I was recently taken with a piece that ran earlier this year in High Country News. Written by Michelle Nijhuis, “Township 13 South, Range 92 West, Section 35” explores the idea of family roots and also offers a brief meditation on Western self-sufficiency. But as much as anything else, it serves as a requiem for a girl who died a century ago on “a high-desert mesa in western Colorado.”
Searching for information about earlier inhabitants of her unorthodox homestead, Nijhuis uncovers as much of the past as she can about the family who once lived where she now makes a home with her husband and baby daughter.
She finds a story of loss and a mystery with no answer. Near the end, she writes:
“In my search for a home place, I sometimes catch myself longing for a place of no surprises, a refuge from uncertainty. But home—no matter where we happen to find it—is just as beautiful and dangerous and changeable as anywhere else, as full of mysteries and restless souls.”
The article is full of a delicate wondering but reveals that it’s hard to find answers where the land seems to be the only constant.
[Want more? JT Thomas’ photos captures the vast landscape in a slide show with audio by Nijhuis.]