Ranger Kathryn's Arches

November 28, 2011

Provoking nostalgia

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:24 pm
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I’ve inadvertently stumbled upon a major nostalgia-inducer. My old Nokia cell phone was so ancient, all its data had to be transferred by hand to my new device. One by one, I viewed each name and phone number while tapping them into my shiny-but-intimidating iPhone. The minute I spent on each one yielded a flood of memories — and unexpected insights. It was something of a Life In Review, in collapsed form.

Some numbers I’ll never use again. One person was dead. Others were from a past chapter of my life, and I haven’t stayed in contact. These I passed over without transferring; lessons in letting go.

Some stirred a pang of missing, that old “Why has it been so long since I’ve talked with them?” Lessons in re-prioritizing.

Some numbers are in there “just in case”: Poison Control (added after a colleague was stung by a scorpion),  Sheriff’s Dispatch (added after a ranger was shot last year). Lessons in preparedness.

Some are resource people — archeologist, wildlife biologist. Lessons in the value of inside information.

Some numbers are new friends, ones I’m just getting to know and love. (There is a lot of that in the Park Service.) Lessons in starting anew, being open to and present with each person who enters my life.

Some are old bosses and co-workers. Lessons in networking.

Some are professionals whose expertise has made my life so much smoother: doctor, pastor, plumber, accountant, massage therapist. Lessons in gratitude.

Many numbers are in Minnesota, many are in Utah; others are scattered all over kingdom come. Lessons in global connectedness.

Some are current colleagues, accomplished teammates who help each other perform our duties to the best of our abilities. Lessons in “got your back.”

Some numbers were called so often I still have them memorized from the old days, when you dialed by number instead of name. Lessons in enduring relationship, friendships deepened over years of doing life together. Rootedness.

Finally, a precious handful made it to my “Favorites” list. You know who you are. There’s nobody like you on earth, and just looking at that screen sends warmth through my being. Living lessons in unconditional love.


Leave a comment: What other lessons can you learn from your cell phone?

June 2, 2010

Moab Free Meal: what a brilliant idea!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 4:32 pm
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Crockpots line the table after the Moab Free Meal

It’s noon, and an assortment of people from every walk of life begins to converge on a small grassy park-like space near downtown Moab. They trickle in on foot, by bicycle, or in cars. They carry entire backpacks with all their life belongings, or nothing at all. They range from young adults to retired folks; all are waiting for the Moab Free Meal to appear.

Nearly three years ago, a broke and hungry young man moved to Moab and had a vision for feeding people using restaurants’ leftovers. An organization called “Food Not Bombs” had inspired him in his previous city. He began soliciting donated food, which he kept in coolers at his place until it got used, which I believe was once or twice weekly at first. Word got around. Little by little the momentum grew, and food that would have been thrown away was redirected toward the Moab Free Meal. The idea caught on and gained widespread local support. It is now a daily meal, for anyone in the entire town, and completely free.

Attendees arrive by various conveyances

Now, every day of the year, at noon-ish or after, volunteers pull up and set up the two folding tables, crockpots and several 5-gallon buckets of bowls and utensils. Patrons gladly pitch in to help with the set-up, which proceeds in a well-rehearsed fashion. Clean bowls (no disposables!) come out of two buckets at the beginning; hot food beckons on the next low tables; and condiments and utensils await the hungry lunchers at the end. Today, for example, we had delicious leftover vegetarian pizza, a sweet potato casserole, and potato-and-meat-stew. Soda is available for those who want it, as are wrapped dessert treats. Nobody goes away hungry.

Every cross-section of life is represented. On any given day, there might be six to forty people at this meal; today there were about twenty. I sat under a shade tree with an artist/massage therapist, an engineer/river guide, a musician, a radiologist, another park ranger, and a fascinating man named Daniel [zerocurrency.blogspot.com] who has utterly eschewed monetary currency for nearly a decade. (I dare you to try to imagine freeing your life from money in any form. Mind-boggling.)

I think this should be called the Networking Tree

All it took is one man with a vision. This meal is a win-win for everyone involved; it saves countless buckets of food from being thrown away, feeds hungry stomachs, and creates fabulous opportunities for networking among attendees under the shade trees. I exchanged phone numbers with a few individuals whose skills/talents/abilities/connections may be useful, like the man who may be able to help me find a free bike to acquire and fix up, or someone who has connections with Grand Canyon river raft trips. I’d never have met them without the Moab Free Meal.

Every city could do this!


Addendum: sometime in 2011, MFM foundered; I presume it was because of insufficient volunteer labor. It was for a time resurrected in some other iteration but does not look like what’s described in the above article. Check at the Moab Information Center (Main St & Center) if you come to town and are looking for this.

Dirty bowls go back into the 5-gallon buckets

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