Well, we’ve sold my mother’s car, Indian arts, and house (it’s due to close this week) and last Thursday had an estate liquidator come and remove everything we had left and didn’t want. In the meantime, the White Mountains have been burning, which is where we’d planned to hold our private memorial for my mother.
For maybe fifteen years we — me, my mother, sister, husband, son and his friend took an annual trip to the high country of the eastern White Mountains to camp and enjoy the aspens as they turned color. My husband often scouted for elk and we frequently heard them bugling in the night. Since we never stayed in — or even near — an organized campground, our dogs were free to roam. We hiked and sketched and painted and nature watched and cooked. We have many happy memories of those times and the place itself, which, to quote a recent interviewee, was one of the most beautiful on earth.
We stayed in two different places over the years, one not far from the Bear Wallow Campground, which is the campground where they are saying the horrific Wallow Fire began. The second place was near the town of Greer, which was recently overrun by the flames and 22 cabins were lost (to put it into perspective, though, it was 22 out of 500).
In going through my mother’s things last week, I came upon these pictures from our trips there. The first ones, including the one at the top of this post, are from the Bear Wallow location. The last one with the “family portrait” is from our place near Big Lake, just south of Greer. (click on any of them to enlarge)
Double Cienega. I painted that stand of aspens out there.
This is from the hillside above the previous meadow as we hiked up to see a bear den Stu had found.
Us in an aspen grove. It was on this walk that I experienced the rain of aspen leaves I wrote about in a scene in The Shadow Within… That’s Adam, MUCH younger than he is now (so are we for that matter!) and the hound was our first, a bloodhound/black and tan cross named Grumpy. He’s the one that sold us on hounds.
Aspens at the top of the hill.
Walking along the road at the top of the hill, on our way to the den…
There’s our camp, at the edge of the trees, looking out across the meadow.
This one was taken several years later at the Big Lake site. Adam on the left is obviously a bit older than he was in the previous shots here and the new hound is Samantha, Grumpy’s replacement. She was also a bloodhound/black and tan cross. Or at least that’s what they told us when we bought her. My mother is on the right.
To hear and see the news reports, it sounds as if all of the above is gone, nothing but charred black stumps, dead snags and scorched ground. Time will tell — there may still be pockets and stands of life and Stu still wants to try going up there, though lodgings may be a bit harder to come by even than before. God will have to work all this out if that’s what He wants us to do.
In the meantime, we mourn the loss of our beautiful special spot in Arizona — and in our lives and memories — grateful we had as many opportunities to enjoy it as we did.