The final chapter


We just ordered a new tent.

It’s a really nice one, too, a good deal from Sierra Trading Post. It’s pretty heavy but it should be able to withstand just about any rafting trip, backcountry skiing excursion or camp in the woods. I got a new sleeping bag. I’m all set, just waiting to get a square aluminum dutch oven so I can make anything I want in a campfire.

It’s probably not the best time for me to be making purchases like this, considering I’m leaving my job here at the paper for some riskier endeavors that will hopefully pay off in the future. They say young folks these days are afraid to take risks. I guess I’m not.

I need the tent and the sleeping bag because I’m about to have a ton of time off, I guess, after leaving this job. A lot more than I’m used to, or at least time off when I need it and time on when I want it. I remember it was last fall during volleyball season when parents and community members began to remark that I was everywhere—did I ever stop working?

It sure doesn’t really seem like it. I felt like I was covering nearly every sport to some capacity, every event and most of the meetings at one time or another. After a while the job became the means that allowed me to live in this place I’ve grown to love so much, the heavy blanket on my back. The place matters more now. I want to be around to help local businesses, organizations and projects thrive. I do that here, but I want to be the one that does things now, rather than the one that records what others do.

I’ve lived here for about a year so far, and if nothing else I’ve just been blown away by the potential this Valley has and the people who can make it great again. Of course, that’s not the only thing. I’ve learned how to do just a little bit of rowing and cross-country skiing but I’m still definitely learning how to do both. Trails have become more familiar, towns and general locations in the state are making their way onto the terribly unreliable mental map I keep. I’ve learned a lot of your names, back stories, what you do and what you want to do. Some people I’m still waiting to meet.

Despite the long, thankless hours there is no better way to get to know a community than working at the paper. And, even though sometimes people don’t want to be in the paper, it matters that there is freedom of the press, that someone is there to keep their eye on people even with such a small community. If we refuse to cover stuff because of hurt feelings, that’s a step to the wrong side of tyranny. I’m not being dramatic.

No matter who you want to vote for this year, the idea of transparency is very important and that does not happen without a newspaper. In a small town like this, sometimes that means upsetting your neighbor which is constantly a hard decision to make. No one wants to make any enemies. There are certain concerns we don’t have working at a small paper, like covering national events and dealing with a huge staff. On the other hand, we have the trouble of fitting into the community we have to talk about in detail. I guess it’s possible that people may not agree with that, but it’s what I’ve learned while working at the Saratoga Sun. (Boy, my hair sure has grown a lot since that author photo!)

I recently went on an overnight float trip the weekend that terrible shooting happened in Orlando. I’ve grown weary of the news. I remember reading Henry David Thoreau in class during my freshman year of college and finding it absurd that he felt newspapers were mere gossip and keeping up with events was troubling to the soul (it’s so important to be informed, isn’t it?). When I heard about the fatal shooting when we got back to the house, all I wanted to do is go back on the river.

“In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post-office. You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard from himself this long while.” - Henry David Thoreau

I understand this much more now, how depleting it is to spread yourself among issues that have nothing to do with you directly, abandoning relationships and private lives in favor of news and politics. As a writer, I’ll always have to be concerned with these things on some level, but I welcome a break. I wish we could all take a long time away from it all, the propaganda of companies and public figures and return to our actual thought and reason to make things better in the world. It’s hard to listen to facts when everything has been politicized to the point that the operations of those far away in every regard tug on our heartstrings, and somehow they do.

So I’m going back on the river, or in the woods and eventually in a snowdrift again. I’ll still be around and willing to help out on nearly any project that needs a writer (call me!) in between deep breaths. Maybe I’ll read “Walden” again. But I certainly won’t be at any of your meetings–that is, until I need to be.


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