In Hope of a View


On the east side of a wide mountain valley fenced to the west by unapproachable peaks is a place he dreamed about and she was talked into trying.  She hoped for children and a good view. 

They traveled west, leaving land where trees changed with season to voyage to where the sage brush deepens in color only in a rainy year.  They left behind grey skies and occasional days of partly covered sun to put down under the bluest-blue sky in a place where the rare cloud rushed past and the sun warmed the earth even on the coldest day.  

“Broadest View”
Beckwith Ranch: Westcliffe, Colorado

In time, the wild new home would grow civil and full.  She dabbed as much as she possibly could into this new canvas–the painted white boards and the china and the mahogany and the silver and the linens and the pink paper walls in the parlor and the fine porte-cochere built only when things were looking up.  These souvenirs from her earlier life linked to what she had known before and gave her strength to reinvent.  Relics, they stood hard and fast against the strange backdrop of a ranch out West until they faded, like her memories, from the sun and the dust and the wind of the valley.  What was unfamiliar became known.   What used to be was largely gone. 

That is how I imagine it. 

Beckwith Ranch: Westcliffe, Colorado

For that is what I have known.  I have carried to each new place at least some of what came before.   I have brought along what I love and the books and the armoire and the dishes and the me that I know have nested and given comfort.

I am on home number fifteen.  Permanence is an experience I might have liked.  I followed change despite no preference for it.  I have left plenty, used up and discarded too much.  Time, people, things.    Deep sorrow to leave what I nurtured.  Pain to abandon friends, involvements, the space created in houses I have loved.  Tears.   

“Favorite Past Time”
Beckwith Ranch: Westcliffe, Colorado

Then one last look back.  Followed by a slow, creeping heart smile growing at the thought of unmet friends and unimagined prospects that lie ahead and with consideration for the best place in the new house to land the unwieldy armoire I used to never, ever think I could leave behind. 

Reinvention forces decisions about leaving what no longer fits and what is worthy of keeping as the mainstay.  It provides a new slate on which to sketch memories and experiences and attitudes that can stand hard and strong against the wind and the dust and the fading sun.  What is important stays and gives strength.   For wherever the voyage, the unknown becomes familiar and the known fades.   

“Waverly House”
Beckwith Ranch: Westcliffe, Colorado

The Beckwith Ranch is one of the most photographed spots in Colorado.  Established in 1874 by the Beckwith brothers, it was at its peak one of the largest cattle operations in Colorado.  Sons of a wealthy shipbuilder from Maine, Elton and Edwin brought cattle to Colorado from Texas in 1869 with Charles Goodnight, one of the founders of the western cattle industry.

In the 1870’s, Elton married Elsie Chapin Davis and their Victorian “mansion” which they named “Waverly House” was built shortly after.  Elton enjoyed a short political career, serving one term as a Colorado state senator.   In 1907, Elton Beckwith died from injuries from a fall (jump) from the second floor of the Beckwith Ranch.  It is said that he had contracted syphilis and it had driven him mad.   After his death, Elsie Beckwith reinvented, selling all the property in the Wet Mountain Valley to move to Denver where she died in 1931.  Elton, Elsie, and Edwin are all buried in the Ula Cemetery, located a few miles southwest of the ranch.

72 thoughts on “In Hope of a View

  1. Funny, I was just thinking of you yesterday, and wondering if everything was well (or if I’d simply missed a recent post), and here you are this morning, with your stunning photos and insights…
    A lovely start to my day – thank you.

    • Thank you for thinking of me–this is one of those times in life I would call “challenging” and the fact you thought about me means a lot. This too, shall pass, but I have not been keeping up with blogging as much as I’d like. Glad you were able to catch this post 🙂

  2. I loved when you wrote, “What was unfamiliar became known. What used to be was largely gone.” But even more so, “What is important stays and gives strength.”

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and photographs.

  3. “They left behind grey skies and occasional days of partly covered sun…”

    I live in the sort of place that they left behind. I’ve never been to CO & think that your description of how their priorities shifted would be akin to my experiences if I ever moved west. Food for thought in this post.

    And as always, your photos are amazing. There really are skies that blue, huh? Wow.

  4. You have so much courage. You bring a sense of “anything is possible” to each post, and each photo. You make me feel like I might have the courage to move forward in the same way, although I have my doubts about that.
    Thank you!

  5. A haunting tale – both your own imaginings and the reality of people who move to uncharted territories to settle and who bring bits of the past with them for comfort. You are a master story teller!

  6. I, too, liked the line YearsStricken noted: “I followed change despite no preference for it.”
    I’ve missed you, Bella. I hope all is well. Your abitlity to share beautiful photos and stories remains strong. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece with us.

    • Thank you Lenore Diane. I have missed writing and reading during this time. It too, shall pass. Hope to get caught up soon but till then, thank you for your kind words.

  7. “Followed by a slow, creeping heart smile growing at the thought of unmet friends and unimagined prospects that lie ahead”… It’s all about how we shape our experiences isn’t it? The outlook we take, the hope we allow to grow.
    As always I walk away moved and thoughtful after reading your stories.

  8. Wow! I can see why it is photographed. What an amazing place! Living in Maine, I do understand what a change of life that would be. Thanks so much for offering this up.

  9. I can appreciate both the sorrow and joy of moving on, having done so many times myself, but not in quite as traumatic circumstances as you!

  10. Life is filled with nothing but change, and our stubborn search for permanence. Thank you, again, for your beautiful words and images. The combination is always stunning.

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