Each month, write a new collection.
Dear Queen Basin,When I think of nature of surpassing beauty, my image is your expansive glacial cirquedeep blue lake with frogs and salamandershiding below the surface, eyes peeping outfrom time to time when I don’t expect it, edges marked with pink Elephantella spikeseach with its load of tiny elephants, trunks raised in triumph and joy that they are here, that you are here.You display the colors for which Colorado was named, Jagged granite peaks shaded with pink and redstreaks down the gray thrusting shapesas if a child had poured tempera paintson the back wall of the valleyhere and there, enjoying the process withno planning or visualizing of the outcome.A tiny path winds between your huge bouldersup behind the lake, weaving back and forthacross the steep end wall to the sharp jointbetween up and down, the knife edge of the ridgeleading to the highest peak nearby. The Castaleya blooming in bright red and orange and yellow paintbrushes of color in the grassymeadow below attract Coleus and Pieris butterflieswhose white and gold wings look lazy until I try to catch the butterflies in nets. Then they proveto be speed demons and masters of dodging. You nurture hundreds of organisms, none of them philosophizing or meditating, all going about thebusiness of life: eating, growing, reproducing, dying.The path up the mountain past Copper Creek is steep and hard, just wide enough for one foot at a time, some places passing cabin ruins withdecaying tin cans displaying tobacco and tunasymbols in fading colors on their sides. Then the path deteriorates into barely visible disturbance of long scree slopes with sliding rock fragments waiting to becomerock avalanches if I take an unwary step.I have to walk across the scree with one eye closed or vertigo takes over and I yearn to slide downto the bottom of the mountain rather than totake another precarious step on this unsteady path.I think of this area as your defense againstcasual visitors. No one comes here unlessthey have a burning desire to follow the pathto the end and arrive at Queen Basin, no matter what obstacles stand guard.Each time I hike up here, there’s a momentwhen I decide, “No, it’s not worth it. Just imaginethe beauty, you don’t need to sit thereand be in the picture yourself.” But I don’t stop.I face down the temptation and go on. Each time I walk up this path, I carry the knowledge thatAMAX owns you, this land and the basin and plans a mine here, a mine to destroyeverything I love about your quiet beauty. To them, it means molybdenum and money.When I arrive, taking the last turn right through a few small firs into the flatter meadowI sigh with relief: You are not destroyed yet. Still here. Yes, still here.blessings,L