Elk on McClain Flats

For the last several mornings a herd of elk have been grazing in the fields on McClain Flats in Colorado. This morning on the way to work I looked for the elk. Fog hung over the mountains. The morning was still as the elk nibbled the green grass between the ice and snow. Here are some photographs from this morning.

Chocolate Celebration!


First a little music to get us in the mood for a chocolate celebration, here’s the You Tube link to Chocolate by Soul Control: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbaRFShF_D0&feature=related I tried to find a You Tube video of the Chenille Sisters singing their song “Chocolate” but had no such luck. However at the end of this post are the lyrics to the song.

I love chocolate, not as much as coffee. Or waves. But then well coffee is coffee and waves are just fascinating. I do have to say though that chocolate seriously ranks up there in the list of my favorite things. And oh the things that can be done with it! Chocolate mousse! Chocolate chip cookies! Chocolate candy! Chocolate and coffee is practically an orgasmic experience– by this I mean several squirts of dark bitter sweet chocolate sauce mixed with 4 shots of well prepared espresso. Oh baby! And then there is chocolate ganache and chocolate truffles. Dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Oh lately I have been enjoying milk chocolate with almonds and sea salt. And chocolate with cherries and chili peppers. Yum! Life is too short to not have chocolate. It is one of the food groups.

Tonight I went to the Chocolate Classic at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado. Here’s a replica of the Hotel Jerome made out of chocolate cake.

The Chocolate Classic is a fundraiser for Response which is a non-profit organization that helps the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Several restaurants sent their pastries chefs to compete for the title of the best chocolate recipe.

Also individuals and children were offered the chance to compete. There was a silent auction to raise money with all proceeds going to Response.

A band played in the lobby.

And the place was filled with people enjoying chocolate!

CHOCOLATE
The Chenille Sisters/Mary Stribling

Chocolate is great. Chocolate is grand.
Melts in your mouth. Melts in your hand.
Chocolate is love. Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm.

Chocolate is hip. Chocolate is now.
Beans from Brazil, milk from the cow.
Chocolate is love. Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm.

Please don’t mention
The chemical connection
Chocolate makes in my head.
It’s Swiss Miss I’m drinkin’
Eatin’ Hershey bars and thinkin’
If I can’t be in love, I’ll have a truffle instead.

Cocoa is warm. Fudgsicles chill.
Whatever the form, it’s always a thrill.
Chocolate is love. Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen,
Chocolate is a big part of our lives
And we would like to share with you now
Our testimonials in hopes that each
And every one of you will accept
Chocolate into your lives.

At night, I dream of hot fudge on ice cream.
Snickers are fine, Milk Duds divine.
Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip is a trip.
I couldn’t survive-a without my Godiva.
I eat a Chunky when I feel funky.
A tollhouse cookie is better than nookie.
N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestlés makes the very best.
Chocolate is love. Mm-mm-mm-mm-mm.

[Recorded by The Chenille Sisters on “Mama, I Wanna Make Rhythm,” Red House, 1999.]

Snow Day

Today there was a snow day for Aspen Public Schools. This is a rare event in Aspen! Aspen is known for cold and snow and skiing. Aspenites are the hardy among the hardiest when it comes to snow. I had a classmate explain to me the other night what it feels like to have snow fall on your face while skiing downhill. It sounded remarkably cold and unpleasant.

So for me, today was an utter gift from the universe. Every once in awhile it is just an amazing pleasure to have a day free with nothing to do but whatever one likes.

I remember when I was a child, I grew up in a small town on Lake Michigan. The raw cold coming off the lake was beautiful in its terribleness. The water would lap at the shore and create sculptures of layers of ice. I remember sitting in the house on snow days and they would be like some magical event. The cold outside was like a predator circling the house. The snowflakes would come down in a tumbling fragile beauty. The mounds of snow simplified the landscape. Dark trees, grey houses, white snow. Such a hush on the morning of a snow day. No buses. No cars. The window pane would be painted with frost on the outside, fogged on the inside. I would sit and just observe. Warm. Quiet. No rush to be anywhere. To remember books or homework.

I am thankful for snow days when I can be in the cozy house, tucked under blankets, drinking lapsang souchong, and reading my book.

Bears

I am new to the Aspen area and I have been hearing all sorts of stories about bears.

Now, the first story that I heard was told to me supposedly as reassurance. I was told by Mark my neighbor not to worry about the bears. To just make myself as big as possible and scare it off. Unless it was the BIG ONE.

I did wonder what “big” meant because size is a relative thing.

I was told the big one is the one that jumped up and down on top of the steel dumpster until the lid caved in.

Then about a week ago I was talking with one of my co-workers and she told me that bears can open doors and I should keep my doors locked at night. I stopped, a cold shiver went up my spine, and visions of the BIG ONE coming in to the house and helping himself to the refrigerator ran through my mind. I didn’t have a key to lock my doors for the first few weeks I was up here. The humans are perfectly trustworthy and the nicest community of people I have ever met.

The bears?

Well, let’s just say they are a little like Crazy Ole Uncle Joe who is mostly harmless and every once in a while gets a bit destructive. They are a colorful addition to the community. Which leads me to yesterday’s news in the Aspen Daily, a bear decided to sit up in a tree in downtown Aspen and cause a bit of a stir. The bear snuggled up into a pine tree in the alleyway at the corner of Hunter Street and East Hopkins. The Colorado Division of Wildlife was not called because the bear wasn’t really causing a problem. It was just hanging out. Downtown Aspen is a pretty cool place.

This morning I woke up at 4 a.m. for no apparent reason that I could discern other than that something woke me up. I learned this evening that one of my neighbors had two bear cubs on her back porch this week and they were knocking on the door. Maybe the bears woke me up? I thought about going for a run but it was still dark and I was a bit nervous about the prospect of running into a bear. When I got to work, I told one of my co-workers about being awake at 4 in the morning and that I didn’t go for a run because I was worried about the bears. He told me not to worry because the bears leave people alone if the people leave the bears alone.

Then he asked me where I live and I told him. He grimaced and told me not to go for a run when it is dark out. The bears are perfectly harmless, but the mountain lions like a good runner for breakfast.