We drive up a rutted mountain road, going 15 miles an hour, feeling we are speeding as we dodge rocks and pines and locust trees full of pink blossoms. The road follows a small creek that rushes down the mountain, sliding over rocky beds and through lush grass. We stop to say hello to our nearest neighbors, two miles away. And then we head here, to our wee cabin, settled in a mountain valley that ends in a 12,000-foot peak.
It is our little piece of paradise. From the cabin, we see mountains, trees, and meadow—not one house, not a sign of another human being. My brother lives a quarter of a mile past us, but we cannot see his house, although we occasionally hear his dogs as they send bears up the trees and scare turkeys off into the meadow. I like the dogs and I love having my brother this close.
Our cabin is 480 square feet, one cozy room plus bath The kitchen consists of antique cabinets and a skirted sink, something Laura Ingalls might relate to. Except for the propane refrigerator and stove.
Our bedroom is tucked into a corner, with a four-poster walnut bed I bought at the Salvation Army in 1970, a few months before we were married—and it was an antique then. Our living room and dining room are a hodgepodge of furniture from antique and junk shops and castoffs from our Iowa house and my parents’ home. A wooden camping cooler my dad made is our coffee table and the desk is from our son’s room. He refinished it sometime in the 80s.
We start the day with hot tea on the deck, then a hike, then breakfast on the deck. Then Joe goes off to putter in the yard or cut down trees, or work in his little shop (aka shed) and I go inside to write or to putz around the cabin, rearranging this, moving that. At night, I have a hot magnesium drink as a nightcap and sit on the deck listening to the creek and watching the stars—you really can see billions and billions from here.
We have no light pollution because we have no lights. We are off the grid here, with solar power, propane gas, and well water. Oh, and a compost toilet, which is far less nasty than you might think. In fact, it is quite efficient and has no smell (as long as the fan is working). Every week, though, we have to dump its drum, which makes our stay in paradise seem a little less idyllic.
Also on the downside is our Internet connection, which is dial-up and simply does not work. Last year, satellite service came to the mountain but we have not yet signed on—we are waiting to see how it works, and reluctant to sign onto an expensive monthly contract for a place we live in for slightly more than three months.
So the frequency of my blog posts drops every summer, as I simply don’t have the technology to effectively connect, and I have to wait until I go to town to do anything of any consequence online. And my Facebook status updates get bunched together—several on one day, none for the rest of the week—for the same reason.
This is a beautiful place and it is ideal writing territory, so I am starting to work on my next book. This location is not so great for communicating with the frequency with which we are all accustomed. So my apologies for posting in bits and spurts. Know that you are all on my mind as I relax and recharge. And if you are heading north up I-25 between Trinidad and Walsenburg, Colorado, look to your left at the mountain looming there. I am in its foothills. Maybe writing. Maybe staring at a pile of rocks called the East Spanish Peak.
PHOTO: This guy walked through the meadow across from out cabin the other day. My husband Joe caught him, plus some early-morning rays. NOTE: And by “caught him” I meant on the camera.