In April, Joel gave a tour of Craig to each of the out-of-town finalists for the administrative position at East Elementary School.
He enjoyed getting to know the candidates as he showed them our civic sites.
Since then, I’ve thought about the places I’d take potential inhabitants of Craig, and the best season for each.
So far, the following are on my list:
Early on a spring morning, when the aftertaste of winter lingers in the air, we’d huff and puff up the trail on the hill north of East Seventh Street
At the summit, we’d turn around to see Craig waking up and rubbing sleep from its eyes. We’d watch morning light pierce the crimson clouds of sunrise and notice gilded pines standing tall — green exclamation marks scattered among their barely-budded cousins.
“Isn’t it beautiful,” we’d exclaim.
On a late September afternoon, we’d walk by the Center of Craig as the slanting sun ignites the small, colored panes of glass in its east window.
We’d appreciate the way the tremulous leaves of the aspen, flower-studded shrubs and gently textured lamb’s ear soften the angular lines of the old building, like moss lacing a stone path.
Downtown, we’d notice the friendliness of the small-business owners— a good lot in any season. They’d greet me by name and show interest in my guests. We’d not feel pressured or hurried as we browsed, and we’d be sent on our way with well wishes, whether or not we bought anything.
In winter, I’d take interested guests to the golf course to ski or snowshoe the perimeter, preferably on a frozen-mist morning when only an isolated owl-hoot disturbs the brittle air, and elk stand like statues in the fogged distance.
In summer, tour participants could golf. We’d stroll smooth greens and admire flowerbeds tucked into crannies, but I wouldn’t play: I’m unable to whack a miniature ball and track it. I can’t follow the flight of a softball, never mind something the size of a hush puppy.
We’d walk the section of the Yampa River that runs along the north side of the golf course during summer’s hottest days. A panorama of family fun occurs when the citizens of Craig frolic there: Some drift lazily on inner tubes, while others splash, whoop, and race. Several soak up sun on the river’s edge; others rummage in coolers and pass the chips. Young ones wade and squeal in the shallows, and daring sorts jump from rope swings. A few calmly fish among the madness. All are smiling.
Thank you, Parrotheads, for adopting this stretch of fun and keeping it clean.
Loudy-Simpson Park would be another summer stroll, preferably when clouds marshal in the east, attack the unaware sun and scatter shadows across the landscape.
We’d pass by ballparks, soccer fields, pavilions, playgrounds, and nature trails; pause along the river; admire the disk course, fishing pond and ice arena. I’d let the quality of our facilities and physical activity speak for themselves.
Before school starts, we’d meander City Park: a mixture of gentle grass and over-arching trees, centered on a swimming pool where children shriek with excitement as waves boom and lifeguards scan.
We’d exclaim at the varied creations left behind by skilled woodcarvers: the whimsy of a miniature village and the mischief of monkeys, the mystique of Indians and the fierceness of eagles, the playfulness of Pooh and the gentleness of angels.
What a gift this park is.
I’ll continue to play my game of “Where in Craig,” and I’d welcome your ideas. Where do you walk or drive your out-of-town visitors? What spots fill you with quiet happiness? What glimpses intrigue you as you move about our valley?
I’d like to hear.
Come our first storm, I’ll be the lady watching snowflakes dance around the young cowboy who guards the treasures of our museum.