As I write this, we are winging our way back home after a week and a half in the mountains of Colorado, west of Colorado Springs. Nancy and I rented a house in a little town called Florissant, just a couple of miles from Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Our younger daughter, Erin, who lives in Denver, joined us for the first weekend and then went back home for work. Nancy and I spent several days alone in the house, going on long hikes each morning and chilling on the back patio of the house each afternoon. On Tuesday, our older daughter, Alex, flew from New York to Denver to spend a couple of days with her sister, and then on Thursday the two of them drove back to Florissant to spend a long weekend with us.
We had a marvelous trip. Our visits with the girls were lovely and fun, filled with laughter and good conversations despite the difficulties we face as a family right now. We watched a ton of Women’s World Cup soccer. Nancy and the girls worked on a puzzle that proved nearly impossible, and finished it our last night in the house. (No, I didn’t help. I rarely do puzzles. I’m colorblind, and jigsaw puzzles are a particular brand of hell for those of us with that affliction.) We read. We enjoyed the hot tub that came with the house. We enjoyed a couple of meals out. We enjoyed many a home-cooked meal (learning the hard way that cooking rice at 8,700 feet is VERY different from cooking it at sea level, or 2,000 feet, or even 5,000 feet).
The hikes Nancy and I took during our days alone were gorgeous. We did a couple in the National Monument, walking through mountain meadows and groves of aspen and lodgepole pine. We did one spectacular hike on what’s known as The Crags Trail, in Pike National Forest. The hike started at 9,500 feet altitude and ended at 10,500 feet, atop a rocky dome with a 360 degree view of the Rockies. And we did a couple of beautiful walks in Mueller State Park, part of the terrific Colorado State Parks system. All told, we walked 25-30 miles in four days — nothing extraordinary, but enough to make us feel that we had explored the area thoroughly. Along the way we saw birds and coyotes, a palette of wildflowers and tons of lovely, albeit hard to identify, alpine butterflies.
The weather was great the entire week. Cool clear mornings, warm afternoons that were punctuated each day with dramatic thunderstorms, and cool nights. One evening, we watched a storm roll up the valley straight toward our house, forks of lightning dancing along ridge lines and illuminating the sky. Another day we had a hail-storm that dumped enough pea-sized pieces of ice on the patio to allow me to make a “snowball” or two.
As I say, things continue to be tough in our little world, and we don’t anticipate them getting much better, at least not anytime soon. But we still share a ton of love. We still know how to laugh and enjoy one another. And we can still appreciate the beauty and light of nature, of companionship, of family.
I return home feeling full, renewed, joyful and also bittersweet. Under the circumstances, I could hardly ask for more.
I wish you a wonderful week. Reach out to the people you love. Hold them near. Don’t wait to tell them how you feel about them.