The Hard Prayer

For this post, I excerpt the prologue of my memoir, Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living, a Colorado Book Award Finalist, out in paperback on June 4th.  The passage details the cabin fire that claimed all my possessions and most of my writing two months before I turned 40 in the Spring of 2004.  The challenges of high altitude spring have been much on my mind as my corner of the Rockies has expierenced…

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Finding My Place

For years, I could see the Indian Peaks from the deck of the little cabin.  My life was oriented east-west.  The sun rose at my back and set in front of me.  And the mountains to the west—always the west along the Front Range of Colorado—anchored me in the middle of a compass.  “The mountains are west,” we say to tourists and new-combers trying to figure out where they are. When I moved to Milwaukee…

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Tilting Toward Embrace

On the coldest morning of the season, when the day dawns just above zero and the expected high is only 5 degrees; on the same day when the windchill will plunge to the minus double digits, and I’ll drive home through pockets of swirling snow so thick, the road disappears, River begins to blow out his coat.  It began as a net of fur coating my hand whenever I pulled on his ears and ruffled…

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Lucia & Me

Mind you, sometimes the angels smoke, hiding it with their sleeves, and when the archangel comes, they throw he cigarettes away:  that’s when you get shooting stars. —Vladimir Nabokov I spent late Christmas day and the next morning with Lucia Berlin. Greg made a present of her recently published memoir, Welcome Home, and I picked it up immediately.  As I read the book not once but twice, Lucia’s voice came back to me–earthy and rich, but…

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Living Deeply

These past weeks have been a rush of busy-ness. Fall on the mountain always feels fleeting, with glorious pockets of gold aspens one week and new snow the next. Each year, I’m surprised at the suddenness in the change of season. There’s an urgency in the air as I try to take in one last dinner on the deck, one last long hike in the high country, all the while getting and stacking wood and…

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