Showing posts with label Florence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Florence. Show all posts

August 02, 2019

Driving Around Looking for a Farmers Market

Farmers market in Westcliffe, Colorado.
A few years ago, we had a membership in a CSA farm on "the mesa" outside Pueblo. In the summers, we planned our weekly shopping/library trip to coincide with the day when we could harvest or pick up our fruits and vegetables.

Then "our farmer" had some life changes and closed his operation, scattering his interns to the Colorado winds.

Vegetable gardening here in the foothills is a tricky operation, so for more volume and variety, we relied on farmers markets.

Only most of them that we see are only about 10-percent fresh food to begin with. The rest are selling crafts, preserved foods (jellies, etc.), burgers, brats, tamales, homemade soap, CBD products, house plants, fabric thingies, wooden thingies, adoptable dogs . . . you name it.

We made a circuit of four or five markets in a three-county area but more or less settled on the Saturday market at El Pueblo History Museum. In June the Pueblo Chieftain proclaimed,
The grounds of El Pueblo History Museum will soon be inundated with farm-fresh produce, crafts made by local artists, popular Pueblo food trucks, and countless other locally made goods as the museum gears up for the annual El Pueblo Farmers Market.
"Inundated" is not the word I would use. Yes, there were food trucks, but some food vendors that had been there last year had disappeared. One organic-grower couple whom we called "the Ravens" were back, but with less than usual. On our first visit, the third week of June, we bought some veggies from them and from Arkansas Valley Organic Growers. AVOG's radishes were too woody to slice, and their mushrooms were about a day away from rotten.

M's very favorite grower was not there that day or subsequently. Meanwhile, the museum's market day had shifted from Saturday to Friday, putting them in head-to-head competition with another one in town. In an editorial titled "Dueling Farmers Markets," the Chieftain noted,
Obviously, it will be tougher for shoppers who work regular weekday schedules to make it to either market, unless they can find time on their lunch hours. Trying to spend any significant amount of time browsing at both markets on a lunch hour would pose a significant challenge. . . .  it seems logical that at least some of the vendors would like to hedge their bets by selling at both markets. For small mom-and-pop operations, that will be difficult, if not impossible, with the conflicting dates and times.
In Fremont County, the Thursday market in Florence seemed sparser than ever in terms of actual food. One significant organic grower had dropped out two years ago for unspecified reasons, while another, smaller operator decided that he was better off selling from his own farmstand two days a week.

In Custer County, the Westcliffe farmers market was the healthiest of the bunch, in terms of producers' offerings, which (being Westcliffe) included local grass-fed beef and too-sweet Amish cakes and breads. My favorite tamale vendor was there too.The county's population triples when the summer people arrive, and there is a distinct vibe of said summer people wanting to shop there in order to participate in local culture. (I have no problem with that.)

Also, there is live music, although you have to wonder if "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" is music for food-shopping.

M. and I weighed the reasons why we visit these different towns, and in the end, we started planning some errands so that we could visit the farmstand. No more chasing the perfect farmers market.

But I still need to buy and freeze more tamales.

June 10, 2018

Making Money from Old Stuff in Southern Colorado

Main Street, Florence, during a car show (Colorado Life).
Colorado Life is not as wide-reaching a magazine as New Mexico, but they did get off the beaten Denver-ski towns-ghost towns path recently to do a piece on a small town in southern Colorado that has reinvented itself as "the antiques capital of Colorado."
Florence boomed in the 19th century, but it wasn’t one of Colorado’s innumerable gold- and silver-mining boom­ towns – black gold was the specialty here. Florence had the first oil well drilled west of the Mississippi River, and the local oilfield was just the second in the nation to be commercially developed. Alexander M. Cassidy, who kicked off Florence’s oil industry in 1862, went on to found a company that evolved into Conoco.
As long as we are on the antiques-and-nostalgia kick, there is a small enterprise in the gold-mining town of Victor making tin cans with 19th-century labels. Collectors and filmmakers know where to find them.
A couple of summers ago, she got a call requesting cans for the second season of AMC's "The Son," featuring Pierce Brosnan and taking place in the old West. Proper props were needed for a target practice scene, Karen was told.

"I didn't tell the cans they were gonna be shot," she says, regretfully.
Today's junk, tomorrow's antiques: "Gear That Doesn't Work," from Outside magazine. Hang on to that titanium spork; it might be worth something some day.

July 05, 2017

Notes from a Small-Town Independence Day Parade

Kids and and early-model Farmall Cub tractor. Can't beat that.
Florence, Colorado, has joined the trend towards "wet" parades. The parade route is divided into two halves: all units move through the dry half first, and then at an intersection, those who do not wish to continue—such as units with lots of bunting and young children—peel off.
These spectators are staying dry.
As we frequently do, our little fire department contributed a unit to the parade — and a unit to another parade in another small town. For the second year running, I drove in Florence.
Hah, what is your puny squirter against a city water truck? (Florence VFD photo)
The wet half of the parade is a water battle between spectators and parade units. The former have all manner of squirting apparatus plus garden hoses hooked to spigots on buildings. The latter have open tanks of water, buckets, and squirt guns — plus some of us have fire engines.
Soak that cop! Soak his Can Am Spyder Police Edition! You know you want to. (Florence VFD)
In our case, the fire engine is a brush truck (small wildland engine) with a gasoline-powered pump. (Most large fire pumpers run their pumps off the engine, which means that the vehicle must be stationery to pump.) We restrict ourselves to one-inch hoses, two of them. Our complement included the oldest firefighter, a retired Navy pilot who loves this stuff, and the chief with his wife and three children.
Wet-zone combat.
Me, I just rolled up the windows and drove toward what I knew was coming — the downward blast from one Florence's aerial nozle.
Into the (watery) hell mouth.
I noticed this year a couple of purpose-built wet-parade units, like this one below. Also, this "Murica" thing is becoming meme-ish. Who started it?

Two views of the same truck, with water tank filled and ready.
Who says oil and water don't mix?
In the end, what makes a parade (along with high-school bands) is somebody riding something. I asked the two riders on the saddle longhorns if I could take their picture. They agreed, and said that they had been in the parade the last two years as well. "That's the trouble," I said. "When you're in the parade, you can't see the parade."
While we were waiting, the oldest firefighter remarked on the incongruity of devoting a parade to spraying water in an arid state.

"Maybe we're celebrating Florence's senior water rights," I said. "They go back to the 1860s, I think."

As I wrote once before, humans love orgies.

October 23, 2015

A Mysterious Antique Box: Book Trailer from Florence, Colorado

No one is making movies in Florence, Colo., that I know of, but a book trailer was shot there for the novel Come Six to Seven by Mac Evenstar.

I am still wrapping my head around the idea of books having "trailers," but this one gives you a good luck at the self-proclaimed "antiques capital of Colorado" — and why not, Denver's South Broadway district ain't what it used to be.

This goes on the "to read" list, thanks to the Florence blog True Story Club.

April 27, 2015

"ATF" in Florence

There is an Internet meme to the effect that "ATF should be a convenience store, not a government agency." You can buy the T-shirt.

Down in Florence, Colo., that is almost true.

August 06, 2012

Notes on Some Southern Colorado Farmers Markets

CCFA farmers market at Holy Cross Abbey, Cañon City
Our usual CSA farmer offered only spring shares this year, for various reasons, so last month M. and I were faced with making the rounds of farmers' markets to supplement our garden.

First we tried the Pueblo Riverwalk Famers Market, which starts a 4 p.m. on Thursdays for the after-work crowd. Once you sort out the artsies and craftsies, there were four food producers selling — all local, but non organic. The booths were jammed onto one sidewalk between Union Avenue and Victoria Street — one of the few spots with shade! We bought some Rocky Ford cantaloupe, which was riper than what the supermarket had.

On Thursday mornings you can try the Florence farmers market in shady Pioneer Park. It features one local organic producer (Lippis farm) plus some sellers of honey (sometimes), spices, goat cheese, and potted plants.

The Central Colorado Foodshed Alliance sponsors markets in Cañon City, Salida, and Buena Vista.

We visited the Cañon market a week ago — it is held on Saturdays — and came away with a few items, including some raspberry-chipotle jelly from Shirley Ann's Field Fresh Produce of Manzanola (down the Arkansas Valley east of Pueblo). Any economic activity in Manzanola needs to be encourage, and the jelly had a nice zing.  You can buy Shirley Ann's products online.

Check the CCFA site for more information about times, places, producers, etc.

Another market that we have not visited since last summer is held in Westcliffe on Thursdays from 2–5:30 p.m. Not too many vegetables are grown locally (compared to the early 20th century, when the Wet Mountain Valley produced lettuce, potatoes, sugar beets, and I don't know what all else—before refrigerated railroad cars brought everything from California). It should offer herbal remedies, local beef, and Amish (i.e., very sweet) baked goods along with veggies that are least Colorado-grown within the "foodshed."

February 13, 2010

Looking for a Bowstring-Truss Roof (and Other Structural Types)

As part of an ongoing firefighting class, I spent part of the morning riding around Florence, Colo., in their Engine 29 on a scavenger hunt for NFPA building types.

RIGHT: Florence's Engine 29 back in its bay.

Let's see .. the Elks Club, three-story brick construction, maybe late 1890s. That would be Type III, Ordinary Construction, with a fire-resistant exterior. "Interior structural members vulnerable to fire involvement."

In other words, the inside is mostly wood. It burns, and then the brick walls collapse spectacularly. "Susceptible to water damage."

Parapet on front wall—would not want ladders going up on that side.  Hmm. Fire escape could fall off if the walls start to give. Commercial kitchen in concrete-block addition.

And then C____ puts Florence's Engine 29 in gear, and we go off to look for a bowstring-truss roof .

Lots of local knowledge in that department. Name a building, and someone has worked in it or helped to build or remodel it. Consequently, they know that, for instance, the former car dealership downtown has a second "rain roof" in the back and various weird enclosed spaces underneath. Or which Main Street stores have old cast-iron fascias.

I start to unwind driving home, looking at the forest. But we have a different set of fears.

Most houses here are smaller, one or two-story structures. A few bigger "trophy homes." Churches, stores, former school-turned-library. Many are adjacent to forested land, part of the "urban interface."

My other big fear, however, are the big barns and stables. Large open spaces, hay and dust, large panicky animals—all scary. I am chilled to my bones just thinking about them.  I drive by one huge horse barn a couple of times a week, thinking, "Don't burn. Please don't ever burn."

December 28, 2008

NYT: Home Coal-Burning on the Increase

Sign in Florence, Colorado.Here in southern Colorado, we don't need the New York Times to tell us that people burn coal at home -- it's always been that way.

This is historically a coal-mining area. When M. and first moved to South Cañon (the "wrong side of the tracks" in Cañon City) back in the 1980s, the acrid smell of coal smoke hung in the air on winter evenings. We ourselves burned a lot of cottonwood, which smells like cow shit--but it was free.

In nearby Florence, you can buy coal from Wensday through Sunday, and maybe Tuseday too by special appointment.

(If you burn wood, you can call it "biomass," which sounds better.)

December 22, 2008

It's Still a Bear, Right?

Taxidermist's bear form on an antiques shop in Florence, ColoradoYou open a Western antiques shop in an old house on East Main Street in Florence, which is zoned commercial.

You think, "A bear on the roof would really draw 'em in," but you don't have a large bear sculpture, and, face it, the chainsaw bears are so last-century.

But you come across a taxidermist's form for a gigantic bear, and so you bolt it to the roof.

It's still a bear, although it lacks ears and teeth and makes the passer-by think of a prehistoric bear that has spent centuries in a glacier, losing its fur in the process.

July 03, 2008

Photos from Florence & an Anecdote

Corner of Main Street and Pike's Peak Avenue, Florence, Colorado.
Main Street, the Antiques District.

South Pikes Peak Avenue, Florence, Colorado
The Bohemian Quarter

The old Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad station, now the senior center.

The former public library (one of the Carnegie libraries, I think), which is now for sale. Got an idea? Warning: I think the building has plumbing "issues."

The Anecdote:

In the late 1980s, I was a graduate student at the University of Colorado. During my last semester, I worked as a graduate part-time instructor in the English department (which was not my department) because they needed writing teachers for their inept composition program.

At the end of the semester, I was packing up my little office, when one of the tenured professors (now emerita) came out of her office across the corridor.

Making conversation, she asked what my summer plans were.

ME: "My wife is house-hunting in Florence."

HER: I'm so happy for you!!

ME: [pause ... ohmygawd, she thinks I mean in Italy] No, I mean Florence, Colorado.

HER: [blank look]

A typical Boulderite, unaware of anything south of Denver -- although there must be something there, since it takes hours and hours to drive to Santa Fe. (We ended up living in Cañon City for a few years instead of Florence.)

Nowadays I am hearing speculation that Florence could be an art colony. It could be the next ... the next ... Manitou Springs?

Manitou, however, was a resort town from its beginnings, whereas Florence was about oil and coal and smelting. A considerably different vibe there.

June 26, 2008

Fresh Food in Florence

Aspen Leaf Bakery, 113 W. Main St., Florence, Colo.Above: Interior of Aspen Leaf Bakery

Florence is our nearest "supply town," but in the food department, its only offering has been one very ordinary supermarket, plus cafes and restaurants.

Two things have happened to change that perception.

The new Aspen Leaf Bakery has bread and pastries that don't arrive on a truck from Somewhere, plus sandwiches and coffee.

And today was the second appearance of the new weekly farmers' market, open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays in Pioneer Park, which included three vegetable sellers, plus local goat cheese and honey. That is not a huge number of sellers, but the market is new, and it's still early in the season.