Blog for May 6-8, 2011
By Don Usner, Vallecitos Board Member
The Vallecitos Mountain Ranch board met at the ranch in early May, just a week or so after a late storm dumped eight inches of snow on the dry ground. The main road from Hopewell was too muddy to use, so we all drove through Spring Creek—a new and exciting experience for most of us. (Maybe a little too exciting for some who took a few wrong turns.)
Most of the snow had melted at the ranch, although north-facing slopes still held wet, dripping patches. The river was flowing high, cloudy and wild, its rushing voice resounding throughout the valley and making a perfect lullaby. Roaring fires in the meditation hall and the kitchen warmed the lodge against the 20-degree chill.
Canada geese had just arrived on the ponds and began their honking conversation before dawn, which served as a wake up call. Elk lingered in the meadow by the river at first light, and we’re pretty sure that we saw peregrine falcons—perhaps the same nesting pair we saw last summer—flying from the big snag in the meadow to the cliffs in the canyon and back. We’re hoping the falcons will nest at the ranch again this summer, as we suspect they did last year. (We’ve alerted a falcon expert, who wants to come look for the nest.)
Many other birds were active at the ranch. A flock of goldfinches flitted in the bare aspen branches just outside the lodge, distracting us during our board meetings upstairs, and a spectacular flock of evening grosbeaks mobbed the bird feeder on the porch. (It was Pasha, who notices things while adults are busy in conversation, who pointed these out to me.) Steve Thompson also noted red winged blackbirds, pine siskins, tree swallows, and yellow-rumped warblers. A great horned owl hooted through the nights.
In a setting like this, who wouldn’t be inspired? We were energized to do our work. Although the board meetings took up much of our time, frequent breaks and one afternoon-long hike kept us fresh. All board meetings should be like this!
Board members Mary Powell, Melissa Morman, Grove Burnett, Mark Coleman, and me, were in attendance, in addition to executive director Leigh Lauck and, for some meetings, special guests Steve Thompson, Stef Miller and Amadeus Leitner, who have been helping out with Vallecitos. Everyone pitched in with useful ideas as we brainstormed a wide range of topics, from advertising and publicity (including a primer on the use of social media) to staff and facilities needs and the budget.
Short sitting sessions in the morning and evening enlivened us further and reminded me of all my fabulous sits at Vallecitos over the past few years, each of them imprinting the Vallecitos experience deeply into my consciousness. It’s so great to be open up the ranch for another season. It’s going to be a great one!