By Edi Rullet
If you conjure up an image of Telluride, the first things that come to mind are stunning peaks, challenging skiing and summer festivals—recreation and partying being the keywords of all things Telluride-esque.
When we newbies arrived in the ’70s, whether we fess up to it or not, we brought with us aspirations of change. Playing outdoors, stomping our feet to live music and hunkering up to the bar only got us so far. We were wanting. We coveted culture and fresh mangos in winter. We wanted to continue our education, read The New York Times and get reception to more than two TV stations. We were baby boomers who had come from heady metropolitan cities that offered budding technologies and modern amenities. We had tasted progress. It wasn’t long before our mantra of “back to the earth” had the addition of “but not without a computer, satellite TV or cell phone.”
To that end, we have found ways to get around Telluride’s deficits. Institutions and an arts school stepped up to the plate, and theater troupes plied their trade on the historic opera house stage. First-run movies were shown at the Nugget, lecturers were lured to local podiums and ad hoc classes were taught. It was a beginning, but not enough to quench our thirst for knowledge. Thus seeded, the drive began for a library to meet the needs of a multifaceted community. For its size, the Wilkinson Public Library has to be one of the most voluminous in the country. It is also untraditionally user friendly and buzzing with activity. With a real library and high-speed Internet in place, the chance for pursuing a secondary education in Telluride became a reality. You no longer needed to move to a college town to get that degree in ethnocosmology or snowboard engineering. We may not be the most educated populace in the country, but we are definitely capable.
No, we did not turn our backs on recreation and metamorphose into a community of bookworms. The youth led the way to an urban-style skate complex in Town Park and a Air Garden on the ski area. “Hip” remains a key component of our mystique. Some new vocabulary words go with this territory—words you will not find in any of the reference material in the library.
Nor have we given up our back-to-nature roots. We have embraced the return of Lynx canadensis, the beautiful cat that once again finds habitat in the San Juan Mountains. If you are lucky, you’ll get a glimpse of a lynx while playing on the ski area this winter. If you want a taste of what it was like to ski in Telluride when the area first opened, take a ride to Silverton. I think their new ski area is more akin to Telluride in the ’70s than it is off-piste skiing in Europe, and if you want a little challenge in your lift-served forays, it’s worth the journey. Silverton’s slopes sport some early Telluride traits, including the difficulty of getting there, no grooming, and it’s sans a terrain park. Viva la difference!
No issue would be complete without a look at pre-skiing Telluride. Over the years, our reader surveys have shown one consistent response: History is the favorite read. We have fun taking on some Telluride lore—our own little myth-busters scoop—and we explore the life of a real red-light lady. The painting of Audrie is far more racy than the story, but prostitution is as much a part of Telluride’s heritage as mining and drinking, which proves that the thread running through this town’s history is not recreation, but partying.
On a personal note, because Dulce the avi-dog belongs to my sister, I get the pleasure of taking her on hikes in the summer. I have added a very handy trick to her repertoire.
I tend to wander when hiking, either following game trails or with my head down in the hunt for delectable fungi. When I come to my senses, I sometimes realize that I’m lost. Not hopelessly—I know up from down and east from west—but when I can’t see the forest for the trees, I do get a bit discombobulated. Because dogs, like most animals, have an uncanny sense of direction, I have conditioned Dulce to recognize the command “home” to mean “let’s head back to whence we came”—usually the car. Last fall, in a chanterelle-picking frenzy, I put her to the task. Even though there were moments when I was sure we needed to head in another direction, she got me back to the car much faster than the way we had come—albeit through a marsh and a thicket of unforgiving downfall.
Now if I can only teach her to write. Maybe she can learn online.
With steeze (see “Air Garden Demystified” to beef up your slanguage),