Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | November 17, 2009

How Did Silver Become MtnWoman?

Just how did a woman who grew up in one of the flattest states in the southern USA become MtnWoman? It helps if she is very creative and has lots of imagination.

I first noticed my love of mountains when I was 7 years old. I saw my first western on television. Sure, I liked the cowboys and the stories, but what I enjoyed most was seeing the southwestern landscape. Filled with desert and mountains, dust, and cacti, it was the most beautiful country I had ever seen. From then on, all my daydreams were set in the southwest.

Actually, I never saw a mountain until I was 20. That year my father and I took a trip through Texas to Monterrey, Mexico. Nearing Monterrey, we passed a few rocks and hills. I was entranced; my father was not impressed. “You want to see mountains? I’ll show you real mountains!” We left Monterrey and drove north through San Antonio and Dallas straight to the Arkansas Ozarks where he was born and lived until he was 18.

I though I loved all mountains, but I did not like the Ozarks. It was July and everywhere I looked were lush, green trees and bushes disguising the contours of the hills. I did enjoy visiting the home site where my father was born. All that remained was a stone chimney, but my father described the house and gardens so vividly, I could see everything clearly. We came home and I returned to my daydreams of the southwest. I revisited the Ozarks 10 years later and still did not like them.

In 1983, I traveled to New Mexico for the first time; it was like coming home. It is truly the land of enchantment. I was so in awe, I became silent and like a sponge, I soaked up visions of the turquoise sky, the red rocks and mountains between Santa Fe and Taos, the adobe structures with their blue doors and hanging peppers, the centuries old churches, the twig fences and dirt yards. I never wanted to see green grass again. I would have been happy to just stay there and not return to my old life.

Back at my job and house, I felt restless, alien. The overcast skies, the endless green of summer, the dingy gray of winter. My soul turned bleak; I struggled to survive. Where before I had daydreamed of the unknown, now, my thoughts were filled with the reality that was so much better. I now knew that I was a woman who must have mountains to be happy.

I lived on dreams for six more years. Then I moved to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains west of Denver. I could view mountains from any window of my house. They fed my spirit in a way I had never known. Sometimes tears of joy would flow as I gazed out my studio window. During the five years I lived in Colorado, I made frequent trips to northern New Mexico painting on the side of the road, taking hundreds of pictures. I was fortunate to stay a few days each year at Ghost Ranch west of Abiquii, to view the same formations that had inspired Georgia O’keeffe. I return there still and think it is a paradise on earth.

After those years in Colorado, my husband and I were relocated to the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. They were too similar to the Ozarks. You could not see the hills or the sky because of the forests and kudzu. I felt that I was in exile the three years we were there sustained only by my memories and photographs.

In 1997, my husband took a position in Oklahoma. How does a mountain woman bear up in Oklahoma? Quite well, thank you. Oklahoma is unique! It is considered to be part of the southwest. It has big, clear skies most days and lots of brown grasses, red dirt, and tumble weeds. It is filled with ranches, cowboys, and many tribes of Indians. Located at the southern edge of the prairies of the midwestern states, it is far from flat. The terrain is mostly rolling hills with a few small mountains here and there. Within 100-200 miles of Oklahoma City are four primary mountain ranges–the Ouachita Mountains, the  Arbuckle Mountains, the Wichita Mountains, and the Ozark Mountains. I have now visited all of them. None is very tall, but they do sustain a mountain woman when she is needing a quick fix.

In 2007, I went one step farther. I painted a 4’ x 8’ mural  and attached it to a fence at the back of MtnWoman Silver Studio. I can see it whenever I glance out my back window.murall-for-web.jpg

Rio Chama

In 2008, I painted a 4’ circle mural which I attached to the entry wall of my front porch. Everyday, I enjoy these views of my beloved New Mexico mountains. I no longer daydream about living there. My husband and I have come to love Oklahoma and plan to remain here indefinitely.

My love affair with mountains is ongoing. Silver is the name I am called, but MtnWoman is who I am.



© Mtnwoman Silver, 2009


  1. I really like this post! as I remember hearing most of this during the years we both lived in Tennessee. I didn’t truly understand what you were saying about the difference in mountains–I LOVED the Smokies then!–but afterward when Hubby and I moved to the southwest, I understood perfectly! Now whenever I go back to the south east and, especially the mountains of the southeast, I feel claustrophobic! Utah is among the best right after Colorado! You are so right on!!!! Keep blogging Mountain Woman.

    • You are right Alice. The rock formations in southern Utah are right up there with New Mexican sights. Nice hearing from you.

  2. New Mexico is one of the states I have not yet visited. Reading Willa Cather’s descriptive passages of this southwestern state in DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP inspires anyone who picks up the novel to plan a pilgrimage there. Your love for the state does likewise.

    Alice sent me here, and I am so glad I visited. Your work is amazing. Thank you for sharing. Renae

    • I have not read Cather’s book, but will definitely check it out. Thanks for your coment. I checked out your blog and have added it to my favorites.

  3. I am doing as Alice asked, calling to say hello! The mountains sound amazing, we have nothing like them in Ireland. Everything here is green and small.

  4. Though I love the sea the mountains of the southwest grip my imagination when I am there. I was fortunate as a child to live in New Mexico at different times. Georgia O’Keefe, an artist I admire, captured the beauty of that land so magnificently. I still go back to drink in the quiet captivating beauty.

  5. I share your love of the western open country. I’ve lived mostly in the west since the last time I saw you a half century ago in front of James Drug Store (Range Ave in Denham) as I was catching a Greyhound Bus. – – Woody Spiers

    • Woody, as you can see, I just reposted this blog. It is one of my favorites. Since you wrote the above comment, we have connected on FB and now, you own the painting pictured in the header of my blog site. I am so glad you made that comment; I hope others will be inspired to share my love of mountains and tell me about it.

  6. […] Here is a link to the original post: […]

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