Spring blessings….

When you open the Google map on your phone and see that the “fastest route” to a needed appointment in Montrose is 372 road miles away and will take six hours and 20 minutes, that can be a bit daunting. But it is what it is, and I anticipate Thursday’s drive from CB to Montrose will be a beautiful tour of the Western Slope. The Universe is apparently having some fun with me since my timing was off by a day — the County Road 26 Lake City Cutoff shortcut will add more crossings, including one at noon, starting on Friday. The expectation is that I’ll be experiencing the 7:30 p.m. crossing Thursday evening so there’s some relief in that. None of it is necessarily easy, but the better choice is to look at the situation as a blessing rather than a curse. Thanks Universe!

After a weekend of winter, Gunnison County and state CDOT workers are busy clearing snow from Kebler Pass Road and getting that route to a place where vehicles can use it earlier than normal. That will be a major convenience for people up in the North Valley having to travel west this spring and into some of the summer but sounds like it’s still a couple weeks away. While no one has yet given any timeline for when the Highway 50 Middle Bridge might be repaired and reopened, officials all seem to be expecting it won’t be any time soon. It will be an interesting summer for tourism and traffic on Kebler…which in recent years has been more and more “interesting.”

The winter weekend along with a knee issue for me allowed for some inside time. It’s been fun to watch the sports drama of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche roll through Ball Arena. I marvel at how that place can go from an ice rink to a basketball court in about 24 hours between games. The inside time also provided opportunity to sit on the couch and read. Being in the middle of the historical fiction novel Horse by Geraldine Brooks is a spring pleasure. The bond described between a man and his animal soulmate comes alive, unlike the apparent “bond” between South Dakota governor Kristi Noem and her family’s ex-puppy Cricket. Ouch.

As we came out of the snowy weekend, spring keeps trying its best to turn us toward summer. It makes for a full heart to see a Great Blue Heron gracefully flying above the swelling Slate River. Word is the majestic birds returned to their nesting site up Slate River Road at the end of March. We are fortunate that they continue to come back and share our valley. Respect their rookery and give them the space they need to successfully roost and raise their young.

This is the time of year other wild neighbors are branching out. The geese are honking, the spring birds building their new nests. The coyotes are howling and deer and elk moving their way back up the valleys to summer homes as the snow recedes. Flowers are poking out up Cement Creek and even in town. The new moon allows the stars to pop above the peaks before this month’s “Flower Moon” reaches its fullness on May 23. Being surrounded by the wild of nature is no doubt a blessing.

For us humans in CB, the spring migration can point south. Gunnison and the surrounding areas are spring treasures providing desert dirt while the trails in the North Valley continue to hold the dusty snow. To be able to drive 30 minutes and get a regular taste of sunshine, warmth and dirt is a blessing as we await the high valley melt out. Whether it is Hartman’s, Signal Peak or Char Mar and Jorgenson Parks, the opportunity to get a taste of summer while still surrounded by winter is another unique treat of our high mountain location.

As I have written before and I am sure will again, we are indeed blessed. For those not doing well mentally with the seasonal transition (it’s ok to not be ok), there are places to find support. We have a story and list of such opportunities in this week’s paper.  

The place is not perfect of course and change is constant, but this valley, this town, remains a special island in the mountains. It’s just much more of an island these days with the bridge situation. Still, during these challenging weeks of spring, it is the perfect time to reset and count the blessings…and it looks like, thanks to the Universe messing with my timing, I’ll have plenty of time to do just that on my drive to Montrose this week.

—Mark Reaman

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