Monday, April 16, 2012

Grain Elevator

Every time an old building is torn down, a little piece of our heritage dies.

Or so they say. On a basic level I agree with that, but the sentiment is so corny it makes me cringe.

Yet it brings me to the topic of a 109-year-old grain elevator in my town. This grain elevator ceased operations back in the 1950s. Today it's a rickety old thing; ramshackle is too polite a word. It is said to be structurally unsound, and inhabited mostly by bats and raccoons.

People here like it, though. It's one of those curios you point out to visitors. It sits alongside railroad tracks that pass through our little berg. Experts say it has a "high degree of historical integrity" because there are no additions to the original structure, and it's had few alterations since it was built in 1903.

But alas: we are hearing unhappy reports that it may not last through the coming summer. The grain elevator sits on land owned by a family that wants to sell, but the dilapidated old building is holding up the sale. Demolishing it may be the most cost-effective way for them to proceed.

In March, city officials issued a stay on demolition. The stay expires in July. Prevailing sentiment appears to lean toward saving the thing.

A recent newspaper article said my town is "one of the more aggressive cities in Colorado when it comes to preserving its historic buildings." That may bode well for the grain elevator. It didn't do anything for a local middle school, though, when the school district ignored a public outcry over plans (now completed) to replace the school's old facade.

The grain elevator is "an iconic link to our agricultural past," according to a guy on the local Historic Preservation Commission. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It does not, however, have historic landmark status. I'm not sure what that distinction means, and in the end it may not make a difference. They'll do what they want to do.

No matter how this plays out, the building obviously won't last a whole lot longer in its present state. I do hope we're able to hang on to this bit of the past for a few more years. As one of the building's advocates said, "Voters clearly want the historic character of the city to be preserved."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Back in the Saddle

My daughter, as the cowboy song goes, is back in the saddle again.

Two and a half months after she fell from a horse and broke her right arm, she has mounted up and taken a ride.

At left is the actual moment – the first time she climbed onto a horse since the great fall. The ride was yesterday, as this is written. Easter Sunday, 2012.

Dana is on a horse named Rodney. Rodney is 16 to 18 years old, and a very gentle former show horse. Dana loves them all, but after just one ride, she adores Rodney.

We've switched to a different stable for these newest lessons. It's a little further away than the old place, but not much.

For her first lesson the new instructor insisted she be tethered to her. There's a name for this tether but I can't remember what it is. I want to say it's a "static line," but I think that's a parachuting term.

For the last part of her lesson, the tether was removed.

So with the snowcapped Rockies as a backdrop, Dana got back on a horse. She's longed for this since the day she fell. It's been recounted elsewhere on this blog, but even as she sat in the ER, she said she would continue riding no matter what – even if she had to go through the pain of a broken limb all over again.

She's still getting physical therapy. The arm goes into a contraption for half an hour each day and she flexes and extends it beyond what she is able to do on her own.

And she's still seeing the surgeon who operated on her, though not as often as at first. In mid-March she hoped he would say her recovery had come along far enough so that she could safely ride. But he advised her to wait a little longer. She was crestfallen but accepted it. Last week, she got the green light.

"Horse people are tough," the doctor said.

So she is back in the saddle. She loves Rodney and she loves her instructor and she loves the new stable, and we are very happy she's able to continue riding.

As a bonus, she befriended some goats. Also a miniature horse (or is it a pony? What's the dif?), a dog, and a few cats.

There's a pig at that stable too, somewhere. But we didn't see it yesterday.