LIMON, Colo. – I’m a lucky guy.
There aren’t a lot of perks that come with a newspaper job these days except for the job itself. But one that comes my way each May is the road.
Because along about now I’ve packed a rental truck as tight as a Jimmy Dean sausage and headed north, south, east or west for spring quilt market.
This time it’s west … to Salt Lake City. Last spring it was Minneapolis. Before that, Pittsburgh.
For a desk jockey like me, it’s a bit of freedom on the company’s dime. And it’s a great feeling. I rolled in to Limon at about 10 last night. But getting there was like watching a Monet painting flow across the broad sky … cascading colors of blues, reds and greens carried in clouds by the high winds.
And then, by sunset, Nature’s nightlight clicked on, the sky turned to star-studded turquoise, the clouds now mere wisps of black.
The truck we take is an extended cargo van. Not a monster truck by any means, and it slips through the wind pretty well. Right behind my seat are stacked four rows of boxes – 80 in all. They’re packed with books, 30 copies each, and reflect the tremendous amount of work done by Diane, Edie and all the editors, designers and, of course, authors that we call the Star Quilts family.
Behind the books sit props, curtains, furniture – all the things necessary to outfit a booth short of the quilts.
With Diane at the helm of Star Quilts, my job has grown simpler in May – pack the truck, drive, unpack, help sell, pack again, drive back.
That simplicity allows the mind to wander … sure, to think big thoughts once in a while, but also to turn it down a notch and just absorb the beauty all around. Near Pittsburgh, it was the Allegheny Mountains. South of Minneapolis, it was the Iowan wind farms as far as the eye could see, each three-prop station waving a slow hello.
And last night? The Angus cattle that dotted the Flint Hills like pepper, the hills themselves now turned a rich green by spring’s rains. And the sky … a canvas so large and breathtaking that even the term “Big Sky Country” seems trite.
Today I head north, hugging the east side of the Rockies until Interstate 80. Then I’ll turn west. I arrive in Salt Lake City tonight and meet up with Edie there. Diane flies in from Portland early tomorrow. And the booth setup begins.
Meantime, this morning, I’ve made sure my windows at front and on the left are crystal clear. Wouldn’t want the mountain view blocked by a bug or two. And maybe I’ll think big thoughts. More likely, I’ll put the brain in neutral and just let my eyes do the work.
We now hear that spring market next year will be in Kansas City. A great thing for us!
But I’m going to miss the drive … a lot. Oh, we’ll still have a truck to pack and unpack. But it’s not the same.
I wonder if anyone would notice if I reached the convention center in a roundabout way. Head up, say, I-29 … maybe all the way to I-90. Then head west to Rapid City. And back again.
I’d arrive on time. Promise.
Doug Weaver is the manager for book publishing and retail merchandising at The Kansas City Star.