Out walking the dogs the other day, I spotted two dogs — Airedale Terriers — unfamiliar to me. As someone who walks our dogs regularly along a similar route each day, I’d come to know the neighborhood dogs — Alf the golden retriever, Waylon, the border collie, TJ and Mimi, and others. But these two I’d never seen before. Did we have new neighbors?
Soon after the dogs came galloping by, a man followed. And yes, he is a new neighbor, or soon to be new neighbor. As I had walked the trail to North Boulder Creek over the last several months, a new house had appeared — first, a concrete foundation, then framing, and now the house was nearly finished. By happenstance, I met the soon-to-be resident of Nederland.
We chatted for a few minutes…
“Hi, my name’s Leslie — we live down Cougar at the log home. Where are you moving from?”
“We’re moving from Indiana, and excited to move into our new home!”
Soon the topic turned to weather…
“I hope we don’t get any more snow. Rain would be ok, but I really don’t want any more snow.”
That’s when it dawned on me. Words spoken like a true newbie to mountain living, and also like a midwesterner. Most people back east look at snow after March 1 as a great nuisance. But not mountain dwellers.
We know that our biggest snow months are often March and April. We also much prefer snow in the spring to rain, knowing that snow will slowly melt and saturate the soil in a way that rain can’t. And that the more snow we get late into the spring, the less likely of a wildfire in June, one of our driest months.
Some other things crossed my mind of tips and advice I would give to newbies to our town:
- Learn to embrace the wind, don’t be scared of it. Your house won’t blow apart, even though it feels like your mind might.
- Trade in that lawn mower for a chain saw. You will need it. Get ready to cut down lots of trees to mitigate your property.
- Put together two or three “fire boxes” right now, before you get comfortable and complacent, thinking that you will never have to evacuate for a fire. You will, and things will go much better if you put your important photos, documents and mementos in your fire boxes now and stash them in an easy to remember place.
- On that same note, put together a home inventory — complete with photos and spreadsheet and save it to the Cloud or some other internet storage site.
- Don’t be one of those people who gets wiggy about your property lines and that it’s YOUR land. Most of us moved her to be laid back, and we don’t care if you and your dog amble through our property as long as you respect it.
- Don’t fall in love with the forest. Those trees you think are so beautiful could lead to the destruction of your home.
- Be prepared to live with dust and lots of it on a daily basis. You will never have a truly clean home again.
- While we’re at it — be prepared to have a perpetually dirty car. Your car will never be clean again. In the first year, you will try and wash it, but within 24 hours, it will be dirty again.
- If you haven’t already, invest in a snowblower. You’ll think you can handle shoveling until that spring snowstorm delivers two feet of cement-like white stuff, and you will spend all day shoveling out your driveway and spend the night with an aching back.
- Watch out for wildlife, especially so if you own pets. Your cute little Fluffy the kitty will make a perfect hors d’oeuvre for a fox or coyote, and Fido will make the big moose who calls the neighborhood home very angry leading to a stampede of you and your dog.
- In keeping with that, remember you’re not in Kansas anymore. Don’t leave your garbage out to get picked up, and hang cute little birder feeders off your deck — both of which will incent Mr. Bear to visit your home often and possibly destroy it.
- Do know that there are many of us transplants just like you. Some fall in love with mountain living, and some just can’t weather the storm. Give yourself three mountain winters of winds and snow to figure out if this is really the life for you.