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MEEKER I “Why did you move here” is not an inquiry that is often overheard in front of the post office these days. According to newcomers, though, it continues to be one of the first questions they are asked upon their arrival. With the influx of more people who are looking to retire in a small town, or younger folks who are raising children and want to get away from urban congestion, it seems to be a moot question.
“It was a fluke,” was often my answer to that unavoidable question in my early years. It directly contradicted the view held forth by the Meeker Herald’s masthead, “Tis a privilege to live here.” I knew little about Northwestern Colorado and the history of this community. I merely responded to the question honestly. I meant it to explain my feeling of stumbling into such a unique small town, as well as my happiness with that discovery. Now I realize it sounded flip and came across as an insult. The question asked more often these days is, “Why did you stay here?”
Years ago it didn’t take me long to realize that the quality of life offered in the White River Valley fit my family’s plan to take advantage of all of the outdoor activities offered here. We were not looking for a lifestyle—just a life. Cowboy culture, amenity culture, working-class culture, we didn’t feel it mattered. So we stayed.
I began to view Meeker as my adopted hometown. I didn’t need a hometown like some of my friends who spend their childhoods moving all over the country for their parent’s work. My mid-western small town was enough for me. When some of the community members seemed a bit aloof or distant, I was able to not take it too personally.
Working part-time for the newspaper led me to expected conversation with folks who grew up in the White River Valley. I liked the small town feeling of the community and the stability and safety it seemed to offer. Those elements remain a draw even now. I admit the extreme winters in those early years, combined with the long distances required to travel were daunting, as was the gossip and some unwritten societal rules. I enjoyed the new experiences offered by the annual western traditions, yet was often uncomfortable when my status as a newcomer or “outsider” threatened to make me feel I didn’t belong here.
Recently I chatted with a few of the visitors who had come to town during the annual Range Call festivities. I revisited as many of the events offered, including the ranch rodeo, one concert, the parade and courthouse lawn festivities, as well as watching five family members run in the 5K race. I discovered that all of the efforts of our local populace have not gone unnoticed. They mentioned the friendliness of the community and the number of volunteers who keep the annual Independence Day machine chugging along.
By DOLLY VISCARDI
Special to the Herald Times