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2 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

INSIDE Meet Durango babes

Magnets: Meet locals whose days 6 Babe are filled with drool, diapers and naps

Publisher Richard Ballantine General Manager, Newspapers Ken Admundson Vice President of Advertising Paul Hay Advertising & Marketing Director Mark Drudge


Design Manager Brady Sutherlin Editor/Designer Karla Sluis Photographer Hal Lott Fashion Stylist Marie Archuleta


Advertising Design/Prepress Mitchell Carter Jennifer Dickens Janelle Farnam Laney Peterson Michelle Uhl Tracy Willbanks Advertising Sales Darryl Hunt Karolann Latimer Shawna Long Rob Lillard Chuck Jillson Adam Adimoolah Cora Younie Ralph Maccarone The Durango Herald uses reasonable effort to include accurate and up-to-date information for its special magazine publications. However, all general information comes from a variety of sources and may change at any time for any reason. To verify specific information, refer to the organization or business noted. To see the online version of this guide, click the link at:

A publication of


Daycare Rigamarole: Quality childcare is crucial, but finding a spot is challenging


Puppy Playdates: Weekly romp helps young dogs socialize with furry friends


Leave Them Alone: Well-intentioned wildlife “rescue” is really kidnapping


Preschool Rock Star: Director charms tots with her own songs and book

20 30

Give It A Twirl: Children’s fashion in local stores is playful and bold Baby Bloopers: Expert offers 10 tips for the tricky task of tot photography

to Grow: Local nursery designs 32 Room are bright, adaptable and unique


Digging In: Club’s plant sale has hardy divided perennials suited to area


Raising a Child, Growing Yourself: Life coach says parenting is a journey



DEVO Enjoy the Ride: Cycling club teaches kids skills, thrills and teamwork

& Sprouts: Baby greens are 41 Shoots light, versatile and highly nutritious in Durango: It’s a great time to 44 Spring enjoy a variety of events and concerts



Real-deal, no-foolin’ local cowboy kids, from left: Wyatt Bartel, 5, and his friend Cooper Mitchell, 4, perch on a fence at Robertson Ranch on a bright spring morning March 3. Photo by Hal Lott, fashion styling by Marie Archuleta.

Durango DurangoLiving/Spring Living/Spring •• Sunday, Sunday, March March 25, 25, 2012 2012 •• 3

A great place to

grow up D

urango residents can wax poetic about the joys of living here, but sometimes they are too darn busy to notice it. Like the sparkles on the river, or the feel of fresh snow squished in the palm. But Durango’s littlest residents are masters of the “Now.” Children under 5 are spontaneous bundles of wonder, and that’s why we chose to look through their eyes for this spring edition of Durango Living. Approximately 500 babies are born each year in La Plata County. An estimated 2,500 children under 5 live here. Lucky kids! That sentiment was repeated over and over when we interviewed local “babe magnets” and child experts. “Durango is still small. Kids can still say hello to people they don’t know,” said songwriter and author Melanie Milburn. “But even though it’s a small town, there’s a wide variety of things offered to children – endless opportunities for them to grow and find their passions.” The town’s patchwork of services, amenities and caregivers is supportive and comforting, like a “lovey” blanket. Beautiful baby quilts created by La Plata Quilter’s Guild members are pictured throughout this magazine. The patience and care needed for this embraceable art is a great metaphor for parenting. The baby’s fat folds, the big-lipped pouty face and easy tears, the twirling of a skirt – all of these things are fleeting moments for parents to savor. We enjoyed spending time around pint-sized models, who are all local children pictured on the opposite page. The photos freeze those spurts up the growth chart and preserve them, as Milburn says, as “forever moments”– in the Now. – Karla Sluis

4 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring


Ayla Slavin, 4

Dayson Willbanks, 2

Kinley Mitchell, 1

Charlotte Blu DiGiacomo, 4

Wyatt Bartel, 5

Dayson Willbanks,2


anks, 7 mon

Dalton Willb

Cooper Mitchell, 4

Vivienne Perino, 10 months Baby quilt on opposite page was made by Robin Mason of the La Plata Quilters Guild. Fashion photos by Hal Lott.

Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 5


Detail of baby quilt by Linda Mount of the La Plata Quilters Guild

Babe Magnets On the next few pages, you’ll meet locals whose work days are filled with drool, diapers and naps. With careers devoted to our youngest residents, they have words of wisdom to share.

6 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

Stories by Malia Durbano


Photos by Hal Lott

Kory Samson likes to ‘pour his heart out’ on parenting website


ory Samson and his wife Anna Freeman have been married for six years and together for 11. They knew they wanted to have a baby someday – then someday came unexpectedly. Realizing that something big was going to happen and feeling ill-prepared, they started doing research. They had burning questions that needed answers: “What were the benefits of home birth with a midwife versus in the hospital with a midwife? How do you deal with a screaming infant? Should we breastfeed or use a bottle?” They began “numerous and endless Google searches,” and realized that most of what they were learning did not pertain to Durango. Partially to ease his own anxiety, and partially to make it easier for other local parents, Samson created his own website, The Durango Parent (, about a year ago. Samson learned web design skills in his current position at Gateway Reservations, where he is a central reservations service worker for the Durango Area Tourism office. The website offers many resources for parents in the Four Corners region. Samson invites people to join conversations, provide advice, share resources and inform other parents about events. There is a free classified section to search for gear, or to sell items you no longer need. Parents are invited to share stories and experiences. Service providers that have something to offer local families are also listed. Samson is open and honest about not getting enough sleep, and the overwhelming amount of laundry a little baby can produce. “Having a baby has changed my life in ways I never could have anticipated. It makes me strive to be a better person, and a great dad. I want to give her everything.” He loves blogging because, “I get to pour out my heart to the world. As I do that, I learn more about myself. As you put it into words, it all starts to make more sense. ” As a new parent of adorable 9-month-old Penelope, the most important advice he has for new parents is: “Make sure you have a solid foundation in your relationship. There are so many stressful times. Also, have a plan; and be ready to throw it out and make a new one.”


Kory Samson multitasks, working on his laptop and entertaining 9-month-old daughter Penelope Quinn Samson, at his Durango home on Feb. 24. Anna Freeman is Samson’s wife and Penelope’s mother. Samson invites parents in the Four Corners to share advice, write a blog, list events or buy or sell baby gear on his website. Recent advice topics for dads included: “How do I keep my daughter from dressing inappropriately?” and “What can I do when my pregnant wife is driving me crazy?” Visit

Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 7


Detail of baby quilt by Pat Akers of the La Plata Quilters Guild

Preschool teacher and early-education instructor Becca Trefry reads to children at Durango Early Learning Center on Feb. 27.

Becca Trefry lays foundation in ‘critical years’


ecca Trefry can’t get enough of babies and toddlers. She has one son, 13-month-old Nate, and told her husband that they are going to keep having kids until they have a girl or get to three – whichever comes first. In her eight years in Durango, she has been working at Durango Early Learning Center in various capacities: as a toddler teacher with children ages 18 months to 2½ years, preschool teacher with children ages 3 to 5 years and summer camp director. Trefry also influences and educates aspiring teachers in her role as an early-childhood education instructor at Southwest Colorado Community College. “I love working with the little ones,” she said. “Children all have such distinct personalities, and are so loving and accepting.” She says her job is fulfilling because she can have a big impact with this age group. “It’s empowering to know that I am able to set a foundation for a love of learning and support a child during the most critical years of their development. They are taking in everything around them. Everything is new and amazing.” At home, Trefry says she enjoys watching her son discover the world around him, like when he gets excited about playing with a spoon and a cup, or putting toys in

8 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

a bucket and dumping them out again. Baking and dance parties are also some favorite family activities. Trefry loves the sense of community in Durango, and thinks it’s a great place for young families. “There are so many activities to take advantage of as a family. Many things, such as just walking or riding bikes on the river trail, are free; and the numerous downtown festivals are wonderful social opportunities. It’s such a young town, with lots of pregnant moms, babies in strollers and little kids.” Apparently, the word is getting out about the wonderful community, and many young families are moving here. Trefry has advice for new families. She says some preschools have a two-year wait list, and many infant and toddler care providers have closed. “Visit the centers and make sure their philosophy is a good fit for you, and then get on a wait list while you’re still pregnant.” Trefry also recommends learning about community resources and getting familiar with the La Plata Family Centers Coalition on Florida Road, which offers services and resources to families. (Visit www.lpfcc. org for more information.) And of course, she thinks it’s important for kids to have at least one sibling as a built-in playmate – or two, or three.


Dr. Bob McGrath devotes 4 decades to care for kids


hen Dr. Bob McGrath does something, he does it for a long time. He has been married for 41 years, has been a pediatrician for 40, and has lived in Durango for 33 years. Before that, he was a cardiologist at a big hospital in Denver. He wanted to get out of the big city to raise his five kids in a small-town environment. They chose Durango because it is so family oriented, with a plethora of outdoor activities and yearround recreational opportunities. “There is lots for a family do here together, winter and summer – with skiing, rafting, hiking, biking, the lakes, etc.” McGrath’s family has remained very connected, and they still take vacations and socialize with two families they became close with while raising their families together. McGrath enjoys working with “two patients: the mother and the child,” he said. “I help the child develop into his/her maximum being, and help the parents be the most effective they can for this particular child.” One of the driving forces in his practice of pediatrics is the scripture Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” McGrath says parents should allow a child to thrive by supporting their unique skills and personality. “Cultivate the child to be who he/she is, and not who the parents or grandparents want them to be.” He says being a pediatrician here is different from other areas of the country. Compared with larger metro areas, the Durango lifestyle supports healthy choices that help children thrive, according to McGrath. “About 98 percent of the mothers here breastfeed, as opposed to only 40 to 50 percent in a big city. Obesity in children is also not a big problem here like it is in other areas. Durango is such a granola town, and a very health-conscious community.” McGrath volunteers for Resurge, an organization that does plastic surgery on kids who were born with cleft palate, have suffered burns, or were born with defects like six fingers or toes. He has been to Vietnam and Peru to provide indigent care. He loves what he does, and says he probably won’t ever retire; but he “might slow down a little.”


Dr. Robert McGrath takes a break at the Pediatric Partners of the Southwest office on March 2.

Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 9


Detail of baby quilt by Robin Mason of the La Plata Quilters Guild

River Mist Preschool Owner and Director Jennifer Tew, second from left, instructs children on yoga positions on March 1. From left, students Cooper Davis and Jack Womack practice the moves with Tew and teacher Monica Cornelius, right.

River Mist’s Jennifer Tew makes little/big difference


iver Mist Preschool makes you want to be a kid again. In typical Durango style, it has a nature-based curriculum, organic snacks and is in a rural setting on four acres, right on the Florida River. Jennifer Tew took over seven years ago and is the third owner of the school, which has been serving Durango children ages 1 through 5 since 1985. Tew has been in and out of Durango since 1992, when she graduated with a degree in Elementary Education from Fort Lewis College. Tew loves working with preschoolers, and feels it is imperative to give them a good foundation. Her school stresses “good health, good nutrition and good rest.” River Mist kids do meditation and yoga, music and movement, and art. They have free play and lots of outdoor time. Children spend time in the garden and near the river, and they learn a lot by watching the cow and horse next door. “There are so many teachable moments throughout the day,” said Tew. Tew’s advice to young parents is: “Get out there and enjoy time with your kids. This is such a beautiful place to live, with lots of resources. Take advantage of local experts in exercise, sports and

10 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

nutrition. Kids are really lucky to grow up here, where they can learn to take care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually.” Adhering to her own advice, daughter Lily, almost 5, has taken Mommy and Me dance in the Smiley Building, and now takes ballet at Dance in the Rockies. Her son Reid, 3, does gymnastics at the Mason Center and skis with Snowburners at Purgatory. “Working with kids at this age makes me really feel like I am making a difference in the world. It’s just a little difference now, but as they grow up it becomes bigger. We teach them to bring love and compassion into their lives and to give it to others – making the world a better place to live.” Tew is committed to good nutrition practices. She believes it is paramount for developing brains to receive vital and essential nutrients and minerals. As a former elementary school teacher in Bloomfield, she brought breakfast in for her students two days a week. She saw a “huge difference in learning on those days.” Her best advice for new mothers: “Take a deep breath, and relax.”


Mercy nurse Karina Miner loves ‘miracle’ of birth “


aving a baby is such a very special time for families,” said Karina Miner, a Registered Nurse and Certified Child Birth Educator. “It’s a miracle, and I love being involved in that part of their lives.” Miner loves everything about helping couples become families. At the Mercy Family Birth Center, she does prenatal counseling, classes in breastfeeding and lactation, childbirth and newborn classes. She works in the nursery with newborns and assists postpartum women. The Family Birth Center delivers an average of 80 to 100 babies a month. They have a reputation for being such a great facility that people from many neighboring communities come here. Mothers can call the Birth Center 24/7, knowing someone will be there to answer questions and address concerns. Miner previously worked in other areas of the country and in hospitals where babies were born addicted to drugs, and she said there are differences in Durango. “Many women want natural childbirth. People are more health-conscious. Epidural rates are lower, breastfeeding rates are higher. People who come to this hospital want their children to be born in a happy environment.” The biggest question she gets is about a mother’s biggest fear: labor pains. There is nothing she can say, except “it’s different for every individual.” Educating new mothers about the labor and delivery process as well as caring for newborns provides a certain level of comfort and helps them feel more confident. Miner informs them about the reality of having a baby, and how to breastfeed and take care of a newborn. The Family Birth Center also offers classes for new dads. Taught by an experienced father, the classes explain how to be supportive during pregnancy, what to expect during labor and delivery, and tips on understanding moodiness and cravings. Two very important topics are to understand that once the baby comes, the family dynamic changes: The new mother may feel overwhelmed, and her husband may get a little less attention for a while. Miner’s personal and professional advice to parents is: “Love your kids and enjoy your time with them. Cherish your time together.” Miner and her husband are glad they chose to raise their four daughters – Natalie, Naomi, Emily and Rachel – here. “Take advantage of the awesome things there are to do here as a family. Durango is a great place to raise kids.”


Karina Minor stands at the entrance to Mercy Regional Medical Center on Feb. 29.

Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 11


Detail of baby quilt by a member of the La Plata Quilters Guild

Daycare Rigamarole Quality childcare is crucial, but finding a spot here is challenging By Martha McClellan

Special to Durango Living


child carefully pounds nails into a piece of wood. Another fashions eggs and bunnies out of play dough. Others sing, have stories read to them, build with blocks or count rubber spiders. It’s all in a typical day at Durango’s childcare facilities. There are currently 17 licensed large childcare centers, 12 small centers (under 15 kids), and 16 family care homes, where owners operate from their homes. These licensed Durango facilities serve approximately 1,300 kids daily, representing a significant portion of families who work in our community. Quality childcare is essential to any community to improve children’s lives, allow parents to work, and provide significant economic returns. Forty years of research shows kids who attend good childcare in their communities have improved thinking and reasoning skills, better attention, improved language, more social and emotional development and reduced aggression. Learning from ages 0 to 6 is the most rapid it will ever be, and these years set the stage for future learning attitudes and future success. When a community offers quality childcare, parents are able to work and support their families, which means reduced absenteeism and increased productivity in the workplace. When children attend childcare, parents are often more engaged in helping them with language and learning. The economic benefits to Durango are significant. For every $1 invested in childcare programs, taxpayers save $7 by a 29 percent higher rate of school completion, 41 percent reduction of special education placement, 33 percent lower rate of juvenile arrest and 33 percent higher earnings later in life. Early childhood education gives us the biggest bang for our buck. Approximately 500 babies are born each year in La Plata County. An estimated 2,500 children under 5 live here. The national average shows that two-thirds of families need care outside the home. According to this statistic, La Plata County still does not offer enough slots for families – especially for infants and toddlers. The State Division of Childcare has stringent regulations for infants and toddlers, such as ratios between teachers and children. It is far more expensive to operate a facility serving the youngest age group; thus many sites have closed, and other centers begin at age 2½. Centers and homes that do offer infant and toddler care are full, and they have long wait lists – often from parents who are newly pregnant. Durango mother Lisa Morgan searched for childcare when her daughter was 10 months old, and was told she could have a spot in two years. “The whole thing was a rigamarole,” she said. “I put my life on hold, jobs, etc., until I could find care,” said Morgan, who recently secured a spot for her daughter after nine months on one wait list. One large center in town is building a new facility with 10 more slots for infants next winter. These spaces are

12 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

already filled! Another family care home says 90 percent of her calls for care are from infant families. Nannies may take up some of the slack, especially for newborns, but there is no data on this situation. There are other challenges to the industry. State licensing officials have been working to improve quality by requiring directors, teachers and aides to complete more college-based classes and experience in order to work. In addition, all workers must obtain 15 hours of training each year to maintain their qualified status. Requiring more specific education has just recently been implemented. “This is a valuable profession, and some parts just need to catch up,” said Brenna Abeyta-Watson, director of Riverhouse Children’s Center in Durango. “The new requirements for teachers lead to a better work force, but it’s difficult to find and expensive to retain good staff. It’s like a revolving door – somewhat transitional.” More rigorous state regulations, along with city requirements for zoning, parking, drop-off areas and street-use taxes, fire department and health controls make it challenging and expensive to start up a business and make some kind of profit. All these requirements are good for children, but they are sometimes daunting for childcare owners and operators. The Colorado Childcare Assistance Program is sending more and more children to care facilities, but they only pay a portion of the full tuition. Sites want and need to serve these families, but they find it hard to stay afloat without full payments. Many nonprofit centers rely on public support, grants and fundraising to support themselves. Some businesses and corporations are seeing the need and value of good care for kids, and they have programs for creative donating. These contributions have helped tremendously, and may be the next focus to continue and improve what is currently offered. Parents who are searching for care should start early, and visit some facilities to see if they will be a good fit for their child. Does he need large and stimulating, or smaller and quieter? Many parents are just so thrilled to even find a spot, they don’t take this important step to continue researching every option for the best care. A mother and father’s intuition is the most important guide to follow. Caring for children is a community’s most fundamental responsibility. There are many high-quality locations in Durango that love children and provide safe, fun learning environments. In spite of the challenges in running a daycare facility, many caregivers enjoy building relationships with children and parents. “I have such wonderful families, and always have,” said Linda Brockway, owner of a Family Care Home in Durango. “It makes doing this work so rewarding,” Martha McClellan has been an early-care child educator, director, and administrator for 36 years. She currently has an early-childhood consulting business, supporting childcare centers and families.


Tara Frazer, owner of Little Friends Playhouse, holds her 13-month-old daughter, Grace, as she instructs Ashton La Rocco, 2, on mixing a batch of cookies on March 5. Ashton’s parents are Dave and Taylor La Rocco of Durango.

Childcare resource The Southwest Office of Childcare Resource and Referral provides referrals for childcare in La Plata, Dolores, Montezuma, San Juan and Archuleta counties. Call (970) 247-5960 Ext. 25, or e-mail


Parents’ checklist Licensing by the state Philosophy regarding care of children and discipline l Caregiver turnover rate l High staff-to-child ratios l Small groups of children l Typical daily schedule l Education/training of providers l How long in business l Nutrition, health, safety l Other parents you could chat with l Hours open, days closed, age ranges l Daily communication expectations, and parent involvement l Copy of their policies, procedures l l


Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 13


Detail of baby quilt by Britt Toppenberg of the La Plata Quilters Guild

Play Dates for

Puppies Slobbery kisses are optional during a weekly romp at the Rec Center. The event gives young dogs a chance to socialize with people and furry friends.

Abraham, a 10-month-old golden retriever, smiles for the camera at a Puppy Party at the Durango Community Recreation Center on Feb. 25. Abraham’s owners are Agnes and Edward Eytchison.

14 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

HAL LOTT/Herald photos

ABOVE: A three-way tug-of war takes place between Gunnar (yellow Lab), Foster (Cane Corso), and Bella (Shepherd mix) during a Puppy Party at the Splash Pad of the Durango Community Recreation Center on March 3. LEFT: Gracie, a 7-monthold chocolate Lab puppy, waits for owner Skyler Burton to throw a ball while practicing fetching. FAR LEFT: 14-week-old Foster, a Cane Corso, is owned by Nigel Holley. By Nikoma Henkels

Special to Durango Living


Chinese proverb says “one dog barks at something, the rest bark at him.” This proverb, as any dog owner would know, is the truth. As soon as one dog barks, the whole neighborhood erupts. Of course, the dogs aren’t mad at each other, but it sure makes one think about how their dog would interact with others. How can a dog be socialized and taught manners? How does one make a dog “civilized”? In Durango, there’s a solution. Every Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., there is a dog socialization class at the Durango Community Recreation Center. This class, led by Durango Dogs Owner Juliet Whitfield, teaches puppies how to be nice by simply letting them play for an hour. “It teaches the dogs important skills, and gets them to come out of their shells,” said

dog owner David Abell. His 8-month-old malamute/wolf/akita mix has been going to the class for six months, and Abell said he’s seen remarkable improvement. The other dog owners agreed. “Judging by the way she doesn’t listen, my dog Bella must have some terrier in her,” said dog owner Barb Mobley. “But this class has helped her – and me – a lot.” The dogs are allowed to just play for an hour, but there are rules. “The dogs can’t be aggressive at all. We stop them and make sure they know what they’re doing isn’t good,” said assistant Marybeth Morin. On Feb. 25, puppies 10 months old and younger got into little scraps quite often. Aric Benally said his dog used to bite everything all the time, but has stopped as a result of the training at the event. The “puppy party” idea works because it’s attracted some dedicated pupils. “It’s absolutely good for him. I come up

from Farmington every Saturday for this class,” said Nigel Holley. The socialization techniques work because the creator – and party hostess – is passionate about her work. “I’m a certified professional dog trainer. It’s just fascinating watching and learning how and why dogs think and do what they do, and so I work with them,” said Whitfield. Classes are held from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday through April 14 at the Durango Community Recreation Center’s Splash Pad. The cost is $6 per session, or $25 for five sessions. From April 21 to May 19, classes will be held at 9 a.m. For more information, visit www. Nikoma Henkels, 15, is a sophomore at Durango High School, where she is an honors student and a writer for the student newspaper, El Diablo.


Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 15


Detail of baby quilt by Terri Taylor of the La Plata Quilters Guild

Leave them a

Experts call baby-animal rescue ‘kidnapping’ – By Maureen Keilty

Special to Durango Living


ou see big eyes, a thin coat of shivering feathers, and your heart says: “Help it! It’s been abandoned.” But your brain should shout: “Leave it

alone!” Baby wildlife, be it a dazed fledgling resting on a windowsill, a fawn curled on the lawn or a kit fox balancing a fence rail, often appear alone and unprotected. They are neither. Their parents are usually nearby. So resist your human instinct to bring the animal inside, which is a “death sentence” according to Don Bruning, Living with Wildlife Advisory Board (LWAB) member and retired Wildlife Conservation Society chairman and curator of ornithology. He advises protecting nestlings from cats and dogs by keeping pets inside until the young bird flies away. He also recommends leaving eggs alone, as parent birds typically remove undeveloped eggs from the nest. Fledglings Other tips for dealing with birds come from Kristi Strieffert, “For the Birds” owner and writer for Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology for the past two decades. l Be aware that the area’s fledglings are most vulnerable when learning to fly, mid-June through August. Place a hunting-inhibitor bib on cats outside at this time. l Place decals on windows to prevent birds from colliding into the glass. l A bird that hits a window is typically stunned. Place

16 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

a cardboard box over it for 15 minutes, then remove it. Usually the bird will fly away. l When birds – particularly hummingbirds – fly into the home, first open all windows and doors leading outside. Coax the bird out with a butterfly net or pillowcase draped over a broom. If possible, simply leave the room, and the bird will eventually find its way out. Carole Withers, a certified Wildlife Rehabilitator from the Durango Wildlife Rehabilitation center whose specialty is raptors, adds the following tips: l If you see an apparently abandoned baby raptor (hawk, owl, eagle, owl) on the ground, do not approach it, but call Withers at (970) 946-9608. l For similarly distressed songbirds and waterfowl, call wildlife rehabilitator Pat Jackson at (970) 946-7452. Fawns Spring’s fawning season, the second and third week of June, “is a time when people should be particularly vigilant about their dogs at home and while hiking,” said Aran Johnson, LWAB member and Southern Ute wildlife biologist. Johnson has studied the area’s mule deer populations for the past decade. He notes that fawns, lacking the strength to follow their moms, often appear abandoned for quite a long time. He suggests: l Always leave seemingly “abandoned” fawns alone. A doe will often leave a scentless baby in the same place for several days in a row. Human contact with young deer increases detection from predators. l While hiking, keep dogs leashed until mid-July, when

fa h n

to it w o d


in re to h


ra e k


li re

Photos courtesy of the Colorado Division of Wildlife

m alone!

g’ – even with good intentions


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or se

or h


ek ly id der s, ar

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fawns have a better chance of outrunning predators. Anyone who has heard a young deer’s screams while being attacked by a dog will never want to hear it again. l Check your fencing, making certain the height allows adult deer to jump over it (42” maximum) while allowing fawns to go under it (16” minimum from ground). “Few things bother me more than watching fawns running up and down a fence that mom has jumped over,” says Johnson. Check for information on deer-friendly fencing. l Drivers should be alert for young deer crossing roadways. Other baby animals The same “leave them alone” approach applies to baby raccoons, skunks, fox and all other wildlife. “We call it kidnapping,” says Carole Withers, describing wellintentioned baby wildlife rescues. She points out that few rescuers realize only birds can teach their young to fly, that raccoons have to be taught what’s edible and how to forage, and that untrained humans are not capable of teaching basic skills to wildlife. “Not only is rescuing wildlife harmful to the animal, it’s potentially dangerous for untrained people,” said Withers. Rabies incidences in Colorado’s wildlife are among the highest in raccoons, bats and skunks. Never underestimate the revenge of a mother animal protecting her young. Docile deer to tiny hummingbirds are known to attack whatever appears to be their baby’s kidnapper. Does anyone doubt whether “leave them alone” applys to bear cubs? Maureen Keilty leads the La Plata County Living with Wildlife Advisory Board and is a longtime hiker, writer and Durango resident.


Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 17


Detail of baby quilt by Chris Pfeiffer of the La Plata Quilters Guild

New Horizons Preschool Director Melanie Milburn reads her book, I Love You More Than Chocolate, to children at the school on March 6.

Preschool Rock Star A&E/ Center’s director charms tots with her own songs and book

Melanie MilBy Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


elanie Milburn knows her audience. Preschool children are delighted with her catchy tunes, which have relevant lyrics about chocolate, time-outs and things that stink. The author/songwriter has had plenty of time to figure out what appeals to children as the director of New Horizons Preschool in Durango, where she has been teaching for 18 years. Milburn has produced two CDs of children’s music, Songs for the Children, Vol. 1 & 2, and two Christian-music CDs. Last year, she released her first book, I Love You More Than Chocolate, with a sing-along CD and illustrations by Durango artist Cindy Coleman. As a young person, Milburn sang in her church choir and dreamed of being the lead singer of a rock band. “Things change, and your life goes in an opposite direction,” she said. “Instead of being in a rock band, I’m in a preschool. Part of my dream did come true: I still get to sing – the audience is just a little younger. But I cannot imagine having any more fun than I am now.” Her life path led her gradually and unexpectedly into her roles as a teacher and performer. At New Horizons, Milburn started out as a substitute, then became a teacher, and eventually became the director of the school. Just for fun, she began writing children’s songs based on her experiences with the children. A mother pulled Milburn aside one day and said, “You need to do something with these songs, and share them with others.” Two CDs later, Milburn has taken her show on the local road, singing at festivals, fundraisers, libraries and children’s events. “This year, it’s starting to expand. It’s exciting and really a great joy for me to share my songs.” Milburn still sings for the New Horizons children, and sometimes it turns into a wiggling, giggling preschool karaoke party. She says kids love it when she encourages them to play air guitar, or holds the microphone out so

18 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

Local book and concerts Melanie Milburn’s book I Love You More Than Chocolate, is available at Maria’s Bookshop, Mailboxes Etc. in Town Plaza, and on her website, www. Children and their parents are welcome to attend her free concerts. She has several events planned through the spring and summer, including the following dates: l March 31: United Methodist Easter Egg Hunt l April 14: Week of the Young Child in Cortez l April 20: Bayfield Library (book signing and concert) l April 21: Week of the Young Child in Pagosa Springs l May 5: Mother’s Day Concert, 10:30 a.m. at the Durango Public Library l July 10: Durango Public Library, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. l July 13 & 14: Children’s concerts at Night Vision in Olathe one of them can sing the chorus. “They say, ‘Pick me!’ ‘Pick me!’ They don’t have any inhibitions at that age. They love to be in the limelight.” Milburn’s song “Stinky” is an example of what kids like: fun, upbeat music with a silly edge. “At this age, if anyone makes a bodily-function noise, they laugh hysterically,” said Milburn. “That’s how the song came to be written.” Children can also relate to the “Time-Out Chair Blues,” with the lyrics: “Johnny wanted my toy. I didn’t want to share/He took it from me, and I pulled his hair/Now I got the blues/Sittin’ in the Time-Out Chair Blues.”

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Kids gravitate to music, which makes it a useful learning tool. Brain research has proven that melody helps memory: The ABC song is a classic example. Any type of theme can be taught effectively with music, Milburn said. She applies the melody of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” to teach shapes by singing, “Do you know what shape this is?” I Love You More Than Chocolate was first a song and rhyming game, and it later evolved into the book with attached CD. As an educator, Milburn likes the blend of music, words and illustrations. She says children think they are reading along as they sing, when in fact they are memorizing lyrics. It helps them recognize words, which is a pre-reading skill. “Kids will play the CD over and over again, which can be annoying; but they are learning through repetition,” said Milburn. Milburn says one of her goals is to use the powerful expressive quality of music to help children get their feelings out. With the “I Love You More than Chocolate” song, a major goal is to build a child’s self-esteem. She said most kids relate to chocolate, and comparing love for chocolate with love for a child gives parents a fun metaphor. “When children feel loved, they feel secure. When they feel secure, their confidence grows. When children feel confident, they feel they can accomplish anything.” Milburn is planning to write two more books with music CDs, one on imagination and one about a relationship between a mother and daughter. Chocolate was inspired by a bedtime rhyming ritual of Milburn and her daughter when she was young. Her daughter, now a 24-year-old college graduate, also inspired a wistful song called “They’re Not Little Very Long.” “It took me a year to be able to sing it, because I would cry,” said Milburn. She now sings it during Mother’s Day concerts, and puts out a box of Kleenex for the parents’ inevitable tears. “My wish is for parents to cherish their time with their kids,” she said. “Take that few minutes a day to read to them, cuddle with them and express your love for them. Make some forever memories, because they grow up so fast. They really are not little very long!”


Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 19


Ayla Slavin, 4, spins the skirt of a Bonnie Jean Dress ($30) from JCPenney. Her parents are Liza and Blake Slavin.

20 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

Spring is here...

Give it a

Twirl This season’s clothing for children is an eclectic mix. Vintage pastel prints are popular, or you can find big, bold colors. On the following pages, local babies and young children model clothing from Durango stores. Prepare to say “Awww!” Photos by Hal Lott


Fashion Styling by Marie Archuleta Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 21

FASHION Dayson Willbanks, 2, wears a Zutano Yosemite Tee ($22) from Kids Rock, and Wrangler Cowboy Cut Jeans ($21.99) from Boot Barn.

ABOVE: Dalton Willbanks, 7 months, wears a Zutano shirt ($18.99) from Kids Rock, and a knit hat ($12) from Sprout. RIGHT: Dayson wears a Floyd Designs tee ($28) from Sprout and Wrangler Cowboy Cut Jeans ($21.99) from Boot Barn.

22 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

ABOVE: Dalton wears a Cartwheel Clothing shirt ($28) and pants ($30) from Sprout. RIGHT: Dayson wears a Cartwheel Clothing shirt ($28) from Sprout and Wrangler jeans ($21.99) from Boot Barn. Wooden airplane by Sara Schlagel ($50) at Sprout.

LEFT: Dayson wears a Zutano tee ($22), San Diego Hat Co. hat ($24.99) from Kids Rock, and Wrangler jeans from Boot Barn. BELOW: Le Top Horse Cow Romper footies ($28.99) from Kids Rock. The sheepskin Auskin Baby Rug ($79) from Overland.

BELOW: Dayson wears a Cody James hat ($19.99), Wrangler shirt ($18.99), and Tony Lama belt from Boot Barn. Little brother Dalton wears a shirt from Kelly’s Cowboy Company. The boys’ parents are Cody and Tracy (formerly Zellitti) Willbanks.

Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 23


LEFT: Vivienne Perino, 10 months, wears a Mudpie Baby dress ($28.99), and pink flower hair clip ($10.99) from Kids Rock, and white headband ($3) from Sprout. Alpaca stuffed bear ($59) is from Overland. The green and pink Bewick Finzer blanket ($32) is from Sprout. Vivienne’s parents are Nicole and Jeff Perino.

RIGHT: Tommy Tickle leather shoes on Vivienne ($22.99) are from Kids Rock.

ABOVE: Vivienne wears a Zutano checkered tee ($16.99) and pants ($19.99) from Kids Rock. Green chenille bear is from Colorado Comfort ($35) at Kids Rock.

24 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

Kinley wears a Le Top sundress ($36.99) from Kids Rock.

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BELOW LEFT: Vivienne wears an Elizabelle Periwinkle Bandana skirt and tee ($42) from Sprout. BELOW: Vivienne wears a Mimi and Maggie dress ($36) and knit hat ($16.99) from Sprout.

ABOVE: Kinley wears a Luna Luna tee ($24.99), Feather Baby dress ($43.50), and Little Petals flower clips ($10) from Sprout.

Kinley Mitchell, 1, wears a Cartwheel Clothing tee ($28) and pants ($28) from Sprout. Pink flower blanket ($20) is from the second-hand shop at Sprout. Stuffed Jelly Cat purple horse ($23), and Maison ChicMood Monster ($16.99) are from Kids Rock. Gotta Getta Gund bear ($32) is from Sprout. Kinley’s parents are Katie and Kelly Mitchell. Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 25

FASHION Wyatt Bartel, 5, wears a Cody James hat ($22.99), George Straight Cowboy Cut Collection shirt, Wrangler Cowboy Cut Jeans ($21.99), and Nocona belt ($15) from Boot Barn. Wyatt’s parents are Rustin and Kristianna Bartel. Location courtesy of the Zellitti family.

26 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

ABOVE: Wyatt wears a Cody James hat ($22.99) and shirt ($24.99), Wrangler jeans ($21.99), and a Nocona belt ($15) from Boot Barn. RIGHT: Wyatt, above, wears a Resistol felt hat ($49.99), and Twenty X by Wrangler shirt ($24.99) from Boot Barn. Cooper wears a Resistol felt hat, Ely Cattleman shirt ($21.99), and Scully leather vest ($36.99) from Boot Barn. Both boys wear Wrangler jeans ($21.99).


LEFT: Wyatt wears a Resistol felt hat ($44.99), Twenty X by Wrangler shirt ($24.99), Wrangler jeans ($21.99), and a Nocona belt ($15) from Boot Barn. LEFT: Cooper Mitchell, 4, wears an Ely Outerware jean jacket ($39.99) from Boot Barn. BELOW: Cooper wears a George Straight Cowboy Cut Collection shirt by Wrangler ($31.99), and a Cody James hat ($19.99) from Boot Barn. Cooper’s parents are Katie and Kelly Mitchell.

Wyatt wears a Carhartt tee ($16) and Carhartt coveralls ($32.99) from Boot Barn. Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 27


RIGHT: Charlotte Blu DiGiacomo, 4, wears an Arizona tee ($8) and skirt ($14) from JCPenney, and a flower headband from Sprout ($12). Charlotte’s parents are Kelly and Joe DiGiacomo. FAR RIGHT: Ayla Slavin, 4, wears an Oakie Dokie tee ($7) and Bermuda jean ($14) from JCPenney. Ayla’s parents are Liza and Blake Slavin.

BELOW: Ayla wears a fairy costume ($29.99) and Charlotte wears a ladybug costume ($29.99) from Durango Toy Depot/ Party Junction.

ABOVE: Charlotte, left, wears a Rare Editions dress ($30) from JCPenney, and an Elizabelle flower clip (2 for $8) from Sprout. Ayla, right, wears a Marmellata flower dress ($30) from JCPenney. Jelly Cats Matilda stuffed hen ($26), shown at left, is from Kids Rock.

28 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

Charlotte and Ayla have a tea party with a Green Toys Tea Set made with 100% recycled plastic ($27.99) from Durango Toy Depot/Party Junction. Flower wands ($10) are from Sprout. Lipper Table and two chairs ($179) from Kids Rock.

ABOVE: Ayla, left, and Charlotte both wear Oakie Dokie tees ($7) from JCPenney. RIGHT: Ayla, left, wears a Kelly Martinez dress ($30) and Mary Ann Powell crocheted scarf ($20) from Sprout. Charlotte, right, wears a Little Weedz dress, clothing that grows with an extension ($64), and crocheted scarf ($20) from Sprout. Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 29




Top 10 tips for the tricky task of tot photography #10: Don’t feed the baby red grapes to keep her happy while she’s wearing a white baby outfit. #9: Be sure to bring lens cleaner. Once the baby is not afraid of you, they want to mess with your camera. #8: Timing a good mood after a nap is critical, both for talent and photographer. #7: If you’re shooting summer clothes and it’s 20 degrees with a 30 mph wind, go to Plan B. ABOVE: Vivienne Perino’s family makes her smile during a fashion shoot on Feb. 17, from left: parents Jeff and Nicole Perino, grandmother Darla Ferrarese and aunt Morgan Ferrarese. BELOW: Charlotte DiGiacomo, left, and Ayla Slavin show silly faces.

#6: When Plan B fails, look forlornly at the parents to get them to “do something!”

Cooper Mitchell #5: The only chance you have at shivers in icy wind. making a 1-year-old look like a tall, lanky fashion model is to lie on your stomach while shooting. #4: Shoot at least 800 shots of two kids sitting on a fence – you’re bound to get something. #3: If two models are fighting over the same outfit, have them switch clothes after a few shots. Taking turns is the kids’ equivalent to political correctness. #2: Babies crawling toward the camera can be a great shot. Just make sure to stop them before they bump into the camera, because that’s a real mood-buster. #1: Give the cookies-and-hot-chocolate bribe to the talent only after you have the shot. There can be a big difference of opinion between photographer and talent between “take a break” and “it’s a wrap.” – Hal Lott, Durango Living photographer

30 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 31


Detail of baby quilt by Robin Mason of the La Plata Quilters Guild

Room to Grow

In Durango, nursery design is bold, adaptable and unique By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Writer


hen it comes to nursery design, there’s one thing Durango parents don’t like: gobbledygook. That’s the term a local designer gives for over-the-top embellishments, such as cherubs or lacy, frilly fabrics. “I tell parents to avoid murals with age-specific designs,” said Jennifer Bennett Gross, owner of Artistic Edge Design in Durango. “Their kid may hate it in a couple of years. I keep things basic and adaptable, because it lasts longer.” The way parents prepare a baby room reflects Durango’s zeal for recycling and a sustainable local economy, according to store owners and designers. What’s popular here is eco-chic, adaptability and unique accents by local artists. Reducing and reusing is important to parents coping with a troubled economy, according to Joanna Tucker, owner of Sprout, an eclectic children’s store in Durango. Sprout grew up after Rocky Mountain Children’s Company, which was on Main Avenue for six years. “It had beautiful, high-end clothing, but the resale section in the back was more popular with locals,” said Tucker. “I needed to adapt.” She renamed the shop, moved to the east end of College Avenue (just west of Durango Joe’s) and added a resale division on the entire second floor, which includes infant through teen clothing, maternity wear, baby and child gear and furniture. “I see the same customers now two to three times per week. They say ‘This makes so much sense,’” said Tucker. As a parent of two daughters, ages 4 and 9, she understands how quickly children grow out of clothes and furniture. The artist and decorative painter Gross, who also has two young

32 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

daughters, had a similar brainstorm around the concept of adaptability. As a furniture designer, she wanted to create a table with screw-in leg segments that could be added on as a child grew taller, from age 1 to 10. She created Addie’s Tables, a curvy design in real wood inspired by the shape of a snowboard, which can be purchased at Sprout. Two benches fit on either side and can seat six little kids, or four older kids, during playdates or parties. But the transformation didn’t end there.

Hello There designs by Chloe Marty features “Remember the Day” art prints that show all of the birth details. “One day, I needed the space in my living room, so I set one bench on top of the table and pushed it against a wall and said, ‘Hey, it’s a desk with a tier!’” said Gross. “It was a natural accident because my house was so small.” Tucker said parents want to stretch the dollar as their kids stretch out, too. “System furniture” that converts as a child grows, is becoming very popular, she said. A toddler bed with safety rails can adjust all the way up to the teen years with clever extensions such as legs, ladders, storage units and accessories. Beyond the basics of furniture, parents sometimes choose a theme. Sylvia Bedwell, owner of Kids Rock, said true to Durango’s roots, many parents like a West-

ern-themed, frontier-lodge look. Bedwell said she knew other local customers who did a child’s bedroom completely in Dr. Seuss style. One family even did a nursery using the look of Peeps candy. “It’s very unique here, as opposed to doing what everybody does. We’re one-of-a-kind people in Durango,” said Bedwell. Tucker agrees. She said metro areas like Denver tend toward very progressive look, but Durango is more laid back. “We’re more earthy. We don’t like a lot of frills. People want basic simplicity with clean, uncluttered look. It’s somewhat modern, but not super-Mod,” said Tucker. “We’re always a little bit behind the trends, but trends aren’t a priority here. We live in an outdoor world, with an emphasis on quality time spent with kids.” Local artists are well-represented at local children’s shops. Kids Rock has squeezable stuffed animals made from vintage chenille bedspreads. At Sprout, wall art is bold, colorful and whimsical, like an abstract ladybug or swirly trees. Quirky play toys, such as Googly Mooglies by Tess Jordan, or Little Happy Ones stuffed felt food by Sarah Bong, are both playthings and artful accents, Tucker said. “I think colorful, interactive toys are part of the design in a nursery. I like things kids can actually touch and play with, like puzzles and pull toys, as opposed to things that hang on the wall and can’t be touched.” Getting back to the no-gobbledygook rule, Tucker said a child’s style preferences will change, and that should be reflected in their surroundings. “You want kids to have ownership of their rooms, and have it be special to them,” she said. “My daughter has a piece of art that she made hanging up in her room in a frame. Every day she looks at it with pride and says, ‘I did that!’”


LEFT: Jennifer Bennett Gross, owner of Artistic Edge Design, created this circle mural design when she was pregnant with her daughter. “I didn’t know whether I was having a boy or a girl,” she said BELOW: Crib bedding at Sprout is made of recycled fabrics. “The vintage look is coming back,” said store owner Joanna Tucker. “A lot of the focus is taking the old and making it new. Things come full circle.” BOTTOM: Molly Gassaway created eco-friendly Saplings toys, which include bright pull-toy trains and hand-carved wood mobiles. “It’s move away from things that plug in and make noise,” said Tucker.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bennett Gross

Photo courtesy of Joanna Tucker

Photo courtesy of Joanna Tucker

Addie’s Tables are made to order, and cost $300-350, depending on the custom stains or paint. “I don’t like straight edges. I like round and fun shapes,” said Jennifer Bennett Gross, owner of Artistic Edge Design.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Tucker

Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 33


Detail of baby quilt by a member of the La Plata Quilters Guild

A variety of perennials are labeled for customers during the Garden Club of Durango’s annual Spring Plant Sale on May 14.

Native Roots owner offers tips on seed-starting & By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


rowing plants from seed can be a fascinating adventure – or an exercise in frustration. Most plants sprout easily; but keeping a young plant alive until it can be transplanted into the garden is a little tricky. John Wickman, owner of Native Roots, gave around 20 eager gardeners some good advice during a free event at the nursery on March 3. “Starting Plants from Seed” was one of a series of free talks scheduled in the upstairs meeting area at the nursery. (Visit www.nativeroots for upcoming events.)

34 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

Kim Skinner, one of the attendees of the event, said she was given an 8’x 8’ plot in a community garden at Three Springs. She has only tried container gardening in the past, and is “super excited and a little nervous” to start a real garden from scratch. Here are some seed-starting tips from Wickman: l A good seed-starting medium must be non-crusting with good drainage, sterile and pathogen-free, and have low salt levels and a neutral to acidic pH. l After plants sprout, wait until they have their first set of “true leaves,” which is after the first set of “seed leaves,” to ensure a good root structure for transplanting. l When starting seeds indoors, make sure there is good




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Digging In Garden Club of Durango’s popular Spring Plant Sale features hardy divided perennials suited to the region By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


urango’s signs of spring include fluffedup robins, a rushing river, crabapple blooms, and winter-weary gardeners elbowing each other for little potted plants. The Garden Club of Durango’s annual Spring Plant Sale will be held at Santa Rita Park on May 16 starting at 9 a.m. The popular event, which has been running for about 40 years, usually sells out by 10:30 a.m. The public is invited to buy potted perennial flowers, herbs, shrubs, groundcovers and more at very reasonable prices. One-gallon pots sell for between $4 and $9, and larger plants sell between $10 and $12. All of the money raised goes to maintain and improve the Santa Rita Rose Garden, created in 1989 for public enjoyment. The plants will be divided from established perennials in local gardens. That’s part of the reason the sale is so popular, according to Lee Hayes, the club’s plant sale chairman. “These plants are acclimated, hardy and well-suited to the region; plus the prices are good, and people know the money goes to support a nonprofit,” she said. Hayes chuckles a little when she describes eager customers waiting anxiously for the sale

to start. “People start lining up at 8:15 a.m. I say, really? They’re just little potted plants!” The selection of plants varies from year to year, but in the past people could buy violets, irises, lilies, grasses, houseplants, raspberries, strawberries, ground covers, penstemon, daisies, coneflower, herbs and more. Hayes said 90 percent of the club’s expert gardeners will be on hand or working at the sale. They are familiar with the plants and can help answer questions. The practice of dividing helps established perennials thrive through the years. Hayes said if a plant is becoming too large, crowding other plants or overtaking an area, it’s a good idea to divide it. The rule of thumb is if a plant flowers in the late summer or early fall, you can divide it in the spring. It’s a fairly simple process to use a shovel to slice through the center or side of a perennial clump, digging deep and making sure to lift the roots; but novice gardeners should research the process, and look up each plant’s specific requirements. The club welcomes community donations of garden perennials for the sale. Gardeners may call Lee Hayes at 259-1491 in early spring. She will arrange a time for volunteers to dig and pot plants before the sale.



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ventilation to keep pathogens down, like a fan or window. l Water in the morning, and keep the soil surface on the dry side to prevent disease and insects. l Don’t let transplants in an open flat get overcrowded. Thin them to the specifications on the seed packet. l Prevent seedlings from getting spindly, or top-heavy on fragile stems, by keeping the light source low – just above the plant’s leaves without touching them. After transplanting in the garden, use a frost guard 35 • lSunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring (Native Roots carries a breathable fabric) to protect plants from wind and temperature fluctuations. “Our growing season is so short. You really need to plan this out and think about what you’re doing,” said Wickman.



Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 35


Detail of baby quilt by Linda Mount of the La Plata Quilters Guild

Raising a child,

growing yourself

36 • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • Durango Living/Spring

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By Victoria FittsMilgrim Special to Durango Living


arenting is a journey. It’s a profound opportunity to nurture and influence a new being. While we can offer so much, in the end, our children will make their own choices that will determine their lives. I am a mom of one. My daughter will always be the greatest gift I’ve ever received. Having her in my life is a blessing, and one I treasure beyond words. She cracked my heart open like nothing before her, and nothing since. So much attention goes into caring for a child and trying to teach them the things we value, but being a parent is even more about our own life journey. Certainly, raising a child can be an overwhelming task. (I have heartfelt admiration for those who have more than one!) There is so little training for this incredibly important job. There is plenty of “what to expect when you’re expecting” advice during pregnancy, but this nine-month period is a blink of an eye when you think of the lifetime journey of being someone’s parent. Our small children beautifully remind us to be fully present. As adults, we get so caught up in our past and our future that the moment can slide by – with us absent from it. Spending time in their world of the Now is a delicious way to return to the innocence and wonder we grown-ups easily forget. Nothing in my life has challenged me more – my core beliefs and assumptions – and changed me more than the last 20 years as Tasha’s mom. Each year brought unique discoveries, not just in the words she could say or new adventures she had in moving her body through space, but also in the ways she viewed the world. Who taught her about the world more than anyone else? Why, her parents, of course! Much of it was wonderful, and nurtured her sense of safety and curiosity about everything around her. It was a delight to watch how she felt free to explore and connect because she had a sense of security instead of a fear-based perspective. Other lessons turned out very differently, and were hugely instrumental in showing me my own biases and judgments. I remember a day we were driving in the car when she was about 7 or 8 years old. There was a man in the car next to us smoking a cigarette. She turned towards him and started yelling at him about what an idiot he was to be smoking. OMG! Where did she get such anger, such judgment, such intolerance? When your child does something special, a parent will often smile and bask in some of the surrounding accolades. But what about when they do the opposite? I have found that these are the moments to take a look at their greatest influencer: you! Raising children allows you


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Durango life coach says parenting is a journey with many opportunities for self-discovery along the way

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Victoria FittsMilgrim and her daughter Tasha, at age 10.

grow with them. As a lifelong learner, there’s much for us to discover; and sometimes we will see the need to change. As a coach for the past decade, I’ve had many sessions with clients regarding their relationship with their children. Almost universally, whatever the situation was, it turned into something valuable for them to see about themselves. As you embrace your journey as a parent, use these powerful questions to guide your intentions, communication and behaviors for the most fulfilling outcome: l What are the things from my own childhood that meant the world to me? What is worth passing on? l What are the things I would like to be different between me and my child? Is there something I dreamed of having with one or both of my parents that I can focus on creating with my child? Over and over, for the 20 years I’ve devoted myself to the parenting experience, I have found these inquiries to be my navigation. They call forth in me more mindfulness, compassion and acceptance of my child as her own unique being. They also have pulled me beyond my little ego and the need to be “right,” allowing me to grow more than I ever could’ve imagined. They have truly helped me make this journey of parenting a gift for us both. Victoria FittsMilgrim is a Professional Certified Life Coach and Retreat Leader, Personal Growth Visionary, and Authentic Soul Journeyer. As the Director of True Life Coaching & Retreats in Durango, she offers individual and group coaching, and leads transformational journeys for women. Find out more about Victoria’s offerings at


Durango Living/Spring • Sunday, March 25, 2012 • 37


Detail of baby quilt by Pat Akers of the La Plata Quilters Guild

DEVO enjoys the ride By Nikoma Henkels Special to the Herald

Durango cycling club for children and young adults teaches skills, thrills and teamwork

Learn more about DEVO

For details on the Durango Junior Development Mountain inter hibernation ends with DEVO. Bike Team, visit or call 779-8480. Durango is pretty in the cold season, with the trees dusted white and the ground pristine The program itself isn’t the only thing that’s growing. and clean; but when spring rolls around, most people “It teaches the kids to enjoy riding and how to be tohope the snow melts as quickly as possible. Spring is a time for being outside and enjoying all that this Colora- gether as a team,” said Tescher. Older members who have grown up with the program do town has to offer. Mountain biking is a very popular learn the technical skills of riding, but they also gain activity in Durango, but many children and teens have social skills that are useful throughout their adult lives. never had a chance to try it. “I have more endurance, know how to conserve enDurango DEVO is changing that. ergy, and I know how to lead, because I helped with the Durango Junior Development (DEVO) Mountain little kids too,” said Durango High School sophomore Bike Team is a nonprofit co-founded by Sarah Tescher and Chad Cheeney in 2006. The program is open to and DEVO member Henry Larson. Though DEVO is completely ages 3 to 24. DEVO’s mission is centered on mountain biking, the to use a traditional team setting to skills learned while biking apply to develop each individual into a lifemany places off the trails. long cyclist. In the six years since “I just enjoy having fun and DEVO started, it has grown from working together to build the jumps seven members to a whopping 300 when we travel,” said Weiss. – all of whom are young and promWhen the teams travel to a race, ising cyclists. they try to camp, which keeps the “It surprises us how much it has costs down. grown,” said Tescher. “We get to go out in the middle of DEVO has a lot to offer particinowhere, build jumps, eat delicious pants, who can begin riding as young food and have adventures,” said children and continue until they are Larson. The teammates look for19. The team is split into eight catward to these camps, which occur egories for kids: DEVO Jr., Explorfrequently throughout the season. ers Club, DEVO Flyers gravity team, Registration for DEVO opened Devo Cyclo Crossers, DEVO Boys on March 1. The first camping trip, U14, DEVO Girls U14, DEVO Boys “Top Secret Camp,” happens in the U19 and DEVO Girls U19. This Photo courtesy of Rich Larson year, there’s also a new group called DEVO member Henry Larson, a Durango spring to kick things off. “We go off to an undisclosed loPush Bike/Stryder for kids ages 3-5 High School sophomore, rides in a race. cation and just have fun trying to set who ride a Stryder or “Like a Bike.” the season culture,” said Tescher. DEVO caters to each age group by Members pay a registration fee for an eight-week sesgrade levels within the teams. After high school, they can go on to collegiate and pro levels, or they can join DEVO’s sion, which ranges from $150 for the youngest kids to own professional team, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate/ $625 for high-school racers. DEVO holds a fundraiser every year to help cover costs for racing and travel. This DEVO Sweet Elite. “The program is in a building-block style to increase year’s fundraiser is a bike swap on May 19, where peothe skill level and love for biking with every season,” ple can sell and buy used biking gear. Tescher’s commitment to DEVO is easy to explain. “I said Tescher. love kids, and I love riding my bike,” she said. “I have two The members of DEVO benefit from this structure. “When I started, I didn’t really know how to ride kids of my own – and DEVO is my third. ” a mountain bike. Now I love it,” said Durango High School freshman and DEVO member River Weiss. He’s Nikoma Henkels, 15, is a sophomore at Durango been in DEVO for four years now, and shows no signs High School, where she is an honors student and a of slowing down. writer for the student newspaper, El Diablo.



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DEVO coach Annie Cheeney leads children in the Durango CocaCola/Sprite Kid’s Race on May 29 in downtown Durango. The event is part of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic criterium races. “It is such a blast to watch,” said Cheeney. “And the parents love it, too.” BELOW LEFT: A father-and-son team make their way to the start of the McDonald’s Citizens Tour race. HAL LOTT/Herald photos

Tiny tots to teenagers are welcome in Iron Horse Bicycle Classic events DEVO members enjoy participating in IHBC, according to DEVO coordinator Sarah Tescher. She says there are usually about a dozen kids, ages 8-18, who do the big road race (the McDonald’s Citizen Tour), and about twice that number for the mountain bike race. This year, the IHBC will have a new team division in the Quarter Horse. There will be one business category and two family categories: 12 and under, and 12 and over. There must be two or more people on a team, and they have to finish together. The last person who crosses finish line is the time for the team. The prize will be a fun trophy that will get passed along each year and, of course, bragging rights. There are IHBC events for tiny tots as well. DEVO coach and IHBC assistant Annie Cheeney said the Sprite Kids’ Race drew more than 250 children last year. “It’s an amazing spectacle!” she said via e-mail. “It’s probably the most fun event to watch all weekend.” Every child in this race earns a medal. Also new this year is the The Alpine Bank Push Bike Park, which will offer some structures for the “little bitty guys,” said Cheeney. The park, held at three locations, will entertain tots while they wait for their mom or dad to cross the finish line. “This just might top the kids’ race in the cuteness department,” said Cheeney. – Karla Sluis

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Detail of baby quilt by a member of the La Plata Quilters Guild

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Fresh alfalfa sprouts add a delicate look and a bright, sweet flavor to a salad with edible borage and nasturtium flowers.

Shoots & Sprouts Baby greens are a perfect spring food: Light, versatile & nutritious By Karla Sluis

Durango Living Editor


pring brings a chance for endless beginnings, as new greens pop through the earth. One of the pleasures of the season is the feeling of lightness – like that first walk outside in a T-shirt or flip-flops. Spring food is light, too. Some of the most delicate, fleeting flavors come in the form of shoots and sprouts. To get in step with the season, add some baby greens to your diet. Most people are familiar with asparagus, but microgreens and sprouts are also delicious and versatile. Microgreens are simply “early” versions of greens, such as lettuce, kale, chard and spinach, or herbs that are less than 14 days old. Small in size, “micros” are exceptionally tender and intensely flavored. Ounce for ounce, microgreens provide more nutrients

than any other natural food known. These super-food seedlings are naturally high in quality protein, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and anti-oxidants, and have few calories and no cholesterol. These baby greens can be challenging to find in Durango. The easiest way to try them is to grow them yourself. Harvest when greens are about an inch tall. This is the “seed leaves” stage (the first two leaves sent up from a sprout) and just before the first “true leaves” (two darker, bigger leaves) appear on the plant. Microgreens are amazingly versatile. Simply adding “micro” arugula to a pizza coming out of the oven, or incorporating a mix of “micros” into your favorite sandwich makes a big difference. Used in place of other traditional garnishes, finishing herbs or sprouts, the fresh and lively flavors enhance soups, sides and entrée

dishes alike and, of course, salads. Garlic scape is usually available from some vendors in the early months of the Durango Farmers Market. Scape is the shoot that comes up from the bulb in the spring. It looks like a curly green snake with an arrow at the end. The flavor is milder than garlic and slightly buttery. When cooked, it turns a vivid bright green. Sprouts are also highly nutritious and easy to grow indoors or out. Simple slotted trays or even a mason jar can be used to start seeds: Soil is not necessary. Alfalfa sprouts add a bright, grassy flavor to sandwiches. Bean sprouts have a thicker, jucier texture, and they are a classic addition to many Asian recipes. Sunflower sprouts are not as well known, but the sweet, slightly nutty flavor is a treat. Raw, unhulled sunflower seeds can be purchased in bulk at local natural food stores. A stunning variety of gourmet Continued on Page 42

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Detail of baby quilt by Pat Akers of the La Plata Quilters Guild

Continued from Page 41

sprout mixes, plus useful grow-at-home tips, can be found at Most sprouts are crisp or crunchy, and they pair best with something creamy. Here are some topping ideas for a sprout salad: l Goat cheese & lemon vinaigrette: Blend ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon warm water, the zest of one lemon, salt, and black pepper. l Cannellini beans & creamy vinaigrette: Blend ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of white wine


Sautéed Pea Shoots with Baby Carrots and Garlic Scape 3 cups of pea shoots 1 bunch of baby carrots 2 stalks of garlic scapes* (or substitute the white part of 3 green onions) 2 tablespoons of olive oil Salt and pepper You don’t need to peel baby carrots, but cut the greens off, leaving a quarter inch of the stalk. Scrub gently with a vegetable brush under running water to scrape off any stringy things and dirt. To prepare the garlic scapes, cut off the pointy end and chop the rest of the curly green stems. If you prefer a lighter garlic flavor, use only one stalk of scape. In a pan on high heat, put in the olive oil and heat up. Toss in the sliced spring garlic stem, and baby carrots. Sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the pea shoots and sauté for no more than 30 seconds, and finally season with salt and pepper. * Garlic scapes can be purchased in spring at the Durango Farmers Market from some of the vendors. Look for a bright green color and firm, twisting stalks.

vinegar, 3 tablespoons of soft tofu, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 chopped shallot, salt, and black pepper. l Avocado vinaigrette: Blend ¼ cup of lime juice, ½ of an avocado, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, salt, and black pepper. l Yogurt sauce: Blend 1 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Thin with olive oil and lemon juice. Variation: Nutty yogurt sauce: Whisk in up to ¼ cup of your favorite nut butter to the yogurt mixture. Thin with olive oil, rice vinegar, and honey.


Garlic Scape Carbonara ½ pound campanella pasta, or shape of your choosing 4 slices bacon (about 3¼ ounces), chopped ¼ cup garlic scapes, cut into ¼-inch slices 2 large eggs ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes ½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese Set a pot of water to boiling on the stove and cook the campanella pasta (or desired shape). While it’s cooking, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and add the garlic scapes. Cook until soft (2-3 minutes). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. (Drain both the bacon and the garlic scapes on a paper towel). Whisk together the eggs, salt and red pepper flakes. When the pasta is done, quickly remove it from the stove and set a different burner to low heat. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot, on the burner set to low. Stir in the garlic scapes and bacon. Add the egg mixture and stir feverishly for 3-4 minutes until sauce is thick and creamy. Don’t let it overcook or it will be gloppy. Sprinkle the Romano cheese in, a little at a time, and stir to combine. Don’t add it all at once, or it won’t mix throughout the pasta as well (it will clump). This pasta is fantastic as a meal served with a big garden salad and some crusty bread. If desired, add a half-cup of fresh, lightly cooked peas to the mix for a little added nutrition (and sweetness).

Quinoa Spring Rolls with Shoots and Seeds Rice paper spring roll wrappers (6 in round) 2 cups quinoa, cooked/drained/cooled ½ cup shredded beets ½ cup shredded carrots 1 cup sunflower shoots, lightly diced 3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds 1 teaspoon fine diced spring onion 1 garlic clove 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon zest 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Salt & pepper Mix together the quinoa, shredded veggies (you can always add whatever vegetables you have on hand), sunflower seeds, and spring onion. Fold sunflower shoots into this mixture. Be gentle so the shoots don’t get bruised. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix lemon zest, lemon juice together. Using a zester or press, grate in garlic to taste

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(To taste, try about ½ of a raw clove), add salt and pepper to taste and whisk in extra-virgin olive oil. Toss this dressing with the quinoa mixture. Now you’re ready to roll. Get a pan of warm water and soak your wrappers one at a time for about 1 minute, gently massaging the wrapper while soaking to make it more pliable. Lay the soaked wrapper flat on your cutting board. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the wrapper closer to you, then roll like a burrito: Fold in the sides, then roll away from you until the stuffing is encased. Do this one at a time for each wrapper, and don’t let the wrappers soak for longer than 1 minute before rolling, they may become too sticky to work with. This recipe is chock full of protein-rich quinoa and fresh vitamins and nutrients. Dress it lightly with more sunflower shoots, black and white sesame seeds, salt and pepper. It’s perfect with a cup of ice tea or a glass of chilled lemonade.

Durango Farmers Market to open in mid-May The Durango Farmers Market is a great place to buy locally grown, hard-tofind items such as garlic scapes and sunflower sprouts – especially in the early season. According to Carolyn Blehm, DFM’s new director, there are no big changes to the market this year. It will still be held on Saturday mornings in the First National Bank parking lot, beginning in mid-May. There will be many returning vendors as well as a few new ones. For more information, visit www.


LEFT: Fresh food is offered with a bright smile at the Durango Farmers Market in May 2011.

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An eventful spring It’s the season of pink and white crabapple blooms, whitewater and dusting off the collection of bikes on the porch. One of the joys of four seasons is the pure delight Durangoans feel when the weather turns warm. Many festivals and special events are held in April and May. Here are just a few. Photos by Hal Lott

Durango HarleyDavidson Season Kick-Off Party Raymond Dunton, right, a Navajo and Hopi Native American, performs a “Blessing of the Bikes” for Phil Rodriguez of Durango, seated on bike. during the Season Kick-off Party at Durango HarleyDavidson on May 14. The ceremony is performed to help riders have a safe summer riding season. The event also included live music and vendors. This year’s event will be held May 19. For details, visit www.

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Durango Home & Ranch Show Bonnie Craig, far left, co-owner of High Plains Nursery, discusses tree planting and gadening with visitors at the Durango Home & Ranch Show on April 30. This year’s event will be held April 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and April 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Admission is $2, which will be donated to the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado. For more information, call 375-4511.

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Bluegrass Meltdown Members of the group Mountain Holler perform at the Henry Strater Theatre during the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown in 2011. This year, the multiconcert event will be held April 20-22 at various venues. There will be three intimate main stages, a super jam, “Durango-style” barn dance, Saturday night Celtdown, and music at bars, restaurants, coffee houses and downtown streets and sidewalks. For more information, visit www.durango

Kentucky Derby Party Celestia Loeffler, winner of the Derby Hat contest, smiles during the event at the Rochester Hotel Garden on May 7. The event was a fundraiser for Durango Arts Center. This year, it will be held on May 5 from 2 to 5 p.m. For more details, visit “Durango Kentucky Derby Party” on Facebook.

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Durango Living Spring Edition - 2012  
Durango Living Spring Edition - 2012  

Durango Living Spring Edition - 2012