Wednesday December 2, 1998
The sun burns smaller and smaller until it becomes a fine cross point and disappears behind the San Juan mountains, more than 50 miles across the valley before me. The San Juans form a wavy charcoal gray mass against orange sky, golden fields of barley, potatoes, become shadowy brown.
With a turn of my head to the east, snow capped summits of the Sangre de Cristo range rise more than 6,000 feet above me, have not yet seen the sun set. The mountain snow reflects soft pink, against a soft clear lavender sky of high altitude twilight. Every night the moon has been growing larger, the children, Rebecca and I have been watching it wax, from the first sliver seen two weeks ago during our trip to San Diego, through last night's dramatic rise above the mountains at sunset. Tonight is the full moon, thus its rise above the horizon comes at the same time as the set of the sun. It will be more than an hour before it rises above the great mountain wall of the Sangres. Many nights I have watched its lume behind the mountains grow bright and enjoyed its slow arrival.
On the subject of slow arrival, the boys have been plodding across the field between Kalou, Gerry and Kai's house and our house for what seems like two paragraphs now. I have heard their voices floating into my window on the soft evening breeze for the past ten minutes. The terrain is a bit challenging, with cactus, rabbit grass, tumble weed and the uneven surface of the dry river bed, the arroyo, but they so enjoy that trek. The walk home from the bus stop is, for them, every day, an adventure. Today they stopped at Kalou's house for a bit, walking her home, and maybe jumped a while on her trampoline.
The temperature drops instantly with the sun. The thin air permits the sun to heat well in the clear sky of the day, but as soon as the sun sets, the thin air permits the heat to flee into the atmosphere and into space with less obstruction between us and the stars than found at the lower altitudes.
Anyway, I don't want the boys to linger in that arroyo after dark. I have seen fallen deer in that same arroyo, taken down, no doubt, by coyotes. The same fate no doubt befell Kalou's cat, Jupiter. He has not been seen for more than a week. No doubt prey to the coyote or, for an animal of that size, perhaps an owl scooped him up. I am suspect that it was coyote since the night of his disappearance I heard the coyotes howling down by Kalou's house and I thought of Jupiter. Perhaps, in my mind, this was his last scream into the night that somehow registered with me as his little spirit soared by on its way to cat heaven. We have not seen bear around the house here, but they have visited our land, 600 feet higher in elevation. I have seen bear up the street from the house while riding my bicycle. At first I thought the bear was a big dog, and then I realized, as I got closer, that the big lumbering creature was no dog. It's prints in the sandy earth measured six inches from heel to claw. Anyway, I don't want the boys tempting the coyotes in the dark.
Half an hour later ... I know now why the boys were going so slowly -- Mitchell decided to tie his shoes together on the bus and they became so tight that he could not get them apart. Alex had to wait for him. Alex had his own encounter with cords on the way home, by his account, he found a piece of bale twine buried in the dirt road. He tried pulling it out to no avail so he tied it around his waist and pulled with his body. The twine did not come out and he could not get the knot undone. Kalou had to go home to get her pocket knife then return to save him. Kid adventures.
I should watch my choise of the word "kid." I thought the woman at the Crestone store was kidding, but as it turns out, her goats are kidding, giving birth. No joke. Ginger, who has the prospective kids, has kids of her own, the same age as Alex. We have come to know many more people in the community thanks to the children, a nice common bond. I am pleased to know people from this perspective since we are sharing a mutual goal of the greatest caliber.
After dinner and homework and tea with bedtime story, the children lie in bed with their books under their dream blankets and fall to sleep. I stop for a moment The silence has a sound and a presence. The silence is profound and beautiful. It is so silent that the ringing in my ear, the ringing that most people never hear, the subtle inner ear remnant vibration from ordinary background noise of the day, seems to grow loud in comparison to the infinite stillness of the mountains.
In the stillness and the moonlight, the mountains are the most solid and grand creations, godly, fatherly, motherly, watching over, forever strong, forever invincible.
Clyde L. Lovett
Updated March 7, 1999