A Greenhorn

Living in Colorado doesn’t mean you live in the mountains, contrary to the perceptions of many folks who don’t live in Colorado. I live in an atmosphere that is over a mile above sea level, and yes, the air is thinner and sometimes you have to alter your baking recipes, but really, it’s not that different from living in North Carolina (except for our response to snow and cold, which is basically “meh”.)

My soon-to-be domain is at 7,400 feet, just past a place called the Greenhorn Valley. I’m not a complete novice at living that high, having been the Queen of the Kingdom of Gilpin County a quarter of a century ago, but my mountain woman skills are rather rusty, as I discovered yesterday. Yesterday, Max the wonderful propane man came to fill the tank.

I don’t like propane fuel. Decades ago, a friend lost her little daughter when her partner went to light the propane heater for the first time in November and their house blew up. Tragedies stick with you for a lifetime. But part of the new house has propane heating and the tank needed filling. Enter Max and his truck full of 3,000 gallons of propane.

He could not have been sweeter. While the hill down to the tank had been plowed, there was a sheet of ice on the ground, and after much consideration, we decided that it was too great a risk to try to take the propane truck down the hill. The danger of him losing traction on the ice and crashing into the building was too high for him, and he’d been doing this for a long time. We climbed over rocks and through snowbanks, trying to find an alternative route for the line from the truck, but to no avail. Instead, we had to shut everything down to keep pipes from freezing and bursting without the propane running out.

Now ordinarily, I would expect someone to tell me that and take off, but not Max, He walked me through every single step, showed me what needed to be done, and did it. And made sure I understood how to reverse it. We talked about his other customers. We discovered a mutual acquaintance in my lovely realtor. We shared our love of cats. He spent nearly two hours with me, refusing to leave until he was sure the water heater was completely drained. My ignorance was obvious (frustrating to me, but true). Max asked where we were moving from, shaking his head when I said the Denver area. I said, “I’m kind of a Greenhorn, aren’t I?” and he softly laughed.

I’ll be a Greenhorn for a while, in this new realm with it’s unexpected challenges that, so far, are doing nothing but making me stronger and helping me remember that there’s nothing I can’t do. Unlike the nearby Valley, I know I won’t always be (according to Webster) an inexperienced or naive person, a newcomer unacquainted with local manners and customs. I’m looking forward to the day I don’t feel that way.