Joel Reichenberger: Learning Colorado’s lessons

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

— So, my pumpkin didn’t even last until this weekend. By Saturday afternoon, my carefully carved “masterpiece” had collapsed into an orange blob of sludge.

Generally speaking, this isn’t surprising. Pumpkins rot. It had been a while since I carved one — maybe a decade — but I remembered that much. Come about the second week in November, the edges of the carving wilt, the lid falls through and the whole thing turns to mush.

I didn’t carve my pumpkin in September, however. I carved it last weekend. It took six days to implode.

This is no great tragedy. It took me less than an hour, and was the same design I’ve carved into probably five of the past six pumpkins I’ve taken on, so, basically, the same one I did when I was 12.

The last great pumpkin idea I had came in the mid-1990s, when my beloved Kansas State University football team was near the height of its powers. I carved a Powercat, the K-State logo, into my pumpkin, to show my unwavering support. I’ve done the same with every pumpkin I’ve bought since.

Still, the whole thing is sad. Powercats look simple — they’re a three-part logo that lacks any detail whatsoever — but I’ve spent most of my life trying to draw them, mostly unsuccessfully.

The proportions of the pieces never are as easy to re-create as they seem like they should be. And I’m terrible at drawing.

This year’s specimen was a good one, definitely one of my best.

More so, though, the loss of my pumpkin was entirely preventable, if only I’d known the rules. Yes, nearly three years after moving to Steamboat Springs, I’m still learning the region’s rules.

Don’t leave pumpkins to sit outside all night before Halloween because the freeze-thaw cycle common during the time will greatly enhance the smushing process.

The more you know, right?

There are a lot of these unwritten rules out there, and the season’s first real, hearty snowfall seems to teach them to newbies extremely fast.

With the first snow came all sorts of stories — some hilarious, some tragic — of eager skiers and snowboarders and their quests for their first turns.

Some rumors set a handful of young and overeager enthusiasts in the hospital with broken legs, wrists and arms. Turns out, skiing on a few inches of snow on one of the area passes, either Buffalo or Rabbit Ears, can be a really bad idea.

Other stories reinforced the concept that snow makes it easy for cars to get stuck. Although the idea of driving to the top of a newly snow-covered Steamboat Ski Area seems like a good idea, especially compared with hiking, it is not such a good idea to attempt such a trip in any vehicle without tracks.

Bones and bruises will heal, and I’ll get over the early demise of my pumpkin. Now we all know, and in case you haven’t heard, that’s half the battle, especially in Colorado.

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