What made Telluride so special in those days was its vibrant community, and no event better encapsulated the spirit of that community than the potluck dinner. We would gather for pot lucks as much as we could. We gathered in houses and we gathered in woodsies. Those were my favorites -- walking up snow-packed trails in the moonlight through the deep winter woods. Squeezing into these tiny, handcrafted Hobbit holes, sharing food and stories of the day's adventures. How lucky we were to find ourselves in such a simple time surrounded by so much beauty and so much peace.
Needless to say, we hosted quite a few potlucks at the Red House and it was at one of these that Baker Steve taught me my first candle lesson. Our home was packed with people. They were shoulder to shoulder on the couches, they blanketed the floors and squeezed into the kitchen. Little kids played in the entryway among the wet winter boots and ski jackets. The air was thick with the smell of wood smoke, food, ganja and rank poly pro long underwear. It was a tribal event and the sound was cacophonous. In the midst of this delightful chaos, I noticed Baker Steve placing tall yellow tapered candles in every room. And not just a few, but lots of them. After they were all in place he went about lighting every single candle and then made his way to a bank of light switches. He saw my interest and quietly whispered, "watch this." Ever so slowly he dimmed the lights. Painfully slow, so as not to draw attention to the change. With every step down in brightness came an audible drop in decibels. When he was done, only candlelight filled the rooms and everyone had unconsciously lowered their voices to little more than a whisper. I was thoroughly taken with the moment and never looked at candlelight in the same way again.
I think about that night all the time; especially when I strategically light candles to settle a crowd or chill out my teenage boys at the dinner table. My first candle lesson was a powerful one, and I am endlessly grateful to Baker Steve for the teaching.