The Quiet Place
The bitter air tears through your lungs and assaults your hair, leaving your cheeks stinging as you gasp for a proper breath. The eastern wind exhales once more. You take a moment to observe the horizon, if you can call it that. The ashy, endless ocean and pale sky blend together almost perfectly, creating a hazy visage that twires before your very eyes. Still, there is a glitch between sea and sky, a fine line of pallid sun that separates the ocean from its god.
Before the achromatic skyline, a small harbor can be seen, laid out before you, almost beckoningly. The trembling waters rock the old sailboats and splintering docks with a nervous care, mindful not to disturb the fragile tranquility. Looming to one side of you is a tall university. Perhaps on a brighter evening it could seem almost inviting, but from this perspective it is simply a twilit block of shadows and cement.
Behind you lies the uphill suburbs of a quaint place, which you may have once called home. The tiny lights in the tiny houses and London town esque street lamps line the amateurly planned road, which leads unsuspecting victims to their destination of scenic tourist traps and gift shops.
The caustic breeze begins to pick up as you finally decide on departing. The air is salty and ripe with the distinct smell of a fishing pier. Stifling the urge to cover your nose, you sluggishly drag yourself uphill.
The true lifelessness of this quiet place begins to dawn on you as you make your way past the seasonal shoppe’s and various bland inns. There is nothing, nobody, around now. No smothered laughter, innocent banter, headlights gleaming down the boulevard, or even cigarette smoke, curling steadily towards the darkening sky.
In this quiet place, there isn’t much to do but wait. Wait for your lover or wait for your death, no one knows the difference anyway.
I've never been a city soul;
I never liked the crowds.
My skeptic's eyes just seem to scroll
From crimes to smog in clouds...
I seemed to be inside a rift
Of trash and greying grout.
The only time this view would shift
Was when they let me out.
The door unlocked, I scratched my way,
And ran down to the street.
Excitement urging me to play
Between the peoples feet.
I cought a scent and tracked it down
To... holiest of hollies!
Next to a can, there on the ground,
Some toasted raviolis!
I scarfed 'em down and kept afoot,
Head high in a proud march,
I smeared the stadium with soot
And peed upon the Arch.
And when the day was spent and been
I left the scene for good.
Free from all the thing's I'd seen
A poor dog never should...
Sweet Endless Beach
Quaint little city
by the sea –
can’t you see?
You belong to me.
dressed gaily in
strut down the street
in their diversity.
Hop on a golf cart
on short journey
you’ll start -
no need for a car.
Six miles of beaches
sun fingers reach
in gay abandon.
of coquina rock sand -
the color of cinnamon
on your toast
while your roast
of your savage tan –
Old Florida beach town,
high rises forbidden
houses on stilts
wade in water,
getting toes wet,
play follow the leader
in cerulean sky – oh my!
on 4th of July,
and Santa parachuting
from high in the sky
after Christmas Parade.
selling plump ripe tomatoes
the color of sunburns
and stubbed toes.
Surf is up
waves so high
foam kisses clouds.
Tents on the ocean,
kids crawl in,
splash in state park
for a lark.
Take a free boat
State Park –
sport at the fort,
Quaint cafes and shops,
hotels mom and pops.
on fat legs to bury
hidden in sand,
right whales shriek offshore,
dolphins frolic galore.
soaring birds explore.
Fish on the pier
for flounder and whiting.
Bike through hammocks,
coastal strands and scrub,
join the club!
State Parks and more,
to explore salty lore -
little city I adore.
Named coolest small town -
only thing I would abhor
going back to work
I would rather
lie on the beach
like a peach
on my sweet
#challenge #CityOnTheBeach #WetToesAndSavageTan
Hong Kong (1982 - 1985)
Have you ever experienced heat, I don't mean heat from a flame or the Police, but heat within the tropics? Temperatures in the summer averaging forty degrees centigrade. Humidity at ninety nine per-cent. The kind of weather where you drank your own body weight in water in an hour and sweated it out in a minute. You took five or six cold showers a day and didn't bother to dry yourself as it was a futile exercise, just made you sweat that much harder. Air that was oppressive to breathe just because of the temperature of it and the amount of water content it held. Welcome to Hong Kong. That is the very first thing you felt when you step out-side the cool air conditioned airport.
The next thing is the assault on your senses of sound, smell and taste. With a population of around five and a half million people, you don't expect it, but you sure do experience it quickly enough. Please, allow me to put this population figure into perspective for you, that’s around one tenth of the population of England (during the same time). Hong Kong has a land mass of, just over, one thousand square kilometres, compared to the United Kingdom that is, just over, two hundred and forty thousand square kilometres. That makes for a lot of people in a very small area - the ultimate definition of "crowded streets." Another way to help visualise this is to think of Oxford Street, in London, or Times Square, in New York, on the last shopping day before Christmas - that is your everyday street in Hong Kong. Your first impression is that the population are so rude because, as you walk down the street, you get bashed and bumped into every second. You soon learn it is simply due to lack of foot space on the side-walks. In fact, the native Chinese population are extremely polite and so very humble. Rudeness is not in their nature (by default at least).
I recall, upon our return to England, just how small the buildings were in London. How empty the streets looked and how clean they looked too. Another thing that struck me oddly was that London was so "green," so many open parks and trees and grass verges. Sure there were parks, trees, grass and other such protected places in Hong Kong, but there was a hell of a lot of concrete, steel and glass too. Hong Kong is actually made up of four distinctive regions: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories (on the main land side of China) and then the myriad of small islands within the South China Sea's.
We moved to Hong Kong due to my father being posted there, after the Falklands war, as part of his duty in The Royal Navy. Getting posted to Hong Kong was like winning the lottery. I later learnt that this was the Navies way of rewarding him for his actions during the Falklands war, a futile attempt to alleviate "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" that our whole family had experienced due to that conflict in the South Pacific in 1982. To a degree it did help, certainly in me at the tender age of just ten years old, Hong Kong was the best distraction anyone could have received, however in years to come the distraction was almost hollow.
We were granted living quarters, a modest three bedroom, fully furnished, flat on the sixth floor of a ten storey block. No 12, Elliot House, Harcourt Place, Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong Island, was our address. Happy Valley is famous for its horse racing track and we had what you could only describe as "Grandstand seats" with the view from our balcony. The race track was, literally, across the road and our Youth club was housed in the centre of the race track. On Racing nights the roar of around One hundred thousand people all cheering for their horse to be first past the post was something to behold, I've heard thunder claps quieter than that sound since.
In Hong Kong the wild life is exotic, yellow crested Parakeets are as regular as Black birds are in England. Bright green Canaries instead of sparrows. Praying Mantis, Gecko lizards and cockroaches (Bombay Runners that just laughed at you when you tried to kill them) were the everyday insects in the kitchen or bathroom.
The foods available, on every street corner, local restaurants in their thousands, markets, shops and plaza's everywhere. Fresh fish, swimming only minutes before, being expertly cooked and on your plate for your enjoyment quicker than it takes to get served a Big Mac. I ate foods there that "westerners" cringe at just the thought of eating.
Buildings so high that you couldn't see the tops of, when stood at ground level and looked upward. We used to find ways into these buildings, make our way to the roof tops and scare ourselves silly by looking over the edge at the drop below. Let me tell you at seventy stories you can't make out individual people on the streets below.
I have not returned to Hong Kong since my return in 1985, I was thirteen years old. I remember all of it. My sister has been back many times and has told me how much it has changed since then. I don't want to lose or ruin the precious memories I have of the place that it was back then. Those memories are more precious to me than anything anyone could ever offer me. I never want to lose them. Not ever!
Quicksilver in the Closing Dusk
A postcard in a box. The fairy tale house. Digging deeper a film. My grandmother's trip to visit her sister in Budapest. A little girl with a bow in her hair romping through the gardens. Looking like a tiny Eva Braun. Happy, unaware. Dancing atop the rock walls. 1948.
I walk in the garden. The fig tree planted by my great aunt heavy with fruit. The house replaced by a three story contemporary. But from the garden filled with flowers and trees from long ago still the view from the Buda hills stretches still passed the shimmering Danube, the shining buildings of Pest fragrant and golden with sweet wine, sour cream and noodles blushing with paprika to the shadows of Borzsony in the horizon.
I am here. Walking where they walked, relatives long dead taking with them their secrets, I'll never know. Even as I walk in their footsteps on the hillside and see the Danube, now quicksilver in the closing dusk.
crowds so large there might as well be none
so much noise it becomes a dull quiet
an atmosphere of novelty
where everything is new
and shrouded in a veil of something that no one will understand
that makes everyone understand
crowds moving as one
buildings with unreachable dreams
little food carts with louder voices than their owners
the unseen sky watching patiently
people barely surviving
where no one stands still
or else be swept along
with the forward movement of the crowd
#poetry, #nonfiction, #city
The Azeri Traditional Tea House.
The Azeri Traditional Tea House is less than five minutes’ walk opposite the train station. This was my second time at the place. I didn’t stay long before because I had to meet a friend somewhere else, so this time I intended to spend as long as I wanted and soak up the experience.
The building was old and had a mixture of white stone and wooden interior architecture. The waiters were dressed in traditional Persian clothes, so I had read; these were black waistcoats with white shirts and some wore purple round caps as well. They were always busy and zipping between the kitchen and the customers. I waited by the reception for a while but as no one noticed me I decided to find a table for myself.
The first room I entered had about ten small tables lined up around the walls. They surrounded a small water feature in the middle of the room and were occupied mostly by local men. If it weren’t for the clattering of dishes and shouting from the kitchen in the next room, the only noise would have been the bubbling of sheeshas. Almost every customer was puffing on his own sheesha like it was their oxygen tank. Although there was a spare table at the back, I felt awkward joining these people as I knew I would certainly look out of place there.
I entered a much bigger room which was deserted save for one waiter who was tidying up. It was mostly full of family-sized low tables with Persian rugs spread out on them. There were some western-style tables with chairs around the perimeter so I decided to go to one of them to not be in the way. I approached the wall but the waiter, who was rearranging chairs, was walking backwards towards me and stopped me from getting to my seat. He turned and stared at me in shock. He said something in Farsi that I didn’t understand then gestured me to go to the other room with the smokers. It seemed I wasn’t allowed in there.
I sat at the back of the room and ordered their speciality dish, ‘dizi’, and chai from the waiter. No one paid me much attention as they were mostly busy with their sheeshas. On my left was a man playing football on his tablet computer with his friends watching and telling him how he should play it. Others around me were either reading or chatting with their friends in-between puffs. On the walls were ancient Persian paintings, vases and ornaments. I glanced behind me to make sure there wasn’t an antique I could break before leaning back and relaxing.
I watched the waiters as they raced around the room to serve customers. They replaced the dead coals from the sheeshas with fresh ones that glowed in a knocked out oven in the wall. The finished sheeshas were taken away and the water feature in the middle of the room was used to clean out the glass cylinders.
‘Damn they look cool’, I thought. ‘Billowing out vapour like chimneys’. I had tried sheeshas before in other countries and I remembered how cool I had felt. Apart from that, the only other motivation I had for smoking them was getting high from … whatever it was I was smoking or the oxygen deprivation; probably a bit of both I thought. The taste from the flavouring was definitely not worth it. Later I had read that sheeshas were ten times worse for you than cigarettes, but I had also heard that they were ten times less harmful, so I didn’t know what to think.
The waiter arrived with my dizi but no chai. ‘Ah! Of course no chai’ I thought. I remembered the last time I ordered dizi at another restaurant, I was told that I shouldn’t have tea with it. They didn’t tell me why but it seemed obvious to everyone. You don’t have chai with dizi. The waiter asked me again what I wanted to drink and so I ordered water. He called out my order and started work on my dizi.
I suppose by now, you are wondering what ‘dizi’ (دیزی) is. It is also known as ‘ab goosht’ (آب گوشت) which literally translates as ‘meat water’. That doesn’t sound very appetising right? But ab goosht is so tasty! It is basically a meat and vegetable stew. Before it arrives to your table, you are given bread, a bowl and a pestle. Then the dizi comes in a tall round stone mortar, which had have been sitting in an oven so it’s extremely hot. You take the pestle and push the meat and vegetables into the bowl. Then you tear off two pieces of Nan bread and use them as oven mitts to tip the juices out of the mortar into the bowl. After that, you use the pestle to mash the veg and meat into a paste. If you’re lucky, your waiter will do this for you. Bon appetite, or, nooshe jan! (نوش جان)
I waited patiently as the waiter poured the gravy into my bowl. He began mashing the vegetables and meat and told me to go ahead with the sauce. One of the most common instructions visitors may hear in Iran is ‘bokhor bokhor!’ (بخور بخور!) which means ‘eat eat!’ I was so hungry that I didn’t hold back. I tore off a piece of thin Nan then dipped it in the dizi juice. It was so delicious that after that I instead tore off smaller bits and soaked them in before spooning them out. I took turns with the gravy then with the paste in the mortar. I took out half a table spoon of mashed stew, layered it on a piece of bread and topped it off with some yoghurt. Imagine eating a whole roast dinner the size of your palm then you can understand how filling eating dizi can be. I let the beans, tomatoes, meat fibres and fresh yoghurt rest in my mouth to savour the flavours. I didn’t stop alternating between the soup and stew until the bowl was dry and the mortar had been wiped clean. Upon finishing my meal, I leaned back and settled my hands on my belly. Like the Iranians say, ‘I ate like a cow’ (مثل گاو خوردم).
After waiting a while for my meal to settle, I decided to try again to get some chai. I was in no rush mind you. Any extra time I could give my body to recover from the beating I just gave it would be good. The waiters were very busy so I hardly had an opportunity to catch their eye. I decided to practice my Farsi so I asked the men on my left how much their sheesha cost and which flavour they thought was best. They told me two thousand toman (less than a dollar). ‘That’s so cheap!’ I thought. They tried to tell me their recommendation but I didn’t understand so they repeated it in English. ‘Mint’, they said. The two men to my right were listening and told me that actually ‘apple’ was the best. I decided to go for it and called the waiter over. I gave my order in Farsi but not very confidently so it went through one ear and out the other. He turned away and was about to find someone else who could speak ‘foreign’ when the men either side of me came to my defence and shouted my order at him with full assertion. I think he got it that time.
The waiter brought the sheesha and was more relaxed about dealing with me now that he’d heard that I knew some Persian. He handed me the hose and a plastic mouthpiece. Although I had smoked sheeshas before, I wasn’t so familiar with them and, at times, I was still lost with what to do. I suddenly felt self-conscious and wanted to look cool in front of everyone whose eyes were surely on me now. So, being casual and bold, I tried to squeeze the mouthpiece into the hose the wrong way round. The two men to my right stopped me and showed me how it was done. ‘Such an amateur’, I thought. Now, however, I was in business and I started smoking.
I watched the others carefully and noticed that they can’t have been inhaling the smoke into their lungs. They were only taking it into their mouths then letting it flow out. That had to have been how they managed to smoke at such a ridiculously fast rate. I tried to keep up with my companions but it was no use. They probably had a lot more smoking years on me. I took a few drags and within a few seconds I was as high as a kite. I tried to play it cool though I probably looked like an idiot. I took out a book from my bag but reading it was futile as I couldn’t focus enough to get past one sentence. After a while I decided, for the tenth time, that smoking sheeshas was stupid, pointless and most likely unhealthy. I wrapped the hose around the pipe and contented myself with the chai.
I caught one of the men on my right smiling at me so I began a conversation with the two. They didn’t know any English so we only spoke Farsi. I learned that they were cloth traders from Azerbaijan and were on their way home later that day. It was a brief chat but they were overjoyed that I was from England and complimented my Farsi before shaking my hand and saying goodbye.
There were fewer people in the sheesha room now while the other room, with the rugs, was getting more crowded. A man was playing an instrument at the back of the large room on the band stand. From what I could see, it looked like a kind of middle-eastern string xylophone. I wish I could describe it better than that. I looked up the verb ‘to sit’ in Persian and asked the waiter if I could sit in the larger room now. I knew the answer would be yes but it was an excuse to use Farsi of course. He beckoned me to follow him and led me to a small table that was in between two large floor tables in front of the musicians.
He asked me if I wanted anything so I ordered some chai and fruit. Beside the water feature in the middle of the room was an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables including peaches, bananas, cucumbers, plums and nectarines. He gave me one of each and a small knife. I sliced the fruit and ate small pieces while I watched the musicians at the front and observed the other customers.
Small families and couples lay out on the carpets drinking chai and preparing dizi. Some sat at the tables on the edges of the room also. Everyone was relaxed and enjoying their night. They were mostly dressed in smart casual clothes and most of the women wore lip stick and brightly coloured head scarves also. A family sat on the low table next to me and their boy was having a great time with beating the hell out of his Spiderman and Batman figure toys.
The band multiplied to include a man playing a large drum, two sitar players and a singer. They played traditional Azeri folk songs and the audience shouted out their favourites in between performances. During the most popular ones, people joined in by clapping or clicking their fingers by using both hands and the two middle fingers (a middle-eastern way of clicking known as ‘beshkan’ (بشکن) in Iran). At the highlights of the songs, the lead singer would cast a finger out to the crowd. I considered screaming out an ululation, a high pitched rapid howl that only women do in the middle-east, to try to get the ladies in the audience started but contented myself to drumming on my table instead. Someone tried waving a tissue to the music however he later stopped when it was obvious that no one else would join him with this. I would have done, but of course he didn’t know this.
They played a very famous song, so famous that even I recognised it. Although I couldn’t sing along as the rest of the audience could, I was able to hum and drum my fingers. At the low table directly opposite the band was a large family. A young girl in glittery trousers and a white striped shirt that read ‘Winning Means Nothing’ started dancing in the middle. She twirled her arms around and spun on the spot with a gleeful smile as her family clapped and cheered her on. Everyone was drunk on the music and freedom was in the air. I imagined that if people had gotten any more relaxed than this then they might have started ripping their clothes off and dancing on the tables; though maybe that was too farfetched.
Friends laughed, hugged each other and took selfies together. I started to get more attention now as I swung in my chair and clapped to the music at my own private table. Some of the women glanced at me, whispered and giggled with their friends. People took turns to sit beside me and ask questions about myself, my impression of Iran and the music. I told them my opinions and they thanked me then left. I later spoke at length with one of the waiters about his hometown, Shiraz, as I had been there before, and he recommended me some other places to visit that I didn’t know about.
The night was approaching eleven pm but it was far from over. I noticed two birthday cakes were being prepared in the other room. A waiter had one cake while a man I hadn’t seen before had the other. The man looked completely out of place in the restaurant. He had a grey nicotine-tanned moustache and gravelly stubble surrounding it. His hair was wispy and thin and he wore old stained clothes that made him look like he was homeless. I suspected that he was probably the owner. He reminded me of owners I had met in some other restaurants and hotels in Tehran. They owned the place and they paid other people to dress well and look presentable so there was no reason to keep up appearances anymore, or so was the impression I had.
He lit the candles on the cake, including two sparkler fireworks, and carried it towards the bandstand, closely followed by the waiter with the other cake. As the parade came through, the band played ‘tavalodet moborak!’ (تولدت مبارک, ‘happy birthday’, in Persian style) and people sang and cheered. The cakes were set down on the low table with the large family and a larger sparkler firework was lit on each of the cakes. Sparks flew at least one metre high and when they fizzled out the family removed them and began slicing up the cakes. A waiter carried a rack with burning incense from the family’s table around the restaurant. He took a pinch of what was maybe seeds from the rack and pretended to scatter them over the heads of the other customers. The customers responded by placing money in the rack. I got ready to contribute though he overlooked me.
The band took a break and the family were getting ready to leave. I was talking with a Swedish woman who was visiting family in Tehran when they passed two plates of cake to us and said goodbye. The Swedish woman immediately pushed her plate in front of me then thanked me for the chat and said she had to leave. I happily finished their cake while I watched the band return and tune up. I asked a waiter what time the restaurant closed and he said three am. ‘Three am?’ I laughed. It was already midnight on a weekday and still the room was packed and in full swing. I didn’t think I could stay there until three however so I wiped my mouth clean, paid the bill and got a taxi back to the hotel.
#nceguy68 #prose #travel #Iran #Persia #party #bar #restaurant
There’s no place like Riyadh
For some reason, I always expect the places and people that I haven’t seen in a while to have changed in some way that I can see, or in ways that are tactile and tangible. When I go home to the states, I’m somehow always surprised that the grass is green and my parent’s house looks the same, give or take a few seasonal decorations. I’m sure a few people that I know have caught me staring at their faces wondering what, if anything, is different about them. The only thing that truly changes is the height and vocabulary of my niece and nephews. I suppose I feel this way because I always sense that I am missing so many important moments. These feelings are the subject of an article I read the other day by Julia Kristeva called “The Foreigner”. She refers to non-nationals, such as myself, as deriving “masochistic pleasure” from experiences outside our homeland. The idea that one can love and relish being in a new place and learning the culture, while at the same time experiencing the longing and melancholy of being away from those that we love.
I arrived back in Riyadh at the beginning of September, after a wonderful summer break, and was mysteriously alarmed that the desert still reigns supreme. I was surprised that the traffic was still as horrendous as when I left, and that my villa has all of the same pictures on the walls and pillows on the couch. To be honest, every time this happens I ask myself, “What was I expecting, exactly?”. But the answer is always the same.
Riyadh is very hot this time of year. I have never been here in September, as I took this job in October of 2010, and last year we were traveling throughout the month. Now, more than ever, I’m thankful for that trip because this heat is brutal! Not to mention the fact that the country’s choice of attire for me isn’t exactly “breathable material”. Nevertheless, there were definitely a few friendly faces and smiling persons that I was thrilled to see. How grateful am I that there are persons whom I look forward to seeing wherever I am? Very.
I think it’s important to recognize that although places can be so different from the norm that we know, they can still have a quality that you miss when it’s absent. When I took this job, a very good family friend, whom I have known my entire life, said to me, “Accept it for what it is and do not try to fight it, or you’ll miss out on the experience and you won’t get anything from it: adapt to it, don’t make it adapt to you”. The pace of life in Riyadh has a relaxing tone. I’ve written before about the sedentary lifestyle that I have historically struggled with, but I have come to appreciate and even look forward to those days when there is literally nothing to do but sit down for a while and just be. My student has decided that I have become “a little Saudi.” When I first arrived, I was a beehive of activity from start to finish (as much as I could be anyway). She would tell me, “Slow down, it will all get done and it will get done on time. You’re too busy, just be in the moment.” I would tell her that the moment for me means not to let it go by unfilled. Now, after nearly two years, sometimes I catch myself telling her to not stress and to give herself a minute to recoup. Maybe she is right about me. Maybe I am becoming “a little Saudi.”
In Islamic culture, there are not many holidays that are cause for complete celebration and rejoice, as we know it in the states. Ramadan, the main holiday of the year, is more a time of reflection and prayer than it is for dancing, chanting, decorating, and singing. Some of the traditional holidays that we celebrate in the U.S., such as New Years and Halloween, are borrowed for carnival here. These holidays are not a part of Islamic culture, although from what I gather, they are used as mostly just a reason for the young people to get together with friends and say that it’s for a “cause.” However today, September 23rd, is National Day in Saudi Arabia, the basic equivalent of July 4th in the U.S.
For most countries, the battle for independence is deep rooted in faith and a sense of freedom…freedom from control or freedom from disorder. Abdul Aziz Bin Saud founded Saudi Arabia, although his battle for this kingdom began long before its sovereignty. Before his conquests, Arabia was a “patchwork of tribal rulers”. He fought each one, beginning in 1902, and finally reached his goal of a united, monarchal kingdom on this day in 1932. The Saud family still reigns today.
Aside from the historical significance of this holiday, as I mentioned, it is cause for celebration. I should preface this by saying that I did not attend this year’s outdoor festivities. Despite feeling safe in Saudi, given the nature of what’s happening in other parts of the Middle East right now, I felt it best to skip this event and admire it from the rooftop of my villa, and then learn about it from the mouths of a few friends who have been in country for a while. If I tried to attend, I thought I might combust from hyper-vigilance in a group of so many. That being said, the streets are lined with throngs of people tonight. They are painted bright green from face to foot. Their kids bear the colors of the Saudi flag (mostly green, with a little white). Their cars are also painted with a washable material that turns them to the color of Islamic and territorial unification, not to mention the green wigs atop the heads of more than a few people. They park in the middle of every street, get out of the cars, dance, and yell on behalf of Saudi Arabia. The roads are undeniably packed and at its mecca (pun intended) is a sense of pride for their country. The same pride, I’d imagine, that I feel when my country of origin celebrates its individualism and independence.
A Crow’s Paradise
Into the hills on the back of a crow flying, just a few miles northwest above the small town of Walsenburg, Colorado, there lies an oasis in a high mountain desert. Golden flocked plains stretch out endlessly to the East, where sunrise brightens and vibrant oranges and pinks fill the dusty twighlight skies. Amtrak and coal trains wind along the base of the hills, through Walsenburg; their eery cry follows crow flights, mournfully calling to raptured ear.
North, west and south are larger mountains, peaking above Juniper and Pine trees, tipping the clouds. Wet Mountains border the North with gentle rolling rising. The west are the Sangre De Christo - Blood of Christ - that glow red in sunset and lend comfort in daybreak. The Spanish Peaks guard the south: Two breast-shaped, snow tipped peaks towering above amazing rock formations and winding ridges jutting through lush green hills.
So many animals can be seen while you're there! Antelope, Elk, Mule Deer, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Badger, Western Diamondback, Timber Rattler, Porcupine, Pack Rat, Jack Rabbit and more; Golden Eagle, Red tail, Baldy, Turkey Vulture, Raven, Magpie, Raven, Stellar and Blue Jays, Junko, Chickadee, Prarie Dove, Wild Turkey and more; Cattle roam freely, Coyote and Black Bear roam the night, and a murder of Crows dance in the sky.
Wind whips through trees; swirling, lifting spirits and energizing. Heat of summer brings life to cicadas when other beings hide in shade, under trees or in arroyos. Dust made of fine clay the color of butterscotch pudding coats the soft ground, scattered with cane cactus; its flowers vibrant fuscia, its fruit bright yellow. Prickly pear and barrel cactus with yellow, pink and red flowers compete for attention. Bright orange Indian Paintbrush, blue bells, Sunflowers taller than a man, daisy's, asters blend with the prarie grasses the wind tickles and bends.
In the very dark of night, like a desert the temperature drops by 30 degrees. Coyotes howl delighting in the cool air. In the crisp, cloudless night, unpolluted by city lights, the Milky Way streaks vibrant across the sky; starlight view only obscured by human eye's capacity to see. The blanket of stars beckons you stay, wrapped in the beauty for one more night, one more day; just stay.