Of my words, of my self.
“The Color of the Wild.” What will be the first of many. None but Harold and Hillel and A.J. have read earlier versions. Now there is a new one, because if nothing else this past year, I have learned and grown as a writer. So my words must change.
Though there has been so much more. Life is neither static nor stagnant.
As my mighty Rio flows, so shall I.
Let me start by telling you this.
I’m still here.
That wasn’t my intention when I wrote this. I wanted to be gone. I don’t know what happened. Really, nothing. The economy crashed, the real estate market collapsed, our debt grew, and our best wishes of selling and making a million that would be our ticket out of here was held on a string for years and then finally just fell off. Faded away.
At some point, we figured, well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s not so bad after all.
We tried. We looked. All over Colorado. Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Northern California. And found nothing. Nothing that compared to this. Nothing as remote, as beautiful, and breathtaking. Every time we piled into the pickup, that same one Bob had when I met him, and drove for days on end looking, skimming through ads, getting directions from brokers that thought we were nuts, hiking out of the way and skirting through fences, off dirt roads and in deep snow, driving through town after little rural town with “Meth Kills” billboards and women not much older than me with thinning hair and missing teeth smiling and waving at us from the front porch of the local bar, the only open business in town. Bob and Forrest in the front seat, since Forrest is now taller than both of us. Me and a dog in the back. Now it’s Gunnar. My bold partner with whom I brave the wilds. Before him, there was old Alan. Alan Shepherd. His head on my lap, my head turned out the back window smeared with his nose prints, looking for something I never found.
And then we’d drive back to our mountain. And when we’d start to get close, you could feel it. The excitement. The thrill. The connection. Damn, it’s beautiful. It takes your breath away every time. It high, harsh, wild and free, and the most beautiful place on this earth. It’s our mountain, our home.
Now the in-law matters are behind us, the trees around us dead from beetles and burning from continued drought. I gelded my stallion but keep riding, training and getting new horses to work with. We’re still digging ditch. Forrest is working for the winter in the South Pole, and Bob and I are here. Happy. I didn’t know I’d say that when I wrote this. And you know me; maybe next year I’ll say something else.
This year brought us closer to the land, strengthened our connection, tested in terrible challenges starting with driest year the mountain has seen. Then there were fires, the big one, which burned a hundred thousand acres of wilds and came within miles of our front door. Then rains, and floods and early snows.
I think what happened was this. You define yourself when you defend your space.
Brothers in arms! Or sisters of the earth. I don’t know. I don’t know if it matters. All I know is I learned I’d fight for our land as I’d fight for my family. And I’m not known to be really easy going.
So, here we are.