NATURE NARRATIVES: Still loving regionís views

By Melissa Walker
       When I first moved to Colorado Springs, I was an 18-year-old college student. More than anything else about that first year, I remember the thrill of waking up every morning and looking out at Pikes Peak. My parents saved all the letters that I wrote-letters full of long descriptions about the clear, crisp weather, the sky that always seemed to be blue, and the snowfall on the tops of the mountains.

An alpine meadow with Pikes Peak in the background.
Melissa Walker photo

       Having grown up comfortably enveloped in the hardwood and pine forests of Louisiana, I simply felt different in Colorado. I felt as tall as any tree as I gazed out at the expansive horizon. Views of horizons were new to me.
       Here in this place, I could see where I wanted to go. I wanted to go around Cheyenne Mountain to see what was on the other side. I wanted to explore the upended rocks of Garden of the Gods. I wanted to climb Pikes Peak.
       Then, I found that wherever I went in the Pikes Peak region, I could see where I had been. On top of Mt. Cutler, I could see my dorm back on campus. On top of Pikes Peak, I could see the cottonwood trees marking Fountain Creek's path to the Arkansas River-a river that eventually met the Mississippi and flowed through my home state. Like so many before me, I was captivated by this place. Now it is my home.
       In the ensuing years, I have discovered that alongside this region's stunning beauty are unforgettable stories of its people; inseparable from its beauty are its native plants and wildlife; and the foundations of its beauty are its rocks, canyons, mountains and horizons.

Walker, a long-time area naturalist, posts regular entries in her online blog at naturenarratives.com. She has given her permission to reprint selected pieces in the Westside Pioneer.