Silver City and Wilderness Lodge
January 2, 2009
Just after New Year's, we returned with our best friends in the Gila Wilderness. We discovered last summer that Silver City is almost equidistant from Tucson and Albuquerque, so Dennis and I caravaned with Kit and Ann H. and met Tom and Ann C. there on Friday afternoon.
This former mining town with a population of less than 15,000 has an extraordinary number of excellent galleries as well as some fantastic Victorian-era homes. We toured the town from end to end, including a walk along the 55-foot-deep ditch that was created when a flood swept away the former Main Street in 1895. And of course we stopped for coffee at the Java-lina Café, and spent the night at the kitschy Palace Hotel.
From Silver City, we headed north into the Gila Wilderness and three delicious days at the Wilderness Lodge.
TO THE GILA CLIFF DWELLINGS
By Ann H
On Friday, they said storm watch, storm warning.
Saturday came mild
Fresh winds at our back for walking
Mud crisp and crunchy under boots.
We drive through thread-bare mountains,
Run the ridges, watch valleys unfold.
Sunday, the sun dodged clouds.
We marvel at winter trees
Stripped to reveal cliffsides
Dripping with icicles, frozen sheet flow.
Winding pathways take us to south-facing ruins
Solar-heated high on the canyon's side.
Someone chose this site for special reasons,
Sight-lines converge here,
Streams flow below.
Families made homes, dried crops, smoked hides,
Slept in the shelter of curved, stacked rock.
We wake on Monday morning to a stark dawn
Black and white, white and black
Patterning of fields, fences, trees.
Through lacy curtains in my gabled room,
A flock of shrubs appears to gambol,
Snow melded to every limb and twig.
Beyond these frost-lined panes, a throng of gems —
Feathery crystals — float across the landscape.
I strain to hear their tic-ticking on the mossy roof.
Instead, your snoring from the next room startles,
Then connects me with you, your warmth.
This wood house shares its heat, too, dripping at eaves
Where snow turns to meltwater,
Meets frigid air, casts ice daggers.
Droplets make their leap toward a rain barrel
but stop — cold — in — their — tracks.
Inside, your breathing bridges the silence
through these wainscoted walls.
I imagine the cliff dwellings in this deep snow,
Still but not silent, soaking in the storm.
Their tightly-fitted rooms, stone walls chinked with mud.
How did sounds of sleeping men pass among them?
The storm has arrived after all, in earnest.
No more talk of warming trends,
Of predictions undone. For now
We're here to keep this house against the wintry fell.