A week of skiing has given me a whole new perspective on the idiosyncracies of writers, at least this one. It's amazing where stories show up, and, honestly, what a writer will do for a story.
You might be a writer if, in the face of imminent doom and personal destruction, you'll do anything to find a story.
This week, I've faced the perils of skiing and lived to tell about it. I've skiied in near white-out conditions when I could only see a few feet in front of me, down slopes that were more ice than snow and against wind that wanted to literally blow me uphill. And in all that, while self preservation was way high up on my list of things to do, I still had an eye out for the story. If I couldn't be comfortably ensconced behind my desk at home in my office with my mind thousands of miles and a century away in New Zealand, well, then I had to find something to inspire me, to write about. There had to be a story here somewhere.
And I found it.
Carved into the mountain.
I know it's hard to see in the picture to the right, but that big spot of white is actually a shamrock. It was carved into the mountains more than a century before by Irish immigrants on the trail of that illustrious metal that brought so many out West, gold.
I had to think about the story behind that shamrock for a while. It's at least the size of a football field, if not bigger, and it was made by felling all the trees on the side of the mountain until they resembled a shamrock. The Irish did it to mark their territory. There is a cross to the left of it, and a few other, now no longer recognizable symbols hewn into the forests by immigrants marking their land and their claims. What strength that must have taken, first to work in the mines all day searching for that shiny gold that sparkled like the sun, tears of the gods, I think the incas called it, and then hew out trees after to mark your claim.
And to top it off, to my knowledge, there was no great gold rush in Keystone, CO, but the Irish left their mark nonetheless. For generations to come, anyone who visits Keystone will see that they were here, seeking out their fortunes, following hope, looking for a better life, and leaving their mark. (The local security system that runs surveillance for the area is called Shamrock Security).
That's the story that found me this week. I'm glad to be able to pass it on and give voice to the many who were here so long ago. Next time you're out this way, keep an eye out for the shamrock. It is insanely green!
Valensteins: Ethan Long
2 days ago