(I didn't get a chance to finish or publish this while I was home in my cabin in my valley in my mountains.. so you're getting it now.)
The light slanted across the icy pavement of Highway 133 winding us down from the pass towards my little valley.
The road was deserted. We occasionally met a solitary toyota or a truck grinding up over McClure pass, but otherwise it was just us and that yellow line leading us home.
The mountains, the familiar mountains of my childhood, stood strong and snowy, covered in fresh icy powder; the wind blowing frost into the bare winter arms of the aspen trees.
The river was iced over but the sun shone brightly through the windshield onto the dusty dashboard and our tired knees.
Erica, who I am lucky to count as a sister-friend, was driving. We were making the trek from Denver and the Denver Fusion (Dance) Exchange, back towards the valley we spent our toddling days in.
As we trundled through the mountains the car was filled with our conversation, the stories of boys and romance and dreams and jobs that seem to fall into the cracks when we live so separated by land and time. The miles were speeding past, the road so familiar under my tired eyes, but I found my self rejoicing in every familiar view, feeling more and more connected with every mile.
As the first sight of my valley came into view, catching sight of the tail-tell hill with the big white P on it (for Paonia) I felt myself well up.
Then the hills parted and there standing ever so solidly and resolutely and majestically like a lion welcoming me home was my Mt. Lamborn, covered in snow, flanked as always by it's fellow soldiers Mt. Landsend and Mt. Coal.
That's when the tears began to fall, in earnest.
This valley is inside of me. I carry it with me always. It's slanting hill lines and sharp peaked mountains. It's quiet main street and rows and rows of sleeping orchards, waiting to bare fruit in the summer sun. I carry the sky inside of me, remembering what it's like when it is Colorado blue.
I felt myself connecting to it in a new way as we drove into the valley and turned up the road to my Mom's place. As if every rock and tree were throwing out an arm and waving at me, welcoming me back to family. I felt a tingling in the heels of my booted feet, as if my feet were itching to reconnect with bare soil and let the roots that grow from me, bind with the roots reaching up from my ground.
I know I probably sound like an enchanted disney character, but somehow the mountains weave that kind of magic.
Our tires crunched on the ice and gravel as we turned into my Mom's driveway, the sound startled two big bucks, their antlers pointing up toward the heavens and three does who's large brown eyes, showed curiosity before the turned and bounded, followed the bucks to safety.
We drove up to the house and I could feel my heart pounding. My brothers little aqua green Geo stood parked next to my moms car. We had scarcely parked, before I was out and running for the front door.
I used to live in this house, my God-parents own it and my mother and I lived here for three years just after my parents split. It's the only house I've lived in with my family with a flush toilet and hot running water.
But it's been years since I've stepped inside. My mom is care-taking it for the winter, so it felt a mix of familiarity and foreignness as I pushed open the door and called in: "Honey, I'm home!"
Erica was right behind me, she said, laughing, that she didn't want to miss this reunion.
The familiar sound of my mom's voice called back with a "Come in!" and I heard the sound of her feet on the hallway, and then there she was, except I didn't have time to see her face because so swiftly I swept her into a hug.
Now most mothers are special in a kids life, and I am sure this sentence may be said by many, but for me: My mom is absolutely a treasure in my life. She is wise and talented and beautiful and so full of knowledge. She is one of my best friends and it feels extremely odd to live so far away from each other, even though I know we are just separated by a phone call. There is something that just feels right in me when I can feel her heart beating right there next to mine and hear her laughter in my ears.
Next was my brother Logan, tall and skinny with that familiar, big, rueful smile on his face. I was wrapped in his arms and held there for over a minute. I felt, rather than noticed, that there were tears leaking down my cheeks, but they were the happy kind of tears.
We sat together and caught up on the weekend of dancing in Denver as the light changed on the mountains and softened the clouds with pink. I snatched my camera and feasted it upon the view, but really it was me drinking it in.
My mom made us dinner and we said grace over steamed cabbage and kale and fresh made corn bread. With every bite I felt more and more at home.
After dinner we cuddled down all together and watched one of the best movies I've seen in a long time on my mom's great big couch. All cuddled together. It was heaven.
Afterwards, Erica drove me home, her headlights competing with the moon winking at us, full and round from behind the clouds. We trundled up the dark road after turning off of the deserted highway. We climbed up and up until the pavement gave out and our tires hit dirt and ice and snow. Still on, we went, climbing the ravine until we made it to the top and took the first dirt track to the right. And then there my cabin sat, still and waiting for me. The moon reflected back at me, silver, in my windows.
Out of the car I gathered my things, but my hands stilled as I heard the all familiar sound of a barking dog, and then the jangle of my border collie's collar as she responded to the sound of my voice calling out her name. She came, catapulting her way down the rest of the moonlit driveway and into my open, waiting arms.
We were a puddle in the middle of the road, frozen mud was caking onto my jeans but I didn't care one bit. My border collie writhed and squeaked and I did the same, covering her with as much of me as I could. She stopped rolling around on the ground and stood up and looking deeply into my eyes, smiling into them so fully and then she touched my nose with her own cold wet one. It's our own kind of eskimo kiss between, us, best friends.
I felt officially welcomed home.
I remember hearing the sound of Erica's laughter watching our reunion.
Erica helped me carry my bag to my cabin and she waited in the dark while I found matches and lighted the stubs of my candles and in their weak illumination she gave me a hug and left me to the silence of my cabin and my dog and my empty wood stove.
I made a fire, digging out my axe and chopping wood down to kindling size and then stacking them together in my stove. The dim flickering light of my candle, throwing our shadows hard and dark against the wall as I struck the match against it's box and there in my hands leapt up the spark and then the flame.
I made my bed and Fly climbed up with me and cuddled in, half under the sheet. It smelled like wind and woodsmoke and the musky scent of dog. I loved it.
As I settled in I could see the shadows the mountains carved, like deep lines in an old mans face through my windows, I'd left my curtains wide open so I could watch them.
There settled over me a kind of contentment as I snuggled down beneath my blankets. The quiet was so dense, and the night beyond my window so wild and the wind, unbridled as it swept around my cabin.
As I drifted off I marveled at the fact that this world exists the same as the one I live in, in New York.
I felt as if I watched my cabin from above, from the view point of the stars. The familiar landscape spread out like a shadow creased quilt. Smoke from my chimney slowly curling up into the sky, catching in the glow of the moon and glowing silver. Behind my closed eyes I sailed up still further, my view expanding to encompass the whole valley, quietly slumbering in the dark, the lights of street lamps lining the humble streets of the town like solitary matches in the dark. Still up I sailed until I could see the glow of the snow on the mountains and then still further up until the land mass beneath me flattened and became like a map and I looked eastward to the glow of that great city and the streets packed with people and sound and late night taxi cabs. I snuggled down in my flannel sheets, kissing my pups head and hearing the answering 'thwap' of her tail on the bed before we both exhaled one last time and surrendered to the comfort of sleep next to the someone you love.
The sun woke me, blazing in my windows, warm on my freckled face. Fly shook herself and I yawned. I laid there for a minute simply enjoying the silence and the promise of an unplanned day ahead full of the people, mountains and silence I love. But then suddenly I sat bolt upright and said aloud. "I want to see my dad!" "Guess what Flyzers? I'm gonna go see my dad!" And I hoped out of bed and into the nearest pair of jeans and flannel button up.
Now, I don't know if anyone else has that constant yearning inside of missing the people they love, but I do. Pretty much always, it's the burden of loving so many incredible people and being separated by so much space so much of the time. So the sudden realization that I didn't' have to miss my dad, any more was a really welcome one.
Fly and I picked our way up the path through the sage brush to the driveway and then cantered up the rest of the hill towards the house. I found my dad with in it and his hug was so exactly what I had been craving.
Now I won't bore you with all the tiny details of my time home. But there were many hugs with friends and moments of awe, just watching my mountains. There were more than a few evenings spent next to my mom on her couch cuddled down watching a movie. There were breakfast dates with my friends and my brother Logan and my dad and his wonderful girlfriend Em, who made me the most incredible peach pancakes and my own batch of goat milk yogurt.
I shied away from my phone, leaving it for hours at a time, only answering the necessary things.
I just wanted to soak in the hours and sun filled moments of my family and my mountains and myself. The woman I have always been, without struggle or pretense.
I went out and visited my does at the goat dairy I worked for, for the past three years, birthing goats and being a nursery and goat-milk maid. It was wonderful to see my girls, all pregnant and happy and full of January hay.
I spent a few sun filled mornings eating breakfast and swapping stories with friends. And a few late nights staying up, listening to the hearts of people I love.
It has been a wonderful time at home.
But I have found that there is too little time, that it is passing too fast, the days and moments slipping away like quick sand.
This, now, tonight is my last night in my cabin for a while. Fly, my border collie sleeps patiently beside me. I watch her dream, knowing that when I leave tomorrow, I leave a part of my heart here with this girl.
I sit cross legged on my bed, the smell of ash and smoke and snow still on my hands from making the fire that now is crackling merrily in my homemade stove. I can see through the chink in the door the merry flames dancing, reaching friendly fingers through the crack to send my shadows dancing upon my walls.
Out my windows there is a moon, huge and round and full, Sailing across the midnight sky. It's light drenches everything in silver and the mountains wrapped in their snow, glow slightly.
It is a sight I never tire of.
I sit here on my bed, in my tiny little cabin, so secluded from the world and yet so simply in existence. My mind shies away from the thoughts of travel and cars and buses and TSA security checkpoints and airplanes and subway trains that will begin to greet me tomorrow, taking me back to the world in which I live.
But tonight, I hold onto the beauty and stillness of the world, letting it sway me as the wind sways around my cabin. I hold onto the gentle shake of my dog's caller as she shifts in her sleep. I let the flickering light of my candles wash over me and the silence hold me like a lover.
This valley holds my heart, but more than that, it has grown my heart, and it's familiar hills and valleys and sharp mountain edges are as much to me my family as the laughing clan that hugs me to them and calls me their daughter, sister, friend. I can travel the world over, and I say with fair confidence that I will, but this valley travels with me.
It dwells in my eyes and my hands even after the calluses are gone. It is a kind of toughness and a tender way of being that touches me way down, deep inside.
I am not ashamed to call this home.
No. I am proud.
|Love my family.|
|My beautiful mama|
|Erica and I. Heart.|
|This is Scarlet Begonias.|
|My border collie, Fly.|
|Wild Turkeys roosting in the cottonwoods for the night|
|The deer grazing on the mesa|
|Em's famous pancakes with frozen peaches and fresh made goat milk yogurt (in the mason jar)|
|My dad and his girlfriend Emily. <3|
|Country boys at breakfast|