Category Archives: Colorado

A Very Quiet Town

It started snowing in Boulder sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 this morning. Gorgeous snow: flakes as soft as powdered sugar that fell straight down, without blowing or drifting, throughout a temperate day and into this rather mild evening. By 3:30 this afternoon, when I was heading for the post office (five days before Christmas, of course), more than a foot of snow was on the ground, and the town had virtually shut down. Little traffic moved on the streets. Evidence of snowplowing was confined to a few arterials. Most stores and restaurants on the Pearl Street Mall were closed.
Perhaps reflecting Boulder’s priorities, those that remained open on or near the Mall included Lolita’s grocery, Nick-n-Willy’s bake-your-own pizza, the West End Tavern, the Boulder Bookstore, the metaphysical bookstore, the Hagen-Dasz ice cream shop, Belvedere Chocolates, Outdoor Divas (women’s sporting goods and clothing), Powell’s candy, the Lazy Dog (sports bar), the Boulder Arts and Crafts Coop, the Trident Cafe, the Trattoria on Pearl and the falafel place. By the time I wandered back a bit after 4:30, many of these businesses had also closed.

En route to the post office, I did stop at Nick-n-Willy’s to order a pizza that I would pick up on the way home. It seemed a perfect night to fill the house with the aroma of baking pizza without actually having to make the dough and find enough ingredients in the larder to assemble a good one. By the time I reached the post office, it too had closed. I used the credit card-driven apparatus that weighs packages and prints postage, a time-consuming process because it is necessary to answer the same series of electronic questions for each parcel. Still, I welcomed the technology at that point, because I preferred to walk home without the burden of packages — and no matter how long it took for them to reach their destination, at least my conscience was clear.

The Mall was lovely. Holiday lights were capped by a mantle of snow. Store windows were festively decorated. A few people strolled quietly and unhurriedly. There was no cell-phone chatter, only one Mall musician and only one panhandler. Even though a small motorized plow attached to a vehicle that resembled an ATV was cruising back and forth, its driver trying valiantly to keep up, there was more soft snow than hard brick underfoot. The Mall bore a sense of late-night tranquility, though in truth, it’s not usually quiet late at night with the bars emptying and all.

By the time I walked back, the 7 Eurobar had unlocked its door, and Rhumba was open for business too. There were even a few patrons under the awning on the patio, being served from the bar through the overhead door. As I was approaching Nick-n-Willy’s I heard a strange swish-click-swish-click-swish-click and turned see a couple cross-country skiing down the middle of Pearl Street, their pole tips punching through the choppy snow and tapping onto the alphalt. (I took the photo above the following afternoon, when the snow had tapered off, and a few pedestrians, and two cross-country skiers, were wandering past the still-shuttered downtown businesses.)

Nick-n-Willy’s was warm and steamy when I picked up my pizza and walked home. Because I live in Boulder, this experience wasn’t “travel.” Still, though I wanted to share it on this blog because if I had walked through some other beautiful, quiet downtown, this would be an afternoon to file in my bank of treasured memories of that place at a special and magical time.