Venice, Italy and Lake City, Colorado

My husband and I were in Venice, Italy this October, just 24 days before the worst flooding in 50 years. I really connect with Venice. Venice is a delicate island ecosystem and it reminds me of home. My husband and I live at almost 9,000 feet above sea level, in the tiny mountain village ecosystem of Lake City, CO.

Last October began an unprecedented snowfall for us that continued through May. According to our local weather man Phil, we received approximately 55″ from November 2018 thru February 2019 and approximately 43″ in March of 2019!!! (Which beat the 1906 record)

Unprecedented avalanches followed. It was mind boggling and heart wrenching for me to see where we had just been walking around Venice, was now flooded. This past winter, it was mind boggling and heart wrenching for me to see, about 20 minutes after I had driven out of our valley, an avalanche pushed down the mountain and into that exact same spot where my car had been.

And oh yea, as I write this, it’s been snowing for 24 hours now.

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This November 30th picture is a month or two ahead of what I’d say is ‘normal’ for the river on our nature trail to look like.

Many Venetian churches and museums have flooded. We were recently enjoying the historic beauty of St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, which have since flooded. The damage the salty sea water does to centuries old mosaics and buildings won’t be known for a long time yet.  In Lake City, our sheriff’s house was destroyed by an avalanche as he and his family slept – mercifully, everyone lived.

More than 20 million visitors visit Venice each year, compared to its permanent population of 55,000. Lake City has about 300 permanent residents. In the summer our population swells to around 3,000.

Venice has seen loads of cancellations. Many would be tourists saw the floodwater footage and decided not to go to Venice. The waters have subsided, and most of the museums are open again. The city is as beautiful as ever — even more beautiful, locals might say, with its current lack of visitors. I understand the beauty of having your home to yourself; as it gets tiresome being inundated with visitors. Our mountain’s natural peacefulness returns when the visitors finally leave.

 

But the Venetians have suffered devastation, and what they need now is to be busy with visitors — people need to make money to survive the losses they’ve had. If tourists decide not to come, people who desperately need money will suffer, because Venice is based on tourism.  

 

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This past year Lake City was expected to be devastated with flooding as the unprecedented snowfall melted – thankfully the flooding didn’t happen. Still, tourism was way down and businesses suffered as would be visitors listened to the reports on national news and newspapers, of probable floods.

 

It’s late November now and it is cold. Our glorious Indian summer days are over. Highs of 32 and much lower will be the norm, along with the onset of single digits and negative temperatures. But dressed in warm layers, with calm sunny, blue sky days, bringing up firewood, walking with the dogs in the mountains, our days are generally delightful and cozy.

 

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However, as I write Lake City is not having a cozy day. It’s just nasty outside – windy cold – an awful combination. It has been snowing all day today. Prayers Venice will not continue with flooding rains. Prayers we are not having another harsh, very snowy winter!

 

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Our little sheltie girl Joy out walking today.

 

Too often visitors come to Lake City and don’t show respect for our environment as they ‘forget’ / don’t care / think it would be fun to see a bear – and they leave food out on their grill or campfire or in their non-bear proof garbage container. They don’t care about the noise or the carbon footprints they make – it’s their vacation! Likewise visitors have been offensive in Venice with swimming in the canals and  demonstrating  private, bedroom behavior, in public places – like under the Rialto Bridge. It’s not just your vacation – it’s home to some of us!

 

Good and services are much more expensive in remote places like Lake City and Venice, where everything has to be brought in. Though cold, I can imagine how beautiful Venice would be at Christmas. Though cold, Christmas in Lake City is adorable and romantic. It is neither easy nor inexpensive to live in these secluded spots. However, for some of us this is our choice, our home and we feel blessed.

 

“May you live all the days of your life.”  J. Swift
julie@handsbestrong.com

Living in the Mountains

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