Posts Tagged ‘boulder’


the color of light

 

Running or biking on the bike path in Boulder, Colorado is kind of like eating a deep-dish pizza in Chicago or looking at that arch in St. Louis: you have to do it at least once when you’re there. I lived in Boulder for about 4 years, which meant lots of runs on the famous path that follows the Boulder creek, winds its way past the University of Colorado campus, and even heads into the mountains toward everybody’s favorite hippy town, Nederland.

I ran almost the whole year round, save a few weeks when ice and sub-freezing temperatures made running less like fun and more like an endurance prize. This allowed me to savor the differences in the seasons, and particularly notice the changing light.
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There is nothing like the light in Boulder. In the late afternoons it will cut between the mountains and create long shadows over parts of the town. In the mornings, the plains to the east leave no obstructions to the sun, making a bright welcome to the day.

My favorite time of year is the fall, as the brutal summer gives way to cooler evenings and longer shadows. On the bike path, in a late afternoon in October, I would often feel the kind of happiness that could also be sadness. Happy at how perfect things are, but melancholy because you are aware of the passage of time and how nothing remains the same forever.

I used to think it felt like the end of the world. Not in a disastrous way or a whimper, either. It felt like a sigh right before falling asleep. I remember feeling it was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been.

Light is an important part of Boulder, and of all the places I’ve been to in Colorado, partly because there is so much of it. Add that to the steep, jagged mountains that throw intense shadows across the landscape, and you’ve got to pay attention to the way light looks. It changes things throughout the day and year. I kept trying to capture moments of it in photos. These two pictures were taken on a dirt road between Crested Butte and Aspen.
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This is not to say Colorado has a lock on light. Arizona has light everywhere. Everything is illuminated! The sun washes everything out. I think of the word “blasted.” It’s strange on a cloudy day, because you can see so much depth. Usually the mountains look almost two dimensional because there is little shadow.

When I draw Falling Rock I try to keep that flat desert look. If Ernesto and Carver ever go exploring in the mountains, I’ll have to introduce some shadows and depth to the landscapes.

Every place has a different feel, and I’m beginning to suspect it all has to do with light.


I met Amazing Larry

amazing-larry   A few weeks before I moved to Portland, I had the pleasure of meeting an orange cat named Amazing Larry. Although our time together was brief, I will always remember his charm, selflessness, and optimism in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I miss Amazing Larry – he was a good cat and I was glad to meet him.

It was March in Boulder, so the weather was still quite cold. It had snowed Saturday and Sunday and it was in the 20s outside. I saw, Sunday night, a note in our apartment building left by a neighbor. The note said that they had found a cat and they let the cat stay in their apartment for the night.

Monday morning, I was on the way to the gym when I noticed a cat in the stairwell. Odd, since there aren’t usually animals hanging around in the stairwell – it’s closed off both to the outside and to each floor of the building.

I got back home an hour or so later and the cat was still there. He trotted right up to me when I entered with my bike; usually cats are scared of large metal objects, but this one was unafraid. I set my bike down and took a look: he was orange with white speckles. He looked like an outdoor cat: short hair, muscular, friendly with strangers like me. He followed me up and I had to close the door quickly so he wouldn’t come in my apartment.

After I took a shower I came back out and he was still in the stairwell. I decided that I needed to do something. I fed him. I took the food outside, thinking he’d eat it then go on his way. Not so. He meowed at the door to the apartment building. He had a very loud meow, and it was cold outside, so I felt like I couldn’t just leave him out there. I also didn’t want to adopt a cat who was likely just too cold to walk back to his home. The best thing to do was take him to the humane society (there’s a good no-kill shelter where we got our cat).

I walked out to the car and he followed me. I put him in the car and started it up – I figured I’d turn on the heat so he’d be happy while I brushed the snow off the windows. I finished, then noticed he had peed on my seat. I turned off the car, picked up the cat, and took him back to the apartment to get some cleaner and paper towels.amazing-larry-hissing-match

Our cat Sambora was awake. I opened the door, the orange cat trotted inside, and Sambora was on the scene. I’m not going to place blame on who started it, because I don’t honestly know, but what followed for several breathless moments was a colossal hissing match. Both cats, taken aback, I suspect, at the unexpected presence of another cat , hissed at each other. Before violence ensued, I hastily ushered the orange cat outside the apartment, shut the door, and ran to get the cleaner. To his credit, he waited for me outside my door. To Sambora’s credit, she immediately forgot the incident ever happened. On my way back, I didn’t have to carry the orange cat; he followed me downstairs and into the car.

The cat was a great passenger. He looked out the windows, explored the backseat, and sat next to me for a while in the passenger seat. Whenever we stopped at a light, people would wave to him.amazing-larry-good-passenger

When we got to the humane society, I picked him up so he wouldn’t run away, but he didn’t want me to carry him. I set him down and he led the way to the door. I opened the door for him and he trotted inside and acted like maybe he’d been there before.

The woman at the counter looked first at the cat who so matter-of-factly walked in the door. Her eyes then made contact with mine and she seemed a little relieved that the cat had not come in on his own.

She checked him out and found that he had a microchip. His name was Amazing Larry, and they also had an address where he lived. The woman called his owner but she wasn’t at home, so I left Larry there to wait for his people to come pick him up. She asked if I wanted to be on the adoption list in case the owner did not turn up, but I had to decline, remembering that he and Sambora had not exactly hit it off.amazing-larry-like-he-owns-the-place

On my way home, and many times since, my thoughts turned to Amazing Larry. He was a good companion, was cheerful in spite of his being trapped in a stairwell for hours, gave me the courage to face my inner demons and vanquish them. He was one of those rare individuals beautiful both on the inside and on the outside. May his legend live long and may poets sing his name in generations to come.


Friday Robots Over NCAR

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friday robots

More underwater robots this week. I originally wanted to see if I could take a picture, then make it look like it was underwater. The way the black outlines on the robots are separated from the colors was an accident at first. Turns out I like the effect, so I exaggerated it. Oh robots, you continue to teach me.

I couldn’t decide which version of the second image I liked better, so I include both.

Bonus points if you can guess the city in each image. (Hint: they aren’t really underwater. Answers below!)friday-robots-1-22-10 friday-robots-1-22-10-2 friday-robots-1-22-10-2a


friday robots: prehistoric robots

These robots come from a time before I knew the doodles I liked to draw would be known as Friday Robots.

You see, I always drew these things.  It was only four years ago that I realized they had a place on my blog and in my heart.  Both paintings once hung in my small studio apartment in Boulder.  Combined they covered 76% of the wall space.  Did I mention it was a small place?  Whatever.  I had room for my drawing table, my futon, and my dreams.  That’s all anyone needs in a first apartment.

Happy Friday everybody!