Pulling into Costco to fill up the gas tank, I realized just how dirty and grimy my Subaru was.  As I stood alongside the car, blotches of dark gray coated my jeans.  Though at times, I try to wash the car, I know it is a fruitless endeavor, as within hours, the car is covered in dust and mud again.  Such is life in the mountains!

So when I saw another blue Subaru wagon pull up behind me, looking equally dirty, I had an inkling.  A woman got out of the car, looking equally weathered as I’m sure I appeared.  Her car overflowed with greenery as it filled every available space except for the driver’s seat.

“Wow, that’s a lot of plants!” I said.

“Yes, a friend of ours moved cross-country, and so I agreed to take her plants.  One of these is almost seven feet tall, so I had to lay it down in the back.”

“I love plants.  We live up in Nederland, and have lots of windows facing west and south, and the plants go crazy up there!”

“Oh my gosh, I live up in Rollinsville, and I know just what you mean.  But we don’t need this many extra plants.  Would you like one?”

I could see the driver waiting behind her getting agitated as we had both finished filling up.

“Maybe we should pull up here and talk about it.”

I inspected the various ferns, figs and other plants in her cars, and ended up taking an Areca palm.  We exchanged names and talked a bit more about living up in the foothills, and then went our separate ways.  Her load a little lighter, while I got the honor of bringing home another plant.

Something about the interaction made me smile.  There’s a certain trust, a certain connection, a kinship that I automatically grant people who are fellow mountain dwellers.  I know they can understand my life and lifestyle in a way nobody who lives in Denver could ever know.  And so once I find out someone lives “up the hill”, I find it much easier to talk with them.

What do we talk about?  That it’s not easy, that winter can last until late May, that we will have to chop more wood than anyone will comprehend to keep the wood stove going, that we are hearty, independent folks.  In short, I realized I had met another one of my peeps.

That kinship of mountain residents helped us in adopting our dog Shawnee.  She was a 3-month old puppy rescued from a shelter in Texas where she was going to be euthanized.  When I called about her, the shelter, located here in Nederland, had received numerous calls from people interested in adopting her.  Not surprising, when I think about her striking puppy-cute looks of black and white with tan eyebrows.

Seven years later I still recall the conversation.

“We were interested in adopting Shawnee.  We currently have one dog, and two cats with about two acres of land.”

“We’ve had a lot of calls about her from all over the state.  So I can’t make any guarantees.  Where do you live?”

“We live in Nederland, just outside of town off Ridge Road.”

“Oh, so you’re local, that’s great.  We would really like to have her adopted by someone living here in the foothills.”

And so we found ourselves three days later meeting with her foster family, and bringing her back to our log home.

During the many challenging circumstances we have found ourselves in during our eight years here, we have always found sympatico with our mountain friends and neighbors.  Whether it be a flood, snow storm, or wildfire, we understand each other.  While I have some wonderful friends who live down in Boulder, Broomfield and Denver, there is often a disconnect between us and our lifestyle which can lead to awkward conversations.  I found this to be particularly true with people from work.

So, when I met Sandy, my new friend from Rollinsville at the Costco,  it was no surprise that we would develop an easy conversation almost instantly and I would be the owner of a lovely new plant as part of the deal.