August 22, 2014

There is a place, a very special place, and it has left a mark on my

heart as no other place has done. Why this is so remains a mystery.
Our days spent there were not many, and the time was long ago, but the impressions go deep and in remembering, it seems like yesterday. The place has a lovely name, SWAN'S NEST, and it began as a hideaway, built by a mining baron back in 1898. It was a fisherman’s lodge when I knew it, nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. My mother and dad became caretakers of the place for one or two summers back in the late '40's.

My recollections begin with the early days of my marriage, Claude recently out of the military and embarking on his education via the GI Bill. We were assigned housing in Denver University's Pioneer Village, and our baby girl, Patsy, was just born. Our son Mike was 4 years old.
Our first visit to Swan's Nest was in August of 1947. Patsy was one month old and Mike had just turned 4. I remember piles of river rocks all over the place. It was an eyesore, an insult to the beautiful pastoral scene, and the surrounding majestic mountains. These huge piles of rocks were the result of dredging the Swan River for gold, and had just been left there.
The huge sprawling lodge sat back a way from the rock piles, and I soon discovered that I only had to lift my eyes to the hills in any direction, and the rocks were forgotten. From the veranda one could see Colorado’s entire 10 Mile Range, and more, a heart stopping sight.
The house was of gigantic proportions. A veranda running the length of the house, inside woodwork done in California redwood, lofty ceilings, huge doorways and an excess of elbow room. We learned that the man who built the house was himself of large proportions and had the house built to his specifications. The entire house was built of California redwood--plank flooring, wall paneling, stairs and railings. The room where we slept ̧ I recall, had an old cooking range in it. That stands out in my mind because the water in the teakettle froze in the night after the fire went out. This was in August! We had to put our baby in the bed with us to keep her warm.
Because my primary focus was on my children at the time, I failed to register a lot of the details of the house. However, I will never forget watching the little boys, my 3 young brothers, Bill, Dale and Jack, along with my own 4 year old Mike, racing around the place with unbounded energy and delight, free to throw rocks to their hearts content, their young voices diluted in the magnificent expanse of Colorado space, unhindered. It was a special heaven for little boys.
At the back of the house were the meadows, and the trails and the wild things. The river, creeks and little rills abounded with fish, and it was there you would often find my Dad, with Dale trailing along behind, with their fishing poles. On the trails that led into aspen copses and deep woods
would be where you were likely to find me, among the bluebells, the paintbrush and the columbines.
How to describe the effect of this magical place upon us all? Mostly I remember my mother as she scrubbed sheets, and hung them on the line out behind the house. I remember her radiance, her joy. She worked hard, but she was in her element, at peace with herself in her mountains. I believe my dad finally began to understand the pull of the mountains upon my mother. He felt a strong tug as he, himself, fell victim to the magic. Those lovely summers at Swan's Nest have had a profound effect on all of us, and the realization has seeped slowly down through the years and taken root in the hollows of our hearts as we remember it all over again.
I love the image of my Mother's radiant face, the magnificence of the view from the veranda, the pungent pine-scented air, the rocks and rills and those eternal templed hills, and I love how I felt when I was there. The essence of Swan’s Nest remains with me to this day.
The words of an old favorite hymn come to my mind: "There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole. . ."
Swan's Nest....a balm to the soul. . .. . even in memory. Lovingly remembered by Betty L. Owen 

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