I remember one of many, believe it or not, times a few years back, when I saw literally ten million rainbows in less than an hour. I was driving back from Dunton on the dirt road down to the south end of Lizard Head Pass when it began to drizzle and, as often happens, the sun kept on shining.
In some odd quirk of atmospherics, rainbows began to form; they appeared to me to have one end firmly planted just ahead of my moving car, while the other meandered around the landscape off toward Sheep Mountain. The rainbows kept dissolving and reappearing, dissolving and reappearing, as fast as a deck of cards in a cardshark’s hand., too fast to count even if I had wanted to, which I didn’t.
I knew I was watching something absolutely amazing, unforgettable and inexplicable, but beyond that my mind couldn’t process it. What could you do with an experience like that, anyhow? I realized that if and when I decided to record it in words, as I am here, my description would be like the blueprints for a building; readers would have to build their own Taj Mahal.
I’m sure that anyone who has lived here for very long, who doesn’t have their nose buried in dreams of money, gadgets, ego, “success,” knows what I’m talking about. Every time a full moon rises from behind the mountains at the end of the valley, the streets are full of people, gazing at the incredible show; it’s reminiscent of the moon- and snow-viewing parties the traditional Japanese poets used to celebrate in their verse. Back when CDOT used a light howitzer to set off the avalanche snows atop Ajax, the crowds were even bigger, blocking the road out by Town Park and extending west all the way to the center of downtown.
Think about it: how many people get to live in a town where nature is so spectacular that it pervades the communal consciousness? It’s very special, and an increasingly rare phenomenon in this era when more and more human beings live in an environment that’s almost entirely unnatural. They may get glimpses of the wilds, even the poor souls who live in a place like L.A. – at 4 a.m. packs of coyotes race down deserted stretches of Sunset Boulevard, and there are places on the same thoroughfare where you can look east and see snowcapped peaks – but these are glimpses only, not the richness of total immersion that we in Telluride enjoy.
The late J. Michael Brown was walking at dawn by the base of Bear Creek Road when he saw a flock of pelicans alight on the waters of the beaver pond; the pond had just refilled with water, after a period of over a year when it was bone dry (a deluded local, now moved elsewhere, had blown a hole in the beaver dam with dynamite because the beavers were flooding “his” property). To J. Michael, it seemed as if the birds were saluting Telluride for its open heart and love of the mountains and all they contain. As he watched, the birds suddenly rose, en masse, gathered into a V-shaped formation, and flew west the length of Colorado Avenue and out over the Valley Floor, never to be seen again, a priceless gift to all of us who live here….