I stood there on the opposite bank and searched for a way across, a way to get to the other side without soaking my feet in the stream, and finding none in my purview, I settled for looking for a way to cross time.  I thought that might be easier, somehow.

I found a place where the snow could be cleared from a sizeable rock, one that would support me in my leaning against the bank, one that would hold me, whole, and almost comfortably as I chose to sit there in the freezing air and try to pass through eons of time, years that had passed, a century and more.

I stared into the windows and at the fallen beams, trying to see the rocks all back in their places, the carved and solid arches back over the window frames, glass reflecting the day’s gray light, or even some candles there, on the various sills, or on the mantle over the wood stove that might have been tucked into the far corner of long ago.

I heard notes floating in the icy air, these from a tinny piano that had been brought out from back east in a mule-drawn wagon for someone’s home and later donated to the church, the congregation, to His people, so it might accompany their country and refined voices as they lifted their praise and worship on those mountained Sunday mornings of then and gone.

I heard notes and the scuff of leather work boots on the lumbered floor…and then I heard a car horn honk in the canyon roadway, an engine roar, and a fading note.  The cold was reaching into my muscles on the rock by the stream as I closed my eyes again and listened hard to what might have been, to what might still be there in spirit form, to what might still be living there in the rocks and beams from that other time.

The rocky stream wore icicles on her edges and snow on her banks and silver-gray clouds hung low in the air and I thought I smelled wood smoke, that piney richness that even curls in your mind when you smell it again after it has been so long.  Women’s voices, high and low, some children at their sides, tiny voices singing, too, as fathers and single men stood at the sides and in the rear of the white granite building with hats in their hands as they growled and hummed the hymns’ refrains and shuffled their boots and scuffed the floor…as the stream still rolls and the water is cold and the trees sway in a growing wind…that carries notes and wood smoke out into the mountains and draws and tucks them away into moments of time that will live again in my imagination and then….


Please follow this link for an update on the history of these ruins in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, USA.

15 responses

  1. Our sense of longing and belonging to something greater than ourselves allows us to overcome the trials of discovery so that we may experience the mysteries of history and nature.

    December 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    • Is that what drives us, Steven? I like the idea that it is…that sense of longing and belonging to something greater than ourselves being what allows us to overcome the trials of discovery. It’s a provocative thought…thank you, Sir. 🙂

      December 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

  2. jason

    This is hands down my favorite blog of yours to date.

    December 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    • Wow! To date, Jason? Incredible…I am touched, my friend, thank you. 🙂

      December 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm

  3. This is beautiful, words and pictures both. I feel the same way with ruins, all those sounds of life still going on, just out of earshot, or lost, and known to be lost forever…

    December 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    • Thank you, Helen, for your very kind words…and there is something so alluring about ruins, captivating, intriguing to the point of pause and wonder. Thank you. 🙂

      December 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm

  4. Fascinating visual subject matter and a very, very well-written entry. Kudos!

    December 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    • Thank you, Kerry. 🙂

      December 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  5. What a beauty. The color, the place , the mood all very stunning for me.

    December 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    • Thank you, Pattu – it is a beautiful place…in all seasons of the year. 🙂

      December 16, 2011 at 8:13 pm

  6. Through your photos and words, I was able to go with you still wearing my slippers, with a hot cup of coffee in hand. I have always found myself drawn to and intrigued by such places. Thanks for the early morning hike.

    December 19, 2011 at 8:47 am

    • You are welcome for the early morning, hike, Lori T. I’m glad the photos and words could take you there.

      December 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm

  7. I know that feeling, Scott. The abandonment part is what always gets to me. Why do humans leave remnants of their lives behind… That has always puzzled me. This is a beautiful story.

    July 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

    • There are probably so many reasons, George, but we do, don’t we? Someone once offered that it would have cost too much in effort or resources to remove them, so why bother…? I suppose that’s as good as any other reason….

      Thank you for your kind words about the story…and how nice that you’ve been exploring in the archives…or maybe it’s just that you missed our Little Cottonwood Canyon? 🙂 I was trying to feel the cold on my face and fingers again while reading the story just now…while a nearby fan is blowing on me after just coming inside from the still very-warm evening of my new/old desert home….. Someday…..

      July 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      • Yes, I miss it. I started not to comment while I was lingering in the old haunts. And, YES, someday… 🙂

        July 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm

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