Coloradan Shifts & Extremes

From Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO, 2013 Speaker Selection Committee Chair

I grabbed a camera, got in the car, just the other day ,and headed up the highway thinking I could take a few photos of Keystone Resort so that Mandisa could talk up the AANP conference a bit more.

Overcast skies turned to rain by the time I reached the tunnel work at Idaho Springs. The rain had turned to snow by the time I turned off the interstate. My thought to take some scenic photos from the top of Loveland Pass turned to a joke by the time I reached the summit. It was full on white out blizzard. I descended a few miles south to Arapahoe Basin ski area, abandoned the idea of scenic photos all together and spent the day skiing. Lucky for me, I thought to bring a pair of skis and goggles with me.

Typically the Basin, as it's called, is home to a season-long tailgate party with barbecues blazing every day in the lower parking lot (an area referred to as the Beach). The Basin gets its name because it's comprised of two large mountain bowls hanging off either side of the continental divide. It is like two very large reflector ovens when the spring sun shines, but there was no sun that day. Just snow, white out conditions. There was a good half-foot of powder by lunch and apparently they were expecting an additional foot. That's when I left. I wanted to get home by evening.

It's been a schizoid spring this year, alternating weather extremes. Two weeks ago we had a high temperature in the mid-80s on Monday and a blizzard on Wednesday with low temperatures in the teens. This is what most people in Colorado expect of springtime, though this year seems more extreme than usual.

Geographers tell us that these weather extremes are typical of areas centrally located in a large landmass, that is, in the middle of a continent. Coastal dwellers often forget how much their weather is buffered by water. The ocean water prevents the temperature from shifting too quickly or too far—not so in Colorado.

Our weather can shift from one extreme to another and do so rapidly. So it seems do our attitudes.

It was only about 15 years ago that members of our profession wanted to boycott Colorado and not hold our conference in Snowmass, Colorado. A referendum initiative had been passed intended to outlaw gay marriage. That's changed obviously as this year our Governor Hickenlooper signed into law a civil unions bill. He also signed into law a gun bill that most locals thought would be impossible to pass even a few years ago. He is expected to sign into law a bill in the next few weeks that will make what we naturopathic doctors do for a living legal.

Accustomed to sudden changes in climate as I might be, I still haven't quite gotten my head around this idea of practicing naturopathic medicine legally. We are perhaps, having watched Massachusetts' misfortune, are hesitant and are still waiting for the Fat Lady, (I'm wondering if that is still a proper term to use). If things go well and Hick does sign the bill, we will be ever so happy for all of you to come visit us at Keystone this summer and help us celebrate.

The AANP office staff is planning some interesting fun activities for the conference. I've been hearing rumors of barbecues and canoe races.

This conference may prove to have its own extremes. We may have the best CE lectures in years but we may also have more excuses to ‘cut class' and stay outside than ever before. Though we've had a dry winter, the weather shifted in April and we have had more snow than usual. In fact the Basin was advertising a 5-foot snow base and they've only added to it over the past week. Thus we are expecting a decent wild flower season this coming summer. I'm all for intellectual pursuits…well up to a point. Few things in this world are more rejuvenating in my mind than napping in a meadow of wildflowers. Of course, I should also point out that there are no more difficult places to sleep than that same meadow once you realize there is a bear in the vicinity digging roots.

Oh! Did I mention that Colorado, which has long legally sold marijuana for medical uses, is transitioning to legal marijuana? Mind you, pot's been quite available for years with medical marijuana dispensaries outnumbering coffee shops here in Denver. But now it's about to be legal. Talk about shifts in attitude, or is the proper term attitude shifters. As you travel the state, you'll notice store signs that say “Natural Medicine” or “Herbal Dispensary.” These aren't what you think, a measure of the popularity of naturopathic medicine; instead they are euphemisms for “pot-shop.” Wait, but I'm supposed to be promoting the conference, not getting distracted here.

My intention in writing was to simply warn all of you. The weather shifts all year round. Summertime at Keystone, well expect a range of possibilities. I will bring shorts and sandals to wear. Obviously, I'll also have a sunhat and dark glasses; summertime at high altitude, the UV gets intense. I will bring a fleece jacket as the temperature can drop at night and remain cool in the morning, to be prepared, a rain jacket (I was after all a Boy Scout once upon a time), and also sturdy shoes. I'm old school and still wear leather hiking boots when I hike. There is a reason that they call this the Rocky Mountains.

We can't wait for your arrival.