WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL, there was a cornfield I used to love to explore. It was flanked by a river and a forest of oak trees, and I spent a lot of summer hours building rock bridges across the river or making forts, hiding from adults and enjoying the freedom of being out from under their watchful gaze. The air smelled like mud and turtles, corn silk and Queen Anne’s lace. It was a hushed respite from the buzz of lawnmowers and the orderly houses on my nearby street.
One day, I watched the stakes go into the ground and I knew what was coming. Concrete roads. Then the scraping and sculpting of lots, the digging of foundations. At first just a handful of homes, then they overtook the field, the forest, even the riverbanks, which were smoothed over and seeded with grass. They called the new subdivision Oak River, but it didn’t feel much like its namesakes anymore. As I grew older and the houses kept coming, I steered my 10-speed to the pool or the playground instead, contenting myself with friends and books. I wonder, now, where the kids who live nearby go to fish and ramble, forge pacts and wage wars, pretend, get lost.
As anyone who grew up in a more pastoral place can tell you: Change is hard.
Faster than you can say “Choice City,” ranch land and farmettes have given way to patio homes and pilates studios. The once-yawning stretch of corn and pasture between Fort Collins and Loveland is now a connect-the-dot of subdivisions. An Old Town bungalow, once a quirky starter home option, is now maddeningly out of reach—or fodder for a big-budget pop top.
A lot of us have a nostalgia for the NoCo of old, even those of us more newly arrived. After all, it’s the charming main streets and wide open spaces that drew so many to begin with.
That nostalgia doesn’t have to turn on us. We can channel it as we build what comes next. And that’s what the stories in this issue have in common—a lot of love, and a will to bring into being something that honors our roots and invites others to share the joy. At Laughing Buck Farm, a lonely young mom turned her weary eight acres into a farm haven to share with other families. Ginger Graham envisioned a market/cafe/bakery/culinary haven from an old feed store. Architect Greg Fisher paid homage to his wife’s ranch upbringing by creating a postmodern farmhouse. And all of these inspired moves were about connecting—to our history, and to each other.
We can’t live in the past, but we can treasure what it made us become, hold it as part of who we are, and take the best bits of it with us. Here’s to many more inspired new beginnings.