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Dec 16

Writer in Residence

I’m planted in a comfy chair. Sitting at my writer’s desk, I try not to slouch as I strategically reconstruct the finest details of Janet’s life. I attack her biography as if I had won a coveted position as a writer in residence, focused only on finishing her story.

Sunshine comes streaming in through the window and coaxes me to look away from my work. I gaze outside to admire the winter scenery: blue skies muted by white clouds; pine trees lined upon rolling foothills; grass, dried and yellowed, but interesting none the less. There’s snow at higher elevations, and just a short twenty-five feet from my vantage point, I spot several mule deer as they tiptoe their way to the stream. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching them.

A new housing development shares space with these mule deer. Black bear and mountain lions are at home in Colorado’s foothills too.

Despite all this natural beauty, the setting before me doesn’t quite represent the perfect place to write that I had once romanticized. The window glass doesn’t muffle sounds of waves as they crash upon the shore. In fact, there are no waves; there is no sandy beach. My longed-for sanctuary by the sea has been exchanged for this home, a mile-high fortress in the mountains. With land spreading out so far and wide, I conclude that Colorado may afford the perfect compromise between metropolis and wilderness. Even Green Acres’ Lisa Douglas could be happy here.

But this Rocky Mountain imagery is also just another daydream. I haven’t yet moved from my home state of Michigan. That very real adventure will be underway, however, by the time you read this.

Throughout twenty-eight years of marriage, I’ve promised my husband that I would go wherever he needed to go. “We’re a team. Together, we’ll do whatever we have to do.” Now, for the first time, Greg’s accepted a job that requires us to leave family and friends, our church, and well-established routines. He and I are relocating to the Wall Street of the Rockies. We need to find a place to live; discover new, favorite restaurants; make friends; try to fit into a different cultural environment; and learn the traffic patterns that allow for shortcuts in and out of an unfamiliar city.

Do you know what people say when I tell them that we’re moving to Denver?

“Oh! It’s so beautiful.”

Colorado’s official slogan is “It’s our nature.” I can’t wait to see the state show off its colors in the springtime.

Even people who have never been there promote that claim as if they have first-hand knowledge of the truth.

“Have you ever been there?” I’ve started asking.

“Well, no. But that’s what I’ve heard . . .”

Ah huh. Blue skies and sunshine, over three-hundred days a year. That’s what I’ve heard. For a born and bred Michigander who thinks “g-r-a-y” spells a nasty four-letter word, I immediately feel energized by Colorado’s reputation. The problem is that the statistic I’ve come to love and embrace isn’t true!

When I was in college, a journalism professor ingrained in me the need to cross-check facts. The rule of thumb was that if I could find the same information in three or more reputable places, I didn’t necessarily have to cite the source. For example, I could state that cigarette smoking leads to lung cancer without the need to reference a specific finding of the American Cancer Society. Many independent and credible reports support that statement, now considered common knowledge.

So, when this writer from the lower peninsula of Michigan is being displaced to one epically gorgeous and Colorful Colorado, she wants facts, not fancy, to guide her expectations.

Enter Colorado State Climatologist, Nolan Doesken—also known as Senior Research Associate; Director of Fort Collins Weather Station; and past American Association of State Climatologists President. He has the credentials this girl is relying upon. Doesken explains that Denver’s 300 days of sunshine are a bit overstated. “Only about 115 days per year fit the classic definition of ‘clear,’”[1] he says.

That’s better than the 75 days the greater-Detroit area squeaks out. One point for Denver. And yes, I’m keeping score. You can’t expect me to leave the only home I’ve ever known and not compare it to what will be my new one. Michigan may be gray from time to time, but it’s breathtakingly beautiful too.

You know, we Michiganders are surrounded by the Great Lakes. They’re as vast as Coloradans’ mountains are high. When I long to kayak Lake Superior’s Pictured Rocks, I’ll try to conquer Mount Evans instead. When Sleeping Bear Dunes is calling, I’ll make a point to visit Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes and try not to favor the National Lakeshore over the National Park. And when family and friends cross two time zones to visit me, I’ll prepare for their overnight stay by gently placing a Sanders chocolate on each of their pillows . . . alongside a little bit of legalized Kandy Kush.

Before you judge me, dear readers, let me say that of course, I’m only joking. I wouldn’t be so cruel as to leave pot on your pillow and not include an entire box of chocolates also.

Heaven help me! I’m moving to Denver.

 

 

[1] http://climate.colostate.edu/questions.php, accessed Dec. 1, 2016.

14 comments

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  1. Elizabeth LaBelle

    Kelly,
    I won’t hold you to the Candy Kush, but I now expect chocolate on my pillow! You know I love you guys.
    Beth

    1. Kelly Bixby

      Thanks, Beth. We already have a box of chocolates waiting for you and Rob. We love you too.

  2. Anonymous

    This time i Am At a loss of words. You know you will be missedn

    1. Kelly Bixby

      Thank you. I’ll miss you too. XOXOXO

  3. Cherie Balan

    Kelly, Congrats on your new adventure! Both my kids live there and the winters are sooo much nicer. I’ll be sure to call you when I’m out there for a visit. Cherie

    1. Kelly Bixby

      I’m so glad, Cherie! You’ll have to show me all the sights you like best, if there’s time. I have a lot to learn from you.

  4. Kim DiGennaro

    Oh that was funny Kelly. Well as they say the cat is out of the bag. Now everyone knows you are moving. I know what you mean about Denver. I like it but I never wanted to live there. That is how I felt about Florida but God sent us here and we love it. Miss you and Greg dearly

    1. Kelly Bixby

      Thanks, Kim. There’s still so much uncertainty as to how all this is going to work, but our time in Denver will be a grand adventure. We’re stubbornly not abandoning Michigan, though. We’ll be back often. Why not throw a visit or two to Florida as well? We’re gonna get around in the days come. You’re on our list, of course!

  5. Lesia McQuade

    Kelly,
    Beautiful pictures! Kandy Kush, a new term for me. Thank you for the informational link. I think the beautiful views will give you much to write about in addition to experiencing your new state.

    There has been a strange draw to Colorado for both sides of my family. My Dad left Indiana as a young man and lived for a brief time in Colorado with a cousin that had moved out there. As a family we visited Colorado numerous times as my Uncle Marley who never married lived in Denver, owned a Dairy Queen, and loved the mountains and hunted. We would stay a week at a time travel to the mountains and explore. It seemed that every time Uncle Marley took us up in the mountains as children it would begin to hail. I still have a rock that I picked up in an old cemetary up in the mountains. It hailed that time too.
    As a young adult, age 20, a friend of mine and I traveled to the Rockies and backpacked by ourselves which was a wild experience by itself.
    It is truly a beautiful state. Embrace it, experience all that it has to offer,,,well almost everything. Who knows how long you will be there.

    1. Kelly Bixby

      Hi Lesia. I’m glad to learn that you’re very familiar with Colorado. You make the mountains sound alluring, and I want to hear more about your hike . . . books have been written about that sort of thing. Before long, I’m sure I’ll have a hail of a story to tell, myself. Hopefully, it will be about a summer adventure with the Divas.

      1. Lesia McQuade

        A day or evening with the Divas is always an adventure, eh?

        1. Kelly Bixby

          I’m always thankful for our nondisclosure clause.

  6. phil rosette

    We’ll miss you, Karen… Get down to Pueblo some time in the summer; the graffiti alone is worth the trip. Check out Maggie’s Farm while you’re there. Now that Bob Dylan is Noble Literary winner, that place will take on a whole new meaning.

    Merry Christmas, and Happy New Life!
    -Phil

    1. Kelly Bixby

      Thanks, Phil. I’m looking forward to exploring and will add your suggestions to my ever-growing list.

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