Friday, September 09, 2005

This is amazing. Endless miles of high plains prairie stretching away to the south. And there, in the west, rising in dark, brooding, jagged points, are the Rockies. The Rocky Mountains! I'm in Colorado. Somewhere beyond those awesome peaks lies, I think, Utah. I imagine what it must have been like for those first settlers travelling west in their wagon trains. The sight of these mountains rising sheer out of the plain. We are up around 5000 feet here, before we even get to the mountains.

Okay, so I'm ignoring the guy on the plane who's pestered me all the way from Minneapolis with questions about my kilt. Am I a piper? What's my tartan? Am I going to a gathering of the clans? He wears a straw cowboy hat, a checkered shirt, jeans, cowboy boots. He's well past his prime but still trying to live the legend. He's none too bright.

I see the white wigwam shapes of Denver's unusual terminal building below us. "Welcome to Denver," says my cowboy.

"Home of the beetles," I quip.

He frowns. "Naw, they came from England. You oughtta know that."

So then I really cocked it up at the airport. Apparently Marilyn had called me in Puymule to tell me that she and Charles would meet me at the baggage claim. Do I remember this? Do I tchoochie! I'm first there. My bag is one of the first off. I follow the signs to the pick-up point for United passengers and wait. Twenty minutes later there's a call for me over the tannoy. I find a courtesy phone and a guy tells me someone called "Barbarick" is waiting for me at the baggage claim.

Charles Berberich and Marilyn Munsterman are good friends and neighbours in France. But their main home is in Denver, and I am staying with them for three nights to do two bookshop presentations - one in Denver, and the other in Boulder, about an hour away. I find them both, apologise profusely for my stupidity, and fall into the arms of friends. (Actually, Charles and I just shake hands - you have to be careful about hugging men in skirts!)

We drive into Denver, a big, big sky stretching away in all directions, broken only by the mountains. You can see the weather. And Charles corrects me about the terminal wigwams. "They're supposed to be mountains," he says. But they still look like wigwams to me.

We get to their apartment, and I have about forty-five minutes to freshen up before we have to jump in the car and drive to Boulder for the first gig. Hardly time to catch my breath.

What's left of it is taken away as we drive north along the interstate to this beautiful little town nestled in the shadow of the Flatirons - part of the Rocky range that rises up in orange triangular shapes behind it, like the flatirons used for répassage. The sun is setting behind the mountains, Long's Peak a hard, purple shadow against the deepening blue. Away to our right, rain is falling, but evaporates before it hits the ground. This is a very dry place. We crest the rise in the motorway and there, spread out below us, is the university town of Boulder.

This is a delightful little town, filled with young people and the energy of youth. The "High Crimes" bookstore is in Pearl Street, and the shop's owner, Cynthia Nye is there to greet us. She is delighted that I am wearing the kilt, and confesses to having seen me at Bouchercon, but never having had the opportunity to make herself known to me. She is charming, and very enthusiastic about the book. As are the others who turn up for my talk. It is a small crowd again, but real enthusiasts, and anxious to know when my publisher is going to bring out the rest of the series. Some of them are sitting there clutching UK editions. I tell them, good sales will motivate the publisher to buy the rest of the series, and that they should spread the word.

Afterwards, I sign a huge pile of books. Between Minnesota and Boulder I must have signed seventy books - which is seventy sales. And the stores all have newsletters and mailing lists, and if their enthusiasm rubs off on their clients, then we can expect a lot more.

In the dark, we wander off to a tapas restaurant in the company of Charles and Marilyn's friend Sarah who, they proudly boast, almost single-handedly got the Democrats back into power in Colorado. One glass of beer and my eyes are rolling - maybe it's the altitude, maybe I'm just tired. This is mountain daylight saving time, or something - now eight hours behind my home in France. I've been ping-ponging back and forth through time zones to the point where my body is just giving up. One of these nights I'll get to sleep all the way through.

And on Sunday I'll see La Patronne again. I miss her.

Me speaking at "High Crimes" in Boulder (showing too much leg). Below that, my Denver hosts, Charles and Marilyn


ARGIL said...

Janice a failli attendre à la gare! On l'a trouvée au bout du quai, seule, éplorée, éperdue... Heureusement, nous n'étions pas loin. Elle te racontera la suite.
Nous nous engageons à la mettre dans le car airfrance qui la conduira à Roissy. Nous faisons le maximum!
Embrasse bien Charles et Marilyn de notre part.

Ian & Hilary said...

Janice was put on the train with two suitcases and a smile.

Hopefully she has now arrived with you and both of you are reconciled.


We are now eating our way through the May figidaire. Actually, we have already drunk the May cave seche (Janice helped!).

Thanks for leaving your novel on the table which has saved us from having to write anything...

Good luck

Ian & Hilary
(This evening we had duck avec foie gras and tarte au fraise)