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Sonia Walter was memorialized Aug. 14 with the dedication of an extensive urban garden next to the Touber Building, 448 First Street in Salida.

About 100 community members attended the event in memory of the former Salida City Clerk, who died in a tragic traffic accident in early January 2020.

The meditation garden features gladiolus flowers, Sonja Walter’s favorite. Dan Smith photo.

The garden includes many elements inspired by her life, including nine raised flower and vegetable beds, fruit trees, a composting station, and a meditation area decorated with gladiolus, her favorite flower, according to her partner, Steve O’Neill who, with Mayor P.T. Wood, performed the ribbon cutting on the meditation garden.

Walter was a dedicated gardener in addition to being very active in the Salida community.

City Manager Drew Nelson was the master of ceremonies, and with Parks and Recreation Director Mike “Diesel’ Post, explained the community-wide effort to build the garden complex.

Partners included Guidestone Colorado, Salida Sunrise Rotary, Family and Youth Initiative, Elements Mountain Composting, Brady’s West as well as a heritage fruit tree organization.

Elements Composting has set up a residential drop-off enclosure where for $6 per month, residents can use a key to leave their garden and kitchen material for composting.

City workers and volunteers put their hearts into the many hours involved in the construction of each of the garden’s features, Post said.

A city fire truck came by with lights and sirens toward the end of the ceremony, in recognition of a light-hearted city ‘inside joke’ about Walter’s pronunciation of the term.

Nelson said the ceremony was an opportunity “to rethink how we relate to people, and what it means to be connected to somebody. It’s our hope this place will strengthen those connections long into the future.”

Refreshments included chocolate granola bars from a recipe Walter was famous for.

Salida Community Development Director Bill Almquist read a moving poem he dedicated to Walter’s memory:

Ripples (for Sonia)

She was born with just two eyes,

yet she shared with us her vision of the mountain’s beauty

and the valley’s grace.

And though she has left us,

she is still able to see that serene, prismatic world

through countless sets of eyes.

She was born with just two ears,

yet she offered to us her will to listen.

And now she is still able to hear the quiet whisper of the forest,

the call of the songbird, and the earnest tales of her fellow man

through untold pairs of ears.

She was born with just two feet,

yet with every run, walk, and ride that we take,

she can still feel the joy of the trail, the snowy path,

and the open road beneath her.

She was born with just one nose and one mouth,

yet she can still smell the flower’s bloom

or the fresh-baked treat with each breath

and taste the garden’s bounty with our every bite.

She was born with just one heart,

yet by having shown hers to the world,

she will continue to spread her love endlessly,

as we share her spirit with those around us.

Featured image: Sonia Walter’s partner, Steve O’Neill (left) and Salida Mayor P.T. Wood cut the ribbon for the meditation feature of Sonia’s Garden Aug. 14 at City Hall. Dan Smith photo.