Grand County, CO Colorado
Have you ever noticed how, when you throw a dinner party, you somehow end the night with more in the refrigerator than when you started? Little gifts. A bottle of wine. A few extra beers. Maybe half a pecan pie. My personal favorite – a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints (on sale now across the county).
So it was when I hosted the Rocky Mountain Dog Sled Club for dinner at my house last weekend.
Living next to the Linke Ranch, I had a front row seat to watch as the race site was prepared. Two volunteers started grooming the north 60 acres of the Linke Ranch a weekend in advance. They spent days out there, from dawn until dusk, creating 8 miles of intersecting trail, with 6- and 4-mile loops. In the process they fought broken machines, spent hours upon hours riding in a Sno-Cat and set more than 400 course markers.
Mid-week, the Town of Granby plowed the upper parking lot – as they have for the past 32 years – another day-long process.
Weather fought back, hurling snow-stuffed clouds, followed by whiteout conditions and winds capable of creating knee-deep snow drifts in a matter of minutes.
And the groomers never gave up, fighting into the dark to keep the race course open. Fifteen hard core, dog-loving fools came out Saturday and Sunday to participate in the state’s longest-running dog sled race. Despite the trying-at-times weather conditions, they remained gung-ho, long after I thought they would have called it quits.
Watching their dedication, I felt compelled to offer my help wherever I could.
They all came over for a lasagna dinner that I cooked – 15 strangers. Boxed wine, beer, bread, dessert … they came bearing gifts.
I immediately felt that I’d been inducted as an honorary member of the club. It was enough to get me out on the race course the next day in the 40 mph face-stinging winds to cheer for my new friends.
I have a dog – I like animals. But, that’s not what touched me about this particular group. I think they could have been putting on a bocce tournament for all it matters.
This group of individuals from across the state came to share a common passion. There are clubs like this all over … the Mini Cooper club that comes to Winter Park in the summer to share their love of compact automobiles … the Wyoming Rodeo Association that participates in events at the Flying Heels Arena in Granby … even the local bowling leagues.
For me, the joy was in doing something that I had no obligation to do, no personal investment, nothing to gain. And yet, at the end of the day I gained so much – new fans, a better understanding of the dog sledding sport, a full box of Thin Mints.
It made me think about other situations in life where we can make a difference even when it seems we have nothing personally to gain – like the Town of Granby dedicating that money to help buy a year for the district’s other schools even when so many residents here think closing those schools may be the best solution to the district’s budget crisis.
There is ALWAYS something to gain through camaraderie. It’s that whole “what comes around goes around” thing.
True altruism doesn’t exist because at the end of the day, we inevitably get more back than we give, even when the rewards are intangible.
As confederate soldier and fellow journalist Albert Pike once said, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others remains and is immortal.”
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