Orion Magazine Brings Back The Place Where You Live

WHEN Orion Magazine announced recently that they were bringing back their popular department, "THE PLACE WHERE YOU LIVE," I thought of a zillion things I wanted to share about the landscape I call home, and the people with whom I share it.  I also thought of the ranch in Wyoming, which my grown children still call home.  A large part of my heart still lives there - will always live there.  But there is also a part of me that is even more deeply rooted to this place, to Mt. Vernon.  Read this essay online at Orion

IN THEIR CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS, the Orion editors describe the department as a space for us to exercise our sixth sense.  "Tell us about your place," they invited.  "What history does it hold for you? What are your hopes and fears for it? What do you do to protect it, or prepare it for the future, or make it better?"

AH, MAKING IT BETTER. That credo has guided the small mountain community where I live for 100 years.  Our homes, nestled in a mixed ponderosa pine forest, started as summer cabins. Narrow dirt roads wind in and out of the trees, and wildlife corridors still meander between the houses. Instead of a hundred homes sitting on 10-acre plots, leaving no open space, our homes are clustered on 200 acres, leaving nearly a 1000 acres of land as communal, natural habitat. From my neighbors’ decks, you can look east over Denver to the Great Plains, or west to the peaks of the Continental Divide.  Or sometimes, as close as the wildlife in your own backyard.

WE LIVE IN PEACEFUL PROXIMITY with elk, mule deer, bobcat, fox, coyotes, wild turkeys, golden and bald eagles, hawks, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, bear, and even the rare tassel-eared Abert’s squirrel. We don’t have manicured hedges or mowed lawns in Mt. Vernon, nor city water.  A carefully monitored, gravity fed groundwater system serves the needs of our residents, the club house, swimming pool, tennis courts, community garden and horse pasture, and fire suppression hydrant system,

Dick and Judy moved here fifty years ago.  “The people have always taken responsibility for creating and maintaining the hiking trails,” says Dick. “A short walk from your home, and you are in open space.

"THIS WAS A FREE AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR CHILDREN,” recalls Judy, “and it still is. I love seeing the young people who were raised here moving back in and raising their own children.  When you live in a community like this, you understand that with freedom comes responsibility.  It’s the volunteers who take care of the land.”

MT. VERNON'S VOLUNTEER COMMITTEES include Community Activities, History, Long Range Planning, Mediation, Open Space, Renewable Energy, Roads, Weeds, and Stewardship.  A long-standing preservation partner of the Clear Creek Land Conservancy, we have also helped preserve over 10,000 adjacent acres.

Beloved Mt. Vernon icon and senior Olympian Gudy Gaskill, founder of the 500-mile Colorado Trail system, can still be seen teaching neighborhood children to cross-country ski, or pulling her grandkids up the sledding hill by the picnic grounds. 

LIKE ASPENS, THE ROOTS Mt. Vernon residents are interconnected.  And when we squabble, like any family does, we’re gracious enough to forgive each other's shortcomings.  We are, after all, in it for the long haul. We each, in our own way, protect this place that we love, envisioning its future, knowing it is as intrinsically linked to our children's future, as it is linked to our past.  



Thanks Paige for inviting us to think about where we are right now and the place(s) we('ve) live(d).

For the past five years I've lived in the Middle East having moved here for an experimental year abroad.

I met my husband and we just had a baby, a week ago today.

So you never know where you will end up calling home. And the most important thing I've found is to be home wherever you are since I was born in one country, lived in several others, and now giving in birth on a completely different continent.

At home in the world!
Page Lambert said…
Ah, Mohana, I love your "At home in the World" motto - perfect! Yes, to be at home, no matter where you are, requires an awareness of the gifts of the present moment - so important! Your new baby, at home in your arms, where else could be more important?
I always follow your blogs, lurking in the background of your thoughts that capture how I feel about Colorado.

Some people have the gift to feel at home wherever they are, to make that home. Others, like me, feel blessed when we recognize the one place that is "Home" no matter wherelse we are in the world and work to find our way back.

Thanks for the blog and the link and sharing your love of nature with the world.
Karen O'Connell
Page Lambert said…
Karen, thank you! As I have moved around the West - Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming - I've begun to realize that my "homeland" has expanded. But the landscape where I feel a deep intimacy? Yes, those I, too, work to find my way back.
Gail Storey said…
Page, your piece for Orion's "The Place Where We Live" about Mt. Vernon is lovely, including the photos. I especially liked the part about the volunteer committees and their stewardship of the land.
I just read your piece for the August issue of Pilgrimage Magazine--are you going to be reading at the Pilgrimage event at the Boulder Bookstore on Aug. 12th?
Page Lambert said…
Thank you, Gail. This community was founded on volunteerism and stewardship and its nice to know it has lasted 100 years!

Yes, I plan on being at the Boulder Bookstore. You'll be there, too, yes?
Mary Hagen said…
Dear Page,

I throughly enjoyed your piece on "The Place Where You Live."

Mary Hagen, ECHO OF LOVE
Alice Liles said…

I was in culture shock when we moved to Muleshoe, coming from a land of trees, year-round warmth, and humidity. After 30 years here, I can't think of anywhere else to live. Visiting other places is always appealing, but I am always glad to get home to plain little Muleshoe. My kids grew up here. I finally grew up here. My animals are happy here and the ones from my past are buried here. My husband and I are growing old together here. I hope I helped the future of the community by teaching school for all those years. I like having just one red light and knowing everyone who waits on me in the grocery sore. It is a good place to be.

Alice, the town of Sundance, Wyoming, where our small family ranch is, doesn't even have a stoplight - a few stop signs as you drive down Main Street, but no lights. And yes, everyone at the post office or the grocery store or the hardware store knows you by name. It's a great feeling. And many of your Bright Lights of Muleshoe blog posts capture that sense of community!
Susan J Tweit said…
Dear Page,
Thanks for this nudge to think about what I have to say about where I live, and the lovely essay you wrote for Orion's revived Place Where I Live column (great photos in the online posting too!). I'm thinking about place in a different sense as Richard and I come up to the one-year anniversary of this journey we're walking with his brain cancer. Before, place was so simple for me: here in south-central Colorado, the formerly blighted industrial property where we've restored a native dryland meadow right in downtown Salida and built our light-on the land home. Now place includes the territory of his cancer too, and the way walking with it has deepened our relationship to each other and to the community of this land. Guess I'd better write an essay... Thanks and hugs, Susan

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