Monday, December 30, 2013

Now I Know What John Denver Meant



Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams

Seeking grace in every step he takes

His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand

The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake

And the Colorado rocky mountain high

I've seen it raining fire in the sky

You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply

Rocky mountain high


The prairie is my home. I live and work and wonder here, on the flats of sage and unrelenting wind. Tumbleweeds line the barbed wire fences that seem mandatory, along with no trespassing signs and ridiculously oversized pickup trucks. This lonely land, with it's dust and dirty patches of snow, has an unspoken beauty only seen by few. It's a place I've come to love. A place I had to learn to love.

Right now though, I'm coming down from my Rocky Mountain high.

Instead of staying home for Christmas this year, we escaped to the mountains of northern Colorado. The Medicine Bow Range is thick with forest. Healthy spruce, fir and pine trees, their branches drooping heavy with pure white glistening snow, looked just like a scene on a Leanin' Tree Christmas card. The snow was so deep, we cross country skied everywhere. And everywhere we went, there were moose. Standing knee deep in snow with their magnificant long faces and calm demeanor, we enjoyed watching them crunching on pine cones, without any worry. They have no predators right now. The humans with their guns won't come around until next fall. They're safe today. It's Christmas and it's cold and the sun is squinty bright and the sky is bluer than its ever been. That's typical Colorado.

I've come to the woods to learn. To breathe and exhale. I had forgotten what a forest can do for the soul. How to be one with the trees, standing side by side, taking what they have to share and breathing it all in. I had forgotten how staring at snow covered peaks brings a certain kind of peace. A kind of peace I don't find on the prairie. For some reason, I get restless looking out at the barren land.

I discovered something about myself up there in those mountains. I felt more serene, but also elated. There was a calmness in me, a completeness that's been missing. My occasional nervous energy had vanished when I stood on the wooden deck looking out east at my neighbors, the Never Summer mountains. The moment I stepped inside the Yurt, I no longer was restless. I knew all along that this is what I wanted. I also knew I needed to be here now, in this land so opposite to what I've grown accustom to. I knew this was going to be a windless time. A new kind of repose. I felt free. Like I belonged. The trees were my companions and the moose and fox were on my side. We were a team. Something I'm lacking out on the high plains.

I just had to go away to find myself again.

I'm happiest when I'm in the company of wildlife. Just knowing they are around brings me joy and a sigh of relief. My extraordinary soft spot for wild animals causes me to worry about them. I fret with fury over their well being. I lay awake at night wondering why people hate wolves so much. How anyone could find pleasure in a "contest" to see who could bag the most wolves and coyotes in a two day killing spree. Is that not harrowing? Is it just me? Am I the only one that feels that something is dreadfully wrong with this way of thinking? It sounds like wildlife management has gone awry. Didn't they learn anything about natural balance and recovery? Isn't that why they were reintroduced back to the land? To keep elk in check and so the land could flourish for all?

A last best refuge is in Colorado's high country for some animals. Along with the surging moose population, the lynx and wolverines are reaping the benefits as well. While skiing around we noticed plenty of fox tracks and found beaver dams and their cleverly built lodges.

Wait a minute. Where was I? Ah, yes. That's right. I'm in a yurt in the mountains living in harmony.

Now then, Yurts are amazing. I found this one to be cozy and roomy and pleasing to the eye. It had an uncluttered look to it inside, which I liked. (Remember, I admire the Amish). The woodstove rocked! It was heavy duty cast iron, with which we boiled water on and kept a pan simmering the whole time we were there. A log bed and futon chaise lounge was in there and a wooden table and chairs. Stacks of split wood and kindling were spilling out of a rustic wooden cabinet. More wood was piled high and stashed underneath the 6 ft. high yurt platform. The 42 natural golden colored wood beams were all in align beautifully, extending to a point in the center of the yurt, displaying a 5 ft. circle window to the sky. On our first night there, I didn't sleep, only because I could not stop looking at all the stars through that skylight. They kept moving and changing and getting brighter and brighter. It reminded me of camping, when you awake and look up at the sky on a pitch black summer night, and count the stars or spot satellites moving ever so gently.

I think I eventually closed my eyes and had a dream.

I dreamed we built a yurt at Red Feather. It had a woodstove and books and art supplies were spilling out of handmade wooden shelves and the animals came to visit and we were happy.





  1. Such a great experience in that awesome yurt among the moose. I totally understand the peacefulness you feel in the trees and mountains, among wildlife, and I also totally understand the sickness at people who shoot wolves, coyotes, etc. Your dream sounds perfect! I can tell you were pretty happy to dream that. :)

    1. You're the best Diana. Thanks for being on my team. ;)

  2. Awesome post, Lynn! So glad you included the info with your flikr photo. It was this John Denver song that made me willing to leave the Monterey Bay and move to Colorado when I got married, but it turned out to be the eastern plains of Colorado and not at all Rocky Mountain High... Such a romantic notion gone awry.
    Now I shall bookmark your site and never miss another post. Plus go out and look for owl pellets under the trees where the great horned owls hang out!!

    1. Wow. Moving from Monterey...I don't know if I could have done that!
      But, I do love the area in Colorado that you're in. It's a trade off I suppose. Ocean vs mountains. And I'm curious, did you have horses when you lived in Monterey?
      Any pellet findings yet??!!
      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  3. Looks like you had your merry moose Christmas. :) Such beautiful shots of them. You sound so refreshed and fired up, Lynn! I love it. I love your compassion for wildlife and your passion for nature. And I love you. :)

    Happy New Year dear prairie sis!

    1. I laughed out loud when you said I sounded all fired up! Cuz I really was, true that!!
      I get like that sometimes. Especially when it come to my animals. ;)
      Loving your spirit as well, my nature prairie sis.

  4. Absolutely beautiful post, sister. I got a Rocky Mountain High just reading of your time in Colorado. The mountains DO soothe the soul, they remind us of what's REAL in life.
    Living where I do, you know I relate to the endless stretches of nothingness, the unrelenting wind. I feel with all my heart your love for the mountains, the peace, the solitude, the wildlife.
    I'm so glad you had the time and place to reconnect with your self. The mountains have worked their magic. :)
    Great photos, great writing. You've got me dreaming of Colorado....


    1. Of all people, I knew you would relate to this the most.
      Your love of the mountains and snow and all things Colorado, you must go there and experience this part. It's just amazing. Every last bit.
      Thank you for such exuberance in adventure. x

  5. OMG
    if I did not love you so much I would be fiercely jealous
    as it is
    I am so happy and over joyed you filled your heart with such a gift!!!
    this was beautiful

    love and light

    1. You're a gift, my Canadian earth mama.

  6. Oh you KNOW I'm jealous.
    You must have loved the star while you were here..
    That dark crystal sky in Tucson-
    Stars forever and ever and ever.

    I like Christmas unplugged.
    I want one...

    1. I do miss the Arizona sky. And the Arizona saguaros. And the Arizona sun. And the freedom it brings.
      You know.
      But, for now, I will enjoy my moonbeam sky. ;)

  7. Must have been beautiful out there!

    Wish you a lot of more splendid adventures in 2014!

    1. It was, Lily!
      I think 2014 will be as adventurous!

  8. my dear friend, my dearest red dirt prairie girl:
    you know i am happy for you, happy in my heart that in *your* heart you heard god's casual reply. and that you found stars and mooses and deep snow.

    much joy and peace to you this coming new year!

    a hug and a kiss on the wind……..

    1. I heard the reply. Through the stillness and the suns rays.
      And those moose! They talked to me too!
      Love you, Bernard

  9. Beautiful...what a grand way to spend christmas xoxo

    1. It was so beautiful and I needed it.
      I'd like a repeat of it it all next year!
      Lovely Jeansy, thank you.

  10. You NEED to build a Yurt at Red Feather! Man, I have to quit visiting this site. Not only am I a Schlepp for not maintaining my own, but I'm soooo Jealous!

    1. We are going to put a yurt on Red Feather land!! And just for you, my seester, it will be bear proof. ;)

  11. Oh! The snow! The moose! I'd be jealous if I wasn't so happy for you. Thanks for sharing this exhilaration adventure and your musings too!

  12. Milla! I knew you'd like the moose. And the snow.
    I often wonder if you get snow where you are? You've got that beautiful bay and lushness.
    Thanks for hanging out in my neck of the woods.

  13. What a great experience. I am so intrigued by yurts....and like you said, all such unconventional dwellings. Living in something different from what most people are accustomed to. Thanks for sharing your heartfelt words.