Yesterday I looked back. I never like to do that. I’m one of those that believe we’re supposed to focus on the here and now. The Zen approach. And if you must let your gaze wander, allow yourself no more than a quick glance back to see from where you came, or a good gaze ahead to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.

But I did more than glance. I stared and studied. Looking at photos for a creative venture. Just work, you know? I had to.

So there I was. Taken back. At our ranch outside of Creede, high in the magnificence of the San Juan Mountains along the wild and free Rio Grande. Sounds so simple and straightforward. But life never is. There are always currents running deep if we allow ourselves to dive in. And only in the depths do we feel the strongest pull. And I felt it. A longing. A terrible burning for the past. A crazy overwhelming desire to be where I was not. There. Outside of Creede.

Sure, I know the temps “there” had already dropped down to twenty five degrees below zero and another two feet of snow just fell and the horses would have had icicles on their nostrils and my arms would be tired from shoveling snow and carrying firewood… and still I wanted to be there. I don’t like to admit that. I’d rather say it’s fun to be gone, to be away, to be free.

But it’s not. I’m lost. I am not home. I am not in the mountains that became me. That I became a part of.

I am here standing open and exposed on a snowy hillside staring at the view before me like trying to find recognition in the eyes of stranger. It is mild mannered, polite and pretty. I find myself longing for raging, ravaging and wild.

God I hate to admit that.

Looking back longingly. Remembering the beauty, the silence, the solitude, the serenity.

Where the only tracks for over a dozen miles besides mine and my boys on most days in winter would belong to the moose and coyote and snowshoe hare. Where the only noise was the squawking of the Stellar Jay, the comforting crackle of the woodstove or hiss of the tea pot, or the occasional airplane whose engine seems so out of place we would put down our forks, step away from the breakfast table, press our cheeks against cold glass and look up. Up, up into the most strikingly vivid blue sky I have ever seen.

Oh, and then there is spring with the untamed rush of brown waters, summer with the intense burst of wildflowers and blue birds, the brilliant bright gold splendor of fall…

Damn it! I thought leaving would be easy.

Instead I found it hurt in a way I did not expect. An aching. A longing. Have you ever turned your back on a lover, only to wish you never spurred him, and wanted him back when then it was too late? But still you remember the feel of his breath on your neck, the lips you know you will never touch again brushing against yours, fingers at the base of your spine? The embrace of the familiar lover. Lost.

I could go back.
But life isn’t about backwards

“…One either progresses or retrogrades…” (Mme. Du Deffand)

Says she as she clings to the past like a cat with claws stuck in the curtains unwilling to let go. But one can’t hold on forever. At some point, that cat will fall. Only to land on solid ground.


This post is taken from a longer article just completed and submitted to Creede Magazine.

12 thoughts on “Yesterday

  1. Absolutely beautiful Gin…the photograph AND the story you write…beautiful. And the deep glorious “feelings” within your words are beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing. You are richly blessed.

  2. My heart feels like it is about to burst after reading this. I can feel your pain, even though I know it is only a small portion of what you feel. I don’t know what to say, really….maybe you will find the answer throughout the winter…maybe going back wouldn’t really be taking a step backward…life is so confusing.

    I love the photo and can see your beautiful snow shoe tracks and can remember how you cross the frozen river to get to the other side.

    Thank you for opening your heart to us.

  3. Beautiful, painful post. Truly enjoy your writting, and your sharing your soul with us lucky readers. I’m an old friend of John Grover III, so I can visualize your ranch by the Rio Grande. I’ve never seen it in winter though!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Monte Shaw

  4. I know that feeling, Gin, and I feel for you. But one can dream of a spurned lover, imagining their warm embrace and soft hair, deep eyes and welcoming lips, conveniently forgetting their imperfections that were enough to make one walk. One can, and one does.

    • Sage words, White Horse Pilgrim. It is so easy to see merely the silver linings we have brush-stroked onto our memory clouds.

  5. I have been thinking of a proper response, to each of you, so well deserving, but my mind continues to come up blank with something positive and worthy. Nothing a good walk in the woods can’t fix, and hopefully there I’ll find some inspiration. In the meanwhile, thanks for sticking it out with me…

  6. Since we yanked our own roots out so recently, I feel your pain & nostalgia… of course, we’re lucky and have started re-rooting here so very, very quickly and happily so… I hear you about the importance of living in the moment, but I am also a firm believer that the past shapes us into who we are. Honor that, enjoy your memories, as bitter sweet as it sometimes is to remember, but don’t wallow… ah the keen knife edge of balance!

    Besides, just like leaving a lover, there is a time of mourning to get through before that ache starts to dull. Even when it is the right choice, the leaving brings us grief, as well as freedom…


    • Maggie, your journey so intrigues me, the uprooting, severed roots, somehow so similar but different just the same. I remember you saying you weren’t even really looking, and the change presented itself. Perhaps I’ve been trying too hard. Forcing what needs more time. (More? I ask. But it’s already been years!) What are the options? Not try enough, and sit around and wait? Wait for another year without a garden, not milking a cow and bottle feeding lambs and putting up our own hay for winter and not ordering day old chicks in spring like seeds from those catalogues you humorously referred to as “garden porn” or something like that… I keep thinking I’m ready to not wait, but life keeps putting me on hold. Have I been looking in the wrong directions, only to find myself further from my dream than from where I began? Geez, sorry… my response to your comment is turning into a post in itself… See what happens when we get stirring.

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