During her breaks from knitting, Isabella has been enjoying wildlife encounters.
“I killed a rattlesnake this morning close to the cabin, and have taken its rattle, which has 11 joints. My life is embittered by the abundance of these reptiles — rattlesnakes and moccasin snakes, both deadly, carpet snakes and ‘green racers,’ reputed dangerous, water snakes, tree snakes, and mouse snakes, harmless but abominable. Seven rattlesnakes have been killed just outside the cabin since I came. A snake, three feet long, was coiled under the pillow of the sick woman. I see snakes in all withered twigs, and am ready to flee at ‘the sound of a shaken leaf.’ And beside snakes, the earth and air are alive and noisy with forms of insect life, large and small, stinging, humming, buzzing, striking, rasping, devouring!”
Like I said, she really should work for the tourism board.
The Territory* is hopping with tourist anyway because the air there is highly recommended for “consumptives, asthmatics, dyspeptics, and sufferers from nervous diseases” who are there in the hundreds. Isabella points out all of the place’s perks, like being able to sleep outside for six months out of the year, nearly constant sunlight, and dry air. Lots of those who come for a cure wind up staying.
Isabella herself isn’t feeling well and is suffering from a “singular lassitude and difficulty in taking exercise, but this is said to be the milder form of the affliction known on higher altitudes as soroche, or ‘mountain sickness,’ and is only temporary.”
Or it could be the malaise that comes from being surrounded by snakes. I’m just saying.
* Because I am a Yankee not well versed in the history of Colorado,** I didn’t realize it wasn’t yet a state in 1873, when Isabella was there.
** I can tell you a bunch about Texas, tho, because you can’t escape UT Austin without having at least one class in the state's history