Saturday, March 29, 2014

Scenes from Paonia and nearby


28 Jan. 2014

It occurs to me, lying in bed with the silence of the house pressing around and the moon shining through the curtains, how easily I acclimate to being alone. Jesse is in Peru for six weeks and the solitude comes back as naturally as breathing, which is both reassuring and a little frightening. There are people from other places and other times that I consider good friends, and yet we interact rarely — they're like ships on a sea, summonable if I capsize but mostly just distant lights on my horizon. I go through my days independently, interacting mostly with the people who happen to be here with me in this place, at this time. Our orbits have randomly crossed, and while I'm grateful to walk into the brewery after work and know at least eight people by name, some bitter, cynical part of me can't forget that before long, they'll be gone from this place and so will I. We are all transient and rootless, all following our own paths. Sometimes I have to remind myself that that doesn't make our time here less meaningful.

1 Feb. 2014

Today I drove to Crested Butte, taking the longest of the three possible routes because the other two were blocked by snow. The drive to and from Gunnison was lovely, and the valley up to Crested Butte even more so — worn wooden barns tucked against hillsides, a cloud settling into the muted pink sky, a deepening dusk punctured by the lights of town. I have a drink at the bar where my friend works and talk to an older man, an engineer. Crested Butte is still a little funky and not as gaudy as some Colorado ski towns, but still clearly wealthy, with log beams and pricey boutiques. I am happy that I can drive here for a visit and happier still to come home to a town shaped by people who actually live there. When I'm wakened at night by the whistle of the coal train as it passes through Paonia, I sleepily smile that I live in a place where people still work with their hands in the earth.

8 Feb. 2014

It's been snowing on and off for a week now, a real winter like I haven't had since that one in Vermont — that winter carrying armloads of wood inside, clomping up the stairs in heavy, wet boots, driving up the hill after work and getting out of the car and standing for a moment in the frosted air on the mountaintop, my head tilted to the stars, the night perfectly still. This winter is different — I'm in town, for one thing — but every morning I wake up to a fresh inch or two of snow.

This morning I drink coffee and listen to KVNF as more snow falls outside. There's an old guy named Don doing the Saturday morning children's show, reading a story about going owling in the forest. Don struggles with the broadcasting technology and there's dead air but it's endearing because he's old, and has a sidekick named Wally who keeps saying, 'Yeah, Don. Yeah.' And Pete Seeger died and they play Pete Seeger songs, and then they talk on the phone to an 11-year-old boy and discuss pancakes and sledding and school. The boy gets to shoot .22s for science class. When a baby is born, Don and Wally welcome him or her over the radio and play a song called "You're My Little Potato." Life carries on. The seasons change.

14 February 2014

Walking to Joanna's house on a February night, carrying a jar of wine in my coat pocket, it feels suddenly like spring — a mild weekend coming in. The moon is nearly full and the streets are quiet, houses glowing from behind curtains. Faraway, a dog barks. Melting snow drips off a rooftop. Below the street, fresh snowmelt gushes through a sewer. How can such an ordinary night be so beautiful? Bare branches; grainy snow giving way to bare ground; a smell of wet soil and cold water in the air. Sometimes I love this place too much.

One Sunday in February

I've come to the edge of the San Juan mountains to stay in a friend's cabin for the weekend, and the snow is nearly gone, the landscape brown and soft. This is my dream: To not know or care what the date is; to wake up and sit outside on the steps of a cabin with a book and coffee in a hand-thrown mug; to feel the air on my face and hear, maybe, the rushing of water or of wind; to see the birds and the mountains, or maybe the sea. If this could be my morning at least one day a week, Lord, I will not complain about the other six. I will be happy.

Let this be my Sunday; let this be my church: morning sun, cold air, birds and a cup of strong coffee.

"And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord. And I will be the glory in her midst."
--Zechariah, 2:5

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