It is a blessing to see someone again after so many years when I said it wouldnít be so.
It is a rare sight to see them so well, and remember what it once was while smiling at the outcomes.
Tomorrow is the last meeting after eight years of service Saguache County Commissioner Mike Spearman will sit at the head of the county table in the old courthouse. His first term win in 2004 was my first big local election story for the Center Post-Dispatch. The campaign and the visions were the beginning of a mission, and the stories, the witnessing and the learning would prove noteworthy in places far from the northern fields and mountains of the San Luis Valley before coming back to where it all began.
My coverage of Commissioner Spearman only accounts for the first quarter of his career and the last quarter. What happened in the middle has left him a bit thinner, but also loads wiser. Never one to tolerate a delayed meeting or inexhaustible cry, in eight years he has mastered the craft with a no bull attitude and it is much appreciated. He takes care of business despite his desire to take care of all. Business and caring are not often in the same public service scenario, and when they are itís often hard to believe.
Commissioner Spearman, however, made that lesson very hard for me to learn when I went traipsing around to other places filled with such different faces. After he taught me about silage, and I visited the ranch, his familyís home and met his wife, it made a lot of sense why he decided to offer his time, his knowledge and his passion for Saguache County. Turns out others take similar jobs for radically different reasons and the right people donít even try at all. Commissioner Spearman would become one of those faces, those minds, those people engrained in my memory, part of my tales around a table full of wine and a true role model.
One winterís afternoon around this time of year, I was sitting in a windowsill with my computer fighting with a flighty Internet signal. The snow was pelting the ground, and I thought about the San Luis Valley and how I swore I would never live in another place with such cold. Norway wasnít only cold, but very dark, which made it tougher. The darkness and bitter days that last merely hours were perfect, however, for a moment of reverie, and the shadows of Norwegian Red Cattle covered in Scandinavian snow made my thoughts turn to Commissioner Spearman.
My computer was winning, placed in a strange position in the small windowsill, and Google found what it could, including his wifeís obituary. I felt so sad to learn of his loss and I became very worried about who was going to press his slacks. I remembered Commissioner Spearman perfectly in finely pressed slacks in that instant, and I never sent a card offering my condolences. I thought I would never see him again anyway, or return to live in the coldest of places that lately canít stop melting my heart.
Yet, here we are and Commissioner Spearman will soon be the former and simply Mike again. Heíll be that guy who has kept on fighting to bring jobs to his once upon time constituents and heíll always share the dinner at the fair. Someday, after eight years becomes 16, 24 and 32, some will forget his face, his lessons, his firm hand and his passion for life of the land all the living things for which it provides, but not me. I have been blessed to tell stories about such an amazing man, and I will never again say it wonít be so.