Saturday, June 11, 2016

Small-Town Colorado

One final night of celebration brought my Colorado trip to a close. Around supper time, we headed down to Florissant for the weekly meeting of the Grange - an organization originally started as a gathering of ranchers and farmers in the area. Now they meet as a social activity and to perform community service. Think of it as a sort of rotary club. The meeting was held in the old town schoolhouse, now converted into a community center. The building next to the main room was the "teacherage" where the teacher used to live (think parsonage, but for a teacher). 

Among the attendees were:

- A man who went to the original schoolhouse as a young boy and stayed in the area his whole life.

- A woman whose pies are so good that people started fighting over the pieces in line, so now there is an advance sign-up sheet and she personally hands her pieces out to the correct people. What the fee is to get on that list, I have no idea.

- An older couple both dressed in plaid and two-stepping to almost every song, reported to be "living together," ahem. Having both had long and happy marriages with their respective spouses who have now passed away, they are enjoying each other's company in this latter part of life.

- The old "dirtbike guy" who chewed my younger brother's ear off with story after story of his younger glory days, tearing it up around the Colorado mountains.

- My sister's father-in-law who proclaimed upon arriving (in a true country drawl), "y'all go in and mingle now until they ring the dinner bell, and then you dance!"

The line for food - gotta get there early to get the good stuff!

Line dancing to some good music.
One final story about Colorado - I wanted to share this with a view from Pikes Peak, but the train to the top was booked solid so I missed that opportunity. Katharine Lee Bates was an English professor in the 1890's, and she was a visiting professor at Colorado College in the summer of 1893. She herself visited the top of Pikes Peak (via prairie wagon and mule ride), and the view moved her to pen the words to what eventually became "America the Beautiful." What I love about her story is that she was a confident, single woman who never married. That life decision often clashed with the expectations of society, but when a colleague described "free-flying spinsters" as "fringe on the garment of life," her response was, "I always thought the fringe had the best of it. I don't think I mind not being woven in." (Schwarz, "Yellow Clover," 65). That sounds like a lady I would have loved to meet!

With that, I'm signing off on Colorado with a final picture from back in Austin with my Colorado coffee mug. Until the next adventure!
Enjoying coffee from my newest addition to my travel mug collection.

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