Thursday, July 29, 2010

Storms A Coming

"Sweet summer rain. Like God's own mercy."
O Brother Where Art Thou

Although the clouds first rolled in around 4:00, carried on the current of cool, northern wind, the ominous, grey-black wall now looming over what I’d guess to be Golden finally affirms that mother nature apparently means business. These clouds serve as a good metaphor for mood as of late: tumultuous and unsettled. I am agitated about something and for lack of any real indication as to what that something might be I instead affix as my target any convenient patsy. Lightening can apparently strike anywhere, and with my current state of disquietude there’s certainly a stockpile of bolts for tossing around at folks. I suppose this is fair as it is the time of year for unsettled weather, therefore a time for being a bit disturbed or off kilter. July is after all Colorado’s rockiest season. Ok that was a bad pun, but it illustrated the point. I only need to reflect back on the images of last year’s devastating micro burst and hail fiasco to confirm this. While it is easy to focus on the destructive aspect of these storms, there is a restorative and rejuvenating side to them as well. The frontal lows bring cooling winds to wipe away the smog, heat and dust of the mid summer’s day. The cleansing rains replenish the soil, quench the thirst of animal and vegetable alike and therefore carry with each drop the assurance of another day of life. And while, when amplified, these monsoonal events can leave a swath of devastation in their wake, all is not entirely lost. So I suppose I’ll just rise and fall along with the barometer and hope that eventually September will arrive and calmer winds will prevail. Perhaps then I too will feel these restorative effects with the passing of our mid summer storms…gray skies are going to clear up…Good grief: I wasn’t quite cheered enough for that one. Here’s a bolt for your’s truly for a bad pun and Singing in the Rain allusion. And now I suppose I do feel a little better.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clear Creek Historic Park

Sunday we rode out to Golden to check out “Buffalo Bill Days.” The weekend festival commemorates the history of Buffalo Bill and the wild west by encouraging people to shop for knick-knacks, eat meat on a stick and look at classic cars. The festival in and of itself was nice enough and some of the old cars were actually really neat, but we didn’t stick around too long. Instead we went and had lunch at the Windy Saddle CafĂ© and then ambled down to the Clear Creek Historic Park to check on the progress of their gardens.

Operated by the Golden History Museum, the park offers a real-life entreat into a microcosm of pioneer life. Every summer a corps of volunteers (and I presume a few paid staff) support the living history exhibit at the park by hosting school groups, reenacting settler life and keeping the garden at the park. Centered around a handful of authentic pioneer buildings, the park includes a livestock pen, chicken coop and sprawling garden. While we didn’t see any demonstrations or living historians on Sunday we did get a chance to roam around and see what progress the gardeners had made this season.

Checking out the strawberry patch.

One of the historic timber buildings at the park.

Timbers half-lapped and dovetailed for a tight fit.

Little train which runs on weekends along Clear Creek.

A great trellis design for tomatoes. Each tomato plant is wrapped around a strand of twine, held up by these A-Frames.

While the Clear Creek garden certainly surpasses ours in terms of scenic beauty and variety of vegetables, we seem to be similar in terms of what is blooming or ripening. This gives me a degree of comfort in terms of gauging the progress of our season so far. There is certainly no ‘greener’ envy than garden envy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No Need to Be Frightened

This evening I watched a guy in a “Psych Ward” t-shirt and his compatriots loving craft a scarecrow out of a pair of Goodwill jeans, old boots and a flannel hoodie. Then he reminisced fondly at the sight of a faded blue crowbar in the back of Jim’s truck: just like the one he used to have for busting out car stereos. Not exactly reflections on Walden Pond, but the crew got a good laugh out it. They stuffed the scarecrow full of trash bags containing packing peanuts from Kate’s work and even used an old basketball for the head. The portly and somewhat anatomically correct scarecrow ‘man’ certainly doesn’t conjure up wholesome images of Oz, but definitely reflects the pride and enthusiasm with which this year’s crew of guys have taken to their weekly garden forays. I didn’t have the camera because it was actually supposed to rain all day today but next week I will definitely take pictures.

In any case, Breaking Ground is thriving again on second chance soil with second chance gardeners. We’ve been harvesting full grocery bags of lettuce, kale, swiss chard and spinach. Now that these cooler season friends are finally leaving us we’re starting to spot our first tomatoes and pumpkin blossoms. Painstakingly tended each week by residents of the Independence House half-way house the garden is in good hands. Jim keeps the crew supplied with tools, $.99 cookies and the worst knock-off, generic soda you could imagine. It has been a great season so far and we’re only about half way through. Running out of building projects and garden tasks (other than weeding, watering and harvesting) it will be interesting to see what the crew comes up with next week…before we left they suggested that our scarecrow needs a girlfriend: good times down on the farm.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rainy Afternoon

A welcome cold front crept in to the Denver area overnight and ushered the heat wave of this past weekend off into memory. With the 70 degree temps also came much appreciated rainfall. We’ve had a wetter than average summer, at least by my calculations, and this afternoon’s bit of moisture came at the right time.
Very faint double rainbow.
 I don’t know if our garden has ever looked better. Well actually last year it was looking pretty good at this point and then heavy winds and hail came and tore it all to shreds…that was about this time in July too… In any case, for the moment, we have three healthy rows of corn, a raised bed chock full of potatoes, zucchini, three varieties of tomatoes in bloom, carrots, sage, thyme, basil, pumpkins, kale, peas (can’t believe we’re still getting peas), eggplant, broccoli and cucumbers (-1 one that Zin killed today while digging and wallowing in the bed). With the devastation of last year’s storm our raspberry canes were reduced to just a few for this season’s harvest. We had enough to enjoy, give to our neighbors and taste while picking and weeding. Next year though this year’s set of new canes should offer quite the bounty, assuming all continues to go according to plan.

Monday, July 19, 2010

One Hot Weekend...In Pictures

No you've not wandered into one of "those" sites, by hot I actually mean scalding...or boiling...or roasting...whichever word you'd care to describe the 102 degree heatfest we had on Saturday. In preparation for the certain death to come in the great Denver Metro basin over the weekend we opted to loaded our crew up into the Vanagon and seek solace somewhere cooler. We made our way up to the Peak to Peak highway from Golden (avoiding the route up through bike banning Black Hawk) and made our way out to Rollinsville. From there we went west along the gravel road to the base of Rollins Pass where good camping could be found...and the Vanagon quite frankly could go no further. Here are some pics of the weekend.  (Sorry I've not been posting much lately...I'm going to work on that. For now content yourself with some stunning images of some of Colorado's more scenic places and two goofy people and a dog.)
The old school house in Tolland heading out to Rollins Pass

We tucked in on a small lane and set up our camp near a large stream.
Note the homemade awning action.

Vanagon in the bush.

We went for a hike after we got settled. Kate and Presta left the photographer behind.

Rollins Pass and the Moffat Road were used for the construction of the Moffat Tunnel.

These buildings were used by railroad and tunnel workers back in the day.
They also apparently played basketball.

The Moffat railway tunnel is still used and takes you from Denver to Winter Park and beyond.

On our hike we found plenty of water to cool off the Bean.

More wonderfully cold water. Bean is refreshed.

Dark Eyed (Grey Headed) Junco

We hiked up above tree line to a series of mountain lakes.
White Capped Sparrow

The scenery was impressive.

I took the path up to Roger's Pass along the ridge (11,800ft ish).

Day two we opted to sit by the stream and hang out.

Bean was again pretty refreshed.

American Dipper
We enjoyed ourselves in the cool mountain air immensely and were very disappointed when we had to leave Sunday afternoon and head back the sweltering 98 degree sun. At least next time the temperature soars you'll know where to start looking for us.