The San Luis Valley and Me: the Mystery

LONG before I retired and moved back to Colorado I painted this painting:

It’s supposed to represent the phenomenon of writing about my actual Swiss ancestors before I knew anything about them, the sense I had that the whole earth is an immense grave and anywhere we go, any place we dig, we find people and stories — maybe our own people and our own stories. It’s a personal painting. I don’t show it if I hang my paintings anywhere. The figure in the painting is me. I am digging in the ground essentially for stories. The sprouts are “human beans.”

When I moved to Monte Vista several years later and hung the painting it wasn’t long before I realized that without ever having been here I had painted the landscape in which I now live, and very very accurately. Here. You can see it in these two photos my friend took last evening when we went out to see the cranes. In the first photo if you look at the silhouette of the mountains, it is what I painted. In the second, if you look at the far right facing of the sunset, it is what I painted. The mountain landscape is static; this sunset happens similarly often.

It really did happen when I wrote Savior that I wrote a novel about my family without knowing that it was my family. When a Swiss man who had read Martin of Gfen wrote me a kind of fan email and suggested I had Swiss ancestry, I finally did some patient genealogical research and found my own family, beginning in the 11th and 12th centuries, living on the exact mountain (small mountain) I had written of in my story. Their castle/fortress was as I had described it. Even their names — except for that of one character — were the same. It was so creepy, so eerie, so unbelievable that I didn’t sleep for a couple of nights.

Way too “Twilight Zone” for me.

So here I am, living in the very landscape I painted in 2012, two years before I ever saw this place.

19 thoughts on “The San Luis Valley and Me: the Mystery

  1. While I am a skeptic and literalist most of the times, there is a small percentage of my ‘animal brain’ that thinks we go around and come back in some fashion. That sense of deja vous can be so persuasive of the existence of past lives. I only think this way when something truly creeps me out–like finding something you are absolutely certain you never put there sitting on the counter. (The fact that I have a son who might have done this not withstanding, I occasionally find my husbands guitar picks throughout the house.) He’s been dead for fifteen years. I dismiss the ghostly influence, but I like to think, it could be his way of saying ‘I’m not completely gone.’

    Hmm, I think I’m feeling pretty sentimental tonight. It must be your walk through pictographic and ancestral bones that brings up my own ghosts. Thanks. It’s nice to know I am not alone.

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