"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

21 January 2010


Our house, the House of Owls and Bats, is a one-hundred thirty year old miner's cabin, fashioned in the Victorian style. Sure, over the intervening years from its initial construction to when we bought it, it has received certain modern amenities, such as running water and electricity. A few more rooms and a bay window. But, most of the windows are still single-pane and the insulation is almost non-existent. Our primary source of heat during the winter is the woodstove.

Outside, the wind, blown from the high peaks and passes around the Roof of the World, whips and howls in a banshee's choir. Puffs of smoke will sometimes be blown out of the damper on the stove. During certain gusts, the very house itself creaks and groans and we are left to wonder if the next breeze is going to bring it all down around our ears.

Yes, the wind around here can be vicious. Gales, which cause whiteouts or snow devils in winter and borderline duststorms on the tailing's piles at other times of year. Since the wind blows here almost all the time, it's one of the reasons we consider a small turbine at some point down the road, it turns out to be feasible.

The nice man at the sustainable energy place we visited up and over said it might depend on what our average wind speed was or if we got enough of it. If there is one thing I have observed, both in the mountains and out on the lone prairie, there is always a little bit of a breeze. It seems to only be within the borders of the greater metroplex that there is sometimes absolutely no wind, but stifling, stagnate air. Given the rest of this part of the world, that's something I find more than a little queer.

Five hundred vertical feet down the mountain, and a township away, the winds can be stronger. This is because of both the Roof of the World and Guanella Pass. The wind picks up speed as it rips across the loch, where gales of hurricane force have been recorded. There are stories of the windows of vehicles being blown out by a strong gust, showering drivers and passengers with shrapnel of broken glass. It can get rather scary around the junction too, where the wind meets up with what comes off of Berthod Pass.

In our little Sahel there are four townships and three village/hamlets. From roughly seven-thousand, five-hundred, twenty-six feet, to the ninety-one eighteen where we are, it is amazing to note the way the weather can change. From every municipality to settlement, it is as if we all have our own little micro-climate. Predicting the weather in Colorado has always been more of a joke and a hobby than a profession-the old joke of waiting five minutes for the weather to change. In the mountains, doubly so.

Last winter, even the old timers could not remember it being so blustery. This winter, I've not heard as many complaints, even though there have been those nights when the wind shakes our tiny little house, giving us cause to wonder if it won't all come down around our ears. I guess I shouldn't worry too much. The House of Owls and Bats has stood for one-hundred thirty years of snow, rain, runoff, and wind. Perhaps this ancient miner's cabin will stand for one-hundred thirty more.

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