic. It weakens the tensile strength of connective tissues. His legs are rotated out. We still need to deal with that. There is a technique called blistering. We would go in and injure the outside of the knee by burning or cutting it. It would bring increased blood flow to the area and stimulate growth. I suggest putting a 4” PVC splint on both legs to immobilize them for a period of fourteen days. I will take x-rays today. I still recommend we put the foal down,” the vet replied.

    “We just can’t have a deformed horse in the stables,” Susan said.

    “I understand your concerns about the foal. Massage is what I know. The technique of blistering seems barbaric to me, and confining him in splints wouldn’t help either.”

    “These are proven practices,” the vet interjected.

    Katie raised her hand in defense.

    “I’m sure they believed lobotomies were healthy,” Katie said with a grin. “There is a massage stroke named tonic friction. It is a vigorous stroking of an area, it’s designed to bring blood to an area and stimulate healing. I believe that through hydrotherapy, stretching and massage, with the help of the shot of tetracycline I can correct the problems in the foal.”

    “Next, we’ll burn incense and ask for a Voodoo Priestess,” the vet said, sarcastically.

     “These techniques are used on thoroughbreds around the world,” Katie retorted.

     “That doesn’t address his deformity and its reflection on my breeding operation,” Susan said.

     “I suggest we give the foal the shot, and allow me a period of two weeks to work with it. If there isn’t significant progress by then, you can put the foal down. If there is any improvement, I will take the foal home and work with him. We will geld him when he is old enough. Please, just give me a chance to see if I can help.”

     “Susan, you know my position,” the vet replied.

     “If I hadn’t seen the miracles your therapy has worked on my brood mares and stallions I’d say no right away. I believe you Katie. I’ll go along with it for the two weeks,” Susan said.

     “I’ll xray him and give him the shot.”

 The vet and Susan turned and walked out of the stall.


     Katie had the foal standing on the second day. Will walked to the stall.

     “Will, would you hand me the foal halter?”

     “Here you go, “ Will said.

   Will walked to the foal and restrained him. Katie slid the halter over the foal’s nose and fastened it. The foal struggled for a few seconds, realized he was restricted, and growled like a bear cub. They both laughed.

     “Here, help me to lay him down.”

    Will lifted the foal and with Katie’s help set the foal on its side. She slipped her first two fingers into his heel bulb. She used a little pressure and began a clockwise rubbing motion to stimulate blood flow to the area. The foal was curious and lay still while she continued. Resting a comforting hand, a mother hand, on the front of the hoof, she squeezed the tendon and began a chucking motion up and down the length of it. She repeated the motion several times. Supporting the hoof with the palm of her hand, Katie used her thumb and fingers of her right hand to effleurage the front of his leg, paying particular attention to the inside and outside of his knee joint. She then set the first three fingers of her right hand on the outside of his carpus and began vigorously rubbing them in a back and forth motion called tonic friction. This would create friction to the surrounding area to promote and stimulate growth. It would help rotate his legs straight. Katie supported the leg at the carpus and with a hand under his heel bulb gently stretched the leg forward. When she finished the second leg she set it down and stood up. The foal was asleep. Will removed the halter and coiled the lead rope. They both slipped out of the stall to the hallway.

     “Do you think you can help me? He has to be worked on every 2 hours for the next several days.”

     “If I can sleep on the other office cot, I’d be happy to help.” 

     “His sire is Slick Left Prints, and his dam is Foxy, I think I’ll call him Slick Little Fox.”

                                                    *  *  *                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

      A week later, Dr. Trent returned.

     “The x-rays show some bone growth on the lateral side of his knees and his legs appear to be turning in. They have a long way to go. The tendons have loosened and his legs have come up under him. It’s been a week already. You should let me put him down now!” the vet said.

     “Susan, Foxy doesn’t come into her foal heat for another three weeks. Please give me two more weeks,” Katie implored.

     “I don’t know, Dave says he hasn’t made that much improvement. Lord knows I don’t want anyone to see those crooked legs,” Susan said.

     “I’ll move them to the big back stall. Please let me continue.”

     “OK, but if Dave disagrees in two weeks, you know what our decision will be.”

     “It’s a waste of time,” the Vet said.

     “I’ll waste it rescuing Little Fox if I want.” Katie glared.

     “You’re one tough little lady,” the vet turned and walked off.

     “I hope you know what you’re doing with the foal.” Susan left the arena.

    Katie ran to Little Fox’s stall, haltered him and led him into the hall, his hooves clopping on the concrete.

    “I won’t let anyone hurt you. We can do it, Little Bubba,” she said, bending down and hugging him tightly.

Foxy nickered loudly. Little Fox turned and Katie led him back to her.

    “Don’t worry mamma.” She slid the halter off and walked out of the stall.

    Will set the crockpot on the small table in the entryway and plugged it in. He dampened the cloth towels and placed then inside and set the timer for 15 minutes

    “We are going to have to be more aggressive in our stretching! The heat and moisture will make the tissue extremely pliable. I want to take some photos. I have an idea that might help,” Katie said, entering the stall.

Will nudged Little Fox to stand and slipped his halter on.

     “What’s the idea?” Will asked.

     “I’m going to present Little Fox as a case study to a Veterinarian Professor from the University and try to get him to help me with Dr. Trent.”

    The timer rang and Will pulled out the towels. Katie slid her camera into her palm. He handed them to Katie and took the lead rope. He stood at the foal’s left side. She started wrapping his legs.

     “Listen, Little Bubba, you have got to cooperate. I’m going to be more aggressive. But if you want to live, we have to get through this.” Katie cupped Little Fox’s muzzle with her hands. He nickered his understanding and she bent and kissed him on the nose.

 Katie unwrapped his legs after 15 minutes had passed. She lifted his left leg, supported the underside of his knee joint with her left hand, and stretched his leg. She worked lightly at first, but began to use greater force with each successive stretch. Little Fox stood steady and countered Katie’s stronger stretches with great fortitude. She worked both legs forward and backward very aggressively. She set the right leg down when she was finished.

      “Will, would you perform tonic friction on the lateral section of his knee,” her voice cracked slightly and she wiped a tear from her cheek.

      “No problem,” Will responded. It would be his good fortune to work closely with her and Little Fox in this intimate setting.

                                                          *   *   *

      Three weeks had passed quickly. Dave Trent stood in front of Little Fox. Susan shifted nervously. Katie Delaney stood with her left hand resting on Fox’s neck. Will fidgeted at the foal’s side.

     “If I hadn’t spoken with the Professor from the Vet School, I would still have recommended that this horse be put down. I had no idea that hydrotherapy and massage therapy was having so much success with animals and birth deformities in the Veterinary Field,” he cleared his throat. “I’m an old dog learning new tricks. I understand the miracle that I see before me.”

      Little Fox rose on his hind feet with the sudden excitement and Will quickly brought him down and regained control.

     “I was hoping for this outcome,” Katie said excitedly.

     “I never would have believed this could be accomplished. If any of my other clients have similar problems, could I recommend your therapy services to them?”

     “I’d be happy to save any animal that I can.” 

     “I have many clients, and the Professor has made me aware of just how helpful massage therapy can be in my practice. Perhaps you could come into my office next week and we could talk about it.”

    “Next week would work for me, I’ll call and arrange the time,” Katie replied.

    “Susan, we should go and look at Kate and see how her baby is doing,” the Vet said.

    Turning, he and Susan walked down the long corridor. Katie looked at Will and Little Fox and smiled.

    “I’ve been waiting for this day. Is everything set?”

    “Yes,” Will replied, “The baby goat is in the trailer and I have hay spread and stacked.”

    “We might as well do it now,” Katie said, taking the lead rope from Will.


      Will walked slowly behind Katie and Little Fox. They had gone several yards when Foxy nickered loudly to her foal. The foal stopped, returned her nicker and looked at Katie. She bent and placed her face next to the foals

    “Come on Little Bubba, please,” she pleaded. “Walk on, Little Fox.

    They walked forward in silence. The sound of the foal’s hooves clapping against the concrete, were the only noise. They reached the trailer door and Will stepped around and opened it. A small brown and white Nubian French Alpine goat greeted them with a loud “Baaaa-Baaa.”

     Little Fox stuck his head in the trailer and Katie stepped in and gave the lead rope a slight tug. The horse stepped quickly into the trailer and sniffed the small goat.

     “Little Fox, this is Jack London, Jack-Little Fox, You’re going to be the best of companions,” she said and laughed loudly.

     “I’ll hold Little Fox and ride in back,” Will said.

    Katie stepped out, closed the horse trailer door and walked to the cab. She slid into the driver’s seat, started the truck and began moving forward. She couldn’t think of a time in her life that her future had looked brighter.


Girls & Horses, Templeton Thompson


In Memory of the Storm King 14, South Canyon Fire, 1994.

The Coal Seam Fire, 2002







                                       The Coal Seam Fire

                                         Albert Bianchine


     Katie Delaney posted around the arena in a walk, trot and canter, warming up Fortune. All the while she glanced at the ominous three -foot jump set up in the center. She knew the Hanoverian cross Quarter Horse, at over seventeen hands tall, could easily do it- she, herself, was the problem. She tried not to think of it, but it was like not thinking of a white elephant. Once the image is etched in your mind you can’t think of anything else. 

     “Katie, concentrate on your lead changes,” Marie Maclevey said.

     Thin, muscular Marie was an expert dressage rider, Olympic competitor and jumping instructor. She came to Storm King Mountain Rescue Ranch in Glenwood Springs, Colorado from Aspen three times a week to work with Katie.

    “Good boy, Fortune,” Katie cued him to stop and patted him gently on the neck.

    She reached into her riding jacket pocket for a handkerchief and wiped her brow. It was oppressively and unseasonably hot with no rain in over two months. Katie was acutely aware of fire danger living on Storm King Mountain, the site of the South Canyon Fire, one of the worst American Forest Fire tragedies. The fire had spared the ranch but had taken the lives of fourteen hot shot smoke jumpers from Prineville, Oregon, further up on the mountain several years earlier. The silent charred sentinels above the ridge were ominous reminders of what westerly winds whipping through the narrow Colorado River Canyon can do to a fire.

     “Stop focusing on the jump, Katie,” Marie said harshly. “I want you to make one more pass on the jump, circle around and then jump.” She stepped closer to Fortune.

     “Your knees aren’t going to save you! Get your heels down! Lose your feet and lose your seat,” Marie tapped Katie’s knee to emphasize her point.

     “Walk on, Fortune,” Katie cued him with her heels.

     She quickly broke into a canter and made a large circle around the jump. She felt the familiar fear return. It wasn’t the fear of jumping; she loved the feeling of going up into the air. It was the landing that she feared. The horse’s front legs coming down and striking the ground, so many things to remember: chin out, heels down, seat planted firmly into the saddle.

     Fortune approached the jump, lifted his front legs and soared cleanly over it. His front legs came down, struck the ground and it appeared for a second as if Katie would keep her seat. However she leaned forward and landed with a thud on her back. Fortune took several strides, returned, and stood over her looking down. Katie struggled for her breath, she relaxed and it slowly began to return. She stood and dusted herself off. 

     “Katie, you have just got to stop clamping your knees. If you do the same thing every time you’ll keep getting the same result. I don’t think you have many more extreme landings in you,” Marie simply said.

     “I know, Marie, I know in my mind what to do, but then I land and panic and clamp my knees,” Katie said as she remounted Fortune.

     She gathered herself, and started over. This time she and Fortune soared cleanly over and they trotted to a stop.

     “I just pictured myself doing just that,” she said to Marie with a smile.

     “I knew you could Katie, your jumping is all in your mind. Let’s call this a day. I’ll see you next week.”

     “Thanks for all your help Marie,” Katie said.

     She turned and led Fortune toward the barn where her husband Will and the hired hand were working with the horses.

                                                              *    *   *

      The intense afternoon sun beat down on the already baked and parched Colorado earth. The oils from the sagebrush and pinyon pines oozed from cracks in their bark.  A strong wind moved down the Interstate 70 highway and Colorado River corridor. A red tailed hawk flew along the steep cliffs and the jagged mountain sides circling, being lifted ever higher by the hot thermal drafts. A large crack appeared and the ground split open. A coal seam that had been burning for years, inside the earth, leapt to the surface and sought out the dried alpine grasses and ignited them. They exploded in a ball of flames and consumed the sage and pinion oils with a ravenous hunger. The flames growing in size and intensity leapt into the cedars and pines creating a massive orange wall of flames. It darkened the afternoon sky. Large embers and ashes flew into the air. They easily jumped the Colorado River and four-lane highway. The wind funneled between the narrow corridor whistled and howled as it raged from the west out of Canyon Creek, pushing the fire toward the Storm King Rescue Ranch. 

                                                            *   *   *

     Katie tied Fortune to the hitching post outside the barn and loosened her billets. She gently patted his neck.

     “Good jumping Fortune, I know I’m going to get it, you’re such a good boy,” she said as she slipped her hand to the back of his neck and gave the horse an exuberant squeeze.

     “Will, Will,” Katie called as she turned and ran into the barn.

Turning at the sound of his name, Will saw Katie running down the hall in her riding jodhpurs.

     “What is it Katie?”

     “I jumped on Fortune, Will.”

     “You did,” Will said, hugging Katie.

     “The smaller jumps were easy, but I fell on the big one the first time. The second time I soared over it. It was exciting. I pictured myself clearing the jump, and then I did it.”

     “I’m really happy for you. You’ve come a long way.”

     “Yes I have, Will. How are the horses this morning?”

     “They’re good, Big Will is nursing. I’ll show you what Tom and I did right after I am finished with Little Man, Sage and Buddy. We’ve already taken care of Sister and her foal Precious. Come on and look at them with me.”

     “Ok, but I’ve got Fortune tied. I’ll have to be quick, he’s in the shade but Will, it’s so hot,” Katie reached for Will’s hand.

     They walked across the hallway, past Bo the Buckskin Stallion, to Little Man’s stall. The three day old orphaned foal was standing next to the older red dun quarter horse, Sage. She moved slowly towards the couple on arthritic swollen front knees. The foal shadowed the mare closely. Even though she could not nurse him, they had become very close.

     “I have his bottle here,” Tom said to Will and Katie as he entered the stall.

     “He’s taking the bottle well,” Katie said.

     “I think he’s going to be alright, that is if we make it, between feeding him and Big Will every four hours,” Will chuckled.

     “There isn’t anything that any of us would do differently, is there?” Katie asked.

     “No,” both Will and Tom said simultaneously.

     “I don’t think that Buddy likes sharing his wife,” Will said.

     “He thinks that being twenty six makes him head of the ranch, he is a  

grandson of Poco Bueno and great grandson of King, he really is!” Katie walked over to Buddy.

     “Let’s look in on Big Will, then I need to get Fortune out of the heat,” Katie replied.

     Katie walked to the stall and stopped abruptly; she turned to the cowboys with a sheepish grin and asked, “What’s this?”

     “I guess you could call it a horse jumper,” Tom was the quickest to reply.

     “It seems to be working,” Will added. “The harness fits around his torso and the spring hanging from the ceiling is allowing him to stand and move in a small circle.”

     “He is able to nurse if we bring Brooks right alongside him,” Tom said.

     Katie turned and faced the boys; there were tears in her eyes.

     “He’s going to make it, isn’t he?” she quipped confidently.

     “Only time and a lot of late nights will tell.” Will said, walking to Katie and putting his arm around her shoulder.

     “Let’s get Fortune,” he said.

     They began walking toward the barn entrance. Buddy started blowing, snorting, pacing, and began frantically kicking at his stall door. The other horses followed his behavior in rapid succession. They looked at each other and then back at the horses.There was a loud crash from Big Will’s stall as Brooks threw herself against the stall wall and yelled loudly. Fortune returned a terrifying scream at the barn entrance. Something was terribly wrong.        

     Will was the first to react. He raced toward the entrance at a dead run, with Tom then Katie at his heels. They reached the front entrance almost simultaneously. Their nostrils were assaulted by a thick acrid burning smell; they instantly looked southwest to see the sun slowly blotted out by a huge wall of orange flames licking at the treetops. They were jumping, and racing, almost gleefully, from tree to tree, sage brush to pinyon pine, to dry brittle scrub oak and alpine grasses. The sky was dark as a large black ominous cloud billowed ever higher.

     “We only have minutes!” Tom yelled as he ran toward the flatbed and gooseneck horse trailer.

     Will looked at Katie quickly and saw the fear and panic in her eyes.

     I’ll have to hold Will or he will be trampled. We both may be anyway,” Will took hold of Katie and yanked her into the barn. 

     They grabbed lead ropes from the stall door and clipped on to the halters of Sage and Little Man. Katie gently held the young foal’s halter and urged him to follow Sage as they hurried toward the barn door and the awaiting horse trailer. Tom waited with the door open.

     “Easy Sage, easy,” Will tried to soothe the older mare.

     She spun in a circle and came dangerously close to pinning the foal against the barn wall. Katie and Little Man scooted quickly around alongside the mare. They followed Will in. 

     Tom closed the door and glanced at the approaching flames, coughing and covering his mouth. Will and Katie reached Sister and Precious. They moved them through the now thick smoke. Will brushed glowing embers off of the horses and they loaded them.

     “Katie, grab Buddy, I’ll get Bo!”

     Bo was in an uproar. He was standing on his hind feet pawing at the stall door. Grabbing the lead rope with his right hand, Will let out two feet of rope with a big knot at the end. He swung it gently at Bo to back him up. The stallion came down on all fours with Will alongside grabbing the leather halter he clipped the lead rope in.

     He busted out of the stall door and almost crashed into Katie and Buddy. They ran toward the trailer and the large orange flames just beyond.

     Tom reached Brook’s stall first and was already slipping Big Will out of his harness. Katie had Brooks clipped in her lead rope and was calming the frantic mother as Will helped Tom. 

     “The only thing I can think of is to bear hug him,” Will said.

     He reached one hand around the foal’s front legs and another around his hindquarters. Lifting the foal up he hugged him tightly to his chest.

     Big Will struggled to get free but couldn’t. He stopped struggling and let out a low growl. Will, with his eyes watering, ran behind Brooks and into the trailer.

     Katie looked at Tom and then to Will. The reality hit. There would be no room in the trailer for Fortune.

     Will set the foal on his wobbly legs and pinned him to his lower body for support. The foal struggled and swayed but with the support of Will was able to stand. He turned to Katie with a pained look.       

     “I’m sorry Kate. There just isn’t room for him, turn him loose, just pull his tack and let him go, at least he’ll have a chance,” Will turned his eyes to the ground avoiding Katie’s questioning stare.

     “I -I can’t Will, it’s a death sentence and I just can’t do it.”

     “Katie, listen to me, you have to, we have to go, we’ve got no choice, let Fortune go and get in the truck with Tom!” Will barked at Katie.

     Katie stepped up in the trailer close to Will; she reached out and touched his arm.

     “I won’t, Will, I’m going to ride Fortune out.”

     “No, No, You won’t be able to ride him, he’ll be wigged out, uncontrollable.” 

     “I’m riding him Will, I love you and I love him, I can’t just turn him loose,” Katie leaned over and kissed Will on his cheek. 

    She turned to leave.

    “Kate- Kate, If you’re going to ride him, put a panic strap on him, take your fingers and lace them into his mane tightly, and give him his head, he won’t listen, let him run at his pace. I love you Kate. Be careful.”

     “I love you Will,” Katie said as she turned towards the frantic horse.

     Tom closed the trailer door and slipped behind the wheel of the truck. The truck and trailer lurched forward and disappeared around the barn.

     Katie moved to Fortune’s side, slid the panic strap around his neck and buckled it. She reached down and tightened his billets. Grabbing the reins, and the panic strap in her left hand she slid her fingers into his mane. Katie swung her leg up and over Fortune’s back and landed into her seat. She slipped her feet into the irons and wheeled around to his left so he couldn’t rear up. Leaning forward across his neck, she whispered into his ear.

     “Run like the wind, Fortune, run!” She gently kicked him up.

     Fortune rounded the barn just in time for Katie to see the flames leap across from the trees onto the roof of the riding arena, the structure immediately burst into a ball of fire. Her gaze went to the lane, bordered by a grey stone wall and ditch all the way to the entry gates. The fire raced along the fence line toward the gate and the truck and trailer. There would be no time for Tom to stop the truck, and wait for the iron gates to swing open. The fire would roll over them before they had a chance to pull through the gates. Her heart raced. To save the horses and the boys she would have to jump three Oxers. She gripped the panic strap and Fortune’s mane tighter. She tapped him lightly with her left heel and the big Hanoverian Quarter Horse Cross turned toward the first jump and tucked his front legs up under him and soared into the air. Katie’s mind reeled; she looked at the flames, the fence, and the horse trailer with her babies and husband in it, and set herself for the jump. Fortune came down his front feet striking the earth hard at a full canter. She lurched forward her left foot slipping out of the iron. Teetering sideways, she barely regained her balance. Katie clung tightly to Fortune’s mane. The cross fence was approaching, and if she did not regain her iron she would be pitched from the horse’s back as he jumped. She used her left foot to kick the iron forward, it swung out, and she slipped her foot alongside Fortune pointing her toe downward. The iron gently bumped her toe as it slipped over it. She regained her seat just in time as Fortune leaped into the air clearing the second Oxer. He hit the ground hard, and Katie lurched forward kept her balance.  

     A large wooden loafing shed erupted into a glowing ball of fire off to Katie’s right. Fortune swerved wildly to the left, almost spilling her to the ground. She adjusted her balance, leaned forward against his sweaty neck and steadied him for the last jump.  She prayed she could pull him up in time to hit the button and open the gate.  She glanced back to the left to see the truck and trailer rounding the final arc of the curve and entering the long straightaway to the gates.

     “This is it; you’ve got to clear the fence and the ditch.”

     Fortune bounded into the air. Katie held tightly onto his mane. Driving her heels down hard in the irons, she set herself firmly into her seat as Fortune landed. He cleared the ditch cleanly but was at a full canter and approaching the gate control rapidly. Katie struggled for control of the reins. The fire roared across the dry grasses toward them. She could see the flatbed and the trailer with its precious cargo speeding down the lane. Katie relied on Fortune’s age and great instincts. He was a good horse and listened intently to his rider’s cues. She pressed down hard in her seat and set her heels down against the irons.

     “Whoa Fortune! Whoa!” Katie said confidently.

     Fortune pulled up immediately at her command. He danced and spun in a circle shying away from the approaching flames. Katie looked closely at the gate control and estimated the distance to it. Fortune was a trained dressage horse. He understood and listened for his cues and commands. She tapped his right flank lightly and cued him to side pass. Just as if he had been in an arena in full dressage regalia he lifted his big head high and stepped sideways right to the gate control. Katie reached down, striking the button. The large iron gates swung open slowly. She held Fortune in place and the truck and trailer sped by with a honk of the horn and a large hoot and hat wave out the window from Tom.

     Katie could hear sirens coming up the gravel road. She looked off in the distance and saw the Glenwood Fire Company arriving. She reached for her panic strap and tuft of Fortune’s mane. She tapped his flanks and urged him on. He responded swiftly and cantered down the lane.

     Katie looked over her shoulder as she made a sharp right turn and started down the mountainside. The winds were whipping up the hillside and pushing the threatening flames up the hill and away from them. She moved Fortune to the side of the road and pulled him up.

     “Your husband and horses are headed down the hill. It’s safe there. We’ve got the fire contained and have set up a rescue station at the corner ranch,” the young fireman said.

     “Thanks, I need to cool him down and give him water. Thanks so much,” Katie replied.

     She turned to Fortune, patted his sweaty neck, and gave him a big hug.

     “You saved us, all of us Fortune, You’re the best horse ever,” Katie said.

     They walked down the road toward the awaiting rescue station.


Tupelo Honey, Van Morrison

    The Rolling Reverend

                                                    Albert Bianchine


      The rushing waters of the Rio Grande swelled to capacity by the spring runoffs, split the stillness of the early Santa Fe, New Mexico morning. Tom Dillon turned the collar of his buckskin against the morning chill and adjusted his Stetson hat. The damp black top steamed eerily in the sun. The rows of red tiled roofed adobe houses with their rusted wire fenced yards were silent. He squinted against the bright morning sunlight and stared into the snowcapped peaks of the Santa Fe National Forest. Tom’s gaze drifted out across the 10,000 foot Sandia Peak and the 12,000 foot Santa Fe with it's wide-open timbered slopes and it's sister Sipapu. He looked fondly toward Ruidoso and memories of the towering Ski Apache. Tom thought for a second of Taos and made a mental inventory of every inch of its massive Hunziker Bowl and Lone Star Trail. He reflected deeply on the days and hours spent on Angel Fire and Red River. Quickly he turned away from Questa and the distant view of San Antonio Peak. The season had ended, he had gathered his possessions, said goodbye to Cimarron and was travelling through Santa Fe to Albuquerque.  The Pecos had been thick, blood red and raging with runoff. He slid on his knapsack and fished inside for his bag of gorp. Ahead in the steamy distance of the highway a yellow van appeared on the horizon. He straightened up, smoothed the wrinkles from his buckskin and stuck out his thumb. The yellow van stopped beside him. He grabbed his belongings and started for the door when he realized that it was tandem vans. The first van was pulling a second exactly the same, a pair of yellow school bus vans. He hesitated for a second and jumped in, he was assaulted by the smell of new, and a deep voice said,'' Morning Pilgrim, you must be one of God's lost creatures."
     Oh Christ, he thought, I've got to ride through New Mexico with a mega church, want to be leader. He reached into his bag of gorp and pulled out a large handful and stuffed it into his mouth.
     "Morning Brother," he mumbled. The vans lurched forward and they lapsed into silence. Tom warily eyed the stranger. A large gold cross sparkled from an onyx stone on a thick gold ring on his left hand. His white neatly pressed shirt with his black bow tie stood out against his black jacket and his white cuffs were neatly buttoned with gold cross 
cufflinks.  He knew it! He would have to listen to a born again Christian preach to him. The back van was probably filled with Bibles for all God's Lost Souls.

     "Whatta you do, and where ya headin son?" the stranger asked cheerfully. Tom turned toward the voice, the happy voice. He didn't trust cheery people, especially cheery people first thing in the morning. His good friend the Captain had warned him when they had parted ways, never to trust a happy bright cheery person first thing in the morning. "Just sumpin not natural about it." Then again over the years, he had learned never to trust anything the Captain said. He reached into his bag of gorp stuffed a handful into his mouth and decided to really rattle this Christian's Cage.
     “I'm a professional ski bum, and I'm on my way to the beaches of Southern California, Encinitas and Cardiff By The Sea
. I've been skiing in the mountains of New Mexico all winter and I'm looking forward to seeing women, skin and women, women and skin. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah Brother! Skin and Women, the four S's, Sun, Sand, Skin, and Sisters,” Tom smiled quite taken with his early morning humor. Tom's eyes were met by the cold icy stare of the emerald green eyes of the Reverend.
    "Where ya headin with these van's and how come ya got two of em?"
    "These are new school buses and I'm on my way to Savannah, Georgia to turn them over to the school board. My brother owns the car company and I'm just out of the seminary and working until I get my parish. This is probably my last trip."
    Tom grinned. He prided himself on his ability to type personalities. There are only so many types in the world, and from his years on the road, he had seen them all, or so he thought.
    He looked up the road as the vans began to slow. An elderly woman in a torn black sweater with a crumpled long black dress was standing beside the road. She had a large paisley carpetbag. Her hair long and red was matted and gnarly.
     "Oh- There's another one of God's lost creatures," the Reverend said."
     "Step right up and sit down," he said to the ragged woman as she climbed into the van.

     Christ not only is he going to preach across the country, he's going to pick everybody and his brother up also, Tom thought.

     “Where you headed?” the now familiar voice questioned.

     “Charleston, South Carolina, I lost all my money when they killed my husband,” she said without hesitation.

     Tom looked into her misty eyes.

     “We’re sorry we are all on the road,” he removed his large wallet, slid the chain out of the way and pulled out a twenty.

     “Hope this helps?” he steadied himself as the vans moved forward. He wasn’t sure what to say. She looked destitute but he had learned that there were many stories on the road. He sat back in his seat. It wouldn’t be more than a few hours before he split off and headed to Southern California.


     The ocean was beckoning and he had heard the call loud and clear. He offered up his gorp to his new travelling companion.

     “No thanks,” she replied with a blank distant stare.

     “O.K, then,” he sat back uncomfortably.

     “There’s a couple more lost creatures,” the Reverend commented as he pulled off the highway. Tom sat bolt upright, looked around quickly and assessed the seating capacity. He estimated it to be six in front and maybe the same in the rear van. The thought crossed his mind that this train could be full by the time it reached its destination. The vans slowed to a stop alongside two men. One exceptionally tall in a tan rider coat, the second a very short fellow with a light blue ski jacket and cap on stepped to the side door and opened it. Tom slid to the far left of the front back seat and made room for the men.

     “Howdy gentlemen, where ya headed? I’m Tom, jump in.”

     “I’m Bill and this is Jake,” the short man slid past Tom and made room for his friend and their cargo.

     “We are headed to Sedona, to do some hiking and find a shaman to adjust our aura’s,” Jake said.

     “O. K, then” Tom sat back again uneasily. “Gorp anyone?” he said, holding out the bag. He was at a loss for words. Surveying the surroundings he deduced that with the next stop he might request the rear van.

     “What an odd set up here,” Bill exclaimed.

     “Going to Savannah if anyone is up for a long trip. I’d like to stop at noon and say a small prayer to bless our trip,” the Reverend said.

     Tom looked at the new arrivals and at the older woman and smiled. He was entertained like no other trip he had ever been on.

     “I don’t know about all of you, but this could get very interesting fast.”

     “We just want to make it a little further down the road. Jake and I are anxious to see our friends,” Bill said.

     “That would be after the noon sermon, I take it,” Tom could not contain his joy.

     The other companions rolled their eyes in unison.

     “Seriously,” Tom said. “I would like to know how one goes about getting their aura adjusted? I have heard about Acupuncture, Regression Therapy, but not Aura’s.”

     Jake sat forward and took a short breath.

     “When someone refers to an ‘aura’. They are talking about an unseen energy field that surrounds all living things. The different colors of your aura are thought to provide insight into your emotional and spiritual well-being. While it’s not always possible to see aura colors with the naked eye, we can usually feel them. You can get an aura reading. Like an enneagram or astrology auras can supposedly help you understand yourself. They can be adjusted by energy work.

     “O.K. Then,” Tom sat back and was silent.

     “Ah! Another of God’s poor creatures,” the Reverend exclaimed.

     Tom jumped at the opportunity and grabbed his pack.

     “I’ll sit in the back with them.” He opened the van door and stopped abruptly. A petite young woman with a blue pack and long dark hair was facing him.

     “Hi! I’m Kate,” she said, smiling brightly.

     “Tom,” was all that he could manage. After several seconds he took a slow breath to gather his composure and motioned to the rear van.

     “I hope you don’t mind, but this is filling up. I know it’s bizarre, but believe me, it would be less bizarre in the trailing van. Please trust me.”

    “I just need a ride to Interstate 40. Then I’m heading to Southern California. The back will do.”

    “Allow me,” Tom stepped to the rear van and opened the door. He stopped. Neatly stacked against the sidewall were several cardboard boxes. He could not suppress a hearty laugh.

     “What’s so funny?”

    “Where to start. We have some time. Hop in, I'll explain.”   

     The two stepped up into the van, closed the door and like a coupled train car it lurched forward. They sat next to one another and set their packs on the floor. Tom glanced at Kate as she adjusted her belongings.

     “Okay, Let me see. The driver is a recent graduate from a seminary. It is his last trip for his brother’s car company and he is on his way to Savannah. He is a Reverend on a mission to pick up all of God’s lost creatures across the country. He promised to stop for a noon revival meeting. There is a crazy woman on the way to Charleston and two strangers going to Sedona to have their aura’s adjusted. Believe it or not if you read these boxes they are bibles. Probably for his new followers, I guess. I can’t help but be amused.”

     Kate smiled and laughed heartily.

    “I was worried about travelling by myself, there is safety in numbers so I’m told.”

    “I’m on my way to Encinitas. I want to bask in the ocean and camp.”

     “Encinitas! I grew up surfing there. There is a beach called Swami’s. It is right below the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple. We used to sit in the water with our surf boards and binoculars and search for the Swamis flying on their carpets.”

     “You did what? Who was flying where?”

     “Paramahasa Yogananda and his followers at the Temple.”

     “I know Yoganada! I bought the Autobiography of a Yogi in Telluride, Colorado. I was going to go to the ashram.”

     “Telluride! I’ve been to the bluegrass festival there. When I was a D.J. for Public Radio. My Bluegrass Show was awesome. I got free passes to Telluride’s Festival. They included backstage. I interviewed all the celebrities. There is even an interview with Buddy Miles, Jimmi Hendrix’s former drummer. I alsoknow how to get into the gardens at Swami’s. There’s a gate on the side. I’m going near there. I’ll take you there if you want to go.”

    “Want to go! Yeah I want to go.”

    Kate looked at Tom a little closer. There was something more to him than just a scruffy vagabond. She thought it kind of funny how their paths were entwined and they had just met.

     “Where are you coming from?” she asked.

     “I’ve wintered just out of Cimarron. I skied Taos, Angel Fire and Red River most of the winter. Before that I was living in Vail. I had some of my greatest outdoor experiences there. Climbed some Fourteeners and skied The Back Bowls of Vail and many days at Beaver Creek. I studied the S.R.F. lessons and was initiated in Kriya Yoga in Denver. I also spent quite a lot of time in Telluride and Aspen.”

     “What did you do in Telluride?”

    “I attended a workshop and read a short story at the Sheridan Opera House. I had been climbing on Rabbit Ears Pass and I went into a bookstore. That’s when I saw The Autobiography Of A Yogi. Yogananda looked so serene, his photo on the cover was mesmerizing. I can’t explain it. Now I have to go to Encinitas. I'm drawn there for some inexplicable reason,” Tom looked into Kate’s eyes.

   “I’ve spent a lot of time around Swami’s. That was our favorite surf beach. I’m heading back after years in Colorado. I lived in Aspen. My friends and I used to run up the Ute Trail. No more snow, I want the warm weather,” Kate said.

    “Aspen, the Ute is really steep, that's a tough run, I had a difficult time getting over the root section. I liked the town. Hiking Smuggler was challenging, it affords you great views of Aspen Mountain. It isn't a closed in Valley like Vail and Telluride.  The World Hang Gliding Championships were in Telluride when I was there. The Hang Gliders performed loop de loops away from the big rock face in town. What did you do in Aspen?”

     “I worked at all kinds of different jobs. You know what it’s like. I cleaned houses. Took care of horses. I even crewed for a hot air balloon company. I was a rock radio D.J.  It was great fun. There are a lot of opportunities but they don’t pay much. You are always a servant. I want to go to school to learn massage in a warm climate.  My Volkswagen bug broke down and that’s why I’m on the road.

     “The vans slowed to a stop. Kate and Tom could see the side door of the front van open.

     “Must be another one of God’s lost creatures,” Kate said to Tom as they both laughed.

     They watched as Bill slipped out of the van and a young man in a camouflage jacket with a matching pack stepped into the van. They moved forward and continued down the road.

     “He looks to be another Afghan or Iraqi War Soldier Refugee, Tom”

     “He does. There are so many of them.”

     “All the young men are off to die or come back broken and unable to cope, Sara said sadly.

     “My friends and I are so lucky. We grew up and were allowed to ski. The free generation,” Tom extolled.

     “It’s the way it should be,” Sara replied.

    “We have about another hour until we head west. Except the Reverend said we are going to have a noon sermon. That should be in about a half hour. I honestly have no idea. You have got to give him credit for his effort. He might just save the world,” Tom laughed.

     “ At least he saved our world and put us together. I don’t know what it’s all about, but I’m very happy the way this turned out,” Kate said to Tom.

     “I gave him a very hard time when he picked me up. I was happy for the ride.”

     “I went to a Catholic School but it just alienated me. I’m still searching.”

     “I never would have thought I would be a Yogi. Mountains were always my refuge. I’m close to God and nature there but I think I have found my calling with Swami.”

     “Nature, the ocean especially, has been mine. I just don’t like being cold and couldn’t take the winter.”

    Tom reached into his pack and pulled out his gorp. He offered it to Kate and she took a handful.

     “Thanks I’m starving.”

     Tom sat back and smiled. ”No problem.” He thought about the strangeness of this entire trip and that it was only the beginning. How fortunate was he to find someone who not only knew of Yogananda and was willing to show him the temple and gardens with the Pacific Ocean right there. He wondered if surfing was any different than riding a skateboard.

    The van’s turned into a parking area and pulled alongside a field. There was a large open grassy area with a steep hill rising up and overlooking the field. Tom and Kate grabbed their packs and walked to the door of the front van. The odd group of individuals emerged from the van and gathered outside waiting for direction.

    “Why don’t all of you follow me to the field? There is a perfect place for a talk on the hill.”

     The group began moving forward and Tom and Kate fell in line alongside Jake and Bill.

     “Hey Afghan,” Kate teased the tall thin camouflaged man. “Where are you coming from? Also, Thank you for your service! I know you didn’t have to. We appreciate it. I’m Kate and this is Tom.”

     “You’re Welcome, I’m John. Got no fixed address with no fixed destination. You might say I’m walking my mind to and easy time. Don’t seem to fit in anywhere.”

     “I know the feeling,” Tom replied.

     “You pegged it right. I am an Afghan refugee. Saw enough action in Wanat to last a lifetime and then some. Just haven’t found a place to call home yet. Thought I might make my way down to Galveston. My brother has a job working on the rigs there, haven’t seen him in a few years. Might see what comes of it.”

     “What is this all about?” Bill asked.

     “Don’t really know, but the Reverend is getting his Parish soon and I think he wants to save all of you lost creatures,” Tom said laughing. “But as for me, I’m found and I know where I’m going it is to an Ashram in Encinitas with Kate.” He gave Kate a slight nudge and she turned and threatened harm to him.

     They stopped in the grass as the Reverend walked up the hill and turned to face them.

     He raised his hands in prayer above them and made the sign of the cross blessing them as he began.

     “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

      Kate turned toward the group and whispered, “I know this, it’s the Sermon on the Mount spoken by Jesus to the multitudes and it is called the Beatitudes. I learned this. It’s from the Book of Matthew.

     “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth,” the Reverend continued.

     “This is the most famous Sermon of Jesus,” Kate explained. “The Sermon was meant to be memorized and to serve as a source for constant meditation.”

     “Let’s listen,” Tom said. “I will be calmly active, actively calm. I am a prince of peace, sitting on the throne of poise, directing the kingdom of my activity.”

     “What is that from?” Bill asked.

    “My Guru, Paramahansa Yoganada,” Tom reached in his pack and pulled out a copy of the Autobiography of a Yogi. He handed it to Bill. “If you really want to adjust your Aura, read this. George Harrison passed it out freely to everyone. All of the Masters of the Self-Realization Fellowship are on the cover of Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in the crowd. Did you know that they passed Swami’s Book out at the funeral of Steve Jobs. A lot of things in my life changed for me after studying with Yogananda.

 Let’s give the Reverend the respect he earned for the ride. I have enough gorp for everyone,” Tom chuckled, turned, slid his hand in Kate’s, smiled and sat down next to her.


In Loving Memory of Frank Thompson

You were a brilliant light illuminating our youth.

You were light years ahead of everyone.

                     God Is The Boss, Francis!


     I was visited by an old friend the other day, walking along the Rio Grande Trail through downtown Aspen. I had just passed the Aspen Art Museum on my way to the John Denver River Sanctuary, passing a stainless steel 30 foot tall artist’s rendering of the “Last Tree.” The Rio Grande Trail is a beautiful scenic trail that skirts along the river and opens upon a small meadow by the river. There are large boulders with John Denver song lyrics carved into them. It was there among the yellowing aspens that I sensed it, that very faint trace of the dampness of winter in the air. My good childhood friend came to me. I looked up and saw him hiding in the scrub oak turning red along the base of Red Mountain and the multi million dollar mansions that exist there. The Aspens’ turning gold along Smuggler Mountain, one of the last working silver mines, that made Aspen the Silver City.  How I used to wait on its arrival with great anticipation in Albany, New York. The fall season is different in the East because of all the hardwoods to be found.  In the Adirondacks, the Berkshires, the Green Mountains, and White Mountains, you will find an array of reds, yellows and golds. It signaled to me the coming of winter and my sport of choice, skiing. I imagined all of the hats that I have worn over the years to pursue my great love of the sport. How it has been my refuge through my trials and tribulations and how whenever life of the world got to me, I would simply choose another mountain to learn and ski.


It had begun simply for me in the early days. My grandfather filled my head with dreams of the Adirondacks and the beauty of them. I quickly made friends with the other skiers in my class. One of those was my good friend, Frank Thompson who has become “ The Captain” in my stories. I, a shy retiring bookworm, who found great solace in learned knowledge versus outdoor activity, was immediately attracted to him. He was already a ski technician and worked with skis and understood ski hardware. He turned me on to my first pair of jet foamed form fitting ski boots, called Strohlz, and my Rossignol Strato 105’s, they were 215 cm’s long. “My steel beams to hell,” I called them. My boots were purchased for me by my high school girlfriend Sandy. Frank’s room was a classic of ski posters and equipment leaned up in every available corner. One particular poster of a buxom woman in a tight fitting yellow Bogner ski outfit, unzipped to her navel exposing her abundantly large breasts, she was exploding through this incredibly awesome mogul field, and the caption read, “Keep those tips up.” It was a K2 ski poster. I thought he was the coolest kid in school. He was a real rebel where I was the nerd.  Other  posters, like the infamous Solomon Ski Binding Poster that said, “Solomon, Deliver Us From Premature Release.” These have all become great collector items. Frank became my ski mentor, and mountain teacher. Every available evening, weekend or cut day from school was spent chasing snow flakes and sunsets, until at a very young age, I took a year off from college, to pursue my dream of being a true ski bum, (I wish to write, Every Ski Bum’s Bible, a commentary of all the things you need to give up in life to pursue that dream.)

The culmination of that dream was skiing at Arapahoe Basin, which at the time was the highest lift operated mountain in North America. I had arrived. The steep, the deep, anti everything that corporate society stood for. No material hang ups or needs with a true disdain for the Corporate Whores who would sell their soul for the almighty dollars. I considered myself the self appointed King of the Mountains. I knew every inch and every skiable trail in America. Many places in America that I had skied were not accessible by lifts and had to be climbed. I was young, “no problem.” I conquered and truly loved every one of them.

Every year my friend that first trace of the wet dampness of winter would arrive and I would gear up for winter. In the early years we would leave Albany on Sunday to ski the mountains of Vermont, a state that I came to love dearly.

     Francis’s mom, Bea Thompson, was a devout Christian and practicing Catholic. Her greatest concern was for our almighty souls and redemption from sins, she was sure that we were committing. Her concern included where we would attend church on Sunday if we were skiing. We were quick to allay her fears by informing Bea, that we attended Mass on the Chapel on the Mountains, every Sunday. We  justified our lie by rationalizing that God invented Mountains and they were places of awe and inspiration since the days of Moses and we were somewhat of Biblical Characters ourselves with long hair and beards. Modern day Prophets if you will, we attended the almighty church of the high mountains. Our justification was dashed one particular Sunday Morning when Frank and I dressed in our White Stag ski sweaters tight fitting ski pants with our brightly colored ski jackets were confronted by Bea Thompson in her large blue terry cloth robe on her snow covered concrete steps in suburban Colonie, New York as were fastening our skis and poles to the roof rack of Frank’s Tan Dodge Dart. (Algernon, named after the Book Flowers for Algernon, yes it had push buttons on the dash to shift instead of a typical stick or automatic shift lever.) We had to face down the wrath of Bea who had found out about our lie, that ski areas did not have chapels on them. Like Moses, delivering her edict to the infidels who were worshipping the false gods of gold they had wrought, she stood with her outstretched blue terry cloth arm raised in accusatory fashion delivering a divine message straight from the mouth of our Lord himself.  The cold chilly air crackles and rings in my ears to this day as she yelled, “God is the Boss, Francis!”

A Universal Soldier

There is a Universal Soldier 

A Universal Soldier

I Think I've seen                                                                                                                           

He’s painted                                                                                                                                 

John Deere Green.


Loose Items O.K.

 So Listen!

The National Centers for Disease Control

unveiled a $20 million “hot lab,”

a super-sealed facility

for the study of

The World’s deadliest viruses,

including pathogens “far”

more dangerous than



(In Protest of the use of explosives for terrorism)


Paris, France. Wednesday September 17, 1986 Tati Discount Department Store 3:28 pm

Blast. 53 wounded 5 dead mothers and children.


The report of a one hundred and five millimeter recoilless rifle

echoes through Big Cottonwood Canyon of

The Wasatch National Forest of Utah

gently awakening avalanches

rumbling through snowfields

above the timberline

of a sleeping Brighton and Solitude mountain sides

snow shifting, sliding, slicing, slamming, snapping

down among hundreds of year old pines.


I'll Stand By You, The Pretender’s



Trading Trinkets, Tall Tales, Telling Lies


Downtown any town’s Main street

this town, down

passed a shellacked shiny brass handled

carved crescent moon wooden door of

“The Ancient Mariner”

across the street from an old fashioned Bijou

sequenced white bulb Marquee

Flashing, “Fiddler on the Roof.”


Butted by a brown concrete, steel, Lake Placid Hilton

descending down two flights

of green canopied wooden stairs.


“The Artist’s Café”

lapped white waves of Mirror Lake

reflecting the lights of “The Cottage”

and the excitement of the 1980 Winter Olympics

across from the Lake Placid Club

it’s walls filled with the owner’s original art

bustling buxom waitresses.


Comrade Ivan leaping to his feet touching my pins from Solitude and Brighton

would I care to trade for his shiny Soviet bears

slapping him on the back saying,

“certainly mine were worth a bit more, perhaps

one possibly two martini’s.”


Telling tales till they became martooni’s


The bustling waitress asking,

“Was I, could I be, an Olympic Athlete?”

Me smiling devilishly saying,

“Why, yes,

would she,

care to come to my room.

to view my gold medals from Europe.


For George Anson

Thank you for the High School Fraternity Ski Trips and showing me the Ski Area's of New England. 


“No Hang Gliding”


...Goats Path....

dropping off

a narrow winding cat walk

from Mt. Mansfield,

Stowe, Vermont.


A square wooden sign says,

“No hang gliding."


Before entering a field of Moguls,

as big as Volkswagens,

parked sideways.


Against the Wall

(At Killington, Vermont)



The prevailing winds


they dance

across the rolling meadows,

at Killington in Vermont.


Blowing snowflakes

that stick to my eyelids

and freeze my toes.


Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, Traffic



For Craig Sweem

Thank You for Introducing Me to the Big Horns

And Sheridan Wyoming




 Gandy Dancer


cold, hard, heavy,

steel sings, ring.


Gandy Man,

blisters upon your hands,

understand life’s lot.


Blue, so very god damned blue,

is the color that I choose,

just a starrin down at my tattered,

hiking shoes.



grey is the color of my pants,

as yet one more,

of they’re working ants.


Writing my poems by the light

of a kerosene lamp,

my arms too tired,

to slide under my pillow,

looking toward another day closer

to a future filled with great white hope,

but a night time filled warding off

the smell of industrial soap.


Blue Sky Mine, Midnight Oil


An Alone Poem


I was all alone

at Kendricks Crossing, Wyoming

sitting Indian style on the rough wood

of a Burlington Northern Railroad

flat bed car.


Discussing life with an itinerant hobo,

when he jumped up and left

a half empty pail of rail spikes

along with his hammer.


For the beckoning call

of an open door

on a Burlington Northern/Santa Fe rail car.


Leaving me alone

to watch the sunsets

silhouetted against the ridges of the Big Horns.


Dying with the dull aching

in the muscles of my arms

between the lines

of one of my powder snow poems.


Written in Sheridan, Wyoming


Disco Bars


I am

just a child

of the sun, moon, and stars.

Sitting with my

Rattlesnake skin rimmed Stetson hat in

Buffalo Bill’s Disco Bar.


Life in a Northern Town, The Dream Academy


For Craig Sweem

Thank You for Introducing Me to the Big Horns

And Sheridan Wyoming




 Gandy Dancer


cold, hard, heavy,

steel sings, ring.


Gandy Man,

blisters upon your hands,

understand life’s lot.


Blue, so very god damned blue,

is the color that I choose,

just a starrin down at my tattered,

hiking shoes.



grey is the color of my pants,

as yet one more,

of they’re working ants.


Writing my poems by the light

of a kerosene lamp,

my arms too tired,

to slide under my pillow,

looking toward another day closer

to a future filled with great white hope,

but a night time filled warding off

the smell of industrial soap.


Blue Sky Mine, Midnight Oil


An Alone Poem


I was all alone

at Kendricks Crossing, Wyoming

sitting Indian style on the rough wood

of a Burlington Northern Railroad

flat bed car.


Discussing life with an itinerant hobo,

when he jumped up and left

a half empty pail of rail spikes

along with his hammer.


For the beckoning call

of an open door

on a Burlington Northern/Santa Fe rail car.


Leaving me alone

to watch the sunsets

silhouetted against the ridges of the Big Horns.


Dying with the dull aching

in the muscles of my arms

between the lines

of one of my powder snow poems.


Written in Sheridan, Wyoming


Disco Bars


I am

just a child

of the sun, moon, and stars.

Sitting with my

Rattlesnake skin rimmed Stetson hat in

Buffalo Bill’s Disco Bar.


Life in a Northern Town, The Dream Academy


For Verne F. Champlin

My grandfather who worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as an accountant, he had Gore, Whiteface and Belleayre Mountains as his accounts. He filled my Childhood Dreams with Mountains of Snow.




A Gift Given Me


One Day,

at the base of Whiteface Mountain

I thought of someone special and

about a gift he’d given me.


I ascended swiftly into a silver silken sea

in a crystal vision Mother Mary came to me.

She whispered to me softly,

words to sooth my fear.

I soared so gracefully

far above the timberline.

I descended slowly only

after I had picked my line

down among the emerald pines.


One Day,

at the base of Whiteface Mountain

I thought of someone special about a gift he’d given me.


Written for the shortening of Chair Six of Whiteface Mountain for the 1980 Winter Olympics.



Chair Six


Oh! carousel of well worn

blue wooden chairs ascend me swiftly

upon the summit of your face.

Stark, lonely, loving, longing,

fair milk maiden’s lips

forever locked, granite windswept cheeks

ominous in your blue ice

laden grace.


Teeth chattering trembling fear

your North winds wailing,

searching, searing, stiff

frozen denim jeans.

The smell of

wet grey woolen ponchos.

 Out of the Gondola Shed at Gore Mountain

(with Touloose)


Bright radiant red

chariot cherry plastic bubbles

“All the way to the top men,”

a lift attendant’s

warm wry smile.


His bright orange ski cap,

pulled well over the ears

Keeping out the biting cold.


Clomp and thump,

Clomp and thump,

hurriedly mad crazed killers

Plunging home our skis and poles.



Heaven’s gate slides shut

a zero down gloved hand

bearing a radiant silver cross

that turns the key

clicking the latch

locking away

the chosen ones.


Bumping, bouncing,

bursting out

bathed in luminous sunlight

ivory crystals

set upon forest green pines


pale blue skies

swaying, swinging,

precariously perched on a sterling

stranded string

dangling there.



his purple passion hat

cocked over an optic gleam

a comrade in arms

comes his familiar cackle,

“Ain’t it the tits,” his breath hangs frozen

a cumulus cloud


splashing against my brow

dissipating with our fears

into the quiet

frigid serenity.

Adirondack Day, Jon Bowers and Gordon Grey


2 cents overdrawn


Mick Jagger on a full screen

MTV video screaming,

“I’m just waiting on a lady,

I’m just waiting on a friend.”


Gold Peak restaurant bar

warming my hands on a

steaming ceramic coffee filled mug

arriving one day later than,

the Vail Mountain employee draw.


Being 2 cents overdrawn and scribbling,

like Gollum caressing his precious, precious,

my powder snow poetry.


Leaving the restaurant like that,

I mean with blue words

on a white paper napkin

thinking them worth much

more than 2 missing pennies.


Pulling on down gloves

trudging into the wilderness,

like Strider the Ranger.


Never really fitting in

like a brown slab wood cabin

mud caulked chinked

with a grey stone chimney

sizzling snowshoe rabbit

smoke billowing wafting

through silent aspen’s.


It hangs drifting like

cotton ball clouds

sparkling crystals bending emerald boughs of pines.


A skinny ski trail snaking around

deep powder tree wells

to a stoked glowing fireplace

in the White River National Forest

warding off dusk.


A Tear By The Way


“Been climbing at Devil’s Tower

some of the 5-8 pitches were hard

Tho, I laughed all the way up.


I live in Breck, (Breckenridge, Colorado) during the winter

work as a waitron nights so I

I can board all day. Same

as now cept

I’m a fly clinging to and climbing

cracks all day.


Wyoming is big and beautiful,

endless vista’s and horizon’s

stretching into forever

glowing orange sun hanging

half in, half out of the Earth

light blue hue

tiny white wisps of cirrus

clouds rushing by

winds whipping

ripping my hair blonde

from it’s long pony tail

stinging my breasts.


There was nothing I could do

dangling on my descent

rappelling requires

complete concentration.


Saw you hitch-hiking your

blue and black Dana Design Pack

against your tan smooth skin

you know you have a climber’s body.

It’s too bad I turn here for

Eldorado Canyon tho

this should get you far enough

out of Boulder.


It’s a pity

we couldn’t climb with one another.

My name is

Tear by the way.”


Sierra, Boz Scaggs



Feel Free to Write Your Fire!
No one responded to my Challenge to tell us what Life, Liberty and Freedom means to you?
For the 2026 Olympics in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, I hope to finish The Lure of the Mountain King (Novel), Dancing with Rhada, (Novel), and The Lure of the Mountain King, (Screenplay), of which I have the first act completed. Also with the completion of The Ballad of Tom Dillon my Soundtrack is complete, including a remake of I had too much to Dream Last Night. Join me in presenting works of art to the Olympic Organizing Commitee. 


The Ghosts, They Come

When the Moon is a ghostly stallion proudly                                                                                                    prancing, hooves pounding,                                                                                                                  turf billowing                                                                                                                                                    upon the peripheral plains,                                                                                                                               the Ghosts they,                                                                                                                                                 are free to come.




  Aristotle's Advice: Please get Vaccinated and Wear a Mask!

Did you  ever here the story of a frog who dreamed of becoming a King?

 In 1978 Arapahoe Basin was the Highest Lift Serviced Mountain In North America  (That has since changed). Out of 330 million Americans I am the Last American to have procured a Season's Pass in exchange for work at the Lodge, when it was privately owned. It not only makes me the Luckiest Young Man in America, I guess it makes me America's Greatest Ski Bum. Although that fact grants me no Notoriety, except for occasional bragging rights. Live Free and Ski!

I Am, I Said, Neal Diamond


Pete's Advice: If they don't get Vaccinated and wear a Mask. Take away their talk boxes, watch boxes, and think boxes!





What About Me, Quicksilver Messenger Service

Is there anyone out there?

Can Anyone hear me?





White Bird, It's A Beautiful Day


Thank You for Sharing 

The Journey of My Youth

Through the Valleys, Forests and Mountains

of North America

Can you recognize the Mountain Pearl?

Please Join me in the Quest to Capture the Pearl Of The Dolomites in Italy, 2026. Be There!




Om Namah Shivaya, Krishna Das, Pilgrim Heart

Dad and His Girl Pete
Laughlin, Nevada

The  Lucky Dun Ranch
Silt, Colorado















No comments:

Post a Comment