Vail itself is in a part of the rockies that’s all about the sharp, tall mountains, the scattered gold aspens on their brown slopes already past peak. Everywhere there was a feeling of largeness, not in an entirely comfortable way. Those steep slopes felt so near, and with winter being so near as well–I found myself imagining a character who might live here, near one of the utterly scenic and rather cold rivers running through the mountains, feeling … well, small. And cold. And out of place.
The mountains here were stunning. Yet I had the sense that it wasn’t a home place for me, or one that spoke to me–or at least not in a comforting way. There’s challenge in those mountains, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Certainly it makes for a lovely place to visit. (And a lovely place for a conference, too.)
As a place to live … it would depend whether one were in a place to want to be challenged by the land on a regular basis. Whether one wanted to be always just a little bit on edge.
Or simply, perhaps, on whether those mountains were yours, as they somehow weren’t mine. The mountains around Vail have a very different feel than my own home-place mountains, and also a different feel than any of the New Mexico ranges we drove through.
And yet …
To get to those mountains, we drove through some high Colorado plains, sage and scrub and flat flat land stretching out to mountains no less steep than the Vail mountains, but seen lining the horizon–creating a boundary for the world–rather than being right up close with their steepness.
And something about those plains spoke to me in a more comfortable way, which completely surprised me. Because if shown pictures, I would have described the land as kind of flat and empty, but when I was driving through it, I just felt … grounded and happy. Like the straight road through the flat plain could just go on and on forever, and that would be just fine with me.
There are voices to be heard in that land, if one has the time and the patience to do more than drive through, and I find myself wondering just what they would have to say.