This blog chronicles the importance of and efforts to return to Mother Earth in spirit and in body. This journey is not one of primitivism or reenactment of an earlier age. It's hope is to inspire me to find the middle ground between necessities of the 21st Century, the need to find a simpler way of life, and our ethical responsibility to protect the land and preserve our natural resources.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

School in the Ozarks

I spent my childhood among the cedar, oak, hickory, walnut, and maple trees and the outcroppings of limestone of the Bald Knobs of the Ozark Mountains. I wasn’t a big fan of the spring favorites such as redbud and dogwood, rather I enjoyed the hearty colors of a cool and frostless fall. Old road beds and the remnants of homesteads—long ago reclaimed by nature can be found near patches of now-wild iris and roses planted by settlers long since vanished from the landscape.

I used to hate the undergrowth and the brambles, but now some of my fondest memories are trudging through the woods and sliding down hills on seasoned leaves fighting all the way as if we were on an Amazonian adventure. But the thing I miss most in Colorado is access to water. Sure, Colorado has water. But not in the same way. Denver and the Rockies boast lots of “lakes.” However, they would be classified as ponds in other parts of the country. The larger, canned reservoirs offer no sactuary. In my youth, we could hike along the rivers and streams for the whole day and never see another soul. We each became one with the water. One with our journey. Even as kids, it was a rejuvenation as much as an exploration. Even then, I think we understood that what we were doing was sacred and ceremonial in ways our vocabulary could not describe.

Since the water is such a prized commodity in Colorado, you have to go pretty high up to enjoy a lake or stream without meeting fellow outdoorsmen. It certainly is not my intention to complain about meeting and greeting hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, but the suspension of disbelief is shattered when one has to return to the reality of life in such a manner.


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