Author Shannon Baker on Hopi culture, Barbara Kingsolver and fake yellow snow

Reading is about more than following a narrative or learning facts; it can also be a profound shared experience that culminates in a better understanding of ourselves and each other. In that spirit, welcome to the Westword Book Club, a weekly feature celebrating the books that inspire Denver artists.

Shannon Baker is a mystery writer who lives in the Boulder area. Her novels, such as Tainted Mountain, combine the nervy perspective of Nora Abbott, Baker's protagonist, with the unique milieu of politically embattled sacred tribal lands. Broken Trust, Baker's next entry in the Nora Abbot mystery series, is set in Boulder and scheduled to be published by Midnight Ink Publications in March 2014. Westword caught up with Baker to discuss participating in writer's groups, Hopi tribal culture and fake yellow snow.

See also: Author Mario Acevedo discusses his literary influences, Rocky Flats and writing about dogs

More »

How Adam Sandler can help you understand why leaves change color in the fall

Kalen Deremo
A collection of quaking aspens sees its final days of chlorophyll.
People often fear death; Mother Nature does not. She dresses up in flashy colors and goes out with a bang. And every year from mid-September to mid-October, those living in Colorado get to witness one of the most brilliant funerals in the entire world.

But why are fall colors so spectacular? We often think we understand how the sun affects plant life and creates the four seasons, but how exactly does that make a bright green leaf turn crimson in only a month's time? Surprisingly enough, the answer can be linked to an obscure film reference in which Adam Sandler obnoxiously utters the faux word, "borophyll."

See also: Meet the tree that's making your neighborhood smell like Semenville, USA

More »

Yoga on the Rocks hits Red Rocks this Saturday

Careful -- fall out of your headstand too quickly, and you're liable to tumble down a few hundred steps. This Saturday, August 3, Denver Arts & Venues and long-time partner CorePower Yoga will offer Yoga on the Rocks, a supplement to the popular HealthONE Red Rocks Fitness Challenge, a city-sponsored, bootcamp-style exercise program that just finished its third season last weekend.

See also:
- YogaDates delivers asanas and amore to Denver singles
- Yoga Rocks the Park starts rocking the park again this weekend
- Queens of the Stone Age at Red Rocks in August

More »

No joke: A bear walks into a bar in Estes Park. Can you top that?

Categories: Comedy, Nature

So a bear walks into a bar...

This is no joke. On July 18, a full-grown black bear stopped in Lonigans Saloon in Estes Park. Owner Dave Callahan had just finished cleaning up the kitchen at 9 p.m., then took out the trash and headed home -- missing the bear by maybe five minutes. The bear first did a little dumpster diving, then wandered in the back door of the bar, which is kept open during operating hours in the summer. A local going home from work spotted the bear and followed him into the bar, yelling at the regulars to warn them. But the music was so loud that they couldn't hear him, Callahan says. In fact, many of them were unaware of the intruder. Fortunately, the bear -- estimated to be at least a 350-pounder -- wandered off without hurting anyone.

As strange as this incident was, there have been even odder bear sightings in Colorado.

See also:
- Sometimes the bear eats you
- Hand-feeding Burger King food to bears? That's a Whopper!
- Bear in CU-Boulder photo killed on Highway 36

More »

Kate Coleman's Biophilia stuffs your backpack with yoga and nutrition

Taken on a yoga retreat in Manitou Springs.
There's no shortage of local entrepreneurs who are tapping into yoga and nutrition. That's why Kate Coleman, founder of Biophilia, wanted to carve out her own special niche. The certified-yoga-instructor-slash-nutritionist has been backpacking for nearly a decade, since a University of Iowa school excursion first sparked her interested in the pastime by offering a much more exhilarating experience than the car-camping she'd done as a child.

See also:
- YogaDates delivers asanas and amore to Denver singles
- Yoga Rocks the Park starts rocking the park again this weekend
- Friday Night Yoga Club launches at Kindness Yoga

More »

Five fun ways to celebrate the summer solstice around Denver

It's time to embrace the longest day of the year, to celebrate the first day of summer and the fact that it's still light enough to ride your bike at 8:30 p.m. and warm enough to eat ice cream all freaking night long. So let's all work together to create a mystical pathway for all the witches out there traveling to their midsummer meetings. No matter your style or tastes, we've got a way for you to welcome summer with arms wide open.

See also:
- Shanti Medina on her seventh annual Women's Summer Solstice
- Beer meets confession at Theology on Tap
- Yoga Rocks the Park starts rocking the park again this weekend

More »

Shanti Medina on her seventh annual Women's Summer Solstice

Categories: Events, Nature

Holly Sierra
Shanti Medina dreamed up the first Women's Summer Solstice journey while having tea with another female yoga therapist. "We were talking about how the yoga business in general doesn't really support a lot of collaboration," she remembers. "It was very, 'I have my class, you have your class.' So we decided to shift it. We thought, let's do something together and bring our communities and our clients together -- because her gifts as a yoga therapist are very different from my gifts as a yoga therapist, and we really complemented each other." After deciding to hold the event as a summer solstice celebration, they lined up yoga, dancing and live music, and a good time was had by all.

Fittingly for a solstice celebration, however, things shifted in a major way last year -- the celebration's sixth year.

See also:
- Yoga Rocks the Park starts rocking the park again this weekend
- Ana Forrest on
Fierce Medicine and her journey through yoga
- Lisa Wimberger's five fast ways to slow down quickly (INFOGRAPHICS)

More »

Meet the tree that's making your neighborhood smell like Semenville, USA

Categories: Nature, Science, Sex

Kate St. John
These trees are best observed from a distance, or with a military-issued gas mask.
Spring is in the air. You can tell, because the air stinks.

That foul fragrance is the contribution of the Callery pear tree to Colorado. Those who have not inhaled its near-toxic fumes simply don't understand; it's something you have to experience to believe. But if the Callery continues on its prolific track of pervasiveness, it won't be long before its rotten stench permeates this town.

See also:
- Denver's five best patios to celebrate the arrival of spring (despite the snow)
- Ten memorable Denver Craigslist Missed Connections, spring edition
- April showers bring rusty flowers: Kenny Be's Yard Arteology

More »

Think Mommy Dearest was tough? Consider these divas of the animal world

And you thought you had it bad when your mom said, "No cookies until after dinner" least your mother didn't devour her young! According to Brian Aucone, vice president for animal care at the Denver Zoo, a wide variety of animals have been documented killing and occasionally cannibalizing their children. "Animals don't tend to be as loving to their offspring as we think," says Aucone, noting that we humans often transpose our own emotions onto animals. "These mothers may appear to be cute and cuddly one day, and then they'll turn around and eat their young the next."

So here, just in time for Mother's Day, are many reasons to remember just how good we have it. No kidding!

See also:
- Little, dead and hungry: Midget Zombie Takeover comes to the Oriental tonight
- Ten spots that give Colfax its culture and character
- Anthony Jeselnik celebrates baby-death, bulimia and domestic violence at DU

More »

Skiing deaths confirm old proverb: Mother Nature can be a real bitch

sc_0032-0abdfe11-4c053e80-0580-6e43b6240002 copy.jpg
C.R. Johnson in a hospital bed before he passed away in 2010.
Three times now, I've received a phone call that I never anticipated I'd get even once in my life. Two times, the call was from a friend who delivered the news; one time it was my mother. Though all three were different voices, each had a similar, haunting pitch and carried the same devastating message: Someone I knew had died while skiing, something I'd grown up doing.

See also:
- Photos: Joe Philpott's avalanche death may have accidentally been caused by dog
- Caleb Moore dies after X-Games crash in Aspen, first casualty in event's history
- Garrett Spencer, record-setting 19th Colorado ski area death, being laid to rest

More »

Now Trending

From the Vault