MYSTERIOUS forces draw people to Manitou Springs, Colo., a little jewel box of a village at the foot of Pikes Peak; mysterious forces inform even their mundane errands around town.
Donna Laffoon, a former jockey who works behind the counter of a gem shop on Manitou Avenue, the town's main street, originally arrived looking for help with a rare skin disease. She found not only a cure — drinking the lithium-laced waters of one of the 10 fizzy mineral springs that burble up through the town — but a home.
One afternoon last month, in a lull at the shop, she took time to help her 11-year-old daughter, Christina, prepare for a homework session by handing her a chunk of lepidolite, an amethyst-colored stone purported to help the mind focus, and a bit of further instruction: "Now take your rock across the street to Eagle Dancer and go get a medicine bag."
"Mom," Christina asked, "after that, can I go meet Kelsey at the Maté?" She meant the Maté Factor, a nearby teahouse specializing in a Brazilian stimulant drink and run by a commune-dwelling Christian sect. Ms. Laffoon assented, excused her daughter and took a sip from her own iced lemon maté.
"Welcome to the hippie Mayberry," she said.
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