Some three hundred miles offshore and three more above the Atlantic floor, I hear a dog barking out somewhere on the moonless November water. Every night, I am jolted awake by a voice whispering my name from the foot of my hard, narrow bed in my tomb-like berth in the bow. The voice sounds eerily like my own. At daybreak, exhausted, I see a mile-wide piece of gold shag carpet undulating on the surface of the navy blue water. We are heading right for it. I warn Ken. “It’s your seasickness medication,” he replies dispassionately, referring to the small transdermal patch I have secured behind my left ear. “It makes some people hallucinate.” 

Captain Ken is 70. Not one wiry whisker on his wrinkly face is the same length as any other. “I heard a woman crying for four days one time,” he says. “It was the wind against the rigging.” But apparently we are better off imagining things that are not there than enduring a genuine bout of clinical-grade motion sickness. “Even Shackleton got seasick,” he assures me. I nod. If I had Internet, I would Google that name. 

I am crew on this sailboat. The “kitchen wench.” The grinder. The hallucinator. All good details for an essay for our special winter issue, I am thinking.

But when I return, the magazine has already taken shape in my absence. Stories have been submitted. Stories crafted with sentences like ‘I watched Comb Ridge glow that afternoon, and I cried, not because of the sublime and muted light, but because my corduroy pants and floppy moon boots from TG&Y were sopping wet from tromping around in half a foot of snow and I knew that my sleeping bag would provide little comfort against the cold.’ This by regional award-winning journalist Jonathan Thompson. And little works of art like ‘Mo tacitly let me escort her from the shadows of the kidding room to the ashen light of day. I stood her on the pile of sawdust and straddled her back. I rubbed her neck and spoke to her, thanking her, fighting the shaking in my voice.’ by the lyrical local writer, Kate Husted. And there is more. That’s when I think … I am not about to bring my knife to this gun fight. I am going to happily get out of the way.

Themed issues can seem like sneaky ways to simply sell more advertising. What better way to sell a few extra seasonal ads than to come out with “The Holiday Issue!” But as my colleague and our managing editor, Rachel Turiel, said in a meant-to-reassure-me email (a common occurrence), “No one’s trying to sell anything or convince anyone of anything. It’s just pure storytelling by local people. Each story has the potential to hold interest for all of our readers. I think this issue has heart, humanity and humor. It’s a risk for sure [which I believe in] and we’ll see how the public takes to it.” So, unless we are trying to sell advertising to the plethora of quill and ink stores across our region, this isn’t that.

This, we imagine, is the perfect winter reading. Like curled-up-by-the-fire kind of unplugged reading. It is an opportunity to engage in the lives of others. Learn something, laugh, wonder, ponder life more deeply during this cold, reflective season. 

We would be remiss if we didn’t pay homage to those local story lovers who influenced us. Most directly, we have to give a nod to The Raven Narratives, a live storytelling event held quarterly here in Southwest Colorado. It’s the brainchild of the gifted writer Sarah Syverson and her creative partner, Tom Yoder. While their format celebrates the oral tradition, their criteria are the same: that the stories be dynamic and authentic. We can’t say it better.

We also thank Patrice DeLorenzo, Rosie Carter, Shay M. Lopez and Dan Hinds for their original artwork that brought visual lyricism to this issue.

This is our 27th issue. Seven years ago, we started working on our first issue. We are still entirely owned, conceptualized, written, edited, fiddled with and printed locally by local people. We still don’t answer to anybody but ourselves (and you). We thank our loyal advertisers for supporting our mission and our stubborn philosophy that forbids us from doing stories on you and your business simply because you advertise. Many of you have been with us since the beginning. We also sincerely thank our readership. You recognized our philosophy and saw that we were different. Thank you for your loyalty.

Rick Scibelli, Jr., Edible Southwest Colorado