Place Where You Live:

The Backcountry

Aspen grove, Twin Lakes, Colorado

            My home will be far away; somewhere I can live simply, among mountains and rivers; somewhere wild. I will get up early in the morning, while the air is still cold and wet, trees glistening in the slanted red light. I will walk down to the water and wade among the rocks, then cook myself breakfast and sit at my window while the sun comes up.

            I am young in years and have yet to find that place, though I have some ideas of where to look. I’ll start in Vermont, where I’ve spent many summers at camp and winters at my grandmother’s farm in the mountains near Middlebury. Birch trees cover the hillside across the dirt road from the house, and sheep graze under the watchful eyes of llamas in the pasture behind it. The floors creak, the AGA is always hot, and the wind whistles around the corner of the dining room.

            From there I’ll head out to Colorado, where I’ve already established a deep connection to the landscape. I’ll head out to Leadville, Aspen, the Maroon Bells, Rifle, Glenwood Springs, and anywhere else I can get to. Here the conifers reign supreme, but the aspen is what I long for; green groves bigger than the pastures in the Arkansas River valley, hillsides without a pine or spruce in sight. Alpine lakes shimmer and mountain brooks gurgle; elk graze in a meadow across from the stream while I’m collecting water for a backcountry breakfast.

            After that I’d make my way to Oregon, but for a different reason. Here I’d search for a home closer to the quirky city of Portland, but with easy access to the hills beyond. When I visited five years ago I fell immediately in love with its small, compact, tree-lined streets, trolleys, red brick sidewalks, farmers markets and Japanese garden. Perhaps a balanced existence between the front and backcountry could satisfy my desire for both the solitude and serenity of fishing an alpine lake and the fullness I feel walking down a cozy street with record stores and coffee shops.