Paeonia mascula – The common peony is reportedly the inspiration for the name of Colorado’s town of Paonia. When the town was founded, in the late 1800s, a man named Samuel Wade suggested the name “Paeonia”, but the postal service wouldnt allow the extra vowel. So, the name was shortened, and that was that.
Today, Paonia sits in the middle of Colorado’s wine country. Resting just southwest of Azura Cellars, Black Bridge Winery, and Stone Cottage Cellars, its restaurants gladly serve local wines beside other, more well known brands.
An early adopter of the Farm to Table movement, Paonia enjoys its food. According to 2016 numbers, the town has a population of 1,425. Surprisingly, there are no less than fifteen eateries. This doesnt include the two food trucks, one serving Thai cuisine and another dishing up tacos.
The week before I arrived there, the town had been without water, due to some kind of health concern. The day that I pulled in was also the day that water access was reopened. That evening, my friend and I had dinner at Louie’s Pizza, and it was a bit of a party. There were lots of locals, along with a live band, pizza and beer.
Before I left Denver, I promised myself to be off grid, so I turned off my phone before I stepped out of the vehicle in Paonia. Adhering to that decision meant that I wasnt able to get photos of Louie, his place or his wonderful pizza. It also meant that I had an uninterrupted visit with a good friend. (Sorry. Not Sorry.)
Louie’s is a two-story brick arrangement with large windows looking onto the street. Narrow, but deep and tall, it provides plenty of room for tables, a kitchen, an upstairs bar, and a small stage for live performers. The trio playing that Friday night had space for the guitarist/singer, a standup bass, and a small drum kit.
Louie, himself, is an interesting man. Someone told me that he was also a luthier, so that gave us something to talk about. While my friend was in the restroom, I struck up a conversation about how he manages to do both. The story is that it’s difficult to make a full time living building guitars in Paonia, Colorado, so he opened a pizza place. Now it takes up most of his time, but he still has time to build a couple of nice instruments a year. Not a bad life, I’d say.
NOTE: Before we went to Louie’s, we spent some time at a local microbrew that I cant remember the name of. (Definitely sorry. I’ll have it in another post.) I had a nice, very dark brew that’s aged in old whisky barrels.
More about this trip next time. Until then…Enjoy the Life you’re living.