Guest post by Lisa
Up until 3 months ago I’d not even heard of Westcliffe, and now, I am moving there. I understand that type of thing happens a lot there. :)
From Manhattan to Westcliffe? How did that happen? Well, a few months ago, I found myself on a call with Cathy, a good old friend, who I hadn’t seen in years, but we’d been involved in a non-profit endeavor and had a life tested friendship. She told me about a small town she’d fallen in love with and a beautiful property there that she wanted to bid on. As the story unfolded she revealed more about the place, the people, the landscape and her possible plans. About the large landscaped garden around the property and about the potential to build some small living units as short term rentals. How she felt immediately drawn in by the open heart of the community. A small community of people who love where they live. Oh, and she told me about the mountains. The Sangre de Christo and Wet Mountains which define the space Westcliffe occupies. The Sangres an uncompromising majestic range which changes character as the light and shade reveals and obscures, as the aspens change color, as the storms roll through. And the wildlife; elk, deer, coyotes, eagles, bobcats, bison. She told me about the deep sense of homecoming she felt.
I was sitting in my apartment in the East Village of Manhattan knowing I was ready for a big change but not having any idea what that might be. Now, I really do love Manhattan. I love the crush of diversity here, the sheer number of people colliding with great purpose into each other in such a great city means very often something deeply sweet emerges. But it’s also a challenging place to be for someone with a practice centered around being still and relieving stress. I’m a Cranio Sacral Therapist - a subtle form of bodywork. There is no silence in the city. So after 3 years here and 8 years before that living in Amsterdam, I knew I was truly ready to leave.
So, last December I came to visit Westcliffe for a few days....just to make sure that I could handle things slowing down (and maybe even stopping!) for a while. Cathy picked me up and drove me slowly through the town and then we pulled into the Cliff’s Edge Inn. Aussie and Lyza Jane, her two idiosyncratic miniature Australian shepherds, were waiting at the door. Jeri, Cathy’s good friend and business partner in the Bed & Breakfast, came up and gave me a great warm welcome....I toured around that great big hug of a house, each new room like meeting a new friend. I was introduced to some of the place’s secrets - like the underground wine cellar (they may regret that). And no sooner had I put my bags down in one of the supremely welcoming B and B rooms I was walking out into the cold bright star-filled night (stars!...no light pollution) to Chappys for a couple of glasses of red wine and a steady flow of open faces to meet and greet. We took a walk next door to the Somewhere Saloon and met Donovan, the owner. An ex-marine with likely the most impressive - and pink - beard I’ve seen in some time, with a lot of great plans for his town. This was characteristic of my visit - that people really felt personally about Westcliffe, people really care about each other and how the town grows and evolves. And you get the feeling that maybe everyone doesn’t agree on how that may look but there is respect in how those differences are handled.
Wow...I am rambling on and on! I haven’t even mentioned the wolves yet! A short drive away is an amazing sanctuary where you are invited and encouraged to get to know the wolves up close and personal. The time I spent at Mission Wolf will rank high on my most moving moments. I think Cathy has already written about it a little so suffice is to say - you haven’t been kissed until you’ve been kissed by a wolf. I also had the honor of being able to attend the Xmas party of the Alpine Gardener’s club. A room full of strong minded independent women with a great sense of style and who clearly know how to have a good time. In such a short time I feel I was allowed to discover another world.
While I was staying at the Inn, Cathy had a steady stream of quite lovely people stop by - special shout out to Sharon, a very talented local photographer and minister in training who shared her experience of living in Westcliffe for many years. I got to spend some time with Steve and Edward who were doing some work at the Inn. Edward is an Amish man and I don’t know too much about their religious philosophy but whatever it is – it’s working. He communicates such a still and present sense of joy in life.
Each new meeting was just as simple and full as is only possible when you’re not rushing to be somewhere else. So by the end of the visit Westcliffe had slowed me down into a place of great appreciation and gratitude. I’ll be arriving end of March with two fat city cats, looking forward to getting to know the mountains, the people, and myself a bit better.