Rattlesnake Season: Watch Your Step!

The rumors started late last week–rattlesnakes are active at Chatfield State Park.  I heard a dog got bit, and, while he survived, it was expensive to treat him.

Prophet at Chatfield

Snakes or no, we love Chatfield

Now, I love my daily walks with Prophet to Chatfield. We go in good weather and bad, cold temperatures and warm.  In the almost seven years we’ve been walking the park, I’ve only seen one snake. And while I didn’t stop to ask the creature what kind of snake it was, nor did I go close enough to check markings or underside colors as the guide books suggest, I think I encountered a bull snake

. The snake was a large creature about four feet long. This species is without venom in its bite, but creepy enough for me to keep both me and my dog clear.  That was about two years ago, so even with snake rumors, Prophet and I will go to the park.

Then, on Sunday, a group of us ran into Mark, another regular dog walker.  It was one of his labs, Duke, who was rumored to have been bit.  Mark confirmed our worries.  Duke had made no unusual noises. There was no drama. Mark had no idea his dog had even been bit.

“He jumped right into my truck when we were going home,” said Mark. “He acted normally throughout our walk.”

It was a few hours later, when Mark was closing a real estate deal that his wife contacted him by phone and let him know Duke was in trouble.  They rushed their dog to the emergency vet and got him treated with anti-venom.  A week and a few thousand dollars later, Duke is on the mend.

Dogs walk at Chatfield State Park

Regular dog walkers take in Chatfield

Mark told us that while he was getting treatment for Duke, the vet said that two other dogs from Chatfield had been bitten in the last two weeks.  Our group of dog walkers shook our heads and looked around at our dogs that played near-by in the total bliss of doggie-pack-partyhood.  Who could imagine we or they could be in such grave danger?

Rumor has it that the construction going on at Chatfield might have something to do with the recent spate of rattlesnake encounters.  They are widening the road near the Owl Glenn parking lot, scraping a lot of earth away, making incredible, vibrating noise that would sure want me going in another direction, if I were a rattler.

It could also be that this is high season for the creatures to be out and about.  Weather has a lot to do with rattlesnake activity.  They are ectothermic by nature and seek the moderate temperatures afforded by early morning and late afternoon and evening for being most active.  But anyone who’s lived as long as I knows that snakes can be found sunning themselves anytime.

No matter the reason, there is no doubt the rattlers are active.  I’ve talked to total strangers who take me seriously, thank me for the warning, and walk in another direction.  Interesting that in our cynical age, the use of the word “rattlesnake” still gets attention and serious consideration fast.

One thing is for sure. I’m not wearing sandals or shorts to Chatfield this summer.  While dogs’ treatment for bites can run from $1,000 to $3,000, treatment for humans can run as high as $140,000 dollars.  Talk about a nasty bite!


Warm Surroundings In Littleton – They’re a Natural

When we first moved to here in 1996, everyone we met said to be sure to look for downtown Littleton’s light display at Christmas time.  I have to say, “look for” wasn’t exactly required.  The historic area positively glows, even from our neighborhood nearly a mile away to the west.  And the first building you’ll see coming from my direction, is the original

Littleton's HIstoric General Store

Littleton’s HIstoric General Store

General Store, built by Julius Hill in 1872.  It sits at the intersection of Santa Fe and Bowles, almost forcing traffic to flow in one-way directions around it, like a stone forces a creek to flow around.  But, if you’re driving into downtown Littleton, be  sure to stop.  It’s well worth your while.

Today, the general store is a gift shop called Natural Surroundings Three Chimneys, owned by Karl and Terri Pappert.  I stopped in yesterday to talk with Terri about her store and life in Littleton.  We met just as her business was opening.  Terri is a bright, energetic, and outgoing person with a ready smile a kind outlook on life.  “I love my store,” she said on a smile. And she laughed about the Christmas lights.

“Oh, we have women come in all the time nearly begging us to keep the Christmas lights going,” she said.  “Karl does them.  He likes to.”  She moved to a few light switches to brighten the interior of the shop.

Karl and Terri met on a blind date at the store in the early 1990’s, when she worked as an interior designer and he had an interior plant scape business.  Karl had rented the building  as a place to keep his plants.  Terri had often seen the store from outside and loved it.  Together, as they built their relationship and marriage of 18 years, and had a terrific son who is now 13, they also evolved his business into the gift store you see today.

“When we started, I remember it was during the Gulf War, we rented just these two rooms.” Terri swept her hands around to indicate the check-out area and a smaller

Gifts at Natural Surroundings Three Chimneys

Gifts at Natural Surroundings Three Chimneys

entrance room. Then she knelt to turn on a few more lights. The two areas house such things as jewelry, purses and gourmet foods.

“Back then, we filled the place with bird houses my dad and sister made.  We also had lots of other homemade goods and plants.  The plants were nice and big to fill up the rooms.”

At that time, the upstairs area was office space.  Today the renovated space holds a small antique shop.  We climbed a narrow staircase that felt like it might have been the original to turn on a few more lights.

Meanwhile, Terri and Karl have grown their business to the entire ground floor of the building, and over the years, the Pappert’s have acquired both the General Store building and the two historic buildings following it.

“We used to run the businesses in the other buildings, but one day Karl asked me who the woman was that had parked in one of our spaces. I had to tell him she worked for us.” Terri laughed.  “That may have been when we decided to downsize a bit. You need to know the people who work with you.”  Now the Papperts run Natural Surroundings Three Chimneys, and rent the other buildings to Vandel Antiques and Littleton Antiques & Such.

Natural Surroundings Three Chimneys

Natural Surroundings Three Chimneys

Although she didn’t mention it, Terri and Karl were part of the group who won citizens of the year in 2006; recognition for forming the Downtown Littleton Historic District.  Their names are listed at the Town Hall Arts Center.  The Papperts have helped show people how to make history beautiful by combining the past with care in the present.

“When we started, my mother-in-law took the floor to ceiling drapes that covered these windows and made these beautiful valances you see,” said Terri.  “Karl’s dad and brother helped put in the carpeting and did some of the woodworking.  My brother-in-law is an incredible woodworker.  But I remember one day, he was here to work, and his little guy–who was three at the time–fell asleep in the back of his parked truck. We were only a few steps away in the store, so we let the boy sleep.  Well, as we got busy the little one woke up and put the truck in gear.  He backed up into the street!” Terri’s face still blushed at the memory, but with her positive attitude she simply added, “I guess you could say this store has been a family affair from the start.”

The Papperts’ positive influence shows throughout downtown.  Though Terri takes no credit, she has noticed that in the past 10 years, Littleton has been cleaned up with new restaurants and stores, even the dirty windows on the two-story buildings have been washed and cared for.  The fact that the Papperts keep their buildings in such good shape may not have had anything to do with it, but I doubt it.

I asked Terri what was the biggest challenge in running the store.  “That’s easy. Turning on all the lights!” I counted her turning on at least fifteen different switches. There are no fluorescents in the store.

Bookshelves at Natural Surroundings Three Chimneys

Terri says she’s a book lover — I think it shows!

My favorite thought from Terri, however, goes  to her business attitude.

“I have nothing to sell,” she said, “but personality and customer service. You can buy salad tongs anywhere, so I need to make sure you’re happy buying them here.”

I think Terri’s personality will make sure this store is busy for a long time to come.

And, my reading friend, Terri will be carrying Faith on the Rocks when it comes out next month.  Please be sure to stop by this store to get your copy:

Natural Surroundings Three Chimneys
5738 Rapp Street, Littleton

Hope your day is full of delightful gifts, wherever you are.

Sprung Past Us

As I go through life in Littleton one topic never seems to dull for us–the weather.  And this year, with a crazy long winter, the warmer temperatures that have suddenly sprung up have everyone focused on the environment again.  In Littleton, in 2013, it seems we have had no spring.

But give us fifteen minutes . . .

Tulips without blooms

Where have all the tulips gone? Snow got ’em!

Colorado, like so many locations in the States, boldly asks for the short patience of another day to see dramatic change.  It was just a couple of weeks ago we Littletonians were moaning about another snow dump. I mean, really.  In May? Snow? But there it was, throughout both April and May in surprise dump after surprise dump.

And then this week, our temperatures have climbed into the 80s (Fahrenheit) so we’re sweltering.  Snow jackets sit next to shorts in the closet and doing that final wash-the-winter-things-and-put-them-away has been pushed back to heaven only knows when.

Sara's garden in spring

Sara’s garden — pink was her favorite color.

But, with the heat, we’re making our way outside again.  A quick survey of the damage our non-existent spring has done is little more than a lack of tulips and daffodils.  Everything else is bursting forth with its usual brilliance.

Where I live in the Denver area, spring seems to be the best of all seasons.  We get a little rain (or in this year’s case, snow) to moisten the land, and the flowers pop up beautifully on their own before we hook up our sprinkler systems and stress the water company that has told us that our two-year drought is continuing, and to watch our watering.

The confusing thing is that up in the mountains, a main source for water for Denverites, we had up to eighteen inches of snowfall on May first.  The gossip is that one of the ski resorts had nearly eight feet of snowfall this year.  Don’t believe it, say the experts.  We’re still far short of our normal snowpack.

Square foot veggie garden

Proph helps in my freshly planted veggie garden

As a person who loves going outside and digging in the dirt, I’m cautiously optimistic.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve been planting seed in my veggie garden, and cleaning flower beds.  Things are looking great.  Now if only the weather will cooperate.

Inside, I have to wonder if its my special time of life or the weather that leaves me too cold one day and gasping for cool are the next.  I think my body is the thing that is missing spring the most.  No chance to adjust to warmer temperatures in general.  Restaurants are already turning on the obnoxious air conditioning that leaves you feeling like you’re eating in a refrigerator.

I would love to go on about global stewardship and our need to help nature right itself, but I have no expertise — just the feeling that I blinked and missed spring this year.

Candytuft- better late than never!

Candytuft- better late than never!

What about you in your part of the world?  Is weather high on your attention span, or are things running along like a well-oiled–er–like normal?