You think you really know a place; then you get an aerial view of it, and your understanding increases tenfold. I've always considered myself an expert on Denver, but on a recent flight from Denver International Aiport, the plane took off toward the east and then looped back over the city, and my eyes were truly opened. Beneath me were the neighborhoods I've spent so much time in: Park Hill gave way to Capitol Hill, which fed into downtown, which flowed into Highland. It was easy to see I-25 running east and west in front of the mountains, I-70 plunging straight through the metro area. All of it came together like pieces of an elaborate urban puzzle.
Curators at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, know how useful the bird's-eye view can be as a teaching tool, and they've employed it to great effect in the Colorado TimeScape, their newest permanent addition, which opens today. At first glance, the exhibit simply looks like a really nice topographical map of the state, with mountain ranges and mesas carefully and accurately depicted. But two sky-mounted lasers make the map unlike any other. As each of the five different video segments air on surrounding television screens, the lasers highlight the exact regions and locations being discussed. For example, they delineate the three main portions of the state: the high plains in the east, the mountains in the middle, and the Colorado plateau to the west; they also starkly detail the rapid shrinking of Ute Indian territory in the 1800s. These light beams, when coupled with the video segments, illuminate portions of Colorado history that a teacher at a chalkboard with a pointer never could.
TimeScape project director David Wetzel notes that the museum will design more specific programs to illustrate progressions such as the growth of the railroads or crucial issues such as water use. For now, visitors can simply enjoy watching 10,000 years of Colorado history elapse in ten minutes, and teachers leading school groups can take a breather. For information, call 303-866-3682. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Grab a bite of some of the best French food this side of the pond when Tante Louise's esteemed chef, Marlo Hix, hosts Demystifying French Cooking. The free class -- part of the Denver Central Public Library's Slice of Life program, which presents top local toques sharing knowledge of global cuisines -- will be held today on the seventh floor of the library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway. Hix's menu will feature unique Parisian-flavored Yankee creativity, aiming to inspire participants and awaken their tastebuds. "Chef Hix blends classic French traditional with a modern American spin," says DPL's Chris Lofflemacher, noting that attendees will not only gain insight, but calories, when they consume the concoctions.
Demystifying French Cooking fires up from 10:30 a.m. to noon; for information call, 720-865-1205 or visit http://denverlibrary.org/programs/slice. -- Kity Ironton
Not sure what to plant in your new community-garden plot? Turn to the Denver Botanic Gardens for advice. Its spring calendar is filled with useful classes on how to do everything from grow culinary, herb and fragrance gardens to build a fish pond. Start off tonight at 7 p.m. with Secrets of the Curandera, a two-hour course that explores the methods and myths behind Mexico's traditional healers. Clinical herbalist Kari Radoff, who recently apprenticed under a curandera, will help you plan a bodily spring cleaning with a discussion that covers topics such as why we get sick, and common home remedies to prevent illness. Learn which plants to use when creating a healing bath and which ones to eat to stave off the summer cold. Registration is required, and the course is $26 for members and $31 for non-members, plus a $5 materials charge. For information, call 720-865-3580 or visit www.denverbotanicgardens.com. -- Amy Haimerl
Way to Grow
Sink some roots into Denver Urban Gardens.
All my childhood memories revolve around a garden. In the summers, I'd wake up early, make myself a bowl of cereal and go sit outside and watch my mom garden in the cool of the morning. In the afternoons, we'd watch Star Trek together while shelling peas and snapping beans.
Living in the city, there isn't much opportunity to have a garden as grandiose as I remember ours being, but I still can't resist the need to play in the dirt. So three years ago, I secured a plot in the Emerson Street Community Garden, dreaming of gorgeous tomatoes ripening on the vines. Let's just say that my memories of gardening are far more advanced than my actual gardening skills. But each summer I go back -- with increasing success -- to reconnect to my youth and to a way of life I thoroughly rebelled against as a teenager.
With the crocuses blooming and the daffodils popping, now is the time to secure your slice of the farm life at one of Denver Urban Gardens' more than fifty community gardens. Dues are $15 to $30 per year, which covers all your water and a stash of basic tools. But there's no time to waste: Many of the gardens are already filling up. Call DUG at 303-292-9900 to start creating your own memories. -- Amy Haimerl