Albino Crows & Thunder Snow

You always hear how the past haunts the present, like Faulkner’s oft-quoted adage about the South, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” Here in backwoods Colorado the past haunts the West, partially in the frontier hardiness, where you stand side-by-side with ranchers at the supermarket and coffee shop, or in the ruins of a frontier-era cabin in my front yard, a 12×12 foot square home to an aspen now. But the haunted West reveals its ghosts also in the landscape: This morning we saw an albino crow in the springsnow mud along the aptly named Muddy Lane, and yesterday we heard thundersnow during this storm that dropped as much as two feet of snow on our valley. It’s a wildness of the landscape not yet overrun by people, perhaps never to be. On our return from Texas we passed through unpopulated Huerfano County, and saw a herd of some 200 buffalo, 50-60 pronghorn antelope, and over a dozen elk. Our ponds are filled with geese, and the roadside busy with killdeer, meadowlarks, magpies, kestrels, redwing blackbirds. The other morning of flock of over twenty wild turkeys marched past our front windows and across our yard, the tom spreading his tail wings like he was showing off. With black bear and mountain lion in our yard regularly, along with mule deer, raccoon, badger, and pine marten, we’re close to the animal world, to those energetic claws.

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