In a Flash

By Virginia Parker Staat

“To write short nonfiction requires an alertness to detail, a quickening of the senses, a focusing of the literary lens, so to speak, until one has magnified some small aspect of what it means to be human.” ~ Bernard Cooper

How do we describe flash nonfiction? Author Carol Guess believes it is where compression meets passion. Lee Martin says it’s all about voice. In his article When Flash Nonfiction Strikes You, Michael Cohen writes, “Flash creative nonfiction is somewhere between the lyricism of poetry and the narrative potential of prose.”

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Hunting Season Has Begun

A book review by Virginia Staat

“Welcome to my world, the world of a forager! It is a world filled with free, nutritious, and delicious fruits, flowers, roots, tubers, shoots, nuts, mushrooms, and foliage, all within walking distance of your front door. ~ Mark Vorderbruggen, Ph.D.

They call him Merriwether. Friends dubbed him with the nickname in honor of the famous American explorer Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It is a fitting moniker. Meriweather is a research chemist with a M.S. in medicinal chemistry and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry. He is recognized as an expert in wild edibles and medicinal plants, having spent his life foraging and learning the correlation between foraged foods, their nutritional and medicinal values, and how to use them to optimize health. He holds sixteen patents and is a master gardener.

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So why are we going to Los Alamos???

One of the things we like about Los Alamos is that it offers a delightful variety of attractions and activities, practically something for everyone. Details on organized field trips are being worked out, and we’ll also be suggesting things you will want to do on your own. The 2023 conference is a group effort, with Don Laine and Linda Haehnle as conference co-chairs and Virginia Staat taking the lead on setting up workshops.

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The Mission Continues

By Virginia Parker staat

“The reason it’s worth standing up for punctuation is not that it’s an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive elite who have attacks of the vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.” 
~ Lynn Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Many of you may not even have noticed. Over the past several years, I have written about National Punctuation Day for each of my September Rocky Mountain Outdoor writingarticles. I did not this year. I was mourning the demise of one of my favorite organizations, The Apostrophe Protection Society. In 2001, the Apostrophe Protection Society (APS) began with “a mission to preserve the correct use of this important, though much misused, item of punctuation.” 

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The Hook and Bullet Press Has Got It All Wrong!

By Peter Kummerfeldt

While reviewing the most recent edition of a popular outdoor magazine I was reminded once again that the magazines and TV shows have got it all wrong. Surviving a wilderness emergency should be proactive, not reactive! The emphasis should be on what you should do to stay out of a crisis, and then on what you need to do in the event that, despite your best efforts, you find yourself in one. The focus should be on preparing for the event, having the right clothing and emergency gear, not on how to improvise what you need from the environment you find yourself in. As I have said so often in many of my programs “It’s a h…… of a lot easier to prevent bad things from happening than it is to deal with them after the fact!” Unfortunately we only read or hear about the people who had a terrible experience. We don’t read about those who were prepared to spend the night out, did so, and then came out the next day with little or no fanfare.

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Thank You

By Virginia Parker Staat

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away. In honor of this special day, I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude to each of you for your continued commitment to RMOWP, its stewardship of the great outdoors, and your quest to improve your craft. From our executive director to board members to committee members to conference participants and to each and every one of you, I would like to thank you for your generosity, dedication, time, and willingness to continue to share your gifts, talents, and friendship.

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Golden Happenings…

Last month Golden, Colorado welcomed 29 RMOWPers who gathered to swap yarns and share meals. We enjoyed a fine mix of morning field trips and afternoon workshops, plus the usual presentation of all contest entries the first evening, and culminating in the banquet and awards ceremony three days later.

Field Trips

Argo Mill tunnel. Idaho Springs, CO.
RMOWPers emerge from the Argo Tunnel. © Maryann Gaug

Bright and early Monday morning we headed up to Idaho Springs and the Argo Mill. Our excellent tour guide, Erin, was chock-full of facts and details about the mill and its history. Dry data? Nope – Erin was tops at engaging our imaginations and drawing us in. 

One interesting detail concerned the early miners’ caps: similar to a train conductors, they were made of cloth, but with a candle perched atop (!) for light. If your candle suddenly went out you got out of there fast – it meant the oxygen had all but disappeared! 

The Argo Mill processed over $100 million of gold ore (that’s 2.6 trillion in 2020 dollars) between 1893 and 1943. Much of the original equipment remains in place, giving visitors a good idea of the process and the noise it all generated. 

Roxborough State Park. Colorado
Enjoying the view at Roxborough State Park. © Peter Kummerfeldt

Roxborough State Park was first up on Tuesday morning. It’s a beautiful birding park, and about half us – divided into two groups –  Group A and Group 2 each enjoyed a guided walk on the Fountain Valley Trail.

Wednesday offered a choice: a visit to Dinosaur Ridge, for the guided tour of Dinosaur Freeways & Crustaceous Seaways; or a tour of the Colorado Railroad Museum with member Judy Lehmkuhl, who volunteers there. 

Finally – drum roll please – the post conference jaunt up one of Colorado’s famed fourteeners: Mount Evans. Nine intrepid RMOWPers made the journey, enjoying mountain scenery punctuated by goats and big horn sheep, starting out in sunshine and winding up and up into chilly mist on top.

Mt. Evans. Colorado
Crest House shrouded in mist atop Mt. Evans. © Dan Bernskoetter


North American Nature Photography Association president Dawn Wilson explained her belief that we are more than simply photographers and writers, we are storytellers and content creators. She talked about how she uses her photography to inspire a story, and made suggestions for pitching a story. 

  Steve Cochrane, who joined RMOWP last year, is a wildlife, nature, and action sports photographer. He gave us pointers on capturing images of animals – know the critter well, his habitat and habits, and when’s the best time of year and best time of day to find him. And although visiting national parks, wildlife refuges, and the like offer tremendous opportunities for seeing wildlife and beautiful scenery, Steve suggests you can find great possibilities in your own back yard and city or town parks if you just get out there and look, keeping your eyes peeled for the unexpected.

Tuesday afternoon kicked off with a fascinating workshop about drones by David Nelson from the Evergreen (Colorado) Camera Club. He suggested thinking of a drone as a camera on a really long tripod. He is a recreational pilot – one who cannot make or have any intent to make any money from it, rather than a commercial pilot, which requires certification from the FAA. He explained the limitations imposed on recreational pilots, but added his own guidelines: Use common sense, do not disturb wildlife, ask permission, be polite and considerate at all times. Excellent guidelines for life generally I’d say.

Free-lance writer Dan England gave us his version of Writing with Voice. Specifically, your own voice. Telling a story with personalization and character gives it life. First you need to block out any negative thoughts, and write like you talk – don’t try to be someone else. Write like a Jedi – use the force and believe in yourself – and edit like a librarian.

Help RMOWP Grow

By Virginia Parker Staat

What a wonderful conference we had in Golden! It was great to see so many familiar faces and spend time together. We have noticed, however, a discouraging trend. Our RMOWP membership numbers are falling, mostly due to change-of-life issues. During our General Membership meeting, we discussed a variety of ways to reach out to potential new members, including recruiting local photography and writing clubs, schools, and those we meet while exploring our respective crafts. 

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