I can hardly believe that it’s going on five years since Elizabeth and I have been to Westcliffe. We drove up there yesterday, an hour due west of Pueblo. Westcliffe is a scenic, gorgeous town that lies at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Equal parts wealthy vacation homes and hand hewn homes of the Amish. A carriage with a large yield sign is led by a jaunty black horse to the side of us. A lovely woman in white kapp holds the reins.
The day could not be prettier as we traversed back roads searching for land for Elizabeth. We drove past large golden eagles sitting upon hills and phone lines. The deep valleys were of emeralds and lush haying fields that sparkled in the dappled sunlight through intermittent sprinkles of rain. That great western sky reaching over us.
Elizabeth’s friend has a furniture store in Westcliffe and we stopped in to say hello. We hadn’t seen him since our last visit and he was very surprised to see Elizabeth. His blond hair was in a smart bowl cut and his beard was reddish blond. He looked youthful and well. We learned that since our last visit his family had grown from two darling children to four and they had built a larger house. They lived in their barn for two years while it was being built. He gave us his wife’s cell phone number (flip phone, no data) and Elizabeth called. We were immediately invited over.
The house looked like a vacation mountain home on Air B&B. The average visitor may not have even noticed that it was an Amish home. Our lovely host greeted us with joy and quizzed Elizabeth. Her brown hair was pushed back beneath a handkerchief. The dining room table was filled with laundry in different stages of being folded. The baby, a lovely blond two-year old with just a touch of baby fat left, fought with her three year old brother over a toy tractor. Her bare feet stomped as her little homemade blue dress shook. Mama reprimanded them in Pennsylvania Deutsche.
The boys had their signature bowl cuts, their mischievous brown eyes dancing in delight. The five year old daughter I remember well, as she shares my sister’s name. Her angelic face would nod to questions from me as she sweetly smiled. A white handkerchief was fastened to her locks that were pulled back in a miniature bun. Mama’s face was fresh and healthy as she smiled and recalled what we had missed over the years. She pointed out her neighbor’s house that was for sale. Elizabeth and I looked at each other. She would love to be out here amongst these simple, kind people.
Gas lit lanterns were along the walls as well as battery operated lights that were recharged during the day from a single outlet in the basement. The house was wired in case they ever wanted to sell it but they used mainly propane. The refrigerator and stove made the kitchen look not unlike any other. Toys were strewn across the floor. African violets lined shelves near the window that looked out upon the giant barn. Free range chickens jumped on and off of the compost pile. Hail had wiped out their gardens.
She showed us the requirements of her new house with pride; the walk-in pantry lined with food, her beautiful root cellar lined with preserves, and her blender garage.
“What is a blender garage?” we both asked. She opened a cupboard door.
“It’s a place you can hide things in that you don’t want company to see!” Inside was a blender plugged into an electrical outlet and what looked like a bit of liqueur. We all laughed.
You see, simplicity is not about extremism. Her children ran outside in bare feet and played and fought. There was no television, internet, smart phones. No zombie children, no inattentive parents, no LED lights, no distractions from life. So what if the blender is plugged in. Their footprint there is very small, their hearts and love for family and community very big.
Click here to read about our first visit!