Patricia Prijatel

Writer, Reader, Watcher

Our Friendly Little Place

January 31, 2018

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My mantra when we were building was, “It’s just a mountain cabin.” So, pretty much, it’s just a mountain cabin, but a beautiful welcoming home and I truly love it. The housing appraiser called it a “friendly little place” and my sister Phyllis says it reminds her of a dollhouse.

It’s a tiny charmer, built with love and by my family—the siblings and nieces and nephews who still live in Colorado all had a hand in it. My brother Ed and his son Matt built the main part: the exterior, a simple double-garage sized rectangle, 480-square-feet, with a green metal roof. The rest of us finished the interior and built the decks.

Our kitchen cabinets are antique cupboards from Pella, Iowa. The coffee table is a wooden icebox my dad made sometime in the 1950s. The heavy wood toolbox he used to lug tools all over Pueblo when he built his house sits along one wall. The bed is a walnut four-poster that Joe and I got from Goodwill when we were first married in 1970. If I did it again, I would have more windows, but those we do have bring in the Colorado sun and light up the place like a welcoming lantern.




We’re all off the grid, with solar power, propane gas, a composting toilet, a small wood heating stove, and well water. Our only utility is the phone line and that is erratic. Cell coverage is minimal because we’re in a mountain valley.

Our deck faces the meadow and the mountain, with the back of the cabin to the road. There’s little human activity on the road, although we often see signs of bear and deer and, once, a mountain lion, on it. The only people who ever use it are family, friends, or people who are lost, usually looking for the scout camp. We have to tell campers they can’t get there from here, that our road is a dead end and they have to turn around and drive another 45 minutes back and around, even though it’s only a mile away.

This is an excerpt from my book about the East Peak Fire and its aftereffects, tentatively called Burn Scars.

A third of the recently burned forests in the American West will never regenerate, according to research led by Colorado State University foresters and published in the journal Ecology Letters. “In many places, forests are not coming back after fires,” says Camille Stevens-Rumann, assistant professor in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at CSU. When forestry …

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The Mountain’s Dance of the Clouds

January 20, 2018

IMG_0413.jpgThe view of southern Colorado’s East Spanish Peak from our cabin is mesmerizing, especially when the mountain dances with the clouds. Sometimes this is a prelude to rain, but often it is just the magic of nature. Watch it dance below.


The East Spanish Peak Before and After the Fire

January 1, 2018

The mountain in 2012 (left) and in 2016 (right), as seen from our cabin. Groves of centuries-old firs, spruces, and pines create the dark green cover on the mountain face in the image on the left, taken a year before the fire. More than half of the trees have died in the image on the right, taken three years after the 2013 fire. While our meadow was spared, thanks to firefighters, several old growth trees alongside it were still burned.