Many of us look out the windows of our homes and see trees, fences, the neighbor’s house. Margaret Wilson Reckling looks out and regularly sees herds of elk, bald eagles, foxes, and more, all set against the serene landscape of her Diamond W Ranch. Now, through her new photography book, Woody Creek: Views from a Homestead (Bright Sky Publishing), we can all enjoy Reckling’s pastoral vistas.
After she bought part of the former Craig Ranch in 2014, “I kept seeing all the wildlife, all the landscapes, and it motivated me to get a camera,” says Reckling. With such abundant photographic opportunities surrounding her, she continually honed her skills. “So many of my friends said, ‘You’ve got to put these images together.’”
Before moving to Aspen full-time 10 years ago, the Texas native had visited since childhood; her father owned the historic Mesa Store building on Main Street in the early 1960s, and the family would stay upstairs. But her local connection has even deeper roots: Reckling’s grandparents took the train over Hagerman Pass in 1911 to the town of Ruedi (now at the bottom of the reservoir) to stay at a guest ranch, and returned regularly for summer visits afterward.
In addition to the natural scenery she lives amid, Reckling, a board member of the Aspen Historical Society, became interested in the ranch residents who preceded her. The Vagneur family homesteaded the property in 1885 and lived there until 1964; Reckling is the third owner. “When digging or doing anything around the ranch, I’d find their artifacts,” she says, “anything from giant draft horseshoes to potato baskets, old bottles, and pieces of machinery.”
Inspired by those finds, she already has plans for her next book: a historical account of ranching and farming in the Roaring Fork Valley. In the meantime, readers can immerse themselves in the rural world of wildlife and nature’s course that Reckling is fortunate enough to experience daily.
$60 at Explore Booksellers