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Palabras Pintorescas - The letter that reminded me of days gone by

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By Editha Bartley

Just the other day (sort of a weary and worn out saying) I was invited to join Sharon Vander Meer behind the microphones on KFUN radio where she hosts a weekly program, “Writer’s Blog.” Sharon asks some great questions about the author/writer’s history, and that got me to thinking, researching and digging out some old files.

Writing was never even a blip on my radar for the first 45 years or so of my life. But I loved to write letters, and a letter I wrote to a dear friend in Florida in 1977 was copied, then returned to me with a note from the recipient suggesting I publish it.

I painted a word picture of a horseback ride we had together so long ago:
“I cannot forget a ride we had, not so long ago ... Midsummer, about 12 years ago ... You on Priss, probably the loveliest mare that the ranch ever raised, and I on the young Bella, the feisty colt with the usual grey color. We hurried into the canyon — where were the mother cows ranging at the moment? At the last clearing we found a new baby calf, obviously frightened by something, and dead. You remarked that someone had just lost a hundred dollar bill. (Not ours — we still don’t know to whom he belonged). How sad, in more ways than one — the calf is still only worth a hundred dollar bill, yet consider how much the lowly postage stamp has increased in 12 years.
“We found cattle grazing in the canyon, in the one forest almost totally untouched by man. We both marveled at the gigantic pines and wondered what they had seen in the past hundred-plus years. You pointed out chartreuse aspen quaking in the midst of the giant spruce and fir, obviously asking for protection from old trees that have seen so much, suffered so much, and provided so much for so many forest dwellers. We both noted that the air was fresh! No other word for it. And quiet — the only noises were cattle grazing (hardly a noise at all) and the trickle of the stream ... it was to small to rush, but the pools were full and small native trout dashed for cover when we crossed.

“We both felt we were watched by secret eyes: deer, elk, bobcats, bears ... the mares frequently snorted and upturned rocks confirmed bears were near. When we dared talk (human voices totally shatter the charm of such an idyllic high-mountain paradise) we remarked that there weren’t many places left like this. Where could you go, even in 1965, where you never saw a road, a man-cut stomp, a dam on a stream, smoke in the air, or the hum of an engine? We both had traveled enough to know we were surely in paradise, because how else could one describe our West Canyon?

“Yes! Today, 1977 and it is still exactly like that. I returned again, now on the aging Bella, and rode for both of us. I know a surgeon’s knife has slowed you down, but I ride, see, smell, listen; feel for  you, too ...”

Stay tuned, as they say in Radioland. The word pictures of my trip into our West Canyon are too lengthy for this column, so I will continue it next week. And I will always be envious of the many artists who can paint real pictured of our mountain’s majesty, capturing the colors and seasons for everyone to enjoy.

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.