At first all we see is the magnificence of the mountains. But look deeper and we see what it is really all about.
The world surrounding us seems to be about nature, wild and free. Yet it is not possible to be here without understanding that our world, the world intimately surrounding me and my home, is about people. Not only my family, but the folks that come to stay, to visit, to enjoy and share these mountains. Or the folks I am able to reach, near and far, through sharing these words.
People. That is our job, what allows us to be here and to scratch out a living, but also gives us a point to our lives and purpose to every day. Sharing these wild places and spaces, opening up the mountain for just a little while, perhaps making the wide horizon just a little bit smaller, more comfortable and intimate.
We are not here to be alone, to be isolated and selfish. No, none of us are truly alone, no matter how hard we may try. There is always an interrelationship, an interaction, an interdependence. I have never met anyone who managed to live without giving and taking. It is as natural as the mountains around us, isn’t it?
Few come here without leaving an impact, an imprint on our day, our lives. Neighbors, in a way, our guests and visitors become, even if just for a little while. And sometimes, it is the people passing through so briefly who affect us the most. Like a sudden wind that whips up the calm, still air, and clears the dust from the surface.
Roy rode his horse through our front gate and into both ours and our guests comfortable lives. He was riding alone from Austin to Spokane. No pack horse, everything he felt he needed was tucked into his saddle bags or rolled up neatly and tied on behind the cantle of his saddle. But he needed new shoes for his horse, and Bob could fix that. And a good, hot meal. And I could help out there. In exchange, he told us stories. Most important, I recall, was why he was travelling. It was for his children. Recently divorced, recently sober, he was out here proving himself to them. I was impressed. I hope his children were too.
Daniel was riding his motorcycle up this road in the off season. Not many folks around then, so my boys couldn’t help but notice him pass by on his bike, stop and talk for a while. He was doing a road trip before heading back to Iraq. His second tour. He thought he was done but had to return. He was scared. He didn’t know if he was pressing his luck and if he would make it home this time. I have never seen that honest fear before. Certainly, I have never felt it. I thought about his mother, who had homeschooled him and taught him to play the violin. We put him up in a cabin for the night, and the following morning before I started work, left him a plate of hot biscuits and gravy. As he was leaving, he told me the biscuits were as good as his mom’s. I don’t know if he ever returned.