It is an early evening in June. I am sitting on the porch swing of a cabin in Del Norte, Colorado, sipping a glass of wine. There are multi-colored flowers in pots prettily decorating the railing. The loud rush of the creek, just 15 feet from the porch, sounds like a midsummer rain storm pelting the forest, but there is sunlight slanting through the dancing leaves of the stand of aspen trees surrounding the house and a light breeze making them twinkle. Inside the cabin, the ceiling soars and floor-to-ceiling windows warm the golden pine paneling to a glowing sheen. My body has a relaxed, tired feeling from a morning hike up into the mountains, with a breathtaking view of the valley and snow-capped mountain nearby. (Featured image from www.delnortetrails.org)
This is the relaxing last two days of my cross-country road trip with my children from East Texas to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, to the Grand Canyon and Sedona in Arizona, and finally Del Norte, Colorado. This is also my sister’s home.
My sister and her husband have chosen to live their dream. They have shown bravery in the face of moving to a new state, learning how to survive in a new environment that can be brutal during the wintertime, and withstanding their family’s confusion and misunderstanding.
My brother-in-law loves the outdoors. When my sister first met him they were students at Hardin-Simmons University in the barren, dusty town of Abilene, Texas. After graduation, he obtained a job working for Texas Tech University in the equally barren and dusty town of Lubbock, Texas working in the outdoor education department. He accompanied college students on excursions- teaching them how to rock climb, camp, and generally survive in, and love, the outdoors. He often took trips, both with students and friends, to climb the peaks of Colorado. There are not many places to climb in Texas, so there was a lot of travel involved. An opportunity presented itself to work in Alamosa, Colorado in the San Luis Valley. It meant moving away from extended family- but it was his dream to live in Colorado, among the mountain peaks and be able to do the sport he loved without leaving his immediate family for long periods of time. My sister supported her husband, and they took the opportunity.
I’ll admit that most of the family thought they would move back within a few years. We are Texas natives, adapted to living in a warm climate. Snow is great for skiing on a vacation, and a snow/freeze day spent snuggled at home with school cancelled, but we are always glad to return to clear roads and minimal coats required. Instead, after living in town for a few years, they bought a house in the mountains a short drive from town.
Last Christmas they came down to Texas and were telling stories about their water pump going out and having to take sponge baths. My other sisters and I looked at each other with unspoken looks that said, “Crazy!” Not only that, but during the year we had only been able to talk on the phone when she was “in town” because there was no phone service at her house and satellite internet is intermittent at best- talk about crazy! (Writing this blog has been an exercise in patience.) My mother kept making comments about when they were going to come back to Texas. They had to bring their Siberian husky with them and the poor thing looked ready to crawl into the fridge. Instead he settled for sprawling flat on the relatively cool tile floor. I looked at the husky that my niece and nephew, and my sister, were in love with, and realized- they were not going to move back to Texas with that dog. My parents had gone to visit for Thanksgiving, and only commented about how cold it was, and shared pictures of my sister in her pajamas- layered under a snow coat and topped off with a ridiculous frog knit hat bringing in fire wood. I was thoroughly confused about what would possess a Texan to undergo such torture.
This is the first time I have been able to visit, and I have to say that now I completely understand why they have fallen in love with this place. It is magical. All those fairy tales about cottages in the woods, with babbling brooks running along beside actually exist. I would love to stay and live in this dream with them, but reality sets in and I will content myself with visiting. We have to make a living, not only that, but currently my children’s grandparents are less than a mile away- what a precious gift as they grow up. We are involved with our community and our roots have dug deep into East Texas soil.
What sacrifices we would have to make to live in this dreamy land. Their children go to a small school, my niece has 16 in her class. The nearest town with minimal staples is 20 minutes away. To live in a secluded mountain setting involves a trade for modern city conveniences. For most, these are the ingredients for a lovely vacation. However, my brother in law works in outdoor education, how perfect for this mountain setting, and my sister has found a job working for the Rio Grande Watershed conservation non-profit. They have found a way to live their dream. Bravo! What an example for us all; to re-evaluate our priorities and take time to reflect and confirm that our hearts are in love with where we have chosen to live our lives.