Before I give you the story about Vista Verde, I want to share unofficial, non-entry stories. Read if you please…. otherwise, the final story that is headed Vista Verde is my entry.
There were snow days with forts. Once the battles were fought, there were snow angels, and snow ice cream, and of course, snow men. There were igloos if it stayed cold long enough.
The summer I was 12, my Dad drove us to the mountains. There was snow on the ground on the 4th of July. I fell in love with Rockies that day.
For eight years, my mountains were the Alborz. I hiked them and found valleys with thousands of wild yellow tulips. I lost myself in wild flowers and carried picnics to her streams. Winter blanketed her peaks, and the moonlight cast shadows a hundred feet long. The mountains were my place of peace and joy.
Those days ended. The nightmare of a revolution and then a war kept me inside. I was trapped.
In August of 1982 that small quiet voice would repeat, "Lift thine eyes to the mountains." They would be my help and my salvation.
At the end of that summer I carried my three year old, and held the hand of his brother as we crossed the mountains by night. First on horses, then on foot, we followed the winding mountain paths on steep cliffs, and shallow rivers. At dawn, I could see the outline of a sheepherder’s hut on the side of the mountain in Turkey. The mountains had hidden us and protected us and delivered us to safety.
My room was upstairs and my bed faced a window so that when I opened my eyes each morning, the mountains filled my view. Their majesty and strength surrounded the valley and felt like strong arms that would hold and comfort. A morning gift of wonder and then gratitude every day for nearly twenty years changes your soul.
The base was eight feet, and the drifts fifteen. The snow was blinding bright. There was a narrow road plowed up the side of the pass, and I crept along, being respectful of black ice and the canyon below. I climbed higher and higher, and finally stopped to rest. I climbed out of the car and walked to the edge of the treeline. As I stood there quietly, a doe and her fawn stepped out of the forest ten feet down the road. She saw me. Neither of us moved. The fawn took a step toward me and sniffed the air. For two minutes, the doe looked into my eyes. I could feel her as much as I could see her. She nudged her fawn and walked slowly in front of me up the road. Once she paused to turn around and look into my eyes again. I can still feel her gaze.
We stood beside the bed, my hand on her forehead, her daughter’s hand on her heart. The doctors had turned off the machines and in the course of an hour, the breathing became labored, the pulse wild, then fainter. And then it stopped.
I held her daughter in my arms. We left, and drove up into the mountains, to a spot where you can see forever. The mountains.. the everlasting and ever comforting mountains. As we wept, the wind blew and the light of day faded away. The stars began to appear. Thousands of them.
The air grows cold quickly once the sun goes down. And at our campsite, sunset came early.
The fire provides warmth, and the crackle subsides as the logs burn down into coals. The night grows quieter, but the sounds of the mountain are clear. The wind is not howling… just moving enough to make the leaves rustle.
The crickets start to sing, and later the tree toads join in. In the distance there is the bark and then the howl of a coyote. If you listen carefully, you can hear the stream as it rushes over the rocks.
Quiet conversation leads to sharing of truths and making of memories. I take in slow deep breaths of the clean pine-sencted air as I drift off to sleep.
It is Christmas, 2012. I opened the card this morning from the one I love. It said simply, "We are going." I can’t stop smiling.
I had asked for a few days in the mountains. My sister’s pictures and stories from Vista Verde had been playing it my mind for months. It was PERFECT.
A place where there would be snow and fires and long nights. A place to rekindle the wonder of our first weekend together so many, many years ago.
And we are going! While we are there the moon will be full, but it will rise late – so we will have the stars and the moon AND the moonlight on the snow. I still can’t stop smiling.
I haven’t been on a horse in years… but a sleigh ride would be amazing. Just being up in the mountains again. Breathing the crisp air, running to stay warm, laughing and talking and …. I just can’t stop thinking about it, and I just can’t stop smiling.
Snowshoes… that’s what we need! It will wear us out, but it will be exhilarating! If the weather holds, we can go out in the moonlight.
He will want to wander with his camera for awhile…. I can go to yoga and meet him for lunch. We will take a long walk and have lovely massages before dinner….. wind down time for both of us.
Right this minute, I LOVE my life! I can’t think of any place else I would rather be,
And I cant stop smiling!
Name: Terri Hensley