Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
When you live on a mountain the work required is enormous; however we still take time to reflect on those matters important to us every chance we can. We have our firewood in for the coming winter, all the endless tasks caused by the harsh weather have been repaired or replaced and now it is time to stop and reflect on life matters that can get pushed aside while we work hard during the non-snow season. Yes, we have two seasons here in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of southern Colorado. Snow season and non-snow season. It is hard to believe that hunting season started today and runs through Thanksgiving. Non-snow season seems to get shorter and shorter each year. Hunting season signifies that we are only a short hop away from the leaves turning their beautiful colors then the SNOW and all that will accompany it. Some do not care for the snow but we are not among those and other than the usual shoveling we make the very best out of snow. I had heard that growing up is a trap so in order to stay young we cross country snow shoe, sled, and play with the dogs in it. It is a great medium to have fun in. Mostly we shovel it and try to figure out where to put it while we await the next storm. Last snow season we ended up with one storm that dumped 6 feet over two days so moving it around is routine for us.
Sometimes we will hike from our home (9,750’) to the top of the mountain (10,500’) in elevation. It is quiet on the mountain top with only the wind whispering by as we sit on the peak. Sometimes we will carry along a picnic lunch or cheese and crackers and a good bottle of wine. If you have never stood on the top of a mountain I will try to describe the experience. You have a 360 degree view of everything spread out below you. Your view is pretty much unobstructed and if the air is clear you can see for what seems forever. As you take in the panorama it is enough to take your breath away with its splendor. There is an occasional bird sound and sometimes grass hoppers making their noise but mostly it is quiet except for the breeze that is usually present. You are standing on solid rock and nothing is higher than you are. You can see one side of the mountain and if you turn 180 degrees you see the opposite side. Sometimes the clouds are below you and almost always the sky is such a bright blue that you need sun glasses. The photo is of Carol looking out as far as the eye can see and being mesmerized by the splendor before her. You can easily lose track of time just looking out on all that beauty. You may be surprised to find an abundance of wild flowers growing anywhere a little dirt has been deposited. There are also high mountain meadows with grasses and flowers.
Then some other times we simply walk down to the other end of our property and sit in a swing we put down there for that specific purpose which is to just think and reflect. We have a stream that forms just down from that swing and often the sun will glint off the water as it bubbles to the surface. The birds flit in and out to enjoy its benefits; to bathe and get a sip of fresh cold water that comes from deep in the mountain. The silence is usually overpowering and if you sit still and just watch frequently you can witness some wildlife. In the non-snow season the wild flowers carpet the area and just prior to the snow season the aspen leaves turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. There are many aspen trees and the sight is worthy of sitting and breathing in all those wonderful smells and trying to absorb the view. It is a special time when the leaves fall off the trees and flutter to the ground which then turns yellow with a carpet of leaves. It isn’t hard to believe in such a place that we are the only people in the entire world. So when the yearly chores are done we seek our favorite places to go to and reflect. How much greater the world would be if everyone stopped their busyness and spent just a few moments reflecting on what is most important to them and pause to admire all that is around them. It is truly a time when your soul can receive the balm needed to rejuvenate yourself and to face life anew.
Guaranteed you will be a new and refreshed person after spending some time of reflection. Reflection time on a mountain can’t be valued in money and is priceless. When we lived in Florida we would drive to a nearby State Park for the same reflective experience. If you have been to busy to think about alone reflective time - maybe now is the time. For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their life on the mountain go to: http://www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com