Saturday, July 26, 2014


High Country Aspens, Vail, CO
Rose Quartz Bloom, Jamestown, NC

About forty five years ago, my bride and I were spending our honeymoon vacation high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It was a carefree time to be alive in the midst of one of God’s most beautiful creations in this high country. We fell in love together with this glorious country and the experience became the first of many summer excursions through every corner of the Ute Indian territory.

The cold snow melt rushing headlong down rocky mountain streams was a tranquilizer for the senses along with the Mariah wind song slicing through the pine needles and rustling aspen leaves on cool breezes. Late afternoon showers wafted through the valleys as fire spears pierced the air and thunderous waves of war drums echoed off the ancient cliff dwellings. As the storms moved on to the east, the western skies cleared to reveal the low rays of the setting sun over the high peaks. The bright rays reflected and refracted against the trailing rain drops, revealing the Navajo Yeii rainbow spirit that is said to bring beauty to those in harmony.

We drifted high into the old mining town of Leadville and toured the Tabor opera house where silver mining barons once cheered some of the best entertainment of the time. Then our government switched to the gold standard and bankrupted them faster than their fortunes were made. The "Unsinkable Molly Brown" who survived the Titanic disaster met her husband in Leadville where they became rich through the Little Johnny Mine. Horace “Haw” Tabor made his fortune in the Little Pittsburg silver mine and then bought the Matchless Mine. He later legalized his relationship with Baby Doe McCourt after he divorced his first wife. We listened to an elderly woman who said her father used to carry her into the opera house on his shoulders to watch the shows. As fate many times has its way, she related that Baby Doe was found penniless and frozen on the floor of the Matchless Mine’s wooden tool shed one blustery winter's day. She had spent her last thirty years there after living the high life, silver had lost its luster and Haw had died of pneumonia.

Later, we ventured outside the Leadville area and stood at the site of the Matchless Mine, pondering Baby Doe’s life. At the very least, it was a sobering life lesson and a testament to how quickly earthly treasures can vanish. Especially compared to the investment one can make between your ears and spiritual treasures stored in heaven. As we departed from the mine along a winding mountain road, we happened upon one of the many serendipitous life events that we experienced during forty years of traveling together. We followed a crude sign to a partially abandoned mine that had a few rusting ore cars sitting on rails outside another small weathered building. The small cars were piled full of large chunks of glistening rose quartz rocks. When looking for a souvenir of some earthly location I’ve passed in the night, I like to acquire something germane to the country. So, we bargained for one of the largest pieces of rose quartz we could comfortably fit into our loaded car and took it home. It has remained a beautiful fixture in every flower garden that I’ve planted ever since that first Colorado adventure. And today, as I was photographing fresh blooms in the garden, I looked down to behold the perfect fusion of new life and old memories under the warm Carolina sunshine.

I’m certain that most folks regard that chunk of rose crystal as just a colorful rock. But to me, those magical crystals encapsulate beautiful memories of the Colorado high life that we also shared for a moment in time. For us human beings, a wide variety of things like words, songs, places, sounds, objects, etc. trigger the remembrance of those special times. These can be precious memories that we hold close to our heart. Perhaps that helps to explain why Baby Doe stayed so close to the desolate mine which others considered to be worthless, but she still treasured as “matchless”.

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