The sea! the sea! the open sea!
The blue, the fresh, the ever free!
— Bryan W. Procter excerpt from “The Sea” ca. 1837
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Victor, Colorado – the City of Gold Mines – is located at nearly 10,000 feet on the southwest side of Pikes Peak, in the Cripple Creek Victor Mining District. This well-preserved mining town sits on the side of Battle Mtn., a unique setting of 1890’s structures and turn-of-the-century architecture, with clean, cool mountain air and plenty of year-round sunshine. http://www.victorcolorado.com/
Today was the perfect day for a visit.
I left Wisconsin for Colorado 32 years ago. I’m living a wonderful life in Colorado with an amazing family and dear friends. But every once in awhile, I get a little homesick. My trip back to visit family and old friends a couple weeks ago was a lot of things…joyful, tearful, delightful, and even frightful once around the campfire. We shared wonderful meals, laughter, old stories, and memories. The people you come from shape who you are. But the place you come from is the backdrop for all the memories. The places even become memories themselves…the Queen’s Chair, the Fort, the Res, and the Woods. On Wisconsin.
Rustic (ruhs-tik) : def. 1. Suitable for the country. 2. Made of rough limbs of trees. 3. Of or resembling country folk. 4. Lacking in social graces or polish. 5. Simple, artless or unsophisticated. 6. Uncouth, crude, boorish, awkward. 7. Having rough surfaces. 8. Lacking refinement or elegance. 9. Charmingly simple.
I think there is an inherent allure to battered old barns, wooden fence posts or rusty nails. Charmingly simple.
Sounds like the opening of a terrific rant, right? A rant that could be somewhat fitting in today’s climate of against-ness: political finger pointing and fault finding, economic blaming, moral side taking, and overall polarization. “I’m against daylight. It wakes me up, makes me squint (which will inevitably cause deep wrinkles), forces me to buy special tinted prescription glasses, and has been known to turn my skin a shocking shade of crimson.” I could go on and on.
But I won’t (I can feel your relief from here).
Against daylight or contre-jour (look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls) refers to the deliberate use of backlighting a subject. A silhouette emphasizing shapes and outlines. This high-contrast technique can produce some striking results.
I love driving around in Colorado! This weekend was no exception. After lunch on Saturday in Castle Rock, it was on to Garden of the Gods, an amazing geological park just outside Colorado Springs. I would love to explain to you all the different rock formations and how they came to be, but I’m no geologist. In fact, some who know me might even say I don’t know schists from Shinola! But what I do know is how to point a camera at pretty rocks!
Today I happened upon an abandoned mine above Central City…the Coeur d’Alene mine. When I left Denver, the weather was sunny and mild. As I drove higher up into the mountains, the clouds started to flex their muscles and show off by spitting snowballs…little tiny ones. It got cold and windy, the sky turned a grayish white – not optimal photography conditions. But the mine was striking in its imposing, rusty splendor. I was drawn to quiet deserted corners. I apprehensively peered into doorways and tried to jump up to see in windows. I imagined the power of the now forgotten machinery as it may have once been: roaring and belching the smoke of productivity. I watched, waited, listened…for the stories. I heard them.
The weather in Denver last weekend was perfect for taking a lazy walk, dawdling lakeside, meandering around an old cemetery or enjoying a sightseeing, people-watching drive around the city. Sloan Lake Park was sprinkled with folks leisurely strolling, energetically walking, healthfully jogging, racing around on bicycles or dutifully pushing strollers. Kids were playing with bright colored balls and floating balloons on strings. Games were being played on asphalt courts. Bits and pieces of conversations, carried along on gentle autumn breezes, could briefly be overheard . Geese obliviously plucked at the still-green grass or enjoyed a dip in the azure blue water. Two fluffy squirrels perched high atop a building’s rooftop ledge kept a nervous eye on all below. The sun’s warm rays cast a burnished red on drying plants and tall cattails at the water’s edge.
The sloping hillsides of the historic Golden Hill Cemetery are scattered with aged headstones: some still standing tall, some leaning over with age, and still others toppled over. The landscape seems long ago consumed by nature’s overgrown grasses, weeds and leafless trees. The stillness of the afternoon air provoked a certain melancholy. Yet the quiet beauty of the late fall day was apparent – and appreciated.