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Come get the Bark Beetle Blues

Frank Carroll
Published: Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Beetle mania is coming to Custer…on purpose.  The Custer Area Arts Council just couldn’t let another year go by without doing something to help all of us deal with the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the fires that will surely follow. As a result the Bark Beetle Blues is coming to our town in January and all of you are invited.  That’s not news, you say?  They’re already here?  Well, yes and no.
You see, there’s going to be a funeral, of sorts, complete with an invocation on Jan. 19, with music and then a ceremony in the spring, summer and fall, and then a wake in January 2014, a Hills-wide project of the Arts Council. This won’t be a New Age kind of thing, organizers say. It’s not a hippie-fest of the unfocused wrestling with the spiritually bereft. It’s a real deal attempt to confront our fears, get through them and put it all behind us.
After all, changes just like the ones we are experiencing right now and will experience for the next few decades are common in the Hills, made the Hills look like they do and offer lots of opportunity for falling in love with brand new places and brand new views.
It turns out while we were bemoaning the deaths of so many of our beloved pine trees from mountain pine beetles and fires, we forgot about the people.  Change is here in the Black Hills on a scale so huge it just staggers the imagination. It is not the kind of change that happens slowly, like grass growing until one day you notice it needs cutting. It’s the kind of change where you wake up one morning and entire hillsides are covered with dead trees or big fire scars.  Big change. Your favorite childhood haunts now gone forever kind of change.

Beetle mania is coming to Custer…on purpose.  The Custer Area Arts Council just couldn’t let another year go by without doing something to help all of us deal with the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the fires that will surely follow. As a result the Bark Beetle Blues is coming to our town in January and all of you are invited.  That’s not news, you say?  They’re already here?  Well, yes and no.

You see, there’s going to be a funeral, of sorts, complete with an invocation on Jan. 19, with music and then a ceremony in the spring, summer and fall, and then a wake in January 2014, a Hills-wide project of the Arts Council. This won’t be a New Age kind of thing, organizers say. It’s not a hippie-fest of the unfocused wrestling with the spiritually bereft. It’s a real deal attempt to confront our fears, get through them and put it all behind us.

After all, changes just like the ones we are experiencing right now and will experience for the next few decades are common in the Hills, made the Hills look like they do and offer lots of opportunity for falling in love with brand new places and brand new views.

It turns out while we were bemoaning the deaths of so many of our beloved pine trees from mountain pine beetles and fires, we forgot about the people.  Change is here in the Black Hills on a scale so huge it just staggers the imagination. It is not the kind of change that happens slowly, like grass growing until one day you notice it needs cutting. It’s the kind of change where you wake up one morning and entire hillsides are covered with dead trees or big fire scars.  Big change. Your favorite childhood haunts now gone forever kind of change.

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