October Raspberry Days! Let’s face it – Things are Out of Whack, and Getting Whackier

The longer this sublime Indian summer continues… the longer my mind finds time to dwell upon the inescapable fact that the world today is a very different place than when the Colorado Rocky Mountain Sculpture Garden first began to take shape twelve summers ago.

Gone is the sleepy little hollow just 8 miles north of Aspen.

L to R Leaning Tower, Troy, Polar trout

Woody Creek – this entire region, half the known world for all I know, is now locked in the grip of a boom so loud it literally assaults the ears.

Huge earth moving trucks now pose a familiar obstacle to bicyclists and motorists alike; our once lovely, peaceful back country lanes now buzz with heavy traffic.


2015 began as a strange year and has continued to baffle, confuse and downright scare me ever since.

Prototypical Pink Poppy

Ask anyone around these parts, or click on this link if you’d care to witness for yourself… January and February of this year were brutally hot. That’s right, as these two normally frigid months here in Colorado set about the business of providing snow, Aspen, Snowmass and Woody Creek, perched near the top of the Rockies, were literally scorching under an unrelenting hot, broiling sun.

The wettest spring on record… well, for a very long time at least, deluged the valley with so much rain that our lovely Roaring Fork River swelled to over three times recent averages. Vegetation sprang to life like never before, and a great many people who have been here a great deal longer than I scratched their heads (not always, but figuratively speaking) and exclaimed out loud that they had never seen anything like it!

Vegetation in fields, roadside ditches and irrigation canals alike soared to such heights that we barely recognized it. The arrival of so many lovely flowers however merely exposed a terrifying lack of bees. Yes, terrifying. For bees are bellwethers for the environment, and their absence to my mind is disturbing in the extreme.


After attempting to count, document and report the garden’s dwindling bee population on a daily basis I reluctantly abandoned the effort when an utterly depressing ten day period saw not a single bee for me to count.

Eventually, as late summer brought its radiant heat into play, and the night air finally lost its chill, a few straggling bees were to be spotted here and there, never in numbers to return the sound-of-summer background hum of years gone by, but enough to give me some hope that we haven’t completely obliterated them from the face of the valley. Yet, at least.

Pansy Clan

The Pansy Clan


Fizzy Flowers

And now, another weird oddity: raspberries in October! Wednesday October 7 to be precise. 6:03 pm, as captured in the photos below.

These things simply shouldn’t be happening and yet they are. Nature is on the run, wildlife pressed at every turn. Habitat is lost, the food chain poisoned. Birds die (but conveniently out of sight).  Land is torn up, migration trails ignored, mansions are built, vast lawns stretch as far as the eye can see. Ouch.

Yes, its happening seemingly everywhere – the boom is on, again, eh?

Eastern Portal, Woody Creek, Death and Destruction of..

Just out there – beyond the garden’s Eastern Portal machines grind, trucks roar, beepers beep. Its the new sound of Woody Creek Beep Beep Beep

Woody Creek, Death and Destruction of...

Its an all-out assault.

Woody Creek, Death and Destruction of..

Woody Creek and The Spirit of ’15

Zoning? Ha! It’s The Mighty Dollar rules the day.

Birdhaven Mountain


Birdhaven Mountain

Birdhaven Mountain

Doesn’t everyone realize how fragile and precious our planet is?

The thin veil of soil that we human beings depend on for our survival may appear tough on the surface but in reality it is puny and fragile – we need to look after it not slosh poison about with such wild abandon.

Birdhaven Mountain

Twelve years ago it would have been impossible to imagine the scale of the orchestrated poisoning we are witnessing today. Back in the old days huge trucks laden with color coded poisons were a rare sight indeed – usually a county or state vehicle. These days monster chemical trucks are the order of the day and can be seen waddling down most of the roads throughout the spring. Just what the sum total increase in deadly chemicals pumped into the valley’s environment each year I’m sure would make for an alarming read: especially when one considers the increased usage these figures point to in the coming years.

Even the local authorities are in on it. While the landscapers busily pump countless of gallons of poison on practically every parcel of privately owned land the local commissioners have joined the national frenzy and declared war on a disparate number of allegedly “invasive plant species” (as if any species could be more invasive than us!). Sadly this results in untold numbers of birds, mice, bees, insects, deer… you name it…. are summarily poisoned in the mad frenzy to destroy a bunch of plants who seem to have made the fateful error of adapting too successfully to climate change.

Birdhaven Mountain

When The Tide Turns


and now

he says cheerfully

the slideshow


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Birdhaven Mountain

The thing is: I still think there’s time. Surely its plain to see that nature is in trouble, which means that we are in trouble. Please do what you can to set aside a little time and energy to help nature. If you have a garden set aside a wild area. If you have a window put in a window box. Stop using poison of all kinds.

Look at it this way – there are millions and billions of us, and if we all do something, anything, it will all add up and who knows? Maybe we will derail the impending ecological disaster we can all (surely) see lurking just around the corner.

Its time to do something folks. But here’s the fun part – its fun! Practically anything to do with nature comes laden with lovely surprises, shocking revelations, and a deeply gratifying sensation that in some small way you are making the planet just that tiny little bit better – better than you found it, better than many ever knew it could be. But you saw it, and you did it. You made it real, and because of it the world is now a better/healthier place.

A garden is such a natural conduit for interaction with the natural world that it barely needs to be explained. But what about that odd bit of land near the office – a nice little lunchtime project perhaps?

Six, or is it seven now, billion people… all giving up pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and all. All aiding and assisting nature, not fighting and destroying it. All concerned for the planet that nurtures them.

Its a long road to saving the world, but it begins with a single step.




thanks for visiting martincooney.com

Author, Roaring Fork River, Headwaters, Lost Man Trail.

We can do it – Let’s save the earth from ourselves.







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