David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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The Gift of Time


This is the time of year when we think about presents. For many of us it’s the first chance we’ve had to think about Christmas, what opening up and dawn till dusk work and closing up. The rest of us are recovering from the visitors: the relatives, friends and colleagues who just wanted to “stop by for a few days.” It was nice to have a little slower pace as we watched the aspens turn and waited for that first morning when the whole valley changed from green to white.

What we say to ourselves is, “Now I have time to think about Christmas, but what happened to all the time I used up this summer?” Most of us just gave it away. Whether it’s giving a passing tourist directions or giving someone the tour of Trail Ridge or your umpteenth hike to Ouzel Falls or Dream Lake or looking after the place for succeeding generations, that’s where the time went, and it’s the gift of your time that makes the difference.

This has been on my mind because I have recently take advantage of a few idle moments to write the history of the John Grant homestead my father and grandfather bought in 1917 on Big Owl Road. The Estes Park Museum is revising and expanding Mabel Durning’s “Reminiscing in the Allenspark Area.” and Lorna Knowlton asked me for a piece. I found some good pictures and my grandchildren will no doubt be interested. Maybe you should write something, too. Don’t put it off; eventually it will be too late.

I still live on the remnants of the Grant homestead. That I have any of it at all is a result of the thought and planning and time my grandfather and father spent considering what should be done with the property. The gave me a little of their time and, for a little while, like the Indians and John Grant and Edward and Richard Steiner, I will have the privilege of owning the land, as much as anyone will ever really own it.

My Dad gave me his time in the summers, too. In the winter he was surrounded by people and their problems so he looked forward to the time he could spend alone, fishing our little Roaring Fork, as stream you can easily spit across for most of its four mile length from Chasm Lake. You wouldn’t have to be a very good spitter, either.

Sometime he took me along. We fought our way through the alders lining its banks, snagged our hooks on submerged logs and looked longingly at the big fish in the beaver ponds that were far too wise to go after our bait. By the end of the day we would have been all the way to the highway and back, our feet wet, and covered with mosquito bits. Early in the summer we would have to look for ticks, too. But we also brought back nice little brook trout and they made some memorable breakfasts.

I guess what’s really important about gift giving is, well, the thought. The time, really, someone spent thinking about it and deciding what to give, whether it’s Fruit of the Month for Aunt Minnie in Ft. Lauderdale or a good book and a visit with a sick friend.

Over the years I’ve give and received hundreds of presents, but most of them have lost their shine or gone out of fashion or become obsolete or have just plain worn out. The memory of someone’s gift of time, though, like the one my father gave me, whenever you unwrap it, is always just as bright, just as precious as the moment it was given. That’s what makes it the best present of all. Merry Christmas.




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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