I grew up in Denver, but the Rocky Mountains – no more than a half hour west – might as well have been an MGM scenic backdrop for all my family visited. When I was 13, my best friend Charlotte Pool and I spent a few days in a 1930’s cabin in Foxton, a barely-there wide spot on a dirt road adjacent to Buffalo Creek, deep in spruce and pine woods west of Denver at about 9,000 feet. Charlotte’s dad rented a small place each summer, and, knowing that Charlotte and I needed outdoors time away from the city, trusted us (and the world) enough to give us the keys for a Monday-through-Wednesday stay. I’d not stayed the night anywhere other than home, much less in such a “wild” and inviting place, and I was thrilled to go.
The cabin was basic, without running water, with slanty linoleum floors and a wood-burning stove. The lone phone was down the hill at a small country store that was open only on weekends when people would come up to cool off in the hills and on the creek. Foxton was empty and we had the run of the “town” to ourselves.
One night we walked down to the Creek and sat for a bit, listening to crickets, owls, the snicker of horses across the stream, the conversation of the creek, and silence. I decided to walk back up the hill and lie flat on the dirt road in front of the store because it was cool and dry – something the streamside definitely wasn’t. I stretched out my 13-year-old body in a full spread eagle and stared comfortably, completely safe, at the stars. The overwhelming sense of lying on a spinning planet in the midst of the stars flooded me, and rather than seeing things as “out there” and “down here” I felt the full swirl of the whole universe, and knew I was a part of it.
We inner-tubed the creek, hiked up the hills and looked at wildflowers, talked to the horses, peered in other cabins and read by lantern at night. The cots were cold. Those two nights in Foxton changed my life. I’m the only member of my family who “got out” of the city, and, truth be told, am probably the happiest of our clan. The gods envelop me every day and I know I’m in the whirl of life and an embracing universe.