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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

St. Elmo

West of Buena Vista the mountains part to reveal the Chalk Cliffs and Creek. Under the shadow of Mount Princeton the cream colored cliffs collect snow where the low winter sun can’t shine. As we drove along the road, I watched the bubbling water dip under the icy surface and gurgle among miniature glaciers. Nearing the abandoned mining town of St. Elmo, the tall cliffs drew back and in the small valley a collection of ancient buildings stood in a line along the narrow street. Though the old saloon, hotel, and blacksmith shop hadn’t been occupied for a century, I felt like a miner’s wife might peek from a foggy window with a suspicious glare. Once the sleepy mining town had bustled with three hundred people and employed one hundred muckers who dug deep in the earth for silver and gold. Train whistles once echoed as the steel rails rumbled down the hollow. Not far up the mountain, Tin Cup Pass was like a window trains entered to reach the mountains and valleys beyond. The town was once a source and a crossroads, a home. But now the empty buildings collect dust and snow creates dense drifts that bar every door. In the silence, whispers of forgotten ghost mummer.  

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