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They stayed for quite a while. They’ll be first in line when I figure out where (and how) to set up the salt lick.

Daily gratitudes:
Thunder
Mornings that were made for snuggling under blankets
Outsmarting the smoke detectors
Long baths
Fending off the blues with practical activities

I emerged from the Retreat today to go to the market and the post office. As small a town as we are, we do have a fine post office. And I discovered that Monday is THE time to go to the market. They only seem to stock fresh produce once a week and today’s the day. I was not subjected to the combative little old ladies who would not hesitate to break your ribs to get their hands on a good head of lettuce in the market in Georgetown, Bahamas, but had I gone later in the day, hand-to-hand combat with Valley moms might have been required.

The clouds today were all astir. From the cotton balls poofing above the Retreat, to the mare’s tales swishing above Linger Longer Lane, to the rolling waves at the edges of the Frontier Scenic Byway, they were a melting pot of weather portents all swirling together. My Mother loved clouds…she would have loved today. By sunset, the clouds had all settled into a gray stew (how unromantic) as if all of today’s activity had exhausted them. Now it is night. Now, they sleep.

Daily gratitudes:
Black squirrels
Meeting a neighbor
New tires for Truck
Experimental cooking
That my lungs are starting to acclimate to 7200 feet

While I am absolutely a warm soul, contrary to appearances, I am rather shy. In living apart from a lot of civilization (neighbors, traffic, coffee shops), I find myself on a pendulum that swings between relishing my isolation and feeling lonesome. To try to find a balance, I go to our little market once a week and take myself to the city, thirty miles distant, once a week, with all the stoplights and fast food joints and cannabis shops and WalMarts anyone could possibly desire. After a few hours, I’ve had enough of bad drivers and long lines and billboards, and I head for home. As soon as I’m free of the city, I feel like I can breathe again and let down some guard that I didn’t even know I had put up. Truck and I cruise down I-25 or kick up dust on a dirt road going the back way, but either way, there is nothing but sky and space and brush, with the plains to the east and the mountains to the west, and always, the clouds.

Off the highway, it takes a few short minutes to plunge into the valley. When I hit the valley, I’m filled with the sense of being cradled by the earth, encased in its hills that still carry a lingering green and welcomed by the art of the clouds as they shift their positions behind the mountains. Turning into my little town, I’m slowed by the dips in the road and have to keep a weather eye for deer, particularly the doe and her twins who’ve been a constant presence this past summer. Here, we wave at each other when we pass, even though I have no idea who I’m waving at and neither do they. But as I take the few turns deeper into the woods, closer to the mountain, it’s like diving into a nest of comfort and quiet, peace and safety. I guess that’s what home is supposed to be.

Daily gratitudes:
Experimental sparkling water
Mysterious barks
My bed
Little Free Libraries
A lovely conversation with E-Bro

I know I promised Canada, and will deliver on said promise, but today the Front Range was so lovely, I just had to share. I worked late last night, not getting home until 1:00 a.m., and only falling into a fitful sleep between 4:15 and 7:15. Throughout the night, I heard rain, which was a becalming sound. Being a woman who takes short 45-second private tropical vacations because of my internal magma, I continue to have the bedroom window open a few inches, even in the sub-zero nights, so last night, I listened to the comfort of rain falling on the dead leaves of the evil Chinese elm tree, and the long slow soothe of a freight train whistle a few miles up the road. I tried to remember what the whistle signals meant, as my father gave me a document long ago that explained the whistle “morse code” that engineers used. The grey of the morning wore off, MKL arrived, we bought a lovely little Christmas tree, saw some llamas, sheep, goats, and BMWs, braved the weirdness of WalMart, went out for coffee and listened to the bluegrass jam session at the East Simpson Coffee Shop.

I changed the sheets, cleaned the bathroom (not enough), watched an episode of “Sherlock” on PBS. I had a baked potato, having decided (in a rather numb-nut fashion) to stop eating sugar and flour now, just before Christmas celebrations. After all, it’s 10 weeks to Costa Rica.

Now, I am cuddled with Mr. Man, trying to adjust to how my body has  been today, how my spirit has been today, on the 10th anniversary of my Mother’s death. As I have said before, I can instantly place myself  back in each moment of the nine days that I was with her up to her passing – and the terrible days afterwards. I physically hurt, and have shed tears a few times when talking to MKL, who is extra adorable, because he never fails to have a handkerchief handy for me to dry my tears.

While I only occasionally have visitation dreams from people who have passed on, it is clear when they occur. I would love to have my Mother visit me, and it has happened only twice in all these years, except for this year, when she stopped by every night for about four days, as she was poised to assist a friend to the next place. No matter how much I want her to come to me in my dreams, she doesn’t. It’s a hard thing for me to understand, but I know it’s in both of our best interests. Still, it adds a caul to the sadness that I feel for the loss of her, which is there daily, but more potent on anniversaries. I cried through the parent/child dance at the wedding I catered last night. I haven’t done that in many years.

But today was a good day, a beautiful day, and I know that would make her happy, as it made me happy, even with the ache throbbing in my heart to the beat of the bluegrass.

20161211_124006-cropBoulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “There is something about losing your mother that is permanent and inexpressable – a wound that will never quite heal.” — Susan Wiggs

Daily gratitude:
The smell of the little Christmas tree lot
Today’s clouds
Siting a bald eagle in flight
Clean sheets
The seasonal reappearance of the Santa Hat

 

 

 

Even though Winter (ick) is technically a month-ish away, we are expecting it to make an appearance next week. I don’t count the minor snowfall two weeks ago, because I refused to leave the house until it was gone, therefore to me, it didn’t happen. We have been blessed with a long Autumn this year, and MKL and I were saying today that we hope Winter will be merciful and Spring kind to us. (This past Spring was a cruel taskmistress, as my blizzard-struck fallen miracle of an evil tree demonstrated.) We still have a few late-falling leaves on trees, a few streaks of color in dips between mountains, and the morning cold of our wrought iron benches is not vicious enough to weasel its way through one’s clothes to one’s skin. Yet. But soon, we will be asking each other, “Why do we live here?” I am a landlocked mermaid, who never meant to stay here in the mountains, but sometimes not making choices throughout one’s life is a choice in itself. And it led me to MKL, for which I am grateful. As I am grateful we can keep each other warm throughout the cold snaps.

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Quote of the day: “We fit together like puzzle pieces when we snuggled together.” — Andrea Smith

Daily gratitudes:
A new dress
Surprises
Postcards
Floofy dogs in sunny windows
Blankets

 

 

A warm memory of an autumn Saturday. We have drifted into snow and cold and wind, and I am happy to remember a peaceful day.

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Hygiene, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It is in the turmoil of chaos that we discover what, if anything, we are.” — Orson Scott Card

Daily gratitudes:
Blue skies
Clean dishes
Prayers of friends
Cozy couches
Good walks

 

This is the barn so often included in postcards from Steamboat Springs. I saw it on my first solo trip there, and then couldn’t find it again. I even asked local folk about it, and they all pled ignorance (weird). This last summer I found it again, and Kelsea had the pleasure of exploring its innards, though even she thought there were spots that the floor might collapse beneath her feet in the hayloft. The barn is very old, and the community is building up around it, condos to the left and right, front, and back, which is sad from my point of view. But I’m glad the barn still stands.

The Steamboat Barn
Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Traveling makes you realize what an immeasurably nice place much of America could be if only people possessed the same instinct for preservation as they do in Europe.” — Bill Bryson

Daily gratitudes:
Mr. Man
My sister’s birthday
People like Pam who are devoted to historic preservation
The BBC
Mindfulness

A couple of weeks ago, the smoke from the Washington State fires was blanketing the Colorado skies, causing MKL to cough, but giving us lovely sunsets. I watched the sun move down through the sky for almost an hour from the Aquarius Trailhead. I think the fires are still burning, and my prayers go with those battling them, as well as with firefighters in California. My daughter has a one-way ticket to Washington next Saturday, and firefighting is a path she is choosing, which is a bit of a challenge for a mother, but she has angels watching over her – and a very pragmatic attitude about where her chosen paths can lead.

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Louisville, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.” — Barack Obama

Daily gratitudes:
Never forgetting
Birds on a wire
My doorbell
MKL
Books you can’t wait to get back to reading

I can’t say I’m not glad to see the back of January. It seems to have been a tough month for many. Let’s hope February is kinder. Being a Spring and Summer person, winter is tough (don’t ask me why I live in Colorado), and in February, there are signs of Spring. Not snowdrops or crocuses – it’s a bit too early for that – but I grasp at the smallest things: the fact that they have the flyer for proposed bus route changes coming in May on my morning commute; that movie trailers say “coming this summer”; that it stays light just a little bit later every day. We had a lovely fluffy snow last night – not hard to shovel, and just some curious magical quality to it, so that it clung to the tree branches like albino caterpillars, and made the fields seem buried in puffed silk. It was a snow I didn’t mind, and for me, that’s saying something.

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Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Fortunately, I’m good at ignoring a lot of what my brain does.” — Richard Kadrey

Daily gratitudes:
An interesting Super Bowl
A snuggly Mr. Man
Missing Michael – I would be sadder if I didn’t miss him
The big fat pig enjoying the snow in her field
The cry of a crow

The beginning and the end of a lovely, cool, woodland hike yesterday. This tunnel is still used by trains crossing the Continental Divide today. As we arrived, the engine of a long coal train was just emerging. I drove my parents up here a long, long time ago, when you could still get closer to the mouth of the tunnel. Like MKL, my father loved trains.

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Quote of the day: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — G.K. Chesterton

Daily gratitudes:
Wildflowers
The cool of the mountains
Happiness
Small souvenirs
Truck

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