Last Christmas, the time came to open up my gift from my husband. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. As I unwrapped the paper and looked in the box with anticipation, I reached down to pull out a small paper airplane, with a note that read Denver, Colorado, April 2013. A trip to Denver! Woo Hoo! We could celebrate our anniversary in a place we had always talked about wanting to visit…The West!
We were living in Charlotte, North Carolina and loved it. Great people, lots of things to do, and the wonderful sense of living right in the culture of Southern hospitality. Both of us had spent our entire adult lives growing up and living in the Deep South. I had grown up and gone to college in Mississippi, and Brandon had grown up and gone to college in Louisiana. Though we loved growing up and living in the South so very much, we both began to feel a sense of restlessness that we felt only the West could ease. We knew something about the mountains was calling us, and this trip to Denver was the perfect opportunity to find out why.
After one day visiting Denver, we both knew. We knew the west was winning us over. It was during a day of snow shoeing (something neither of us had ever done before), that we knew we wanted to live here.
It is true that I am a southerner at heart. I love to drink sweet tea, eat boiled peanuts, say y’all and hug people when I meet them. But something about the West touches you when you experience it. It really does call out to you to come back. Am I little nervous to drive in snow? Sure. Am I intimidated by the number of people who like free-handed rock climbing and 100-mile mountain biking? Of course. Do I understand the fascination with Rocky Mountain oysters? No way. But the beauty and the culture of the West has won me over. Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. Mountains, rivers, snow capped wonders, streams, sunny skies, gorgeous trees, down to earth people…all great things that come to mind when I think of this great state of Colorado and how it “got us here.”
One of the greatest things I love about living here is working for the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. I think there are a lot of people like me out there who didn’t really learn that much about water growing up, other than being taught to appreciate it, conserve it when you brush your teeth and take a shower, and to care for it. But, I never realized until working here, how much of your life is truly touched by water. Water is a resource that everyone in the world uses. It doesn’t matter where you live, what type of car you drive, or what you enjoy doing in your free time. We all use water. And many of us take it for granted.
I have learned so much in the past 4 weeks that I have worked here. My second week, I went on a CFWE Land and Water Tour. We heard from experts, toured local reservoirs, visited a new “green” neighborhood, and even visited a water treatment plant to see how groundwater is turned into household water. I just returned from a conference last week, where I was surrounded by water experts, leaders, educators, and professionals. I got to listen to a panel on Wildfires and Water, a panel on Flooding and Colorado, and to learn how Climate Change affects our water supply. I got to meet so many people that work in the “water” field. They are amazingly passionate and smart. They have such a love for Colorado and its water resources. Many of them have spent their whole lives studying water, and working to educate community members about it.
We should all want to understand things like: Where does our water come from? How do we care for it? How does it affect tourism in our state? Why are many incoming businesses to our state making location decisions based on water supply? How is it being used for energy? What are water rights and who has them? What is Water Court? How does water supply and location affect our neighborhoods, rivers, streams, mountains, wildlife, animal species, and even the construction of new roads in our state?
There are so many resources and opportunities to learn about water. And it doesn’t entail just sitting in a classroom all day. You have the opportunity to get out there and see first-hand how water affects you. Water is Life. And we are lucky to have some of the best water in the entire world (why do you think beer tastes so good here?). I encourage each of you to get out there and get your “feet wet” with learning about water. It’s fun. And it makes a real difference. After all, it is Your State. Your Water. And Your Future.
- Water: What is the New Normal? (yourwatercolorado.org)
- CU Boulder Research Community Responds to Boulder Floods (yourwatercolorado.org)
- On the road again… (yourwatercolorado.org)