March 25, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,

        [Spring arrived last Friday. It’s on the calendar and the TV weather folks announced it. The past three months were called winter; it must be true for the same reasons. However, this year spring followed fall. We know winter showed up other places, but not here.
        We have few reminders of the season: Our wood piles remain pretty much as they were last fall; we’ve not used our snow shovels since December; we kick up dust walking up the road to get the paper in the morning; and the guy who plows our drive has left town (work? vacation? bored?) for a couple of weeks. And March is our snowiest month!
        Robins have flitted about our meadow and gardens for the past week, a flock of migrating crossbills has been raiding the feeders, pasqueflowers are in bloom, and the dogs have carried ticks into the house. Spring has arrived, but winter never made an appearance.
        Not that we’re complaining about mild weather, though we know what the lack of moisture can mean for the fire danger (the county has already instituted a fire ban—i.e., no open fires); for the pine bark beetle infestation (drought-weakened lodgepole pines are easy prey for the spread of these tiny critters that have already killed off thousands of acres of forest in the state); and for our home water supply (if the water table drops too low we’ll run out of water at the house). In truth, we need precipitation and lots of it soon, but our weather forecaster friends say we’re unlikely to make up the deficit this year.]

March 26, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,

        The paragraphs above are how we had started, yesterday, our winter newsletter. Then something happened since we put the writing aside. We woke this morning to 5" of new snow with another 12"–18" likely by tomorrow morning. Schools and businesses are closed all up and down the front range, roads are an adventure, and, with schools in our area on spring break, the snow plows have not been as quick to clear the roads on the bus routes. The sweet smell of wood fires drifts among the snowflakes. Any tracks in the snow are most likely those of squirrels and birds seeking food and shelter, or folks on snowshoes. This is a great day to settle in, clean closets and drawers, and finish the newsletter.
Judy Shoveling
        Looking back over the past three months is a study in contrasts: a trip to warmer climates and new territories followed by a return to the comfort of familiar routines. The contrasts provide balance in our lives and a perspective on how we live.


        We are still basking in the memories and glow of our Arizona road trip in January and February. It was a great trip for many reasons. The photos of our visits with family and friends, of our hikes, of the mines and ghost towns we poked through, and of the solitude we found in many areas along the way are reminders that we are already looking forward to returning next winter.

        In our future travels, we are committed to do more birding and rockhounding (along with hiking and photography), old interests we renewed during this during the trip and which we’ll continue to learn more about in the future. If you have any tips or suggestions, we hope you’ll pass them along any time.    

      • Hughes continued to greet tourists at the Visitors Center in Nederland a few hours a week. While fewer people drop in during the winter, the folks who stop often have unique stories to tell and interesting perspectives on our town and their travels. On very quiet days, he puts on some good music and reads. The Mystery Book Club provides a guide to good writers and intriguing mysteries, as well as forum to discuss a wide range of reactions by a group of informed readers. Among the best of recent reads are Jason Goodwin’s dark mysteries set in 19th century Istanbul featuring clever detection by the resourceful Yashim Togalu, a eunuch of the Sultan’s court (start with The Janissary Tree); Frank Tallis’ complex mysteries evoke pre-WWI Vienna featuring psychoanalyst Max Liebermann (start with Death in Vienna); and works by long-time writers Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosely. (If you’d like a list of what the group has been reading for the past eight or nine years, let us know and we’ll send a list.) McGinty’s Wake continues to make music and perform occasional public appearances; a low-tech video of one of one of our contra dance gigs can be found on YouTube.
Siskind and Junco  
      • Judy’s running routine was put on hold for a month after returning from our Arizona trip. She had a minor biking accident that banged up her knee enough to require physical therapy. (Yes, she did run injured and won big in Sedona before returning home.) She has since returned to spring training with the Boulder Striders in preparation for the Bolder-Boulder on Memorial Day. In addition, she and Sophie returned to brighten the lives of patients at Boulder Community Hospital on Monday mornings. When Sophie—who, like Bella, usually spends much of her mornings snoozing—returns from 2–3 hours meeting and greeting hospital folks, she seems to run out of steam and takes the daily walk to the mailbox or to the woods with all the enthusiasm of a reluctant bride.

      • Together we “work” as often as possible at the local movie theater on Friday nights, exchanging selling refreshments and sweeping up after the movie for free tickets and refreshments. Also, to our delight, after nearly 17 years living up here we have found a small core of bridge enthusiasts who, like us, are retired and can play in the late afternoons to combine three rubbers of bridge with very tasty dinners and snacks. March, of course, is birthday month around here. This year, Judy had a birthday lunch with two other women in the neighborhood who discovered they share the same birth date. Judy’s present this year were new—and greatly improved—binoculars for bird watching. In addition to three feeders, we hung seven new birdhouses around: two bluebird houses from the Audobon Society, a woodpecker house from Colorado cousin Ken, who makes them as a hobby/business, and four birds-nest gourds that grew in one of our gardens last year. None of the seven has residents yet, though today’s snow (which has reached more than a foot by noon today, and continues to fall at a rate of about an inch or two an hour) may encourage some to find at least a temporary haven against the
harsh weather. In the meantime, the siskinds and the juncos gorge themselves without fussing (left) but when the flicker comes around (right), everyone else scatters. In nature, size does count.
Bird at Feeder


      • The sudden death of Judy’s cousin Kim took Judy on an unplanned trip to Nashville for services and to be with her Colorado cousin and her family during this tragic time in their lives. She met not only family she had not seen in several years, but met Kim’s wide network of good friends who where there for support and to grieve the loss of someone who had touched their lives during the 18 years Kim lived and worked there as a musician, songwriter, and poet. In fact, one of Kim’s friends generously opened her home to Judy to stay with her while she was in Nashville.

      • While Judy was in Nashville, her cousin Steve (who drove down from Illinois) squired Judy and others around town, and she met Emily, the voice of Steve’s GPS unit, who flawlessly and efficiently led them through unfamiliar areas of Nashville. Judy was so impressed that she is sure that having a companion like that will make our road trips a greater pleasure. Instead of having to stop and look up a phone book for directions to the nearest Trader Joe’s, or where the closest cheap gas is (and how much), or the most direct route to cousin Bob’s house in Tucson, we can simply ask Nancy, our Aussie-speaking navigator. She will even alert us to traffic snarls down the road and reroute us to avoid delays like we had in New Mexico on our way back from Arizona last month. With some extra accessories, she can even guide us while hiking in the backcountry in areas where signage is missing and trails are faint. We’ll introduce you to Nancy when we see you next. She’s quite something.

      • In an effort to do our part to help the economy move forward, and to respond to the goal of a cleaner, greener, and more energy efficient nation, we decided to take advantage of a Boulder County initiative (ClimateSmart Loan Program) to assist homeowners with energy improvements. By providing a low-cost loan that we'll pay back through an assessment to our property tax bill, we are going to have installed a solar photovotaic system that will generate nearly all our electrical consumption. The 15-year loan is not a personal loan but “goes with the house,” so that we’ll pay back while we live here, and the next owners will continue to have the assessment on their real estate tax bill (until the 15 year period is over) while they enjoy the benefits of lower, nearly nonexistent electric bills. It’s the first program of its kind in the country and makes a good deal of sense to those areas committed to energy efficiency. And those who are here 15 years from now will thank us for our foresight and investment.

       We continue to wonder if and when we will yearn strongly enough to move to more level ground and a warmer climate. We do run that question around from time to time. We occasionally see a house or an area down below that we think might be just the thing for us to settle into as we head toward our
slow-go years. But each time the thought of relocating worms its way into our minds, we step back and look at where and how we live and think were pretty lucky to be enjoying our home and surroundings. Besides, we’ve got all that wood to keep us warm and more to cut and split. It also keeps us young. So while we would love to have you come for a visit, there’s no rush. We’ll still be here and the hospitality will always be warm.

Arizona Sunset
       Permit us one last Arizona sunset image. They were spectacular and part of our winter.

     Judy and Hughes

Judy and Hughes Moir
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