David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Death and Transfiguration (1996)

 

There have been a number of obituaries in the WIND in the past few months. Indeed, if we look through the WIND over the past 22 years it is a pretty long list. Still, here we are, some from the old generation, some from the new. People will move here, some for a few years, some for the rest of their lives, and their arrivals and departures will be duly chronicled. Some will move away. Some will die here. All of us come from a long line of dead people.

You will not see in the WIND an obituary for Gene Mann. Like many other summer residents who die, his passing will go unnoticed by those who read the WIND.  He was a resident of Manhattan, Kansas, in his early sixties, husband, father, worker in the grocery business, summer resident, whose family has had a piece of property and a cabin here for more than 70 years. Just another in a long line of dead people.

Gene spent every summer here while growing up. He did all the things young people do: hiked, fished, got into the troubles all young men get into, danced, kissed a girl, sweated under the summer sun and looked up in wonder at the full summer moon. In those far off days heat in cabins was provided entirely by wood, both in the fireplaces and in the kitchen stoves. As a result, there was always a supply of stovewood. Gene and his boyhood friends turned stovewood into boats, and spent many hours having boat races on Fawn Brook. They would drop a piece of stovewood into the water, and then, using a long stick as a prod to get it out of trouble when it got stuck against the bank or ran into roots, they ran along the banks, laughing and yelling as one or the other’s boat would float swiftly down the little stream or become stuck. Sometimes, on a warm day in August, as I listen to the wind in the pines, I can still hear those boys’ happy voices on the summer air, reminding me of a place and time where a stick of stovewood could be the key to adventure.

Gene, like the rest of us,  grew up, had responsibilities, got old, had a heart transplant, lived for a few years more, somewhat uncomfortably, and died. He leaves a wife and children who loved him, a sister who loved him, and friends who loved him. It is a story as common as the dust on our unchanging dirt roads.

As with many others who have loved this place, Gene's ashes will be scattered on the land he loved, that he shared with his family and friends and the Almighty, and which he leaves to his heirs. It is a measure of those who live here, for a while or for a lifetime, of their love of this place, that many choose to spend eternity here.

His death and his ashes remind us that this place has a high value, not only among the 300 or so souls who live here at the moment, but among the many more who have had such a strong feeling and connection that they want to stay forever. So it is that the living have an obligation to all those who have gone before, as well as to those who will follow, to care for this place as we would, well, for a cemetery, for that is what it has become, and increasingly will become; it has become sacred ground.

Like all other ground, it was sacred to the stone age peoples who lived here first, and for 150 years it has been treated as a commodity: a place to dig for minerals, to cut wood or raise animals or exploit for the money of travelers. Now, however, it has again become a burial ground for many people, as it was before the white man came, and we see it once again as sacred.

In having his ashes scattered here, Gene Mann and many others make their final statements about their love, their respect and their attachment to the place where they spent the summers of their childhoods or the autumn of their lives and nurtured their families over many years in the splendor of the rocks and pines and mountains.

The question is, will we treat it with the reverence it deserves? Will we, the living, make the same kind of statement? When we are added to that long line of dead people, what will be said about us?

 

 

Columns

© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:

Introduction

Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]

Electricity

Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]

Hiking

Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders

Elevators

The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]

Visitors

Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird

Garbage

A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]

Weather

Fences

Commuting

Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac

June

Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer

Visitors

Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon

“Whiteout”

The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley

Infestations

On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]

Walking

Rumors About a Visit by the Pope

Progress?

More About Fences

Woodpeckers

The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government

Risks

Airports

Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke

 

The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983

Carpentry

Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House

Waving

The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?

Dogs

Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving

Garbage

Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”

Spring

An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins

Summer

The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI

 

 

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