Gaylord Guenin: Fickle winds and pesky weeds signal spring
In this lofty perch of mine in Lenado, sitting above neighboring Aspen and all those good downvalley folks in Basalt, El Jebel and Carbondale, spring seems to be bringing a positive message, at least the winds of spring tell me as much.I live in a narrow mountain canyon and the wind is probably one of my most consistent and faithful companions, although it is not necessarily one of my most treasured friends. On average, it is little more than a breeze, but in the spring it often arrives with just enough chill attached, even on a sunny day, to discourage gardening or lounging in the yard with a cool beverage. If weather moves into the area, my wind can become downright threatening, exploding into rattling gusts that set the surrounding woods into motion and heap piles of leaves or snow or dirt in the most improbable of locations. On average, however, my wind is a steady companion, arriving from the valley below on a very precise northeasterly path. It will quiet itself in the evening and eventually reverse direction and head back down the road as if in search of something it had forgotten earlier in the day.While the wind can be something of a nuisance, it does earn its keep. Without hes itation it gnaws away at the accumulated snow of winter until even the shadiest of locations become snow-free. My weather pole, for instance, is no longer in the bondage of snow; it is surrounded by nothing but dirt and struggling little weeds that eventually will conquer the meadow across from my cabin. It is, however, far too early to rush off to the greenhouses and begin buying plants to set outside. That is something that probably will not occur until the final week of May. In fact, it is snowing as I write this. Because the urge to garden is just too great, however, I have already spent a few days raking and cleaning the flower beds and have even sprinkled a few wildflower seeds about the place.My front yard is essentially all wildflowers and weeds, the latter being handled with my own particular form of botanical identification. Instead of wasting fine summer days trying to dig out the weeds, I have disciplined myself to look upon them simply as “ugly wildflowers,” and if some nosey person should ask about them, I explain that my garden is an equal-opportunity garden. That generally ends the discussion, especially if I casually mention that some of the weeds are homosexual. Amazing how that single word can end a conversation. It is also amazing what a difference a few hundred feet in elevation can make. Approximately six miles down the road from me and maybe 700 feet in elevation is the Craig Ranch, where Jennifer Craig’s Ute City Herbs & Flowers produces what may be the finest organic greens in the entire state of Colorado. OK, maybe I exaggerate a tad, but Jennifer is a friend and her salad greens are on par with any I have ever eaten.At any rate, I drive by the Craig Ranch on a daily basis and Jennifer’s gardens are in complete view so it is easy enough to see how things are progressing, and it has been obvious this spring that things have been going well. So I stopped by the other day (May 2 to be precise) to say hello and get an update on the gardens. Instead of just an update, much to my surprise I was handed a bag of fresh, baby greens!Fresh salad greens on Friday, puttering with wildflower seeds on a warm Saturday afternoon and then awakening to 4 or 5 inches of fresh snow on the ground on Sunday. It was a perfect spring weekend in the mountains of Colorado – fresh garden treats for my stomach and fresh moisture for the gardens! Only one dark cloud hung over this otherwise idyllic scene, but it was enormous and quite capable of destroying all of the tranquility for which Woody Creek is justly famous. The Woody Creek Tavern, my beloved home away from home and headquarters for the Woody Creek Pissing & Moaning Society, was closed!It is time for the annual spring cleanup and repair and renovation and reconfiguration and all that stuff that restaurants must do now and then. The scheduled reopening is May 13, but some of the more pessimistic kibitzers who have been following the action have serious doubts about that coming to pass. We shall see!There is some extensive construction work going on, but Tavern regulars can relax. Most of the major changes are out of view (not the spanking-new bathrooms), so the Tavern’s decor will remain as funky as ever. It is one of those rare places where madmen (and women) guided the hands of the decorators.For me, the Tavern closing was an inconvenience but hardly a crisis. The new Woody Creek Store is right next door, a place that sells, among thousands of other things, Coke and bags of ice. The ABC Liquor Store carries quality rum and is but a few miles away, and the congenial owners of the Tavern were quite willing to let me snatch a to-go cup when needed.Add an ice chest and you have your “bar in the car!” Knowing how to adapt is the key to living the “happy life” in Lenado or Woody Creek. This is the 285th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where no matter which way the wind blows, the locals know how to adjust.
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