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People You Should Know

People You Should Know

Berkeley Author Micah Springer Keeps The Story

By Ken Lutes

Keepers of the Story” is Micah Springer’s account of her yearlong 1993 adventure in Africa with her best friend, Kas. The self-published memoir tells of a life-changing journey overflowing with love, danger, language challenges and moonlight dances, all of which fostered Springer’s “pathway to inner wisdom and the divine.”

In 1993, the two friends broke away from their studies at CU Boulder and decided to backpack through Africa. They started in Senegal then backpacked through Gambia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon; they toured Uganda, Tanzania and the Congo and flew to Kenya, where most of “Keepers” takes place.

“Keepers” is presented in three sections: Mind, Body and Spirit. ‘Mind’ opens with the two friends landing on a foreign continent and being immediately thrust into cultural misunderstandings.

“Kas and I were smart, critical thinkers and had no idea of how long it was to take us to assimilate into the culture – it took three or four months,” Springer said.

In ‘Body,’ Springer falls madly in love with a nomadic pastoral man. She shares how the journey was to become her path to an understanding of earth-centered wisdom.

“My love affair was both impossible and perfect. He opened me to the sacredness of life, of death and of the divine.

“He and his tribe are such present-minded beings – for instance, in their language they don’t have future and past tenses. They don’t have the verb ‘to think.’ They stay in the present moment and because of that they are telepathic. They belong to one another, and they belong to the earth.”

Her return to Denver left her grappling with the feeling that she had left her spirit in Africa.

“Yoga helped me knit the disparate parts of myself back together from the culture shock of returning and not having a sense of belonging. The practice of mind-body awareness had to be in the story, because what I found is that nomadic, indigenous peoples are inherent yogis. They don’t have to study it.”

By the time Springer returned to Africa, Kenya had issued travel warnings not to travel north – all the places she needed to go to try to find her “family.”

“Nomads are not easy to find. That was before Facebook,” she said. She did find her family, and they not only remembered her, but she discovered they had always considered her and kept the story of her alive.

“That was part of the reason for the book title.”

One theme in the book is the “insidious nature of cultural conditioning that inhibits who we are meant to be,” Springer said. “I feel there’s a real discussion about wanting to belong, but what happens when you belong is you suddenly start to placate, or censor, [in order] to blend in. One of the prices of belonging is the sacrifice of freedom; it’s one of the costs. I played with that theme, because in my heart of hearts, I want to belong and still be exactly who I am.”

Springer believes this story about the wild enthusiasm of a 20 year old traveling in Africa, throwing caution to the wind, is compelling for a lot of people.

“There is a bit of a wake-up call in the book, to live your brighter life.” She says she occasionally cautions people, who are on the brink of big change in their life, that “the book has the capacity to topple them over sooner than if they had not read it.”

Who are the keepers of the story?

“I think we all are,” says Springer, “but you have to figure out which stories to keep, and which ones you want to tell.” Her book plays with creation myth and cultural conditioning. “That’s a story that we keep. And when we suffer a tragedy, what part of the tragedy do we hang on to, and how do we transmute it?”

Since the book’s publication, Springer’s self-promoted book tour has taken her to speak at bookstores across the nation; she has presented at about 20 book clubs in Denver. Co-owner of Vital Yoga with her sister, Desi, since 1999, Springer recently sold her interest in the Tennyson Street building to her sister, having made the decision to become a full-time writer.

“I’ve been bitten by the poetry bug. The beauty of poetry is its brevity; it’s almost like taking a photograph and exploring all the nuances in that moment. I find it an incredibly imaginal realm that I love to inhabit – or it’s inhabiting me, I should say. There’s the muse, which is the artist’s inspiration that exists outside of us, but then there’s something called tenir duende, and duende is the rising of that spirit inside that infuses our art.”

Springer says she easily has enough poems for three volumes and that they don’t have much to do with her experiences in Africa. Each poem begins with one line. One of them is titled “Go hungry, as you are.”

“I was in my kitchen thinking I’d like to go on a hike today. Then I realized I was hungry, and I thought, you’ll always make an excuse if you don’t go hungry, as you are. The poem became this dual relationship between ‘Yes, my stomach’s hungry, but my spirit’s hungry.’ We have to stop trying to be prepared for our adventures. The reason we sought that adventure is that it will sate us to some degree, if we’ll just step in to it. I just like to go and see what happens. I think that cultivates great curiosity and youthfulness.”

Springer enjoys the life-style of a writer. She likes speaking to groups and says her years of teaching have prepared her to find authenticity in a crowd and be able to feel one with everybody.

“It’s amazing how you can set out with the intention of teaching yoga, and what you glean is a mastery of presentation.”

“Keepers” is printed on 100-percent post-recycled paper. At the time it was published, Green Press Initiative stated that an average book of 250 pages, selling one million copies requires 12,000 trees; deforestation accounts for 25 percent of human-caused CO2 emissions. Springer said those two statistics helped influence her choice to self-publish and to produce a book made from recycled paper. Her poetry books will also be printed on recycled paper.

“Keepers of the Story” is available at BookBar, Tattered Cover Book Store and Boulder Book Store; also on Audible.com and in digital versions.

 

Ed Pearl – Local Meteorologist With Impressive Career

By Meghan Godby

Weather is all around us. It’s the fabric of small talk and the narrative of our morning coffee. But although we interact with it every day, it’s not something most people think about.

This isn’t the case for Ed Pearl, a Lakewood resident who has been practicing meteorology for decades. Ed grew up in Chicago but has lived in Lakewood since 1979. He’s drawn to the region for the same reasons many of us are - proximity to the mountains and convenience to downtown.

His interest in weather began in childhood.

“When I was 10, the forecast showed a high of 53 with a windy storm system to our north,” Ed remembers. “I was such an observer of weather, that I looked at the [clouds] outside [...] and grabbed my winter jacket.”

His schoolmates, dressed for warmer weather, gave him some strange looks. But Ed had faith in his early forecasting skills.

“When I got home from school, there was already four inches of snow on the ground.”

It’s a childhood dream that has blossomed into an extensive and impressive career.

“I started out at the University of Arizona - they had good courses in weather and climatology, which I found fascinating,” he said. “I basically set myself up to be a weather forecaster, but then I went to the University of Chicago and became a supervisory meteorologist in Ted Fujita’s group.”

If that name sounds familiar, it should. Over the course of several years, Ed and Ted developed what is known as the Fujita Scale, a sort of rating system for tornadoes.

“We would look at footage that people had taken while on the ground and measure objects flying around,” Ed explained. “Each frame is so many seconds apart, so we could use that to compute velocity.”

Based on velocity and wind speed data, they ranked tornadoes anywhere from an F1 to an F5, with F5 being the most severe. Photographs were taken both during and after the storm, which could later be used to correlate the damage associated with each step on the scale.

During that time, Ed accepted an offer for a position at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where he worked on weather satellites that they were developing.

Shortly after, he moved to Colorado, where he began forecasting on radio and television (he worked on both Channel 4 and Channel 7 for a few years).

In fact, he knows all too well the crazy weather that Colorado can throw at us.

“The 1982 Christmas blizzard here, which was really amazing, [dumped] about two feet of snow at my house. About 36 hours before that, most of the weather forecasts were calling for snow showers. I kept looking at the charts going no, no, we’re going to have a major storm,” Ed recalls. “I called some of the major services including the National Weather Service and told them this looks serious.”

His passion and keen eye for detail eventually led him to a career as a consulting meteorologist, which he still does today.

And it’s given him the opportunity to work on some interesting projects - he’s done everything from forecast Broncos games to concerts at Red Rocks (which snagged him lunches with performers like Stevie Nicks and Willie Nelson).

But the most exciting?

“[Forecasting for] a trans-Pacific balloon flight from Japan to the United States,” Ed shared. “I met with their meteorological service - I was able to use some of their data and even taught them a few things. I worked on models of what type of weather pattern would get them across.”

The key was in finding the perfect jet stream - they needed enough force to make their journey, but not so much that they’d be flying into a massive storm. It was exciting but challenging.

“Trying to do that was really tricky,” Ed explained. “At times, I thought it was nearly impossible.”

But thanks to his accurate forecasting, the flight was successful and all passengers on board landed safe and sound.

In fact, Ed’s become known for his accurate forecasts. The clients he does work for are varied - one day he might be working for the Colorado Symphony (those fancy violins are very sensitive to weather), the next, an agricultural client. And there’s no need for elaborate advertising - lots of satisfied customers means he gets nearly all of his business through word of mouth.

He’s certainly busy, but manages to find time for other projects. He’s been working for the Harris Farmer’s Almanac since 1991, where he writes special articles and composes long-range forecasts. He also works as a meteorologist for Necrosearch International, a dedicated team of researchers that helps with unsolved murder cases.

And he doesn’t plan to change things anytime soon.

“I like what I’m doing,” Ed said. “I like my clients [...] If it’s running well, why ruin it? It keeps me nicely occupied. It’s an interesting business.”

There’s something to be said about doing what you love - especially if it’s a lifelong dream. While no one can say with 100 percent certainty what the future holds, with Ed’s passion, dedication and humor, the forecast is clear - his future is pretty bright.