We managed to fly into Denver last night, my colleague and I. Which is saying something because we first got diverted to Grand Junction, to sit on the tarmac while we refueld and the visibility improved at DIA. We were happy to get there, so it wasn’t so bad the roads were too bad for us to strike out for our homes, north of Denver. We’d go stay at my mom’s empty house and have comfort food at The Bent Fork.
But it was closed. So was the Bent Noodle, my other neighborhood fave. The Bent Noodle’s recording said that they’d closed at 1:25 in the afternoon, for their employees’ safety. Schools were closed yesterday and, as I sit writing this, lookin over the commons and the path that leads to my old grade school, Polton, a path that is blanketed in pristine white, not scuffed by schoolchildren, it appears they’re closed again today.
I remember wishing for snow days as a kid. We’d be all hopeful the night before, watching the snow fall. I had an advantage because Leo was a vice-principle and at the top of the telephone tree for school cancellation. The phone would ring around 5:30am. No phone call meant I was going to school. If the phone rang, I could turn off my alarm and go back to sleep, delighted in the unexpected holiday. Leo would warn me though: don’t get too excited, it takes a lot for them to cancel school.
This just doesn’t seem like a lot to me. Nothing like the big storms of my youth. Yes the roads are obnoxious, but hardly worth shutting down a city. Not the Mile-High City. For two days in a row.
I suppose some of this is simply Denver becoming so much larger and more complex over the last 35 years. When we moved into this house, Parker Road was the highway, I-225 hadn’t been built and Peoria & Yale were dirt roads with a four-way stop at the intersection. Those that live in the area now know how different it looks than that. A bigger metropolis means more that can go wrong. “They do that to keep people off the roads,” my mom says of the hair-trigger closures.
In the eighties, though, I remember our parents talking about the influx of Californians. Housing prices had crashed out there and West Coasters were moving to Colorado in droves. People called Fort Collins “Fort California.” The refrain was: sure, they like it now because the weather has been so warm and the winters so mild. Just wait for one good winter and they’ll turn tail and run back to Californy. Everyone felt sure they’d learn their lesson or toughen up.
It never occurred to us that the reverse might happen, that we would learn their softness.
Denver no longer seems to plow through. There’s only one or two good snows in a winter anymore, so perhaps the city can afford the luxury of shutting down.
Just wait for one good winter and we’ll see.