It's a little over an hour from the house, through the ranches, past abandoned mines and through the oh-so-Colorado town of Buena Vista before you hit the dirt road that takes you up through the chalk mountains and into the little town of St. Elmo. I must be getting used to the "roads" out here as I seem to remember being terrified of driving so close to the edge with no guard rail in sight in years past, yet today it seemed perfectly safe (must be that trip over Independence Pass shifted my perspective).
What's left in St. Elmo (a mining town in the 1800s) is old buildings that some stalwart souls are working to preserve, elevated wooden sidewalks, some cabins that people still live in (at least in the summer) and a general store that caters to the atv'ers, hikers and tourist that make the trek up.
Downtown St. Elmo
Other than the history, one of the really special things about St. Elmo is the "wild"life, which isn't all that wild. A phenomenon that I've never experienced anywhere else is the boldness of hummingbirds. These minute little creatures seem to have little fear of humans up here in the Rockies and are not bothered a bit by those of us that which to capture them in pixels to share with friends and family...
Lunchtime at the general store.
It was quiet today...I've seen dozens of them
vying for position at the feeders.
As amazing and entertaining as the hummingbirds are though, they aren't what pull us back year after year, and they certainly aren't what keeps Brett motionless and spellbound. Imagine the fascination of a having a little wild animal crawl across your lap and eat right out of your hand! Chipmunks, picas and a few adventurous squirrels have learned that there's no need to scramble around tress for nuts. It seems they've unionized, moved to St. Elmo and entered into collective bargaining with the owner's of the General Store who sell little bags of sunflower seeds for 50 cents apiece. All that's left for visitors to do then is mosey across the street (you have to mosey in St. Elmo--it's the old west), sit down on the timbers and scatter some seeds across your lap or in the palm of your hand....
50 cents is a pretty minimal investment
for this shot
Brett is a perpetual motion machine, constantly "battling" (he's a pokemon fan), actively imagining, and chatting away to himself in normal circumstances, but take him to St. Elmo and he is transformed. I could easily paint or sculpt him (if I had the ability) he's so still and quiet. I love to sit and feed the little critters myself, but even more I love to watch Brett experiencing it. Given that the teens have already moved on and were too busy to make the trip they wouldn't have missed for anything just a year or two ago, I cherish the opportunity I had with Brett today. If his big brother is any indication (and my Dad, whom he looks just like), before long it will be girls, not chipmunks eating out of his hand.
What a beautiful day....