I believe in home, land, and security.
Winter. New snow and fresh tracks. As I carry my daughter Rosalea in the pack, following a rabbit’s trail down the Forest Service Road toward town, she peers out over my shoulder. “Where do the rabbits live?” she asks.
“Rabbits like little holes in the ground,” I say.
“Where do the bears live?” Rosalea asks, as we continue down the road toward town.
“They like dark places,” I say. “Sometimes they dig holes. Sometimes they sleep in caves or old mine shafts.” I show her bear claw markings left behind by younger bears who like to climb on nearby aspens.
“Ohhhhhh” she says, running her fingers across the scarred bark.
“Yeeeha,” she whoops now, as we come around the bend and town appears, a half-mile or so down the road, nestled in thecottonwoods along North Crestone Creek.
“Yeeeha,” I answer, as is our custom on this final descent into town. On this morning, as on most mornings, we find little traffic on the streets of this small mountain community at the end of the road.
Soon, we leave the pavement, and walk the dirt road down past the cemetery (“Burial Permit Required: Please check in before you check out,” the sign says).
A few coyote yip somewhere out in the pinyons and junipers, which soon give way to the cactus, rabbit brush, yucca and grasses that cover the valley floor.
“I want to go hug the coyote,” Rosalea says.
“They’re a long ways off, honey,” I say.
“I want to hug the coyote,” she insists.
“Coyotes don’t like to be hugged,” I allow.
“I want to hug the coyote,” she continues, her insistence morphing into the tears that tell me she will soon be nodding off. A few hundred feet down the road, passing through a gate in the fence, and farther out into this high altitude savannah known as the San Luis Valley, Rosalea gives me her mittens, places a thumb in her mouth, wraps her other hand around a lock of my hair, and lays her head down at the base of my neck.
This is home, land, and security. This is the base rock, I believe, from which a sense of connection and relatedness to that which is bigger than oneself can grow. This is what I want for both my daughters.
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