Climbing Out of the Tower

It’s time to emerge from the hermitage.

A series of synchronicities led me to this land twenty years ago, and here I have planted my roots, in this remarkable western Colorado valley. The Valley of Strong Women, the Valley of Organic and Sustainable Farming, the Valley where Mountains meet the Desert, the Valley of Rolling Rivers. We live here, in a broad sense, in an ecotone, where several kinds of wild landscapes meet several human cultures. We are a valley and a people of edges, a community of action and innovation.

A decade of loss followed a decade of discovery for me, and I withdrew from the swirl of life. My fiancé broke my heart, my good old dog died, 9/11 changed the world in ways we haven’t even yet comprehended, sowing the seeds of World War III; my mother surrendered to a rare brain disease and I moved back east to help her die. Cancer claimed two old friends right after that. I found solace in planning a future with an old lover, who then died; Dia died, Mocha died, Mr. Brick died, Vincent lay down on the back patio one cold winter morning and died. An aunt died, an uncle died. Everybody dies. Most people have some kind of filter that allows them to live their days without the constant, haunting awareness that everyone they love will one day die, slowly or abruptly; that this moment may be the last they see their lover, dog, friend; that this breath may be the last they themselves breathe. And more: that the ways we as a species live on this precious planet are killing it. My filter for these sorrows is but shredded gauze.

So I stole away to this sanctuary in the high desert, absorbing each loss, exploring grief, and finally seeking a new way to live. Chop wood, carry water. Cultivate compassion. Be a good neighbor. Above all, give thanks for the beauty and love that surround me. I celebrate the natural world I am lucky enough to live in, honor the treasures large and small this land reveals, and offer the interpretations and observations of a single small life in a singular place.

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