Time and Space

I live in a vista — Monte Vista! It really is a “mountain view” kind of place. Out at the Big Empty (which is all around) I can see mountains on all sides, a ring, around “my” valley. The vistas are wide, immeasurable, inspiring, soul-stirring.

Between my house and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge where I like to walk with my dogs there are several abandoned farms, or, at least, farm buildings from the very early 20th century. Some are log, some, the newer ones, are frame. Some are surrounded by trees that are now taller than those who planted them might have imagined. Others are exposed. I often wonder how those people felt surrounded by these immense vistas. Their lives would have been hard, and mostly animal propelled, stretching the size of the landscape. The towns are roughly a wagon trip apart — 14, 18, 15 — miles apart. A train finally came through, linking the towns.

The Town of Monte Vista around 1920 looking down my street toward the west. My house might have been built when this photo was taken. It would be down in the tree-lined part. This is potato harvest. The wagons are filled with potatoes to load onto a train.

In just a few weeks, I will have lived here in Heaven a full seven years and be entering my eighth. There is still — and always will be — so much about this place that I don’t know. Last week some friends (whom I have not yet met, connected to the woman for whose book I did illustrations this past spring) from Wyoming took a church trip through the eastern side of the Valley, the Sand Dunes down to San Luis — the oldest continually inhabited town in Colorado — to New Mexico, taking the high road between Taos and Santa Fe, back through Los Alamos and Ojos Calientes. It was fun seeing a few of these the vistas of the San Luis Valley through their eyes via Facebook.

This valley and its vistas are ancient. I always feel my own transience when I’m out there. My two little feet, navigating their small perambulation, a perfect analogy for human life on this planet.

My valley was once a lake — now called “Lake Alamosa” — and when I take out the dogs, our walks begin at one edge of the ancient lake and make a small dent in the lake’s immensity. At a couple of points the lake overflowed, and where that happened is clear on this map. It spread as far as Del Norte.

The vistas I enjoy are not only in space, but a little bit into time. I imagine mammoths wandering the edges of what may have remained of the watery world pursued by “Native American Paleo-Indian cultures, beginning with the Clovis and Folsom Complexes (11,000 years ago)” the first known human inhabitants of the San Luis Valley. As I recall, the Navajo called the later inhabitants, the Utes, the “blue sky people.” ❤

The eternal yet changing sky is in charge of everything here in immensity. This time last year, snow was in the forecast and there was no negotiating our way out of that.

13 thoughts on “Time and Space

  1. Something about being close to nature trivializes my problems and puts them into perspective. I have to imagine that at least some of the the early inhabitants felt this way.

    There would have been some kind of security in the rhythm of the seasons and repetition of the work of the days, along the insecurity in the vicissitudes of the weather. It s a kind of stress humans evolved to live with. Today’s stresses are unnatural and not what a preindustrial human was designed to deal with.

    • I believe the early inhabitants must have felt some of this even in the midst of numerous predatory beasts and climate hells — but those would have been part of their lives. I agree with you: our manufactured stresses may have been driven by the ancient ones, but we haven’t had a lot of time to adapt.

  2. Your place makes me happy, Martha. I feel as though one day I will be seeing Vistas through a lens similar to yours. And alone. I don’t know why I feel it. But I do. My favorite trips to the West have ALWAYS included learning and appreciation of our Native tribes. I consider them my people. When leaving Taos and headed to Durango we spent nearly a day at the Ute cultural center. Every travel I make I find myself immersed in the people that made it so. I imagine you in your Vista view in the Big Empty and everyone you mentioned from lives before had their own “view” of the vista. I loved the Rio Grande Bridge and all the travels and history through that entire area. At least 6 times I’ve been close to the area in which you live; as far as a crow flies anyway. Congratulations on nearly 8 years in your heaven. This is a beautiful post. ❤️💛🤗

  3. Martha this is fascinating! I suppose I should explore a little more about the area I live in. I’m pretty sure we were under water (what with the great lakes so close… Where do you find these photos from so long ago of your town?

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