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Lake with the Spanish Peaks as a backdrop.
Peak Peeking.
A Tempting Trail.
Anytime. But nary a horse to be found.
My best friend ready to head on.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Goats
  • Grazing alpacas
  • MKL
  • Tulips blooming today
Took a detour down a little Forest Service road, hoping to reach a random lake, but was stopped by too-deep snow. There were, however, lovely tree roots.
Atop Cuchara Pass.
Choices.
North Lake.
Abandoned Church.
The former Weston General Store.
The former Weston Elementary School.
Bird on a limb.
Looking back with love.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • That K does not have COVID-19
  • Sleep
  • Lemon ginger tea
  • A repaired stair
Corners Diner, which looks sadly defunct.
Such unique rock formations.
Curves ahead.
Roadside barn.
And roadside shed.
My stomach was disappointed that it could not have a burger at the Dog Bar. A little too early for the season.
Happy Mailboxes.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • That MKL came up for the day
  • Only nine more days until I actually live with my husband
  • That the Fire Department is trying to contain the fire four miles northwest of here (which is really stressing me out)
  • A successful experimental smoothie

I’m really not traveling the county roads in numerical order – though that might be fun.

But this one was irresistible.
Down the tracks.
And always look both ways.
Sketchy bridge ahead.
The Sangre de Cristos in one direction…
And the Spanish Peaks in the other. I have a particular fondness for the Spanish Peaks.
They all came running up to the fence to say hello. I think they liked my music. I blew them a kiss as I left.
This is the kind of mountain I used to draw as a child, basically a triangle. I love the way the rooftop echoes the peak’s contours.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Dirt roads
  • An annual State parks pass
  • Meadowlarks
  • Getting gas for under $4.00/gallon

Via a rather circuitous route that included Hwy 69, Hwy 96, and Hwy 165.

The Sangre de Cristo range.
Abandoned.
But still watchful.
The Three Trees.
Contrasts.
My Best Friend.
Grazing.
Aspens on the verge of Spring.
Higher and higher.
I found some bison!
Along the road home.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Trying to figure out the cat
  • The first tree in bloom
  • That K is back safely from her trip
I suppose it’s more of a ghost community than a ghost town.
It was right on the side of the road, up a small hill, with a great view.
Window frames seem to stand the test of time.
This table didn’t fare quite as well.
This looks like the sort of door I might have made.
Remarkably, the only graffiti in the town.
Leftover.
The sunroom.
As I stood before this doorway, I heard a sound. It sounded like a long, low, gentle bray, like a distant donkey. There was no wind. I surveyed the landscape and saw no beasties. I’ve decided it was a ghost donkey, just letting me know it was there. Otherwise, I got no vibes of the past from the little community.
In the shade.
But with a view.
I loved exploring this place. Admittedly, It was a little dicey, as many of the places I walked were clearly above rooms dug into the hillside. I knew there was a risk of falling through. But what’s life without a little risk? The only thing missing from this part of the adventure was K. She’d have loved it.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • What aspen leaves look like when they start to bud
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Robins
Yesterday. More snow than I expected.
Today. The blue sky and sun helps.

Amazing how much difference a day can make. It feels like the extremes are more extreme up here. Weather never just fades away. It’s either on or it’s off. No in between. I either feel like Jack Nicholson in The Shining going mad or Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music twirling on a sunny mountaintop.

In other news, Pharoah and I are getting along famously. He made an appearance on my Zoom staff meeting this morning, slept on my stomach all night last night, and was absolutely shocked at my taking a bath.

One shocked cat.

I don’t think he’d ever seen a human do such a thing, so he delicately walked around the rim of the tub. Thank heavens for his sure-footedness, as I’ve had a cat fall into a bathtub with me once and it is not an experience I would choose to repeat.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • A helpful, ethical well services guy
  • Living with a cat again
  • Sunshine
  • Snow falling from the pine trees

I’ve driven hundreds and hundreds of miles already this year. My drives have been from The Retreat to MKL or to the ruins of the cozy house. Of course, it’s wonderful to have time with MKL, but most of my trips north have involved my sifting or just sitting in the ashes or managing some detail of recovery. In other words, these drives have been taken with a heavy heart.

Yesterday, though, my drive was different. Instead of turning north, I turned south on the highway and headed for New Mexico to meet up with K for one night in a town about midway between us. As soon as I hit the unfamiliar blacktop of I-25 South, I felt free. The sky opened up to a vast blue and I felt tearfully excited that I was going to see my girl.

It was a lovely, easy drive, with Truck most eager to hit illegal speeds. It was warm and sunny and I had Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers as musical accompaniment. I blew kisses to the many herds and singleton antelope I saw along the way, they being my comfort and shamanic power animal, so often appearing in my travels.

While I’m not choosy, particularly when it comes to New Mexico skies, I prefer a few clouds to add some extra drama, but the clarity of the day, with a three-quarter moon resting in the crook between the mesas, made for a liberating trip. I love how, heading south from the Retreat, the Spanish Peaks appear suddenly before me, welcoming and enticing. Across the border, after Raton Pass, a New Mexico snow-capped mountain range peeks out from the west horizon, dipping behind the brown hills and reappearing unexpectedly in a slightly different place a few miles down the road.

Once, years ago, when K was in high school, she was having a rough patch and she said, “I just want to get out of this state.” And I said okay. So we got in the truck and drove to Wyoming, thrift shopping, exploring, and stopping at the hoodoos at sunset to clamber around. That change of scene, that change of state, was just what she needed. A day with her in another state was just what I needed right now. I’ll share pictures in the coming days.

Today lives in shades of black and white. The ink lines of the pine bark. Downy feather pillows of snow piling up around the Retreat, trapping and coddling me at the same time. Pine needles ever present, their green gone to charcoal without the sun. And the sky varying shades of sea foam in a wishful mind.

Here is today:

The view from breakfast.

And here is yesterday:

The road to New Hope Cemetery.
Chased by storms from the west. That barbed wire won’t fence them in.
Chased by storms from the north.
Dirt roads, late light, clouds showing their joy…perfect pleasure.

So today, I put shoes on in the house (gasp), an indication that chores will be done and meals cooked for the week, and banana bread baked as gifts for my two neighbors. The Wailin’ Jennys are my soundtrack for the day, melodic, beautiful, slightly spiritual, slightly melancholy, often surprising. Kind of like me.

Have a warm day, wherever your heart is.

Living in the Retreat, in the middle of wooded acreage, there’s no predicting fire. Of course after the Marshall Fire, I know without a doubt that regardless of where you are, there’s really no predicting it. No one would have imagined what happened on December 30th.

Surrounded by pines here, it would be hard to see a fire coming. Today on our local news, there was a headline of a wildfire in the Southeast part of our county. I’m in the Southwest part of the county, about 50 miles away from this fire, which is 72% contained. I figured all of this out in about one minute and then I started to cry.

Is this what it’s going to be like? It’s bad enough the I have what I call PTWD (Post-Traumatic Wind Disorder). We have big winds here in the Wet Mountains, big enough to topple 75-foot pine trees onto garage aprons, barely missing buildings. (Perhaps some of you may know of my history of near misses with falling trees.) Am I going to burst into tears every time there’s a fire within 20, 50, 100 miles of me?

Once I got a grip on my silly self, my next feeling was a subcutaneous panic. I had no idea what I would do here, if there were a fire, what I would rescue. I’ve given this considerable thought, obviously, after the loss of the cozy house, but I’m still living in Boxlandia. I have no idea where the journals that I moved here from the Bungalow are. Do I just put all my most precious possessions in a trunk and drag it to the truck in case I need to evacuate? Two trunks? Something fireproof (though that was completely useless in the Marshall Fire, given its tremendous heat)?

I know that everyone who lost their homes or evacuated now has these thoughts, these fears, these plans, and feel pretty sure that I’m not alone in my sense of underskin panic. I wish we didn’t. I wish I didn’t. And I wonder if this is something that will be with me for the rest of my life or if it will find a place to live in my soul where it takes up only the space it needs.

Rescued image. Jost van Dyke, 2004.

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