Color Me Thiel: One calendar year to the next

An 8-point elk stands in the front garden of Boettcher Mansion in Lookout Mountain, Colorado.

Each year my parents always gift the next year’s calendar under the tree for me to unwrap. At age 27, I’ve come to expect this present and learned to appreciate the meaning behind it.

A calendar is quite practical. It’s a useful device to monitor a daily schedule and appointments, but it’s much more than that. A calendar is a way to track our daily routine, which formulates our year.

This past year has been a whirlwind of change as I uprooted my life in Pennsylvania to discover what Colorado can offer. In February, my cousin and I drove for four days until we arrived at our destination, a new life waiting ahead. There was definitely some turbulence along the way, but within three months of living in Colorado, we were renting our own apartment in Denver and had both secured jobs we enjoy. Looking back on the calendar from the past year prompts me to appreciate how far I have come in this journey.

Eager to embrace the opportunities of my surroundings, one morning I traveled with my Canon to Lookout Mountain, Golden. Originally anticipating top quality photos of the sunrise from the Rockies, I settled for an early morning account of the day. It was just after 7 a.m. when I arrived at my destination, the sun already blooming in the sky.

Curious to explore Lookout Mountain, I taxied around the parking lot to find Boettcher Mansion. I slowed the car as the restored summer home appeared in my view. Out front an elk stood symmetrically between two light posts near the entrance. I immediately thought this animal was a product of taxidermy, when to my surprise, he moved. In search of the perfect photo I rolled down the passenger side window to align a shot. Questioning my motives, the elk sauntered up towards the mansion. I parked in the empty lot to follow a path on foot, which eventually led me up the front steps of the house. Taking photos of the entrance, I noticed the elk was grazing in the lush greens surrounding the property. I planted myself on the porch to capture the grandeur of his stately pose.

The picturesque view overwhelmed my emotions and at that moment I felt connected with the universe. My proximity to this impressive beast seemed to produce an electric charge of life that also encouraged me to plan a route of escape in case of emergency. For about 10 minutes or so, the elk was sharing his space. The time spent observing this creature in his natural habitat reminds me to appreciate the beauty in life.

I moved in search of a new experience, and that I have found. Moving across the country has almost been a cliché of sorts. From finding a job where I enjoy work, feel appreciated, and commute by bicycle; I have discovered a whole new approach to life.

Relocating “out West” has initiated many discoveries and this past year has shown me to embrace the fluidity life has offered.

I am anticipating the year to come, knowing that my experiences can only become richer. Next year, maybe I will return the favor of gifting the future with a calendar consisting of photographs from my adventures in Colorado, so far.

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