Photo: Abandoned stone house in San Luis Valley, Colorado.
While driving through the San Luis Valley in Colorado last summer this little stone house spoke to me on many levels. It was beautiful, yet broken. The external structure was solid; created with care by fitting stone against stone with an array of well-placed colors and sizes. It spoke of pride of craftmanship and the love of detail. This was a house that was at one time loved by someone and filled full with life. Sitting on several acres, it had unobstructed views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the white-capped peaks of the Blanca Massif in the distance. The beautiful Rio Grande River twisted and turned through the deep canyon walls a few miles to the West and the New Mexico border was within walking distance of its doors to the South. Shattered windows had once served as protection from the driving winter winds and the bitter cold. I imagined children standing there, looking out at the snow-covered acres while sipping hot chocolate and warming themselves by a blazing fire. I imagined Christmas celebrations, birthday parties, summer picnics, singing voices and babies crying. And now it sat, abandoned; filled with shattered glass, bullet-ridden walls and a crumbling roof. It looked so sad and all alone.
There in the San Luis Valley it still remains in lonely dignity, as it weathers slowly over time. I may never know the truths of its past for certain, yet its essence in that moment when I stood before it has a place forever inside my mind. This same house now sits proudly before me in a photograph and continues to whisper the secrets of its past. Every now and then I make a point to stop and listen. And sometimes I begin to hear the warmth and laughter of a better time. A time when this now shattered structure was once a happy home.