Montana Wolf

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Of Snakes and Spines: My Return to the San Luis Valley

Bull Elk and the Sangre de Cristos

I arrived Salida with a new little travel garden and a box of Quaker oatmeal strewn all over the inside of La Perla. The tomato, basil and cabbage plants were thanks to Kizzen in Crestone. The oatmeal blizzard thanks to the stutter bumps in the San Luis Valley. I sit with the realization that I've hit the high (as in north) point of this book tour. My final scheduled book event is tonight at the Book Haven before I head south for Prescott AZ, where I'll settle in for a few months.   

This tour has been in the midst of three eclipses and a head-on meeting of Pluto and Uranus. The sudden change impact has been evident everywhere I have gone, and it hasn't dissipated. This latest wave has come in the form of new friends. Women friends, and the utter realization that the women I meet are grappling with the challenges of earth's survival. For many, this means leaving places and/or partners of many years. But beyond the many faces of divorce, it is about completion.

Storm and Shadow: San Luis Valley

Dancing Raven Cabin
I spent several days in the San Luis Valley this week, a landscape that sears my soul. It's the home of Dancing Raven, the land where I lived in solo solitude for five years and wrote, Living On the Spine: A Woman's Life in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I sojourned there on my bike two days ago. Walked up the lonely two track towards my little cabin, unsure of what I would find. Anyone home? I called as I stepped up on the familiar deck. A woman came out. I'm Christina, I said. I know, said she. Lisa, the new owner/caretaker of Dancing Raven, was a lovely soul.

The Guardian and I

 The guardian tree still protected the energy and the beings that pervaded place. I moved indoors at Lisa's invitation. My little cabin was beauty-full. The space moved me to tears. A deep part of me was in awe that I had created such a space in place. It was as if I'd never left. The cabin had the same arrangement, right down to the kitchen counter, woodstove, even my bed, built high so as to lay back, write and look out for miles. We sat on the deck and talked of the land; I showed her where my medicine wheel had been, and stepped into the little guest cabin on the distant hill. I could see Fyre snorting from the corral, now dilapidated; hear his high-stepping prance through the rabbit brush. I watched as Cinnamon Bear disappeared into the woods. It was all there. Every memory of my soul-stretching years.

Completion. As I turned to go I noticed a peony bush by the spring pool I had created so many years ago. It was forest green with a plump bud on top. Grandma! This was her bush I had transplanted from an Iowa farm to Boulder to Dancing Raven. And there it was, 17-years later, with one bloom as big as the world. I'll send you a picture when it blooms, offered Lisa. I'd appreciate that, I said.

I walked down the two-track to my bike, feeling as full as could be. I began to peddle up the gravel road when a 5-foot bull snake glided onto the road ahead of me. I stopped the bike. It was the second lengthy snake in as many days. Valley Magic. I'd almost stepped on the first one, startling me as I hiked along the Sangres, lost in the memory of a loving compliment I'd been paid by Kizzen. It had something to do with wildness, honesty and my ability to be a catalyst for change in others' lives. We'd laughed tears when she said, "You're the kind of woman who comes up the driveway and the man wants to lock the door." But it's really about our ability to be on this earth; to take in her presence with every sensuous breath. To shed skins. Move towards true purpose.

Sometimes we must be content with the bud, left to imagine the bloom.


  1. Oh, Christina! I'm right there with you. So glad you were able to go there and meet Lisa. I want to know more about her.
    Dancing Raven is a very magical place. Next time I'm in Colorado maybe I can go visit again.

    1. Beyond words, Carole. But I had to try. Love and thanks to you.

  2. From Carol who sends via email: Oh my...your stories and photos bring me to tears. And you are the story teller, the recorder of a life that allows each of us in some part, to connect with you and the wandering that you share.
    It brings magic into my life....the photographs sometimes touch me more than the words.
    I am grateful. Love, carol

  3. ahhh Christina. that high wild ever stretching view from the bed where you wrote; the rememberances of all that place is to you. Bittersweet but good, like dark chocolate...melting. We snake women know; that 5 ft'r gave you a message. And we can go home but we also need that dusty trail that calls us on.
    Yes. Women are learning, realizing, powerful and men recognize us and want to bar the doors. But at the same time, they are so attracted to our power.

    1. True to the word, Jeanne. And therein is the hope...