Thursday, January 09, 2014

Stampede to Timberline

When Ethan was little and I was pregnant with Ellie, Larr and Ethan would go with Mark, Larr's cousin, exploring and photographing many of the mining towns on the western slope. It was a wonderful way for them to connect with each other, one that continues even now.

Larr and his cousin, Mark, have two things they both love - giving each other weird gifts and mining. They usually to out do each other with the weirdest gifts. However, this year Mark gave Larr a copy of Stampede to Timberline by Muriel Sibelle Wolle.
It was a wonderful gift, perhaps the best Mark has given him. It is full of very personal stories about small mining towns in Colorado. Muriel was an explorer and an art professor. She and her husband would drive to the various mining towns to sketch images of the locations and listen to stories, which she used to write her book. At first I was not at all interested in it. I thought it was just another of the many books about mining that we own. However, that has changed.
Larr has spent some of his free time relaxing and reading this book. From time to time Ethan and I would join Larr in the morning, hot drinks in hand and sitting on the couch. Larr would read excerpts from the stories from places that Ethan and Larr had visited. Soon we found ourselves asking him to keep on reading aloud. Some of our mornings began to transform from each of us doing our individual things in separate parts of the house, to our spending time together enjoying these stories. I am so thankful for the connection that this book has provided. It has strengthened that bond and connected them to explorations from when Ethan was younger.

As Larr reads, I see images in my head like a slide show, images of my little Ethan wearing jeans, tiny hiking boots and a serious expression on this face. I imagine what it looked like when they would hike around the mines, now long abandoned, looking for treasures, climbing tailing piles and filling his tiny pockets with treasures for his rock collection. In the evenings they would return home, dirty, tired and excited, full of wonderings. Ethan still as such adventures, wonderings and still comes home with rocks, though now he is much more discerning and the rocks are usually in bags.

I listen for the enjoyment and I soak in the chance to have a leisurely time with Ethan, for I know that it is fleeting and may not happen much in the future. I have been helping him write cover letters and apply for positions in Antarctica and for a voyage on a tall ship. He will soon go in search of some adventures and our time in the living room will be done, at least for a while. I am excited for the adventures he will have, but I will miss him terribly.
(The drawings are by Muriel Sibelle Wolle. There are many more in the book.)

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