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Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

And Suddenly, Winter

Last Sunday, the temperatures were in the 70s (F).  On Monday morning when I left for work, it was 52, but I brought hat, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket, because this is what was coming.

One is the Springmouse who turns on the showers.
One is the Summer who paints in the flowers.
The Fallmouse is next with walnuts and wheat.
And Winter is last… with little cold feet.

Aren’t we lucky the seasons are four?
Think of a year with one less… or one more!  —Leo Lionni

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Simple

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Pictures of clouds can seem so humdrum.  Like rainbows and flowers, clouds can be used to denote something pleasant and relaxing, a sight one can enjoy without really looking at it.  But as with rainbows and flowers, and so many other things in the natural world, when I’m confronted with a striking array of clouds, I’m moved and awestruck.

IMG_6201Clouds are so simple and seemingly insubstantial:  they’re just water vapor, after all.   Yet, just think of how important they are.  They can ruin a picnic or help grow crops, make for a good or bad ski season, accompany a disaster like a hurricane or tornado– or just give a hiker a break on a hot, sunny day.

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Battening the hatches

Bo’s latest project is winter gardening.  Before you laugh, just consider that we lost most of our summer crops before June 1st this year, due to the extreme heat and dryness.  If it’s too hot to garden in the summer, why not try fall and winter?

However, you need to provide a way for some of the more delicate stuff to be protected from the occasional winter weather extremes.  Above is a hoop house, basically a mini-greenhouse built on a budget, with PVC pipe hoops and utility plastic sheeting.  It’s sheltering the mature tomato and bell pepper plants that were the only survivors of our hot summer garden.  Of course, they didn’t really start producing fruits that we could harvest until September.

Then there are the cold frames.  The upper one is shielding carrots and micro-greens, both young crops that were planted in the fall.  The lower one contains baby swiss chard plants.  Bo built them with used windows that he got for free from a Craigs List ad, and for the lower box, some inexpensive red wood acquired through the same venue.

Lemongrass plants on the right, dwarf Meyer lemon in the middle

Of course, there’s always the bring-it-inside solution, for the potted stuff, anyway. We’re lucky to have a sun room that hasn’t been claimed for any function other than nursing plants (although one of our houseguests commented that it would make a nice yoga room in the winter!).

Despite our 80 degree weather this week, we were promised temperatures in the 30s on Wednesday night.  So, as much of the rest of the country watched the first presidential debate, we were scurrying around in the gathering gloom and howling wind anchoring plastic sheeting, covering the herb box with agro-bond (a gauzy stuff that protects plants), and stowing everything that might otherwise blow away.  And, lo and behold, ahead of the forecast, look at the sight that greeted us on Friday morning.

We’re supposed to have low temperatures around 17 degrees tonight, but it’s supposed to be in the 60s and sunny by Monday.  Stay tuned, true believers!

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Fall in the High Country

My mom and dad came to visit us last week, and we went up in to the mountains near Buena Vista to look at old mining towns.  It turns out last weekend may have been peak fall color in the mountains of Colorado.

St. Elmo, like most mining towns we saw, experienced a boom in the late 19th century and at one time had as many as 2,000 inhabitants.  Today, a few people still live here, and there are even a few operating businesses, such as a general store and a vacation rental service.

Winfield, a bit further north, had a similar story and similarly sized population at one time.

There was still a little bit left of the Winfield Cemetery, which served as a final resting place for 25 people (many of them babies, sadly).

My favorite was the company town of Vicksburg.  It was the smallest of the three we visited, but maybe that gave the obvious attempts at creating a “real town” more poignancy.

After exploring these old sites in the San Isabel National Forest, we drove north to Leadville for lunch.  And guess what? there was a reason for the bite in the air: it was already snowing in the high country.

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Hazy

Denver in the haze

The past few weeks have been very hazy for us here in Golden.  It’s frustrating, because we had friends visiting, and we wanted to show them Breathtaking Vistas from the high places we hiked and drove to.

at the Denver Botanic Gardens, where the poor air quality didn’t matter so much

Alas, no sparkling, clear vistas of the mountains were to be had.  Ironically, the haze is from fires in other states such as Idaho and Montana.  After experiencing almost NO effects from the two giant fires within 100 miles to the north and south earlier this summer, we now are getting smoke from fires that are much farther away.

foothills to the south

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12,095

My aunts came to visit this week, and we traveled up in the high country.  Since I moved here over a year ago, I haven’t done much exploring to the west, so their visit was a good excuse.  Little did I realize how quickly you can gain in altitude!  Leadville, at 10,000 feet,  is only about an hour and a half away.  The Continental Divide is also hard to avoid.

Since I live at 5,674 feet, I thought I should be impervious.  My aunts took aspirin prophylactically, and I felt okay without it.   But I slept poorly and had weird dreams, even at only 7,900 feet.  I’ve heard the altitude affects are exponential, not linear, once you get above a certain level.  If so, that would explain why athletes train in high-altitude places.

…and not all of these athletes are human

Over the course of three days, we took in the towns of Buena Vista, Leadville, and Aspen.  Of these, I most want to return to Buena Vista.  It’s cute, has character, and is situated amidst many opportunities: ghost towns, hiking, historical exploration, fishing, rafting, and more.  We are expecting more visitors over the next few months, so I should be reporting on more adventures soon!

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Pot of gold?

After our 100-degree weather, our fires, and our monsoon rains… we finally had a rainbow this weekend.  And guess what was at the end of the rainbow?  You guessed it– our local macro-brewery.  If I had a better camera, I’d probably try to sell some photos to the marketing department for a million dollars!

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