Buffalo Peaks Ranch

A multi-layered tapestry of vegetation stretches before my eyes, the various hues and heights snuggling against the backdrop of angular mesas, rounded knobs, and a morning sky that already carries the promise of afternoon showers.

Myriad swallows dart across the canvas. Their constant chattering fills the air, and is only disrupted by the intermittent approach of vehicles on the nearby highway. Slight gusts of wind rustle the leaves of the tree in whose shadow I have sought refuge from the sun.

A pleasant perfume pervades the air. The pollen is so thick that it makes me sneeze, even if I don’t suffer from allergies. When I step into the sage-filled meadow, a fine layer of yellow dust instantly envelops my boots and pants. Between my fingertips, it feels like fine powder.

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These are some of the thoughts I scribbled during a recent writing workshop, which took place at the former Buffalo Peaks Ranch (thank you for suggesting I attend, Andrea!). Situated in Colorado’s South Park, between the medium-sized hamlet of Fairplay and its smaller southern neighbor, Hartsel, the 1861 homestead, one of the oldest in the area, is named after the eponymous summits due west, which are clearly visible from the premises. The ranch and surrounding land were purchased by Aurora in 1985, to gain control of the associated water rights. The city is leasing the buildings to the Rocky Mountain Land Library, whose mission is “to help connect people to nature and the land,” with the vision to “open Buffalo Ranch as a year-round, residential retreat center and library…” In its still-growing collection of 35,000 plus books are reflected the geography, geology, biology, and history of the habitation of the American West—any bibliophile’s idea of paradise.

The erstwhile rooms of the main ranch building house the volumes that tell the stories of those who once inhabited this land, while some of the adjacent buildings are in the process of being transformed into lodgings. All structures evoke the ghosts of those who tread here before, whether on foot or hoof. Empty stables still strewn with golden straw and littered with manure seem to await the cattle’s return from its pastures. A nest under the eaves invites a pair of birds to move in. Save a little necessary TLC, it’s basically ready for a housewarming party.

During the seminar, we participants are encouraged to experience different corners of the property, and to note our impressions. The longer we are present, and the more we move around and observe, the more evident it becomes just how multi-layered the tapestry is, and how many strata underlie each single spot. My descriptions haven’t even scratched the surface.

Read more about the Rocky Mountain Land Library here, and find out about their history, philosophy, and workshops.

The Power Of Books

Stories, invented or real, have captured our collective imagination ever since we acquired the ability to think and talk in the mists of time, and our personal imagination since our own dawn of consciousness. Committing our stories not only to memory, but to papyrus, parchment, or paper, created a vehicle to transfer them across time and space.

Geschichten, ob erfunden oder wahr, haben unsere kollektive Vorstellungskraft erobert, seit wir in Urzeiten die Fähigkeit zum Denken und Sprechen erlangten, und unsere persönliche Phantasie seit der Dämmerung unseres eigenen Bewußtseins. Indem wir unsere Geschichten nicht nur dem Gedächtnis sondern auch Papyrus, Pergament und Papier anvertrauten, erschufen wir ein Mittel, sie über Zeit und Raum hinweg zu transportieren.

Still, each new generation needs to acquire literacy anew, and our individual craving to become literate awakens when we are read to by our elders. When we finally learn the letters of the alphabet, and how to assemble them in the proper order to create meaning, a world heretofore unknown is unlocked, and life is never the same. Words and books have the power to grip our attention, make us lose ourselves in their meanings and pages, let us escape our reality, be it good or bad, and open new horizons previously inconceivable.

Jedoch muß jede neue Generation von neuem lesekundig werden, und unser individuelles Begehren nach Belesenheit wird erweckt, wenn uns unsere Leitfiguren vorlesen. Wenn wir endlich die Buchstaben des Alphabets lernen, sowie ihre sinnvolle Anordnung, eröffnet sich uns eine neue Welt, und nichts ist wie bisher. Wörter und Bücher fesseln unsere Aufmerksamkeit, ermöglichen es, uns in ihnen zu verlieren, unserer Realität, mag sie gut oder schlecht sein, zu entkommen und eröffnen uns neue, bisher ungeahnte Horizonte.

This power of books has been praised not only in word and song, but in additional artful creations, such as these statues. I have encountered them in various locales, some near libraries (those monuments to books), others in unexpected settings—in the middle of a pond, for example. While the fisherman is linked to the presence through his rod, he is clearly eons away. This post celebrates the improbable, incredible, yet indisputable influence of books.

Diese Macht der Bücher wird nicht nur in Wort und Gesang gepriesen, sondern auch mittels weiterer künstlerischer Kreationen. Diesen Statuen bin ich an den unterschiedlichsten Orten begegnet, manchen in der Nähe von Bibliotheken (diesen Büchern gewidmeten Denkmälern), anderen in unerwarteten Umfeldern, etwa inmitten eines Sees. Auch wenn seine Rute den Angler mit der Gegenwart verbindet, ist er offensichtlich Welten entfernt. Dieser Beitrag feiert den unwahrscheinlichen, unglaublichen, und dennoch unwiderleglichen Einfluß von Büchern.

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For the Love of Books

When I realize that my sojourn in Germany coincides with the Frankfurt Book Fair, there is no question in my mind that I will attend. Despite living in Germany for the first two decades of my life, in those years I either lacked the opportunity, or the curiosity.

The annual five-day affair is tailored to facilitate the interaction between publishers and sellers, but the doors also open to the public for the last two days. It is a dream for any bibliophile. I delight in being surrounded by my favorite (and humanity’s most enduring) medium in myriad shapes, sizes, and languages, encompassing the gamut of fiction and non-fiction. One chosen country is featured in detail during each fair, and this year’s Guest of Honor is the Netherlands and Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium.


From Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Icelandic Sagas, to modern-day global megahits, such as the eighth (and supposedly final) installment of Harry Potter, one gains an inkling of the breadth and depth of humankind’s literary accomplishments. Visitors range from children to seniors, attesting to the abiding appeal of books. The peaceful gathering of individuals originating from numerous nations, cultures, and religions, and our shared adoration of the printed word strengthens my belief in Homo sapiens, our common interests and ideals. The only shadow of this overall enchanting world results from the awareness that there is no way to taste even a fraction of the perpetual stream of novel tomes and volumes of literature.

As soon as I arrive at the venue, I regret my decision to leave my camera at home. In addition to the beautiful displays, it would have been fun to record various attendees dressed as their favorite character, a visual proof of the powerful sway of our imaginary realms. I am grateful to have shared this madness with circa 277,000 fellow addicts, united by our mutual love of books. After all, there are multiple less edifying addictions.

Click here for the German Version/klicken Sie bitte hier für die deutsche Version: