Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I figure we've been dragging Spring in our wake.

Warm Spring weather is pouring over the Rockies from the west, after one of the severest Colorado winters on record.

Since we arrived from Texas, the temperature has risen nearly twenty degrees farenheit. It was around sixty degrees yesterday, and we were shedding some of the winter layers we had put on for our arrival.

Right now I'm sitting outside Starbucks, two blocks away from Charles and Marilyn's condo. It's my third morning sitting here watching the world go by. The first day was really cold. Yesterday, the air was quite soft. Today it is positively balmy, with real heat in the sun.

I like this life. A stroll down the treelined boulevard at seven in the morning, squinting at the early morning sun with a hot grande caramel machiato in my hand, watching the world go by. And it leads me to the realisation that I am not the only creature of habit. In just three days I have begun to recognise faces - a daily procession, a morning routine, a visit to Starbucks for that first infusion of caffeine. The guy with the dreadlocks and the husky dog. The tall blond with the sharp business suit. The mom in jogpants, two bright-eyed kids in the back of her pick-up, waiting impatiently to be taken to school.

It makes me think of France - the routine, not the people. The difference is that I would have been sitting on the terrasse of a cafe in the town square with a grande creme and a croissant, and there would almost certainly have been some old farmer at the bar with a glass of wine in his hand.

Charles told me that Colorado has the least number of obese people in the US. And sitting here, my eyes bear that out. People seem leaner, fitter here. The air is cold, and crisp, and clear (we are very slowly acclimatising to the lack of oxygen), and the streets are full of folk running, or cycling, or power-walking. They wear shorts and tee-shirts and perspire a lot - earning the right to that sweet, milky coffee in the morning.

There's a nice laid-back air about Denver. Yesterday we lunched in a nouvelle cuisine Vietnamese eatery. Spicy, delicious food in a relaxed and informal restaurant called Parallel 17. Then drove through the old Denver downtown area, brick buildings and warehouses converted into bars and lofts. We pulled up outside an old-fashioned store called "Savory" , whose shelves groaned with the most fabulous array of exotic spices. They grind their own spices there every week, and so they are just about as fresh as you can get them.

This is Charles's home from home. He spends hours here, prowling amongst the jars of cumin and coriander, searching out new flavours with which to spice his fabulous curries - one of which he and Marilyn had prepared earlier for a dinner party that night. Their apartment was infused all day with delicious smells, wafting almost direct from the Indian sub-continent.

Which was what we had to look forward to after the book event at "Murder by the Book". We had another good crowd, and as they always do, the store had ordered a cake with a representation of the book cover in coloured icing sugar. Only, in this case, two covers. I've never tasted such good books.

Then came the curry, washed down with a Malbec wine from Argentina. Malbec is the principle varietal of the wines of Cahors. This one was nearly as "black", but with much less tannin. It was round and fruity, but lacked the distinctive liquorice qualities of the Cahors. A nice wine all the same, and robust enough to stand up to Charles and Marilyn's spicy presentation.

Now a day of rest, gathering our energies to drag this beautiful Spring weather north and east as we head to Minneapolis, and back to winter - and all those layers that we have been wheeling around in suitcases for the last two months!

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