Mother Nature threatened rain but instead delivered a perfect summer day for the tea party held to benefit Durango Friends of the Arts on Aug. 9.
The event was held at the home of Marilee White, with beautifully decorated tables featuring teapots and cups on loan from the Animas Museum. (And no, they weren’t trusting us with items from the collections. Board member Cheryl Bryant said they had been picked up at garage sales and antique stores for the museum’s own tea parties.)
Many of the 28 guests were wearing hats, and Kristi Nelson Cohen had pulled out several handmade hats from her enormous collection for those who came without a topper. The ones left over became decorations, adding to the spirit of the occasion.
White lives on Hermosa Creek and is a dedicated gardener, so everyone had to take a tour to visit the grapes, orchard and other assorted fruits and vegetables. She even grows gooseberries, and it turns out that both Myriam Palmer and I had fond memories of eating the (relatively rare) fruit (for Americans) when we were young. (Although her memories were far more exotic than my gooseberries and biscuits, as she had enjoyed gooseberry tarts while visiting her mother’s family in Belgium.)
The tea began with a tea tasting courtesy of the White Dragon Tea Room. Walter Vorhauer gave some of the history of each type of tea, where it is grown and how it is processed once the leaves are picked. We enjoyed three types: English breakfast, Darjeeling and honey-orchid.
The honey-orchid comes about its sweet flavor in an interesting way – freshly picked tea leaves are put on top of honeysuckle blossoms, and the leaves absorb some of the oils. (Ha! You thought they preadded honey or something, didn’t you?)
Several women participated in preparing the cornucopia of goodies. DFA President Carol Treat made both lemon curd and clotted cream for the homemade scones. Also on the menu were cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese and chives; cinnamon cream cheese on raisin-nut bread; pineapple-pine nut macaroons; blueberry tarts; and Palmer’s lavender tea cookies. (The secret ingredient in the yummy frosting was rosewater.) I’m missing a few items because it’s hard to be oohing and aahing and taking notes at the same time.
Suffice it to say, everyone involved deserves kudos. There were lots of volunteers, but Barbara Morrison, Cecilia Feldick, Bryant, Treat and White were the core group who planned and put it all together.
Many members of DFA have been keeping their ovens going this summer as they’ve been holding a series of bake sales. There had been one that same day, so there were tales of fresh fruit pies – along with a few baking misadventures, as are wont to happen at this altitude. The one that morning had brought in more than $600, so they’re really adding up.
Durango Friends of the Arts, which was honored this year as a Sweetheart of the Arts by the Durango Arts Center, raises money all year long to support artists and arts organizations.
I had someone ask me what that means. It means someone like Suzy diSanto can offer Take the Lead, ballroom dancing instruction, to fifth graders in Durango. It means Jeff Solon can take jazz into our schools, helps Music in the Mountains offer its Goes to School program and supports several of the arts center’s many programs.
In a modern world where popes, kings and the Medicis aren’t around to be art patrons, DFA makes a true difference serving as an arts patron for all of us.
(And they have fun doing it, too.)
Enjoying their birthdays as summer comes to a close – I don’t care what the calendar says about the fall equinox, Labor Day marks the unofficial spot – are Ralph Kehle, Beth McMacken, Liz Cahill, Annie Simonson, Melissa Mosley, Bob Mueller, Mike Ollier, Tom Creyer, Judy Risner, Amber Jackson, Melodie Addington, Mickey White, Bradyn Jory, Tom Mulligan, Gloria Freitag, Micah Orlowski, Clara Wolf, Amy Johnston, Shannon White, Isaac Magyar, Jeron Plotnik and Amy Long.
It’s always strange when I attend a party for a news story, instead of my column. Editors (and readers) don’t care about decorations or who worked so hard to make the party come together or my reaction to the party.
But you, my dear readers, do. So consider this small item a Part II of the story about the reunion of early employees at Purgatory Ski Area. (Part I ran Thursday.)
Tracking down folks and gearing up for 200 guests is no small feat. Top of the list credit goes to Paul and Cheryl Folwell, who gathered the folks that were part of the great adventure of starting a new ski area, created the invitation (it helps to have a professional artist as a member of your group), and convinced Chris Wing to let the reunion take place at his Silver Pick Lodge. I mentioned the “Ray stories” were running rampant but didn’t give Ray and Sally Duncan a shout-out for providing the excellent Silver Oak wines. (In case you wondered, the Zinfandel ski run at Purgatory is a nod to the Duncans’ entry into the wine biz.)
A bunch of other people were involved, including Dick and Dianne Andrews, Carlyn and Eric Hodges, Kim Morton and Skip Zeller, Debbie and Quincy Ellis, Jim and Chris DeNier, Nanci and Alvi Moore, Cliff and Rosemary Farfel, Fritz and Sandra Tatzer, Jim and Joann Hards, Barb Hampton and Rick Grush and Charlie Siegele and Deborah Uroda.
I hadn’t realized that local dance favorite Ralph Dinosaur got his start at Purgatory in those early days, and it was a surprise for everyone when he showed up to play at the reunion, bringing Lisa Blue for some vocal sparks.
I have so many fond memories of growing up at Purg and around the administration offices where my mother, Kathy Butler, ran the accounting office. It was great to see Joella Dunagan, Kathy Fritch and others who worked with her, and it was fun to share my “Queen of the Grommets” stories about processing season passes when it was all hands on deck.
So thanks to all these folks who made the reunion possible. It was a blast, and it was a true step back in time.
When I was interviewing Mark Jastorff, the new vice president for advancement at Fort Lewis College, for my nonprofit series (which concludes today, in case you missed it), he told me that he hadn’t been in Durango long but that we “played bigger than we are.”
I keep reminding people of that, and here’s a case in point.
Many of us have seen Ken Beegles play his accordion at various fundraisers and events. He’s very good, and that’s saying something from a woman who’s not a big fan of the accordion. (I’m not saying I hate the accordion, just that it’s not my favorite instrument. And I do find it fascinating to watch people play the instrument. So no letters, please)
Beegles performed in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Accordion Society’s competition in Denver the second week of August. He returned to Durango with four third-place trophies, including third-place overall in the adult competition.
He did some serious preparation, connecting with his childhood accordion teacher, Mike Aman, via Skype. Gotta love technology.
Beegles plays with the Kitchen Jam Band, at Irish Embassy sessions and has played for several Durango Film Festival events, where I first saw him.
Thanks to his wife, Jo Ann Beegles, for the heads up.
Referring back to my nonprofit series for a moment, I have to thank the folks at First National Bank of Durango who, by hand, looked at 11 months of records. They were answering a question I posed about how much money really comes into those benefit accounts to help people dealing with health problems and other losses. The answer was $167,000 in that time period.
I knew when I started the series that the hardest thing to quantify would be the benefit accounts, spaghetti dinners, concerts and other ways we reach out to take care of our neighbors on a one-to-one basis.
If that’s one bank’s total, I think we can safely say it’s in the $1 million-plus range.
Wowsers, I love this town.
Celebrating their anniversaries under umbrellas built for two are Mark and Sue Chiarito, Gary and Ronda Conrad, Tom and Nancy Williams, Sandy and Phyllis Max, Floyd and Laura Jaramillo, Jon and Linda Geer and Don and Barbara Bruning.
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