This post is about the song “Colorado,” by Paper Bird . . . but before we get to that, let me talk a bit about my kids’ education.
In 1993, the summer before our son Michael began 4th Grade and our daughter Suzanne began 2nd Grade, our family moved to the mountains outside of Idaho Springs, in Clear Creek County, Colorado. Clear Creek is small county, and over 70% of it lies within national forest and other public lands. There were (and still are) fewer than 10,000 people living there, so the school system was rather small. The whole county had four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school, with the middle school and the high school sharing a single building.
Our children attended Carlson Elementary School in Idaho Springs. The principal was a gentleman named Kim Summeril. His wife, Gayla, was a counselor for the school district, and their son, Caleb, was a student at Carlson.
Kim was one of those picking and singing kind of principals. He would regularly bring his guitar to school and go to the different classrooms to sing songs with the students. He was popular and Carlson seemed to be providing a good education, so we were disappointed when Kim left a couple of years later to accept a position paying a lot more money as a principal in neighboring Jefferson County, which has Colorado’s largest school district.
The children in the Eastern part of Clear Creek County attended King-Murphy Elementary School through 6th Grade, and then were bused to Idaho Springs when they began middle school. Sarah Anderson was one of the girls from the King-Murphy region. She was in the same class as Suzanne, and they both sang in the choir for several years. Sarah had a beautiful voice, and the choir director always made sure she did some kind of solo at all the choir concerts.
Now let’s jump forward to early 2013. Michael and Suzanne were grown and Cathy and I had moved down the mountain to Arvada nearly eight years earlier. I was walking along the Ralston Creek Trail with Darcy, our new 3-month old puppy, when two people riding bikes passed us going in the opposite direction, and then turned around and stopped next to us. One of them asked me, “Didn’t you used to be Lou Weltzer.” I admitted that I still was, and as they removed their bike helmets and sunglasses I recognized Kim and Gayla Summeril. I had not seen them for at least 10 years.
We talked for little while and asked about each others’ families. They told me that Caleb was playing in a band called Paper Bird. It seems that in the summer of 2006 Caleb had gone hiking with Sarah Anderson and two other friends, Paul DeHaven and Esme Patterson. They were all musicians and had brought instruments along with them, so they began jamming on the streets of the ski town of Breckenridge, and somehow got a gig to play that night at a local coffee house. Continue reading