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New Year’s Day 2024

January 7, 2024
Elisabeth Sherwin -- ensherwin@gmail dot com

We took a walk around the block at 9 a.m. to greet the sunny and bright New Year.

Heading to the back of our forested property just outside Allenspark, Colo., we cut across the iced creek through the Yost’s meadow to the long driveway (plowed) that ends up at the Highfield house. The snow wasn’t deep even at 8,500 feet, but it covered up the uneven ground and I managed to tip over and roll into a low juniper bush.

No damage was done. We walked on and saw Catherine Gardner’s dogs, Serita and Anders, running up the hill with Catherine behind them.

“Happy New Year,” we greeted our closest neighbor.

“Good to see you both up and about,” she said. I broke my ankle two Decembers ago and Mike broke his last December. So yes, it’s very good that we are both mobile.

We continued south, down the driveway, and managed to pass Josh Neimark’s house without waking his dogs or disturbing his household.

Down to Rockledge Circle and then a left-hand turn up the long ice- and dirt- covered road that leads to our house. The foo dog statue at the base of the drive was standing upright, not yet knocked down by a snowplow. But it’s still early in the snow season.

Foo dog statues typically come in pairs – a male and female to balance energy and offer protection. Is it bad luck that we only have one? I don’t know how it arrived at the base of our hill or who put it there and I have no one to ask. Mike and I have become old-timers in the space of less than 10 years, watching as properties around us sold, and sold again.

When we first moved to the Rockledge house in 2015, we would walk up the long drive, panting with exertion. I remember thinking, “In a few months I will be acclimated and will climb up this road like a spry mountain goat.”

That never happened.

I pause to catch my breath and look around. To my left is a rental cabin that doesn’t ever see many people. To my right is what can only be described as a junk yard. Fortunately, the snow has covered up many of the disused boats and trailers. I’ve gotten used to the fact that there’s a man from Estes Park who uses his beautiful mountain property like a hick’s back yard. What can you do?

Mike is well ahead of me by now. He turns around at the top of the hill and I wave him on. The sun is hot on my back and unbutton my jacket. This day is abnormally warm, and I want to enjoy it, knowing well that the coldest months are still in front of us.

I see tracks in the snow from rabbits and deer or elk or maybe moose. Or maybe Catherine’s dogs, who we have nicknamed “Wrong” and “No.”

Even though Mike and I took a class in Longmont on how to become Boulder County naturalists, I am not up to speed. However, I’m pretty certain about the rabbit tracks. When I read essays by real naturalists like John McPhee or Edward Hoagland, I am impressed by their knowledge but not envious.

It is a beautiful day as our hilly neighborhood walk confirms. I take it as a harbinger of things to come in this bright New Year.

And although there are many things I don’t know and will never learn, I do know one thing. Bacon. I love bacon.

-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at ensherwin@gmail.com

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