Gardening + Nature

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One week ago, in the great state of Colorado, we took three whole days off from housework. No painting, sawing, digging, cleaning, washing, shoveling, building, or destroying. It hardly seemed believable, zooting the Mini down our sleepy street before the sun had fully risen. Westward we drove, snaking through the canyons and park lands, highways 24 and 9 and 40. Clouds low and clinging, hushing the bold landscapes of granite, evergreen, sage, and tumbleweed, a nod to Portland, an old chapter blanketing this new one.

There are pages older than Portland, too – disparate parts merging and diverging, all these stories in one lifetime. Lake Dillon, glittering and beautiful, I watched it as a child, over days, seasons, and years, barefoot and happy on Ptarmigan Mountain. So much is different now, so many more people, so many more houses, so many more cars, but that lake and my memories of it, remain unchanged. I like that.

We stayed at the Hot Sulphur Springs, not-at-all fancy but wonderful, the smell lingering, in my hair, on my skin, until Wednesday. Of the nineteen pools, we had two favorites, soaking and floating for hours upon hours, daylight to the glow of sunset to darkness and stars. We loosened every muscle and forgot every care, at least for a while. We met a doe and her fawn at our window, bid them good moring and good day, conversed with a boy full of curiosity, befriending the tiniest of snakes. I laughed and dipped my toes in the Colorado. The two of us slept like the dead. And you bet we had a slice of pie, our backsides parked on a curb like a couple of kids.

And nature, always dazzling, the bees feasting on thistle, and that tiny creature (a vole?), recent lunch for some bird of prey, nose and whiskers still intact.

Homeward bound and the beautiful Gore Range. A shame to my native state, I am not a Bronco fan, AT ALL, and would rather make a fence out of skis than actually ski. But I will cheer on a burro race in Leadville and feast on burrito after burrito, any where, any time. This was in Buena Vista. Indeed.

Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off. But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.

Amelia Earhart

We saved EVERY cardboard box to come into our possession for more than four months before fashioning a gigantic wonky quilt (you’re seeing about a tenth of it), bound with newspaper saved over the same amount of time. There goes my first shovel from a pile as tall as me. There, too, hopefully, go the weeds underneath, to make room for the beautiful above.

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Photos from a doubly grand Saturday. We rode our bikes downtown to pick up a new helmet (pink!) and light (old school headlamp!) for me, so I may ride in both safety and style. It’s my thing. I am love, love, loving being able to bike again. Pittsburgh, unless you live in a very specific part of town, is not an easy or desirable place to ride. Too many narrow streets with crazy-madcap hills, lunatic parked cars and equally maniacal drivers does not make for a positive experience. No siree. So we never replaced our Portland bikes. But now, boy howdy, whoop-ti-do, we are at it again, on wide boulevards, gentle hills, and our own bike lanes, and it is grand, just grand.

We followed our biking adventure with a hot afternoon hike in the Nature Conservancy Aiken Canyon. Long-time supporters, it is always a treat to visit the preserves, feeling our contributions help make it possible. We enjoyed spying the usual floral suspects, even eating some of the red skunk bush berries, which were oily and tart. We also wondered who spied upon us, as there was bobcat, wolf, and fox scat, quite a lot of it on the ground, and bird after bird singing their lively tunes. It was a heady windy day, and I decided, most affirmatively, that heaven is the scent of pine and cedar, whipping along in the air, on my hands, cone thrust under my nostrils with me lustily exclaiming, “That smell!” The best (next to the hubster’s cheek). Definitely.

Now it is storming, sheets of rain rippling in the wind to fill the streets, windows open to better hear the cracks of thunder. Another great day!

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After sunset on the Fourth of July, we walked up to Palmer Park to watch the fireworks. There were a handful of us atop the hill, wind whipping and explosions in every color and every direction and nearly every distance (Yikes, that was close!). The best part, and yeah, broken record alert, wasn’t the fireworks, but the park, Pikes Peak, and Cheyenne Mountain laid bare and beautiful before us. This city!!

In other news, we almost have a complete kitchen. Holla! The hubster just needs to make a hole in the ceiling and roof for the hood, which is mounted and looking grand but disconnected and utterly useless, taunting us. Anyway, easy-peasy, right? HA! Not. Because he has to go into the attic, where it is a million degrees in summa-time to get the job done. So, it might be a while, as we wait for a reasonable early morning temperature so he doesn’t die from heat exhaustion, because I kinda like having him around. Yup.

The bathroom has a few more weeks because drama. Enough said. But it will be done. Oh, yes!! My office is a hot mess, the hubster’s office is yet another, and the basement? Yup. A hot mess. That said, I think we are nearly done with the shifting of boxes and junk from room to room to room accommodate all the work. So, to wrap this enchilada whole, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter! See you at the other end…

 

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I think, perhaps, one of the best things in this life is to rise early and walk or hike or bike, while the world is mostly still and mostly quiet, and the sun hasn’t yet reached its zenith, steam rising, plants dewy, the air redolent of pine and damp earth. This, of course, is made even better if one is accompanied by the dearest of dear friends and kisses and hugs are exchanged, hands held, and exultations are made about beauty and luck and fine art (Patrick Dougherty) and wild scents on the breeze.

Follow this with a trip to the market, small batch jam making, strawberry and the best peach ever, the reading of books while enjoying the gentlest of window breezes, before an early bed-time, and you have, my dear peeps, the makings of a most perfect day. Yes, you do.

Oh, and Happy Birthday America!!

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