•  What would we do to put a bit of color into the winter season if it weren’t for the willows?

    Willows line our streams with lush green growth all summer, much of which turns yellow in the fall to join the brilliant golden display of the aspen. These old leaves eventually wither and fall, leaving just the woody skeleton of the willows. 

    This is where the winter color of willows appears, and as spring approaches, the sap begins to move upward to the tips of the branches, and he color intensifies.

  • Hulking uncomfortably in an aisle of hair curlers and makeup supplies, I repeated myself to the beauty-store clerk as she stared up at me.

    “Mustache wax,” I said. Then, after a delicate moment, I pantomimed a 19th-century gentleman with a bemused eyebrow quirk, as he straightened his long mustache ends. “It’s for a — costume party.”

  •  When I go down Little Cub Creek Road, I always look for a small cluster of Gambel’s oak, which grows on a scruffy southwest-facing slope just south of Mountain Park Road. It is a clump of small trees. Although they have single trunks and are tree shaped, they are little more than shrubs. 

  • Editor’s note: This is the first of two installments on local residents caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.

    By Stephen Knapp

    For the Courant

    One sunny morning in 2008, longtime Evergreen residents Bob and Jean Jacobus were running some errands about town when they happened to pass an unlucky motorist wrestling with his spare tire in the breakdown lane.

    “Look at that guy changing his tree,” Bob remarked.

  •  It has been a sunny day but considerably colder than it has been. I assume that means the cold front is moving in and temperatures will be more what we normally expect in December.

    It has also clouded up and that may mean we are going to receive a bit of snow that the weather forecasters have been promising.

  • Braving the cold wind on the 23rd Street bridge above Clear Creek, more than 20 people gathered in Idaho Springs on Dec. 7 to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

    For those who organized the event and spoke, paying tribute to the great generation that answered a call to fight was important no matter how many attended, or how long ago it was or how far.

    The Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese spurred the United States to enter World War II.

  • By Stephen Knapp

    For the Courant

    Just when you thought the good folks of Idaho Springs couldn’t do Christmas any better, they did it better.

    Last Saturday’s merry menu of festive fetes was a triumph of yuletide unity, knitting together the city’s several separate seasonal celebrations into a single seamless Christmas sweater big enough to warm every heart in town.

  •  Crowds huddled together under a brilliant moon and enjoyed the sounds of children singing holiday songs and the unseasonably warm weather on Nov. 24 as Georgetown officially kicked off its holiday season with the annual tree-lighting celebration. 

    Live music and the smell of wood burning from a bonfire filled the air as crowds mingled between Rose and Sixth streets. The event was hosted by the Georgetown Parks and Recreation Commission, and local restaurants provided free hot chocolate and apple cider.

  •  Thanksgiving has come and gone, and winter will soon begin to settle in. It is not bitter cold today but colder than forecast. This is no doubt due to a high overcast, which appears to be much thicker than expected.

    With no sun breaking through, we have not warmed up as much as the weather forecast had expected. Christmas is still a month away, but if you have listened to your television programs, they are selling it like it was tomorrow.

  • At the height of the Gold Rush, 1,600 mines were developed in Clear Creek County, and the now-abandoned mines severely damaged the local watershed over the next 150 years.

    In the 1990s, the watershed was in desperate need of an ally and found it in the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation and its unpaid president, Ed Rapp.

    Over the years, Rapp and the watershed foundation have completed countless mine remediation and rehabilitation projects, including the Doctor, Dibbens, Minnesota, Sydney and McClellan mines.

  • By Sandy Barnes

    Staff Writer

    Even though he no longer lives in Brookvale, Paul Fiorino is fascinated with the community and its history. 

    “Everything I do now is Brookvale-related,” said Fiorino.

    Nestled in a picturesque corner of Clear Creek County where Bear and Yankee creeks converge, Brookvale was once a thriving resort that attracted visitors from afar. 

    The 19th-century hotel in Brookvale was known as Sisty’s, named after the man who founded the town.

  • Outfitted in a medley of the macabre, Georgetown Community School students wound their way down the center of town from the school to the county courthouse as part of a longstanding Halloween tradition on Oct. 31.

    Tourists and business owners stopped to watch the colorful procession.

  • In seven seconds, longtime Idaho Springs resident Cindy Moore went 171 mph in her 1,000 horsepower, alcohol-injected dragster to win the Western Colorado Dragway 2012 Superquick Championship in Grand Junction on Oct. 6. 

    With the help of her crew chief and husband, Kevin, Cindy beat out 16 of the competition’s fastest cars to win the championship.

    In August, she also won The Wally trophy — the National Hotrod Association’s most coveted racing award.

  • Ignoring the frigid October wind, a group of children explored Empire’s new playground at Minton Park on Oct. 28, while town officials held a chilly ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the first improvements to the park in 20 years.

  • The first snow is always so beautiful that I am forced to admire it even though I’m not a winter person.

  •  On Monday, Oct. 15, Mike Krieger phoned to let me know that he and Kathy had their first Clark’s nutcracker at their bird feeder near Bailey. These big, gray, black and white members of the crow family look like a small gray crow with black wings and tail. They are strange birds that act like they couldn’t decide whether to be a crow or a woodpecker.

  • Some of the strongest men in the world gathered in Killeen, Texas, in early October to prove who is the strongest of them all. The answer is a Clear Creek County resident.

    After two years of coming in second for his age and weight division, local Mark Cucinella, 62, squatted 452 pounds, bench-pressed 314 pounds and dead-lifted 463 pounds to win gold at the International Powerlifting Federation’s World Master Championships. In doing so, Cucinella beat out competitors from Germany, Estonia and Canada.

  •  The first snow is always a surprise to me. No matter how many weather reports I listen to, I can’t quite believe that it is really going to snow. This is partly due to the fact that we frequently have a very warm day ahead of a cold front that brings the snow.

    That was truly the case last week because Friday, Oct. 5, was a beautiful late summer day but despite the weather forecast, I couldn’t believe it when I woke up Saturday morning to see snow.

  • Forged in Boston, the 1,200-pound cannon was used against the Confederacy during the Civil War.

    A “12-pounder” — so named because it could fire 12-pound “Round shot” shells — the cannon was brought west to Idaho Springs more than 100 years ago to commemorate the War Between the States.

    Seventy-five years ago, Bruce Bell said he remembers playing on the cannon in its current location on the Idaho Springs Library grounds. At the time, the library was also City Hall and the police station.

  •  On the night of Sept. 26, a cold front moved south through this area, and the morning of Thursday, Sept. 27, definitely was chilly. The high mountains wore a new dusting of snow, and my yard was filled with gray-headed juncos and white-crowned sparrows.

    All day, these two birds drifted through the area. Not in any hurry once they were out of the snow, they continued to drop down from the high country where they had nested.