Well, I’ve been writing this column for a few years now and I’m sure everyone is wondering how I’ve been faring in my transition from city girl to mountain mama. I have been carefully charting my progress and am prepared to give a detailed report.
For starters, here are some processes made complete, signaling my total assimilation in each category.
1. I no longer feel the need to reverently pause at every deer sighting. Although I can recall a deer marching down the sidewalk in my downtown Denver hood once, cohabitating with these gentle creatures was something of a novelty at first for this city gal, and I would come to a full stop in the car to point out the fluffy white bottoms to my kids or stop stirring the onions on the stove as a doe and her babies strode by my window. These days, not so. Sometimes they cross the road, sometimes they munch twigs in my backyard. We make respectful eye contact and move on with our lives.
2. I have purchased a sturdy pair of fleece-lined, all-weather boots and they are butt-ugly. They go with absolutely nothing but I wear them with positively everything. I have weatherproofed the leather and not thought twice about tromping through fields of mud and snow. (That sounds like me, doesn’t it? Romping through fields of mud and snow?)
3. I have figured out which lanes you’re actually supposed to drive in on Stagecoach—and that includes the separate systems for turning “up” Stagecoach, heading toward the trailhead, and coming “down” Stagecoach, where you wonder for half a mile if a novice’s blinker means they’re turning into the medical offices, into Taco Bell, or all the way onto the Parkway.
4. When I first moved here, it took half a box of fatwood for me to get one log to burn in our woodstove. Now you should see me build fires. I’m like the early adopters of fire, making fire out of nothing, just short of rubbing two sticks together. Our boiler conked out during that cold snap early this month, and I just looked at the fireplace and it lit itself. It knows who’s boss.
5. I’m on a first name basis with several local proprietors and have that “where everybody knows your name” feeling walking into a lot of places. (If you can believe it, this was much harder to achieve here in Evergreen than it was in Brooklyn. I don’t know what that says about us except maybe we need to be friendlier?)
I do have to admit, however, that I am still experiencing some resistance in a few areas. I understand that if I want to fit in, I’m just going to have to suck it up and get over it, but, well, I don’t want to.
1. Look, I’m just not going to stop shopping at Target. I understand I pass the Walmart on my way to Target, but I’m a mother of elementary school children and a basic bitch to boot. I’m set in my ways. I like the cute dollar section and that there’s a Starbucks attached to my shopping day, like literally.
2. Butt-ugly mountain boots aside, I’m not throwing out my heels. Yes, at least once every season, I twist my ankle stepping from my front stairs onto the gravel driveway. I’ve actually ripped a pair of pants doing this. I don’t know, it just still feels worth it to me. Fashion is pain. Maybe one day you’ll see it my way.
3. By some miracle and sheer force of will, I am still a vegetarian. This town does NOT want me to be a vegetarian. I don’t know why, but it’s dead-set against it. Even the grocery stores got rid of that cauliflower-ground that I like, not to mention the one “veggie burger” option available in every restaurant. I’m not calling anyone out, of course, and I’m not recommending vegetarianism for others. But am I the only one? Living in harmony with this beautiful nature, bustling with outdoor activity—it seems justification for an honest look at healthy, eco-friendly options. (Insert hands-raised, shoulders-shrugging emoji.)
4. I will not accept the cyclists on my road, but I’m not going to say anything else about it. I’ve said my piece. At least one guy did move over slightly and wave at me as I passed him and that was nice.
5. I’m still going to read and write in public. Honestly, people, if I take a book to the coffee shop patio or my journal to a bench at the park, I get stares like I’m clipping my toenails (trust me, I know—I watched a guy do this on the subway once). I know most mountain residents are using the outside for recreation, but it’s also wonderful for leisure—and thinking! Try it! Please enjoy! I know I do and will continue to.
All in all, I guess it’s safe to say that while I’ll never fully assimilate, I have learned how to make this place home for me. Really, that’s all a person needs from home—somewhere they can be accepted for who they are while they discover what new things they really are capable of.