Words for Denver

It’s been three weeks since I landed in Colorado. I plan on staying here a while. Summarizing this place feels premature — I’ll look back to this post and see my own naiveté. That I had no idea what I was talking about. That everything changed. But this post is important: I want to record Colorado’s first impressions on me. Because they’re very, very good.

Look to the green within the mountain cup
Look to the prairie parched for water lack

I’m wearing a light sweater, typing on my Macbook, facing a large coffeeshop window. I extend my sip of the familiar black nectar and inhale its aroma. The keys of other laptops clack in front of concentrated faces, providing consistent backing to the light bebop permeating the bookshelves. A dark haired man in a brown fleece sits on the terrace outside, reading a book under a red umbrella. Across the street, a row of yellow, red, and white houses obscure the trunks of the naked trees in their yards. Azure blue extends from the horizon to above my head, barely a wisp of cloud in the crisp air. A strong sun reflects warm hues off the pavement and sidewalk.

For those unfamiliar with Denver, this picture might seem anomalous. In the dead of February, the most gray and cold month of the year, a mountain town surely won’t be bright, or at least not warm. But in my three weeks of Colorado, only a handful of days have dipped below freezing. Today it’s 17 degrees (62F), and it’ll reach 22 (72F) before the week’s out. The heat spurs amiable strolling, and the streets are full of smiling faces behind reflective sunglasses, perhaps without a destination in mind. Winter doesn’t feel so bad.

Look to the Sun that pulls the oceans up
Look to the clouds that give the oceans back

If you’re a native Denverite, you are proud of your surroundings. You surely ski. And hike. And mountain bike. You love camping and rafting and backpacking. Yeah, the city conveniences matter. But on your days off, nature pulls you away from the hustle, and you lose yourself in the mountains.

That description might sound generic, but I’ve yet to meet a counterexample. Subarus and Jeeps with ski-racks and bungee cables corroborate my stereotype. A city the size of Seattle, it feels decidedly less metropolitan. Clean air, bright skies, and large parks are vital — high-rises are confined to a tiny core.

Though Denver’s not a protracted suburb. Take the street I’m on right now, on the northern edge of the city. Small boutiques unfurl along the next mile. Bookstores with outdoor display racks, cafés with sunlit patios, wine bars with poetry readings. The first weekend of every month, artists display new pieces along the sidewalk, and local businesses buy and show those works. A cyclist on a beach cruiser rides by, and one follows on a penny-farthing! This place has enough hip for dancing.

Look to your heart and may your wisdom grow
To power of lightning and to peace of snow.

There’s still much to discover. I’ve been to good restaurants, but I haven’t defined the taste of Denver. I can see epic mountains on the horizon, but I’ve yet to explore their cracked ridges. And I haven’t learned how to ski. But so far, the people here have been incredible to me. Thank you for the warmest welcomes. Your generosity might colour my views, but I love the tint. It’s now been three weeks since I landed in Colorado. I plan on staying here a while.

Quotes from Here is a Land Where Life is Written in Water by Thomas Hornsby Ferril

Background image by Jesse Varner






2 responses to “Words for Denver”

  1. […] In a tiny café, as a soft trumpet frolicks with delicate française, I sip a refreshing afternoon cider. This could be San Francisco, or Toronto, or Penang. But it’s still Denver. I told you I’d be sticking around a while. […]

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