Posted by: highmountainmuse | October 5, 2009

A simple sense of community

A snowy ride yesterday up the mountain

A snowy ride yesterday up the mountain

A storm has come and settled in, blowing snow and strong winds.  Reminding us if we had any doubt that summer is over.  The last of the remaining leaves, brown and tired in the tucked away pockets of Aspen hidden along the hillsides, are stripped clear.  Vehicles can be seen driving down river.  Fewer and fewer drive up.

Despite the weather, not conditions one would choose to saddle up in, we hit the trail; ride up into the Utes to help a friend. It is times likes this I am grateful for friends and neighbors, not because they have given me the excuse to be out riding in the snow. Believe me, it’s cold and wet, and when the third pair of insulated gloves get frozen and soaked, we question our reasoning.  Physical duress is not something I grew up with.  Suburbia was all about comfort.  Being cold and tired and sore and often injured for a living and a lifestyle was not something I considered.  These were things to be avoided.  I have learned to accept them.  And often times, appreciate them.  It is this physical discomfort which allows us to be here, to find the beauty so elusive to the mountain because it’s just a little further, just a little harder to get to, just out there in some nasty weather…

No, the reasoning, the importance, is much more.  It’s that acceptance that you’re there to help out in a pinch.  It’s that underlying knowledge that if it were your leg broken, you might be able to ask for help in turn…   Hopefully that won’t happen.  But you can be sure, it will be something someday. It always is.

In any case, it’s a sense of community, one that is precious to me, and essential to living and working in the mountains.  Not just folks here to get away, but here to be a part. People who come here, stay here, commit to the land, to making it work and making a living.  In these harsh conditions, that means helping each other out when need be.  Riding up to help at camp in a moments notice.  Lending a hand; lending a horse.  Clearing a trail you know others have stumbled on. Little things, usually.  These things don’t need thank yous or repayment or compensation.  It’s part of the deal of community.  Someday, perhaps, it will be you asking the favor, someday me. We both can help.  We both can ask. And in the meanwhile, we don’t need to see each other for months if our lives get too busy or keep us tucked away for the winter. We don’t need to mention it, to fuss over it, to make it anything more than what it is.  A simple sense of community.



  1. It’s often the little things that make the biggest difference. (Though the big ones matter too!) Connecting with each other, doing for each other, because in serving others we receive, that’s priceless.

    I love this post. Thanks Gin.

  2. People in the city would not understand you at all .Just helping someone because they needed help .I remember one year in Oregon when we had a lot of floods and people could not get out .On the ranch we had a old dump truck that was real high off the ground . My father went around and picked up people that were stranded
    and took them to church .Later on he made shure
    they had food until the water went down .Some people ask him why ? He would just look at them and shrug .There was no answer they just needed help .Doing the right thing is just a way of life .
    I think sometimes its just in your make up . People that live off the grid are born with it .But others need to learn .It sounds like you sort of had to learn .It was always with you . Now you have more oppertunities to use it .

  3. I had to learn this, and am still learning. Anyone can learn. I think perhaps it is easier in the country, in the mountains, because we might NEED to rely on others more. It’s a matter of survival. I’ve seen it in the cities too, though it might be harder to find and cultivate there. But it can be done, it is done. Look for it, search and be open to see it it where you least expect to find it, now in your travels, Don. It is there. Sometimes hidden, but there. Someone once said, “be the neighbor you wish you had.” Kind of like how you say, “be the person your dog thinks you are.” Good people!

  4. I was raised in suburbia and dug in the dirt, gardening with my parents. It wasn’t tough like living off the grid (camping in the cold was though! loved it). I can’t imagine having to travel through such icy cold on a horse. But we did have a sense of community. There were those we claimed, beyond family ties, and who claimed us in mutual support, everything from help with flat tires to food for the sick and more. I discovered later on that this was actually not the norm. It should be, ideally. It’s what keeps us all, on or off the grid, aware of how precious the simplest gestures are…for self or for others.

  5. A lost priority in our world, no matter where we are, country or city or in between, isn’t it, that neighborly value? Lost, but not gone. Tell me, Ruth, don’t you find the way folks are learning to open up and reach out and care and be there for each other over the internet even, doesn’t that give us hope?

  6. Yes, it does. I feel community here with you and with others on the internet. Priceless. And it’s a unique opportunity. Hugs…R

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