News, Oct. 30: “Scents of Art and Alchemy”

Copper Is Cool

… I am impressed by perfume artist Roxana Villa's unique blends of herbs that have been literally distilled into unique perfumes. I am an amateur alchemist, although my efforts are minimal and more into observation, especially of the experiments of ancient alchemists. …

Copper has been used by alchemists for centuries, due to its unique properties: The metal tubing is perfectly equipped to handle both hot and cold elements, as well as being a durable material to extract a more purified distillation of whatever is being distilled, whether it be perfume, incense, alcohol or various medicinal compounds. Even the old-time hillbilly 'moonshiners' used copper stills to distill whiskey as a beverage. However, in my view, one of the most honored professions to use copper for distillation were the ancient apothecaries (which, in essence, are the fore-runners of pharmacists of today). Copper can withstand heat: needed for purification. Alchemy is real, sweet and beneficial.

James A Marples
Longview, Texas

Opinion, Oct. 23: “Co-exist” and “No Consensus”

For and Against

I recently visited my friend and retired Forest Service colleague, Bill Armstrong. We spent a week walking the Santa Fe National Forest, visiting Pueblo ruins, areas burned over by wildfires and some of Bill's fire control projects.

We read with admiration and no small satisfaction the Reporter's "Prescribed Protection" article, and Sam Hitt's and Fred King's responses. If I understand Sam's position correctly, he and Bill are actually in agreement about a desired future condition where wildfires can burn through the Santa Fe without the Forest Service trying to put them out.

They disagree on whether this can be allowed to happen before thinning and prescribed fire treatments return forest conditions to something resembling what the occupants of the old pueblos maintained with natural and man-made fires, before the arrival of the Spanish settlers and their livestock, and before the Forest Service started putting out wildfires.

Apparently Sam and Fred believe that the effects of prescribed fires are inherently bad, while the effects of naturally occurring fires are invariably good. It seems unlikely the majority of residents in and around Santa Fe concur with this view, after seeing the effects of the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000 on Los Alamos, or the disastrous flooding that followed the Las Conchas Fire in 2010; and after being able to compare these results with the thinning and prescribed fire treatments on the Santa Fe Watershed that Bill so ably designed and implemented.

Ricardo Garcia
Bellbrook, OH