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It's the Final Stretch by Tim Woodward
It's been a long wait, but by next week we finally should know what's goingto be on our Idaho quarters.
Idaho Commission on the Arts employees have winnowed the designs from about1,250 -- 900 were submitted last week alone -- to 73 . A committee willnarrow them to 10 today and give them to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to make thefinal cut.
Some of the 73 are marginal, but enough good ones are still in the runningthat barring a total lapse of judgment, the governor can't go wrong. Heplans to decide by the end of the next week, Kempthorne press secretary MikeJournee said, and "prefers something simple that conveys the grandeur ofIdaho."
A fine word, grandeur. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like apotato to me.
Potential winners among the 73 include mountain scenes, rivers, lakes,waterfalls, canyons, recreational themes, American Indian themes andanimals. If the submissions are an indication, Idahoans are gaga over elk,raptors, salmon, trout, bluebirds and appaloosa horses.
The design of a coin is a serious matter, so it was a bit surprising to findhumor in the mix.
One of the 73 finalists envisions "a potato reclining on a couch watching aTV with rabbit ears." Idaho would be identified as the "home of the potatoand television." The idea would be to honor television inventor PhiloFarnsworth , who briefly lived in Rigby.
Another design would feature "a TV with P.H., standing for PhiloFarnsworth." (Really; I didn't make it up.)
Picture this on our quarter: "Sun Valley Lodge with two skiers in theforeground drinking 16-ounce lattes to pass the time and keep warm."
I like Sun Valley Lodge as much as the next person. But this fufu coffeething is getting out of hand.
One entrant suggested "a bobcat next to a frothy, whitewater-infestedriver." When he's finished with the quarter, maybe the governor could dosomething about our sinister whitewater infestation.
Other ideas included the Cataldo Mission, Boise's fountain on the Grove,Sacajawea, square dancers, tipis, the outline of the state, gems, a whitepine, syringa, barn, tractor, crosscut saw, miner's pick, canoe, kayakpaddle, backpack, skis, snowboard, rock climbing equipment, an atom and ascythe.
A scythe? Now there's a cheery prospect. On the other hand, if it's goodenough for the Grim Reaper , why not Idaho?
Some of the entries were from children, so allowances must be made. Achild's imagination isn't hampered, thankfully, by practical considerations.Thus we have "an eagle soaring over the Snake River watertops, with a nicesunset going behind the mountains. The bumblebees, dragonflies andbutterflies flying through bright red and purple flowers. Weeds andcottontail blowing in the wind by the riverside. A bird's nest in a treewith a tiny baby bird in the nest waiting for some food. Some fish jumpingin and out of the water and ripples as they go back into the water. Frogshopping back and forth on lily pads. Mountain lions roaring in the trees.Crickets singing on a rock. Deer drinking out of a stream. Baby deer chasingafter one another. Water skippers skipping along."
A beautiful image -- especially if you have a full-color quarter the size ofa Ferris wheel.
Some of the designs were declared ineligible: two large male and femalespuds, two ships fighting, the BSU Bronco, home of the original fingersteak, Napoleon Dynamite and, my personal favorite, Ernest Hemingway with apaper, a pen and a bushel of potatoes.
Who says Idaho lacks a literary tradition?
Credit an 8-year-old named Andrew with the boldest idea of all. Idaho'squarter, he wrote, "would be made with the hardest metal known to man, andit would have my face on it."
Good luck, governor. And watch out for Andrew.
I think he wants your job.
Tim Woodward's column appears Thursdays. At IdahoStatesman.com/Woodward, seehis Aug. 4 column on what shouldn't be on Idaho's quarter.
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