Prone to reflect: Something old, something new

2015-03-06 13.43.31-1There’s something I love about this picture. It’s not the obvious beauty, though I certainly don’t mind bragging on my killer photography skills (thanks, Instagram!). Instead, it’s the juxtaposition of the mountains and the water. For me, it’s a symbol of the new and the old, the foreign and familiar.

These past seven months in Colorado have been an adventure in every sense of the word—and I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it. Everything is new. Every restaurant is a new experience. Every hike is a new view. There’s something…magical?…about still being somewhat anonymous in a new city. That’s what the mountains in this picture represent—the new, the exciting, the adventure.

But it can’t always be an adventure, can it? At some point, I need a reminder of the familiar. I need an anchor in a sea of change where sometimes the newness comes in wave upon wave. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the past. Of home.

For me, that’s the water. I grew up around lakes and our house had a pool. I learned to swim before I started school. My family spent many summers on the beach in Daytona. And Florida has some amazing natural springs that I’ve enjoyed tubing down on more than a few occasions.

That’s what I love about this picture: the old and the new. It’s also one of the things I love about the charming little town of Golden, Colorado, where this picture was taken. I picked up a rock from Clear Creek that day. I wanted to remember the moment and the place. I needed a reminder.

As it turns out, I’m not the first person to have a “stone of remembrance” as a marker of the past for the future. Joshua and Samuel both built stones of remembrance for the Israelites in the Bible to serve as a permanent reminder of what God had done for them.

I love this idea, and I think the principle can apply to any number of things—not just remembering a time God brought you through, but places and people and points in the past that we’d rather not forget, since some things are worth remembering.

What are your markers? What are your “stones of remembrance”? What’s your source of comfort in a land that’s unfamiliar, as much as you may like it all the same?

For me, the little rock is a reminder of the adventure ahead, and the life behind. And I’m grateful that I can appreciate both.

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Prone to shiver: Confessions of a Florida transplant

I don’t expect many people to have the interest or the attention span to actively follow local weather trends in Colorado. As such, allow me to introduce you to our biggest news story of the week: an insanely bitter cold front that came in like a wrecking ball. And lest you think that this blog post is just the misplaced ramblings of a petulant Floridian accustomed to wearing shorts on Thanksgiving, you should know that even the locals are complaining.

I went into this week a little over confident. I mean, I’ve been in cold places before: skiing in Montana; skiing here in Colorado with the Ft. Collins friends, when it was legitimately 5 degrees when we started; St. Louis around Christmas, etc. I have long said to friends and family that “I sometimes feel like I was built for colder climates,” having grown tired of 30 Florida summers when even the pavement starts to melt. I was excited about the prospect of a “real” winter.

I thought I knew what cold was. But I was wrong. Here’s a brief window into this past week…

First snowMonday, mid afternoon: I keep the blinds on the sliding glass door open so I can catch the first signs of snowflakes. I make the very original move of going outside, taking a selfie and posting pictures on the interwebs of this wonderful white powder falling from the sky. Ah, isn’t snow magical?!

Monday evening: I’m watching the evening news (no joke), and the temperatures have dropped by about 50 degrees in one day. This must be what all the people meant when they kept telling me it’s possible to experience all the seasons in one day in Colorado. It was literally in the 60s when I got up Monday morning. “Hmm,” methinks to myself, “a 50 degree temperature swing seems omnious…”

First fireTuesday morning: Mid 20 degrees, a continual dusting of snow, and the first fire in my apartment’s fire place! I send a picture of it to friends at work, gloating. Oh, those poor, sweltering souls in Florida. (I should know by now that my smugness will be my undoing.) I make a trip to Target to purchase my first legitimate winter item: a snow scraper for my car. I quickly learn that brushing snow and scraping ice off a windshield is not at all a sexy exercise when you have to drive somewhere.

Tuesday evening: Considerably more snow has fallen, along with degrees on the thermometer, and now it’s 16 and the snow is “sticking,” which is a shorthand way of saying “not immediately melting on contact and making driving super fun!” It sticks to your car, your pants, your shoes, your everything. “You can do this, Dustin. You can drive in snow. Plenty of people are driving right now. You’re not the first person to do this. Lesser men have accomplished more than a simple 8-mile trek from your apartment to the mall, so get your tail in the car and go find some snow boots. You can reward yourself with Chips Ahoy when you make it back safely.” A pep talk and bribery go a long way. I’m decidedly less excited about this magical snow than when I was enjoying it from the comfort of my warm apartment.

Chihuly at the Denver Botanic GardensWednesday afternoon: One of the coldest days on record. It literally does not get warmer than 7 degrees ALL DAY. My friend has the brilliant idea to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens to catch one last viewing of the Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit, an art installation that is 95% outdoors. I have the equally brilliant idea to join her. We make one quick loop around the gardens, snap a few pictures, and I can no longer feel my extremities. This does not bode well. We dash back inside to the gift shop and casually peruse the merchandise, because gift shop items are thrilling and interesting. We were not at all admitting defeat or delaying the 15 yard walk to the car. Nope.

Wednesday night: Upon entering my car, I wonder what the outside temperature is…(turns ignition)…2 DEGREES?! At some frigid point sometime soon, I fully expect this little temperature gauge to say “Where could you possibly be driving right now? Are you insane? Go back inside, you silly Floridian.”

Thursday evening: I have a video chat with my parents, with my dad once again asking the uber interesting and helpful question: “So, how cold is it there?” I’ve been asked this by my father no less than 16 times in the past 4 days (possibly an exaggeration), and the stress of the weather and my own cabin fever elicit a response that does not come from a place of peace and patience: “It’s as cold as it says on the weather app on your phone. Let’s just stick with that, shall we?” My parents are puzzled as to why I would save my errands until evening, after sunset and when temps drop, and I ramble off some obviously flawless logic about why it made perfect sense to me to structure my daily agenda in such a fashion. It’s not like Target closes because it’s cold outside, as I’ve learned.

Thursday night, post parental video chat: After a brisk walk to the mailbox, I decide that the errands can wait, and I don’t need that laundry detergent nearly as bad as I thought. I put another log on the fire and sit down to write this blog post, excited that temps on Friday will be in the 30s. Oh happy day!

Time for some Chips Ahoy.