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Amanda Gorman says she was singled out for racial profiling near her house.

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Amanda Gorman says she was singled out for racial profiling near her house.

 

Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who won hearts at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, said on social media that she was followed home by a security guard who asked where she lived because she “looked suspicious.”

She tweeted about the incident Friday night, saying, “I showed my keys and buzzed myself into my flat.” “He walked away without saying anything. This is the reality of black girls: one day you’re hailed as a hero, the next you’re seen as a threat.”

Gorman, the nation’s youngest inaugural poet, is based in Los Angeles, but did not specify the location of the encounter. Her spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email requesting additional comment sent on Saturday.

Thousands of people expressed their support for the post on Twitter and Instagram. She added a second update to her original article, saying:

“In several ways, he was right. I AM A DANGER: I am a danger to racism, oppression, and ignorance. The powers that be see someone who speaks the truth and walks with hope as a clear and deadly threat. A danger and a source of pride.”

When Gorman recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s swearing-in on Jan. 20, she became an instant celebrity.

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Cherish autumn by bringing the outdoors in for your arrangements

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Cherish autumn by bringing the outdoors in for your arrangements

Autumn begins like a whisper, stirring among the trees. One green leaf turns gold. We barely notice until the treetops are aflame with light. Through shortening days and lengthening nights, the transformation is guileless in its beauty.

Drawn to awe by the humble grandeur of what has given its all, we reach for ways to keep the glory with us a little longer.

A vignette of natural simplicity displayed in Linda Sadler’s home. (Lindsay Squires, Special to The Denver Post)

Distinctive beauty

“This is a season to cherish. It is fleeting. We need to etch it in our minds,” said Linda Sadler, motioning to a single red leaf in the yellow celebration festooning the gray branches of her ash tree. Linda is a colleague of mine at Tagawa Gardens, an experienced perennial team member, and a garden coach.

“I’ve always loved beautiful things,” Sadler enthused as we stood on her brick walkway in Centennial, framed by leaning verbena bonariensis sparkling in the late afternoon light.

In a walk around her home, we admired the chartreuse glow of New Mexico privet, the balletic arch of lavatera, the stout tufts of Redbor kale, the yellow-gold airiness of Amsonia hubrichtii, and the slender cabernet leaves of euphorbia Bonfire.

“If I want a plant, I will have it,” Sadler said with conviction, touching the specimen plants that she has gone far and wide to procure for her garden.

“When I just think I’m going to be done with my garden, it lasts about a day, and at night, I’m already dreaming of what I’m going to plant next,” she laughed ruefully.

Sadler dries as much loveliness as she plants. As we wandered inside, her daughter, Katie, recalled Christmas cookie tins filled with silica gel and dried flowers. Linda instantly pulled one such tin from beneath an upholstered chair, running her fingers through bright remnants of petals.

More natural treasures awaited us in every elegant room. A garland of leaves dangled above a pristine white mantel. A clutch of dried fern fronds arched delicately near a small lamp, its gold stem entwined by perennial statice and masterwort. An atlas from the study revealed a trove of burgundy and gold leaves. A blush of hydrangea lay on an end table.

Most spectacular was a white chandelier hung with single dried stems of roses, peonies, paperwhites, hydrangea and larkspur. Even a white tulip held its fragile form.

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Dried blossoms suspended elegantly from Linda Sadler’s chandelier. (Lindsay Squires, Special to The Denver Post)

For the Thanksgiving table that will soon be arrayed beneath, Linda hollows a white pumpkin, settles a glass vessel inside, and creates a natural centerpiece with wild stems and white snowberry from her garden.

Simple inspiration

For Vanessa Martin, a fallen leaf is a muse. Detailing the simple elements of nature, Martin’s botanical work brings to life what may otherwise be overlooked.

Taking a walk nearly every day in her Aurora neighborhood, she doesn’t set out to find something but to simply see what’s there. “I do what’s in front of me,” she said.

A fallen leaf on the sidewalk, a tulip in the garden, a bird on a branch — these simplicities become the story of her art. “They are silly little stories, but that is how it becomes meaningful.”

“No one would have guessed that I would become an artist,” Martin laughed, sharing her journey through commercial real estate before finding her way into the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at Denver Botanic Gardens. “I made it work. I was determined, because I loved doing it. I would travel and go right from the airport to class. If you really want to do something, you will find a way.”

Fusing traditional botanical illustration with what she calls a pinch of contemporary style, Martin wants her art to be accessible to a large audience.

“People are part of my process. It is not enough for me to just create something,” she said. She recognizes an emerging hunger for art in a younger audience, stirring her hope that it will be appreciated by a new generation.

After many years using watercolor, colored pencils and graphite, Martin discovered printmaking. Much of her current work is Intaglio. Arranging several prints on the table for me to see, Martin plies multiple artistic techniques to create texture, dimension and subtle color in her work.

“With abstract, you have to stand back; with mine, you have to get close,” Martin said.

While Martin’s artistry has developed through the years, her work is still grounded by frequent walks and the long-held desire to “inspire art lovers to appreciate the beauty of a dried fallen leaf or a yucca pod that has spilled its seeds.”

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Fallen autumn leaves rendered beautifully by Vanessa Martin. (Lindsay Squires, Special to The Denver Post)

Supplied by nature

Many years ago, Martin’s exquisite yucca pod became my first piece of botanical art. I am enthralled by seed pods.

Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve displayed dramatic stems and natural arrangements. Borne of the Nebraska prairie, I inherited this delight from my grandma and my mom. Our hands are the same, reaching for simple treasures and finding in them the joy we need to go on.

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A repurposed grapevine wreath arrayed with plants from garden. (Lindsay Squires, Special to The Denver Post)

While visiting Nebraska for harvest this September, I ventured into the prairie with a small pruning shear, filling my arms with arching grasses, glittering goldenrod, and weathered seed heads. Returning to Denver with this autumn trove, I arranged the stems by color and arrayed them in vases, just as I have done since childhood.

But what wildness is here to harvest in our suburban Colorado gardens? Determined to create from my own doorstep, I studied each of my unsuspecting garden plants for new possibilities. After several excursions through the backyard and various closets, I gathered a surprising tangle of dried seed heads and craft supplies. With sturdy hollyhock, slender obedient plant, dried poppy heads, blush pink sedum, and two Queen Elizabeth roses crumpled by first frost, I made a simple dried wreath for the front door.

It was the same front door where a purple finch nested in the trailing begonia this year. After she and her watchful mate raised their brood, the little nest remained — a token of their patient artistry. I saved the nest and arranged it on a shelf with a small book, a framed flower from Ireland, a piece of Eastern European pottery holding two allium heads, and a clear jar of downy milkweed seeds that I’ve had for at least a decade.

As with most treasures, it simply begins with noticing and cherishing what you have. This is what my grandma and my mom taught me, their hands turning simplicity into special beauty.

Even after it is spent, the garden continues to give. Take to your own garden with an eye for possibility. What might you create with what you have?

Pick up a leaf, hold it in your hand, or press it into the pages of a beloved book. Take the beauty into your soul, and in that earnest way, bring the outdoors in.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Adventurist, to get outdoors news sent straight to your inbox.

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Prairie dog activists want Arapahoe County to move colony before Comcast paves new parking lot

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Prairie dog activists want Arapahoe County to move colony before Comcast paves new parking lot

To paraphrase a classic by singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, Comcast wants to pave a prairie dog paradise and put up a parking lot.

The telecommunications company plans to build a new parking lot next to its regional corporate offices in the Iliff Business Park at 7770 E. Iliff Ave., in unincorporated Arapahoe County, but animal rights activists say the plan threatens a colony of 60 to 80 black-tailed prairie dogs.

Now, the company, the activists and staff from Arapahoe County Open Spaces are trying to find a new home for the animals before construction begins.

Finding a new home, though, isn’t as simple as trapping prairie dogs and then driving them to a new plot of land. First, the new location must be identified and researched to make sure it’s a suitable habitat. Colorado Parks and Wildlife must issue a permit, said Shannon Carter, director of Arapahoe County Open Spaces. And Carter promises the county wouldn’t move prairie dogs to a place where nearby landowners would be affected.

“We’re not the only agency that has to deal with this,” Carter said. “Whenever development happens and displaces wildlife there’s never an easy solution.”

Jeremy Gregory, executive director of Tindakan, a nonprofit eco-justice organization, said he is hopeful the Arapahoe County Open Spaces director can find a new home in the coming weeks.

“The jury is still out on this, but hopefully we are nearing a decision that is going to be non-lethal and a win for everybody here,” Gregory said.

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“The Neighbor’s Secret” and other mysteries to read in October

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“The Neighbor’s Secret” and other mysteries to read in October

A few mysteries to recommend this month:

“The Neighbor’s Secret,” by L. Alison Heller (Flatiron Books)

The Neighbor’s Secret (Flatiron Books)

Colorado author L. Alison Heller uses a book group as the setting for a complicated story of women and their secrets. At times, “The Neighbor’s Secret” almost reads like an interconnected collection of stories that come together in an Oh-My-God ending.

On a whim, Annie invites the reclusive and very wealthy Lena to join her book group. Lena was widowed years before when her drunken husband killed a young man in a hit-and-run accident. The husband then conveniently died of a heart attack in jail. Lena reluctantly attends the club, only to find she bonds with the women. Lena isn’t totally comfortable with them, however, and there is a sense that she is hiding something from her new friends.

Among them is Jen, who secretly fears that her son is a sociopath. He’s been kicked out of several schools, the last time for stabbing a girl. Now he attends an off-beat religious institution, where he’s tutored by a seemingly innocuous intern. That intern, of course, has a secret.

Even Annie, who appears the most normal, worries that there is some genetic defect that affects Rachel, her eighth-grade daughter. First, Rachel embarrasses the family with her drunken antics at a town festival. Then she becomes obsessed with running. Turns out Rachel isn’t the only one in the family with a secret: Annie’s turns out to be the most surprising of all.

“The Neighbor’s Secret” is a complicated book — you almost need a scorecard to keep the characters straight. Still, it is a first-rate Colorado mystery set around the challenges mothers face.

“Last Girl Ghosted,” by Lisa Unger (Park Row Books)

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Last Girl Ghosted By Lisa Unger (Park Row)

Adam, who Wren Greenwood meets on a dating website, is handsome, educated, shares her love of Rilke and is after a long-term relationship, not just a hookup. He seems almost too good to be true. You know what that means.

Just as Wren is ready to commit herself to him, Adam ghosts her. He fails to show up for a dinner, disconnects his phone and social media accounts and disappears. It’s certain that he’s not who Wren thought he was. But then, Wren has a number of secrets herself, including that made-up name.

Adam texts her: “Something’s happened. I have to go. I’m sorry.” As Wren tries to face the fact that she’s been dumped, a private eye shows up, claiming Adam is suspected in the disappearance of not one but three other women he met on the dating site. Wren refuses to accept that. It was clear that Adam loved her, and she thinks she catches glimpses of him hovering nearby. Moreover, there are cryptic text messages. As she learns more about the women, and as her own ugly past is exposed, she reluctantly agrees to help the P.I.

As Wren becomes more involved in a dangerous game, she’s not sure who is hunting whom.

“As the Wicked Watch,” by Tamron Hall with T. Shawn Taylor (William Morrow)

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As the Wicked Watch (William Morrow)

Jordan Manning is a beautiful, sophisticated, driven Black television reporter with a cool name. (Sounds a little like talk show host — and the book’s author — Tamron Hall, doesn’t it?)

Jordan covers crime and takes a personal interest when the mutilated body of a young Black girl is found. Police had the girl pegged as a runaway. Black groups protest the lack of police interest. “If the victim had been a white girl …,” Jordan insists.

Jordan gets into the middle of things when she interviews the mother and relatives of the girl, along with a community activist and the police. That leads to her uncovering clues to the murder, and, to no one’s surprise, she finds herself in danger.

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