Humans of Western Colorado

Portraits of people in our community

Walk and sniff


Sniff sniff sniff.


“I just let her lead and follow her around,” Jenny said with a laugh as Abby, at the end of a very long black leash, sniffed something invisible yet fascinating in the low bushes encircling Corn Lake.

The duo have been together for almost all of Abby’s 14 and a half years — Abby was just a fluffy little muffin of beagle and border collie mix when she came home with Jenny. Now, “she’s my best friend,” Jenny said.

They drive over to Corn Lake at least once a week, maybe more if the weather is nice, usually in the morning so they can visit with the regulars who fish there. They’ve been lake regulars themselves for three or four years.

“I don’t care what anyone says, this is a really nice park,” Jenny said, and Abby wandered around the other side of a cottonwood tree to see and sniff what was over there.

It’s different from anything in Wisconsin, where Jenny is from, or even from Eagle, where she first lived after moving to Colorado, joining several members of her family who already had moved here.

It didn’t take Jenny and Abby long to discover Corn Lake.

Some days they walk all the way around it, some days they meander along the Colorado River. In autumn, when the light is a mellow spill of gold, when morning fog hovers above Corn Lake’s surface, they rustle through the fallen leaves.

Abby’s getting older, sure, but has lost none of her enthusiasm for a walk, and Jenny is only too happy to join her, holding the end of that long, long leash as Abby sniffs what there is to sniff.

Sniff sniff.



Look mom!

Kourtney is due at the end of November, which is almost two months away, but seven months pregnant is still a bit… heavy. A bit tiring.

So, sometimes she lets Kaiden scamper around the front yard, which is encircled by a chain link fence, while she sits on the front steps watching and smiling. He brings stuff over to show her, and she examines it and marvels over it and agrees that it is, in fact, cool.

He’ll be 2 at the beginning of November, and while he’s used to being a sibling — Kourtney’s oldest is 6, a first-grader at Mesa View Elementary School — the family is waiting to see how he’ll be with his new little sister.

“He’s such a mama’s boy,” Kourtney explained, giving him a squeeze as he stood between her knees holding barbecue tongs. Why barbecue tongs? Why not.

“You give them a toy and they want the box,” Kourtney said with a laugh.

Before things get busier with the new baby, then, they spend these nice autumn afternoons in the front yard of their Whitewater home. Kaiden rides his tiny bike, with its training wheels and baby BMX toughness, back and forth along the concrete walk.

Because he’s her second son, Kourtney is attuned and used to the rhythms and habits of boys, the way they play, the way their minds work. A daughter might be a whole different thing altogether.

“My husband is excited for a girl,” she said, “and I am too. But… I don’t know anything about raising daughters. We’ll figure it out, though.”

Meanwhile, Kaiden dashes across the fading lawn, enjoying the last of shorts weather, these last months of being the baby, finding something interesting and taking it to his mom to show her.



Highlights in autumn

Sometimes she thinks she should open the salon more than two days a week, because if she did maybe those two days wouldn’t be quite so busy, but the youngest of her three kids is just 1.

“I would miss being with my kids if I was open more,” Stephani said, so for now it’s two days a week at The Chop Shop Salon in De Beque.

This might be why it took a while for Michelle to get an appointment. In between her schedule of traveling down from Avon to visit her friend in De Beque — a friend whose hair, done by Stephani, she’s long admired — and Stephani’s, it took a while to make the recent afternoon appointment happen.

“We just got back last night from Cody and Yellowstone,” Michelle explained, “and I decided to stay over a night before going home. Before we left my friend said, I got you an appointment with Stephani.”

Stephani smiled and nodded as she laid small, thin sections of Michelle’s hair on squares of foil, painting them with what will be blonde highlights when they dry. It was a silvery, science fiction look, that full head of foil, and Stephani had Michelle sit under the dryer to help the process along.

“My schedule’s pretty busy today,” Stephani said, “but I have really great clients, so I love doing it.”

She’s been in business in De Beque for five years and she and her husband, a De Beque firefighter, recently bought the building that is home to her salon. On a cloudy autumn afternoon, the salon’s interior is mellow with the play of shadow and light, the chocolate-colored walls cozy and warm and a candle filling the room with sweetness.

If she wasn’t doing Michelle’s highlights, she might be doing a perm or a spray tan, nails or waxing or micro-dermabrasion: “I think people in this field are creative so they like change, they like to be doing new things all the time,” she explained.

But for now, she lifted the dryer and led Michelle into the back room, buttery blonde highlights just a rinse away.

Letting things go

The great thing about not trying to make a mint off of a yard sale is that you can sit in a lawn chair inside the open garage, legs casually crossed and enjoy an autumn morning.

“The thing I like about this is getting to meet people,” Donna explained, as a steady stream of people perused the books and DVDs, the clothes, the dishes, the stuffed animals, the games.

A mom approached with a stack of paperback children’s books and three DVDs and offered $5.

“Good enough!” Donna said.

Meanwhile, “how much for the half-can of spray paint?” a man asked, giving it a shake.

Ten cents, it turned out. Bob put the dime in a cash box on the small table behind which he and Donna sat.

“Getting set up can be a hassle,” Donna said, “but once you are, you can just enjoy the day and talk to people.”

They’d meant to have the yard sale last week, but the weather didn’t cooperate, so they waited to sell items mostly as a favor to their daughter.

They had their own massive yard sale several years ago when they downsized, moving from a larger home several blocks over. Because Donna’s mom had lived with them for years, they had not only their own accumulation of things, but hers as well.

It can be cathartic, letting things go.

But then, they enjoy a good yard sale themselves and go out almost weekly in summer. The best day for them, Bob said, is actually Thursday; Saturdays, despite popular assumption, aren’t that great yard sale-wise.

They split the difference and had it on a Friday, posting signs on Patterson Road pointing the direction to their Grand Junction home. The rain had stopped, the sun was shining and a couple stopped to consider a small red raincoat for a dog — 50 cents.


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