Exploring

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It rained and thundered much of the night, and we awoke to the hush of fog. Our drive to the grassland slow and deliberate, scarcely a car length ahead visible to our eyes. But it was warm, and countless unseen larks, scaled quails, and other birds sang in praise of morning. Turtles and frogs hopped along the roadside. Cows!

Then, as if it had been one shared dream, the fog lifted. We watched this hawk (a Swainson’s, I think) and another and another and another set out for breakfast, eyes steady on the plain.

The best surprise of the grasslands was learning about the canyons, places of respite for the weary bodies of my Comanche ancestors and any other body willing to make the journey. Countless more birds, and a billion insects to our party of three, all humming and buzzing, chirping and singing.

Most noticeable was the void of human sounds. We heard not one car, nor plane, nor voice, save our own, for hours, a sensation wholly magical and awe inspiring.

Then, on our roundabout drive home, we stopped at Bent’s Old Fort, a meticulously detailed recreation of the original. How fascinating to gain a clear glimpse of life in this place, some 180 years distant.

A banana cupcake with banana frosting, part of a set made Monday. A very fine end…

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Saturday morning, sipping our coffee, I got an idea. I’d been wanting to visit the Comanche National Grassland for some time, but being in one of the most remote regions of southeastern Colorado, it isn’t exactly on the way anywhere.

So, I began to think aloud with the hubster. Why not just head there, TODAY? Sleep in the car? It might be extra cozy, but the three of us could most certainly fit. Yeah, yeah. But where exactly would we park the car to sleep? We checked the map. What’s nearby? Springfield. Hmmmm. And then Greg is on the phone with the kindly fella at the Crawford Motel. There is a room! Dog friendly. Alright, already. Let’s shower and go, go, go!

It was a glorious drive of long views, windmills and turbines, grain elevators. Clouds. Sunflowers. Every splendor of the beautifully flat half of my native state.

Springfield was quiet, and the park was within eye-shot of the motel, complete with nesting vultures, at least twenty-six tucking in for the night.

Oh, and Watson’s BBQ in Eads, well worth a stop and stretch of the legs!

Some recent hikes in the great outdoors of Colorado Springs! Gosh, is it pretty right now, everything verdant and Colorado lush (a rainforest, we are not).

We spent this past weekend with our friend Jeff, eating like royalty, with Greg grilling burgers, and going all out at our mutual favorite 503 W. There was much game playing, of course (Letters from White Chapel, Fistful of Meeples, and an Exit game), lively conversation, chilling on the back porch, walking the dog, listening to our favorite tunes, while generally reveling in each other’s fine company. Living the life…

Hello friends! How excited I am to say Spring has well and truly arrived. I am wearing dresses and sandals and my new favorite hat in great celebration. What a long, cold winter. Coupled with wretched COVID, it felt like years rather than months.

We’ve been doing more normal activities, like going to cherished restaurants, and eating in-person at our favorite food cart, which feels like such a treat after so much home cooking.

The garden is really coming to life, too. I’m doing a ton of planting and mulching (we had 10 yards deliverd!), an hour or two a day. This is both to replace plants killed by the horrible deep freeze and slowly fill in brown gaps in need of green and flower. I’ll show you pictures once it is all done. Maybe this weekend, as I’ll have Greg’s hands, as well as my own to finish. Juniper just lolls about and occasionally digs holes where she ought not. She is a dog, after all.

One of my favorite person’s tasks at his new job was to write a bio to accompany a photo, so we did a proper photo shoot. Isn’t he just so handsome? Greg Cooper, you are a looker!

Green mertensia and Juniper giving her best sniff.

The lamb’s ears are really starting to spread their wings.

The daphne bloomed! Hot diggity dog! This will always be the scent of Portland for me. Kinda like Froot Loops, only better.

blueberry scone goodness

Pike’s Peak peek…

Muskrat sighting!

Indian chicken – I combined a Patak’s Vindaloo curry paste with some mango chutney and water, and let the drumsticks braise in the liquid until done. I love it when something SO easy tastes SO wonderful!

I am rather sad to report that this is not my lilac in bloom here. Ours seems to be the only one in the neighborhood that got ravaged by the deep freeze. Luckily, it still has a bit of green on it, so I will prune the heck out of it and hope for it to flower next year.

She sure loves her Pops!

Saturday morning, we sipped coffee outside, hats and sunglasses and shorts! I wandered the garden, to watch every little bit of life foisting itself into the world, quiet and furtive, in the case of weeds, loud with a fanfare of trumpets, in the case of flowers. How I love spring!

After our coffee and requisite a.m. pup stroll, we headed south, to Canon City. Which, is pronounced like canyon, not like an explosive cannon. I have heard this incorrect pronunciation a bit lately, and as a proud native citizen of Colorado, feel obliged to rectify it.

Anyhoo, I digress! My favorite Desert Canyon Farm is open for their brief retail window, and Greg and I took advantage of a beautifully warm Saturday to enjoy it. We bought all manner of plants: scarlet runner bean vines, hyssop, mint in two varieties, hot and mild peppers, kohlrabi, foxglove, rose, and more. We are thrilled, as always, to watch them grow.

The view just south of Desert Canyon Farm, with a glimpse of winter holding steady atop the Sangre de Christos.

After our plant buying extravaganza, we headed into town, originally intending just to stroll a bit and get Juniper’s wiggles out. Much to our surprise, it was Blossom Festival, with streets blocked in anticipation of a parade, and booths with people selling their wares.

There was also a Wild Bird booth! We were delighted to meet the Red Tailed hawk and diminutive Screech Owl, who was wet from a refreshing spritz of water. Both kept very watchful eyes on Juniper, who was rather to keen to play. Our girl will make friends with just about anybody!

Greg noshes on a fry pie, which was a bit like the McDonald’s pies of our youth, but much, much better. Larger, and positively bursting with blackberries before being fried to perfection, my word!

And for the best surprise of the day, we had some pretty darn fabulous Indian food in tiny Canon City! Chicken Tikka Masala, butter naan, and Keshari Kofta. The first two were most excellent, but the kofta, rather sadly, while tasty, was not as good as Mandeep’s bit of perfection at Portland’s India Oven. I keep trying!

How wonderful it was to walk about, snap photos, sit on a patio with Greg and Juniper and watch the world stroll by, anticipate the summer garden, buy honey and wonderful tinctures, nibble on pie. Almost Normal. Almost.

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