Friends, a mere week from today we’ll all be celebrating the 36th U.S. Congress and former President James Buchanan, who in a fit of panic over the South seceding from the Union created the Territory of Colorado.
Yes, 160 years ago our federal government had what some might call an extreme reaction to a break-up. But rather than buy a Tesla or get an asymmetrical haircut, they started with the 37th parallel of north latitude and formally bound this wonderful place where we now ride bikes that are worth more than our Subarus.
I’m referring, of course, to those “You know you’re from Colorado if…” lists that make the social media rounds every so often. They’re fairly inescapable: You know you’re from Colorado if your golden lab, CooperLucy, has climbed every fourteener; you bathe nightly in green chili Rocky Mountain oyster microbrew; you’ve repeatedly petitioned the Vatican to make John Elway a saint.
I generally enjoy these lists, but they usually strike me as incomplete. So, in honor of 160 amazing years, I’ll do my best to fill in the gaps.
You know you’re from Colorado if…
n You immediately sense someone’s not from around here because they pronounce Colorado with a long A, as in “say aaaah”: Coloraaaaaahdo.
Oh, Coloraaaaahdo, is it? I say! Pinkies up! Call the queen! We’re wearing our very fanciest Chaaaaahcos today!
Everyone knows it’s the short-A Coloraaaaado, as in “Aaaaaa! That cat sat in my green chili!”
n You get varying degrees of persnickety – from “Haha, well actually…” to “I WILL BURN DOWN YOUR FAMILY TREE!!!” – about what actually constitutes “from here.” This may or may not involve one of those “Native” bumper stickers that mirror the Colorado license plates.
So, while members of the Ute nations pass out from irony, the rest of us quibble (full disclosure: I was born in Taos).
Oh, you moved here 65 years ago? That’s cute. My family have been dirt farming pinto beans over to the Valley (and you’re definitely not from here if you don’t know that “over to the Valley” clearly means the San Luis Valley) for 573 years. And that’s just one side! The other side can be traced to Paleozoic pelecypod fossils from when Mesa County was a warm inland sea!
n You can easily pronounce Tabeguache, Saguache and Uncompahgre, but Buena Vista exits your mouth as “Byoo-nee” and Pueblo as “Pee-ebb-low.”
n You really ham it up to people who don’t live here: Yeah, the other day I was at the top of Little Bear — it’s one of our fourteeners, class 4, no biggie — when I clutched my Gore-Tex and thought, crap! I’m gonna miss String Cheese at Red Rocks! I better telemark down. But on my way, I had a really spiritual moment with a coyote, and I’m trying to interpret that feeling into my newest microbrew. You should come visit some time!
n You suspect everyone of trying to steal our water.
n You have spent cumulative hours of your life rhapsodizing about the sky – belaboring metaphors for vastness, sweeping your arms expansively to express depth of feeling for it, insisting that THIS SHADE OF BLUE DOESN’T EXIST ANYWHERE ELSE, OK.
n You respond to any and all precipitation, or even rumors of it, with “Well, we sure need it.”
n You have a beloved piece of public land that you dreamily refer to as “mine” – my mountain, my canyon, my trail. Bonus Colorado points if you think nobody else knows about it.
n You know many, many culinary techniques to make elk not taste like elk.
n You ceased to find “Rocky Mountain high” jokes funny about .2 seconds after whoever it was that smoked marijuana for the first time started craving Doritos.
n You would like for Texans to go home.
n You secretly know that sleeping in your actual bed is a million times more comfortable than sleeping in a tent, but bow up like you’re holding a tomato and will do something if anyone dares to suggest you don’t love camping.
n You know that only Coloradoans know how to drive in the snow, and you know what? Not even all Coloradoans. There are a lot of terrible drivers out there, and guess what, pal? Your SUV doesn’t make you invincible. So, scratch that: You’re the only one who actually knows how to drive in the snow.
n You know you’re blessed, you know there’s nowhere else like this, and really, the sky isn’t this color anywhere else.
Rachel Sauer is at firstname.lastname@example.org, camps with an air mattress and apologizes for nothing.