On Sunday, my husband Brent and I went with our dogs up to some land he owns south of town. To get to his place you need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. It’s a challenging ride. There’s lots of bumping and swaying to get to the first gate, then even more to get to the second. You have to hold on tight. He and the dogs love it and so do I, but I’m not always willing to endure the trek. Often I’d rather sit in my studio and play or write.
Brent’s 45 acres are adjacent to The San Isabel National Forest. Westcliffe, the town we live in, is already remote. San Isabel and Brent’s land in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is true wilderness. There are elk, mountain lion, pronghorn, deer, fox, bear and other critters nearby. I’ve never seen them when we’re hiking up there but there’s plenty of scat to prove they’re around.
Unlike the mostly treeless valley where our house is, Brent’s property is covered with Ponderosa Pines, Aspen and other trees. There’s a deep crevice on the northern edge where the water from melting glaciers above runs down to the valley below. The ground is littered with ancient rocks, the trails are covered with tall grass, and everywhere you look there's a dense and rich understory.
Wally, our wolf/huskie mix, loves to chase rabbits into their hiding spots up there. He’s also been known to run squirrels up a tree at a pretty fast clip.
Sunday morning we left our campsite at 8:30 for a slow, quiet stroll on the edge of the cliff above the creek. We weren’t talking; just walking twenty feet from one another enjoying the quiet, the sun on our backs, and the clear blue sky. Brent was off to my left. He stopped for a moment to look out. I stopped too. The sun was warm. Tasha, our Siberian Huskie stood with me while Wally ran softly around us. Brent’s back was facing me. He looked content and happy. His head was tilted to the right; his arms were gently wrapped around his chest. He was taking in the view. We stood there unmoving for several minutes.
There are times when I question the amount of time, energy, and money Brent spends on his land. He clears brush regularly to inhibit wildfires, he cuts deadfall up to heat our home, he’s built stairs to the creek, and has a solar-powered trailer to run his tools when he needs them. I’ve often wondered if all the work is worth it. It’s beautiful up there whether he tends to it or not.
But Sunday morning, watching him look out over his most favorite place, I knew he was doing what he loved best; that the money and time he spends making his land more beautiful is exactly like the money and time I spend making music. The best reason for doing any of it is our own joy.
Brent enjoying the news at our campsite.
Tasha and Wally down by the creek. Both pictures taken earlier this summer.