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Native tips on life in the Colo. wild

Woman celebrates natural world
Between Urban and Wild: Reflections from Colorado by Andrea Jones, University of Iowa Press, 196 pages softcover, $22.50. Jones will speak and sign copies of the book at 6:30 p.m. today at Maria’s Bookshop, 960 Main Ave. For more information, call 247-1438 or visit www.mariasbookshop.com.

Andrea Jones is a native of Colorado who was blessed to have a childhood where she was able to roam and play in the woods. Her family did not go to parks and campgrounds, but stayed close to nature without benefit of the amenities found in most recreational areas. No potties, showers or plumbed water for Jones and her siblings. These were wild and fun times.

Growing up unfettered by close neighbors or many restrictions when the family escaped to recharge away from the “civilized” world gave Jones the opportunity to learn about and love the natural world. As an adult, she strives to live lightly on the land and cohabit with her wild neighbors, who filled the space well before her arrival.

With the publication of her first book, Between Urban and Wild: Reflections from Colorado, Jones shares her keen observations of her surroundings. Her essays are beautifully descriptive and bring the reader into her world. Jones has cultivated the ability to just be in her environment, attentive to the smells, sounds and feel of the active world surrounding her.

As described in this collection of essays, Jones and her husband, Doug, have chosen to live in two places in Colorado that are more rural than urban. Their first home was in Four Mile Canyon near Boulder. It is there Jones begins her journey by sharing her observations of the birds outside her office window where she had installed her first feeder. This simple step led to a shift in her perception of her surroundings. This is fortunate for her readers who now can share and enjoy Jones’ journey as a natural and poetic storyteller.

Andrea and Doug made a conscientious decision to move away from human society and further into the wilderness interface. They carefully planned their move and the construction of their home to create the least disturbance to the existing environment. Their new home is at Cap Rock Ridge near the middle of the state. This property is much more remote than their previous home with neighbors much farther away. Amenities such as mail deliveries and stores are now nonexistent.

The couple also decided to have horses on the property. Jones had ridden and owned a horse when she was younger. The essay devoted to their experience with acquiring their horses and then living with them is filled with humor, education and a little heartbreak. Jones’ portrayal of the horses and their distinct personalities is entertaining and enlightening, especially for those not familiar with these large animals.

One of the most intriguing and potent sections of the book concerns Colorado’s relatively recent onslaught of wildfires. Jones shares well-researched facts that explain how the forests have gotten into the current state. Suppression has created unhealthy ecosystems that are ripe for potential firestorms that can spread and destroy 200 to 300 homes in a mere day. Jones promotes the personal responsibility of homeowners to their land, with reasonable suggestions for preventive mitigation. However, she acknowledges that Mother Nature sometimes can thwart the best efforts.

In Between Urban and Wild, Jones does more than delight readers with her beautiful writing. She manages to gently pose moral questions about how humans can responsibly live in the natural world with its many other inhabitants. Jones promotes living conscientiously in the shared space of our world with its finite resources but does not use a heavy-handed environmental agenda. Jones is a proponent of thoughtful living and encourages residents of the West to be aware of their impact on the land and its other inhabitants. Between Urban and Wild is an engaging and captivating read.

sierrapoco@yahoo.com. Leslie Doran is a Durango freelance reviewer.

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