Dear Editor:

The locals of Moab not only made me feel welcomed here, but I shall be forever in their debt for the many gifts I have received over the years I have been a resident in their valley.

Helen shared stores of childhood, when Moab was a cow town. Her son in turn told me about his childhood when Moab went through its first “boom.” Hazel and Claire provided affordable housing complete with irrigation water; Starleine helped me get back to Moab from the northern coast of California. Dale invited me to help him push cows after I paid him $100 for some lamb meat my fostered wolf-dog procured for herself. Joe not only let me ride his filly during full round-up, but insisted upon buying me a plane ticket to San Francisco when I told him my father had been invited to trial his dog Ben at the Grand National Finals Rodeo at the Cow Palace. Bob and Ted and the “Good Ole Boys” have allowed me a seat at their table even though they have suspicions that I may be one of “them damn Democrats.”

No, I myself am not a local in this valley; I am an “American refugee” and arrived here 1982 with a toddler, a backpack and a broken heart. The broken heart wasn’t from a man; it was from many men who thought my ancestral land would be the perfect place to start a computer industry.

I watched in horror as the fruit trees were destroyed, the open range turned into 5-acre ranchettes and the water poisoned by solvents used to clean computer chips back in the 1970s — before Silicon Valley outsourced that task to China. My hometown grew, 32,000 new people added to our 4,000.

I saw Moab as a paradise. Lots of open land for a child and mother to play on, long growing season, clean water, cheap rent. And, best of all, people were moving away from the valley. I birthed a second son a few years later and with the help of the village managed to raise my boys into men to be proud of.

By 2002, there were so many changes that I composed a poem comparing the Grand Valley to the Santa Clara Valley in California.

I spent over 10 years in western Colorado where I blissfully raised and trained horses and worked as a ranch hand and dude wrangler. Three summers ago, I returned to Moab for a “brief visit.” Plans changed in April 2017 due to a busted snowmobile, some climbing gear and a “pretty good idea” my younger son had. We live and breathe today thanks to Grand County Search and Rescue.

I am thankful for that nearly fatal accident as I am once again living the good life this valley can provide. At 60 years old, I have come full circle and have returned to the lifestyle of the Moab I remember. More time than money, good irrigation water, a long growing season, rich garden soil and friends and neighbors I can turn to, be it garden advice, a couple of eggs or an audience for my words.

Patrice Lee