Monday, February 13, 2012


On the Cache La Poudre River, Colorado  by Worthington Whittredge, 1876

I love this painting.  Love, I tell you.  I have a print of it framed and hanging in my dining room.  I'm normally not a big art aficionado (had to look up that spelling), but every once in awhile I come across something that strikes me.

One of the reasons I hold this picture so dear is that for three years I lived very close to the Cache La Poudre River, in Fort Collins Colorado.  I went to school there for my undergrad, living in a one-bedroom apartment along a bike trail on the west side of town.  Hubby (not yet hubby, then), managed a small movie theater while I went to school full-time.  Fort Collins lies about an hour's drive north of Denver on the edge of the Rocky Mountain range.  The foothills loom large on the west side of town, and the short grass prairie spreads outward to the east.

My favorite getaway, when I needed to get away from my studies, was to get in the car and drive northwest out of the city, through the little town of Laporte (perhaps stopping at Vern's for one of those delectable cinnamon rolls) and up through the Poudre canyon.  I'm not a big mountain fan--driving through mountain passes makes my heart skip several beats, and not in a good way--but I do love myself some foothills.  The Poudre canyon runs through some of the prettiest foothill scenery I have ever seen.  Not that I've seen a tremendous amount, mind you.

But as much as I loved the foothills of Colorado, I loved the prairie even more.  Vast swelling seas of golden grass, dotted with islands of sage and scrub.  The dry wind racing across the land, chased by a blazing sun.  Ribbons of green grass and trees marking rivers and streams, tumbling out of the foothills and weaving a trail across the open plain.

And Colorado was the place I fell in love with cottonwood trees.  The tall, arching, graceful trees that grow along those creeks and riverbeds.  I love their rough grey bark, their trembling leaves, and the white cotton seeds that fall like snow in the springtime.

Springtime in Colorado, in the shade of cottonwood trees, along the Cache La Poudre river.  Not a bad place to spend a few moments on a wintry day.


Mama Pea said...

Interesting (and comforting somehow to know I'm not the only crazy person . . . ;o}) to know you have a "getaway" picture. Mine is a winter panoramic town scene (very calming to me) done by Norman Rockwell.

Jo said...

Mama Pea -- I'd love to see your getaway picture! Next blog post, please! :)

Erin said...

Lovely story! My getaway pic is a black and white Ansel Adams photo of evergreens covered in snow in winter... it just looks so QUIET :)

Thistledog said...

Jo! That is my hometown, and those memories of yours are flashes from my childhood. We lived out by the CSU Foothills Campus and made many, many trips up the Poudre. How wonderful to hear you describe it with such love and affection...brought a tear to me eye, it did!

I would like to have that print, too, thanks for posting.

Rea said...

When I first saw the picture...with my fuzzy eyesight, it looked like a "mama tree" reaching down and a "baby tree" lifting it's branch arms up for her.

I really have enjoyed reading your blog and seeing your farm!

Maple Lawn Farm said...

Ah....Colorado. I spent some time in the mountains there and remember Ft. Collins. The picture is beautiful.

Jo said...

Erin -- I think I remember seeing that picture in one of your posts. Love Ansel Adams.

Thistledog -- What a coincidence! It is a lovely town. Several years after we moved back to MN, hubby and I took a road trip back out to Ft. Collins, and visited the museum where I used to volunteer. They happened to have these prints on sale, and I snapped one up! So glad my memories were able to spark some of your own.

Rea -- It does look like that! What a great eye you have!

Cupp Family Farm -- Yes, it is beautiful out there. But from the pictures you've posted on your blog, Virginia is very picturesque as well. The rolling hills and green fields and scattered farmsteads, I could get used to that.