Wake-Up Call: No walk in the park

At 8 a.m. today, Mayor John Hickenlooper will deliver his seventh, and certainly most challenging, State of the City speech. Last year, Denver's biggest worry was making sure the Democratic National Convention ran smoothly (the controversy that would erupt over Renee Marie's Star-Spangled bungle at Hickenlooper's speech wouldn't help). Today, the potholes in Denver's budget are so big that any kind of smooth ride is just a memory.

But Denver has survived challenging times before. And while city workers were setting up Hickenlooper's podium at Civic Center Park, the symbolic heart of the city where he'll deliver today's speech, I headed down to the historic heart of Denver: to Confluence Park, where the town was founded 150 years ago.

And by the still rushing Platte, close by Cherry Creek, I read these words by Thomas Hornsby Ferril, the late Denver poet laureate whose rivers of prose still run through this city:

Two rivers that were here before there was a city still come together: One is a mountain river flowing toward the mountains by feeling them and turning back the way some of the people who came here did.

Most of these people hardly seemed to realize they wanted to be remembered because the mountains told them not to die.

I wasn't here, yet I remember them, the first night long ago, those wagon people who pushed aside enough of the cottonwoods to build our city where the blueness rested.

They were with us, they told me afterward when I stood on a splintered wooden viaduct before it changed to steel and I to a man, they told me while I stared down at the water:

"If you stay we will not go away."

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