Lofty Love

Traci HalesVass



You know you are in love when old songs give bring on that stinging feeling in your eyes. You can recognize an infatuation when your friends’ eyes glaze over because you’ve been talking non-stop about your objet de l'amour.


The realization of my love came to me, again, recently, when I reminisced about the Colorado Mountains.


I was born with a genetic tendency to love this place. Some earliest memories are of my grandparents’ cabin in lower Deer Creek Canyon. I remember, like snapshots, inhaling the sharpness of the crisp air; of sticking my feet, one inch at a time, into the icy cold creek; of blowing the steam off of hot chocolate after making snow angels in the deep mountain snow. I loved warming up by the fragrant wood fire.


As in all love affairs, the heartache and disappointment was bound to come. It was a week in early summer, 1965, when the rains kept me in our suburban home. I was bored and restless and whined to go to the cabin, watch the rain fall through the pines, prickling the stream with plinks and splashes. I wanted to sit by the wood stove and wrap myself in one of Gramma’s quilts.


But the little mountain stream swelled with rain, and as the torrent crashed down the South Platte, my little creek gorged on the run off.


June 15, 1965, twenty some people died and over $500 million damage resulted. A farm owner southwest of Denver described the rains, “like if you break a water balloon over an anthill.” Many families lost so much more than I did. Lives were lost and ruined; pets, livestock, and fine race horses from Centennial Race Track drowned.


But it was my first loss and I grieved for my little cabin. My love for the Colorado Mountains, however, only deepened.


When John Denver’s song, “Rocky Mountain High” is played, my heart swells every time. And I wax on about the wonders and beauty of this place I call home.