Earth Day 2022…

I can’t say that nature is voiceless. Godnose she’s speaking loudly now. Driving home from scenic, fun-filled Del Norte yesterday with a friend after celebrating her 70th birthday, all we could talk about was the recent fire in our town and the incredible dryness of the landscape all around us. Everything else in our conversation returned to that.

Whether or not we humans contributed to what’s happening now remains, for many, an open question. For me? No. I’m sure humans have contributed to this. Can we stop it? I don’t think so. Maybe the best we can do right now is not make it worse through our actions. Maybe.

The size of nature is truly beyond our comprehension since it’s basically EVERYTHING including us. That’s why many humans talk about nature as if it were something external, but it isn’t. It is us and we are it. We humans truly cannot live without it. 😉

Me 1965 in the middle of it. ❤

In 1970 when I went to one of the two demonstrations of my life, the first Earth Day, I was only 18. I ditched school, had my mom’s car, took some friends down to Colorado College (Colorado Springs), and we stood around and listened to speeches. I don’t know about my friends, but I felt two things. One, that I was DOING something, two, that it would change things. In reality, I wasn’t DOING anything and the actions taken by people all over the US that day DID change things that desperately needed changing, for one thing the Environmental Protection Agency was formed, partly as a result of Earth Day 1970.



I never imagined Earth Day would turn into an annual event, a semi-holiday and a celebration? What? But 23 years later I was in San Diego representing Mission Trails Regional Park — an urban wilderness park I was working for.

It is a large swath of open space surrounded by city and a Navy base. I hiked there almost daily with my dogs. I didn’t know it was being fought over by the various “powers” who fight over things, but it was. When I accidentally met the president of the foundation one day, “my” chaparral had only recently achieved protection from development. From there it would move forward to become the largest urban wilderness park in the United States, then 5800 acres, now 7000 acres. In “my day” I was often the only human wandering the trails; now it’s a very popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers. All the work I/we did was to prepare the delicate landscape for its future. Our idea was that if people WENT there, SAW it and LEARNED about it, they would value it and protect it. I don’t know if that theory has held or not. I suspect it’s 50/50. Some people get it, some people don’t. Those who don’t regard the trails and hills as a commodity that exists for their enjoyment; a product, not a living thing.

And THAT is the tension between nature and humans.

I have thought a lot about my evolution as a hiker, not as a matter of the physical changes that take place over time (grrrrr….) but in the depth of my understanding of my own actions. When I first started hiking the chaparral (which is incredibly fragile and highly flammable) I cut trails wherever I wanted to. I followed deer trails up hills, cut across areas where, I later learned, wildflowers grew. I thought I loved nature and that’s why I wasn’t “controlled”by the trails and fire roads that were right there, too. Over time, I began to see that I wasn’t “loving” nature. It wasn’t about my “freedom” to go wherever I wanted. By the time it became a park, and I was working with the rangers to lead groups of volunteers building trails, I was adamant about staying on trails. The advantages of that weren’t just preservation of the landscape, but safety. Rattlesnakes are everywhere in that landscape and a lot more visible on the trail than off.

Yesterday — in the incredibly beautiful magazine (catalog) put out by Patagonia — I read an article on clean climbing by Mailee Hung. Clean climbing is basically climbing rocks in such a way that the rocks are not damaged by the protection used by climbers to stay safe in their ascents and descents. It’s a HUGE topic and I’m no expert. BUT it’s also a philosophy — leave no trace? Pack out your shit (literally and figuratively)? Hung’s article concluded with a statement that sums up exactly what I believe we humans need to shoot for in everything we do — as much as possible. “Clean climbing means restraint in the face of our egos and humility in the face of nature, an effort at self-mastery rather than world-domination.”

That’s the lesson.


Featured photo: My friend Lois’ son, Mark, and me at Earth Day/March for Science, 2017, Colorado Springs

Good Grief Charlie Brown

Yesterday I spent a little time looking for a trip. I’ve been — with a couple short jaunts up to Colorado Springs — in the San Luis Valley for the past three years. Yeah. One reason, of course, has been Covid. The other money. Boarding dogs isn’t cheap. A lot of people choose not to have pets because they want the freedom to travel. I guess I’ve done the converse.

In the process of looking for a trip, I did, of course, find a couple. Then I read the fine print and some of it concerned me. Even thought they are well-organized group tours for “seniors,” they have this:

Tour pacing & mobility

  • You will walk for at least 2 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including paved roads and unpaved trails, with some hills and stairs.
  • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
  • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at times, as well as getting in and out of boats and ferries.
  • Go Ahead Tours and the Tour Director who accompanies your group are unable to provide special, individual mobility assistance to travelers on tour. The responsibility of the Tour Director is to ensure the group as a whole enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing, individualized assistance to any one traveler.
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.

I thought about this for a while. Well, I’m still thinking about it. My walking problems aren’t a matter of endurance. I can’t define exactly what they are. I think it’s the reality that artificial joints just don’t work like the joints we’re born with and yeah, I have a messed up knee which adds to awkwardness when I’m tired. Getting in and out of a tour bus wouldn’t be easy for me. Walking on uneven terrain? That’s fine.

When my first hip went south almost 20 years ago now, I grieved that loss as if it were a person because it was a person. The person was me, the person I’d always been, the person through whose eyes I saw the world. The abilities taken for granted (and enjoyed by this person!) defined a big part of my identity. “I’m not sure who I am, but I can go four miles in an hour in the mountains.” Nothing else worked. My romances didn’t work. I never got tenure so I worked as a lecturer at three schools, one of which, true, gave me three year contracts. No big publisher wanted my books or stories but dammit! I could go four miles an hour in the mountains. And then, suddenly — it was pretty sudden — I was doing 12 miles with a kid from one of my classes, a collegiate athlete, a body-builder who hiked with me every weekend for his aerobic training — and I was in excruciating pain several times, and had to stop. “I don’t know what’s going on,” I said to him.

“It’s OK. We all get injured.” He sat down on a log and took a drink from his water bottle. “Stretch for a while. We can rest.”

I put a hand out to balance beside a tree and did a few hamstring stretches until I felt better, a little loser in my hip joint. Back in those days, I got massages regularly and my masseuse had noticed there was no space in my hip joint. She diagnosed it a year before it began to hurt and three years before my (incompetent) doc sent me for a hip X-ray.

All my life until then — from childhood — if something went wrong at home, at school, anywhere, I could go for a good run and regain my balance. All that running led to my being a very fast young girl, and my coach wanted to send me to Olympic Training Camp when I was 13 or 14.

Running was my ONE thing, and suddenly it was gone forever.

We think of grief as the emotion we feel when we lose people (and animals) we care about, but we can also grieve parts of ourselves, abilities, independence, beauty, potential. I don’t know that we “recover” from grief; I think we just learn to live with the loss. There’s a lot of stuff about “recovery” and the “lessons we learn” all that — yesterday I read in one of the little literary anthologies published in the Valley every spring how humans learn from pain. The story — an anecdote about losing a beloved dog — said that animals don’t have this ability (I disagree…) and it’s the ability humans have to learn from pain that makes grief redemptive. I’m not sure grief is exactly “redemptive,” but continuing one’s life after a major loss is definitely another fucking growth opportunity.

As a positive person (positive meaning concerned with the possible) I looked around for help in redefining myself and existence without the ONE THING I could do. Direction was everywhere. Like the night I got the X-ray results (finally) in 2006 I leashed my sainted Lily T. Wolf and we went out in the darkness to walk up the road. The road that passed my house in Descanso, California, didn’t have much traffic, especially at night, so it was a quiet walk. The stars shone in the moonless sky. At the end of the road was a pasture with several red horses. As we approached their fence I heard them all move toward me. I walked over to the fence and found five soft horse noses reaching for me. I’d walked down this road many times and the horses had never lifted their heads.

I stroked their noses and any other parts of their heads and necks I could reach. They leaned over the fence to touch noses with Lily. As I walked along the fence, they followed me. In the next pasture, the horses there did the same thing. I must have petted ten horses that night.

The next day, on my way home from school, I bought a big bag of carrots and returned to the horses. They all gathered at the fence and I noticed that ALL of them were old, arthritic, with swollen joints. Many walked slowly favoring a sore leg. One horse couldn’t chew the carrot so I chewed it for her and gave it to her on the palm of my hand. I stayed with the horses for a long time and cried. A few months later the horses were gone. Glue? Dog food? I don’t know, but for me the time they spent with me had been a miracle.

I am 100% convinced they knew everything that was going on inside my heart and saw me as a fellow traveler.

I decided then that everything I would need to cope with this major loss of self would appear somehow. I just had to be open to it. I was about to enter a new world with a yet undiscovered self.

When you get a hip prosthesis the advertising promises all kinds of things. You see guys skiing moguls on them, running on them, all kinds of things which are indeed possible. But there is the question the ads don’t tell you about which is, “Should you?” The answer there is that depends on how often you are willing to go under the knife. One of the things I’ve learned from this is that the surgery is nothing. You’re knocked out. Rehab is long, and, though it’s rewarding because the pain is gone, there are always ancillary annoyances like kicking opioid pain killers and picking up your life where it was before. After my second hip (I have prostheses in both hips) I got cross country skis which proved to be the ONE true compensation for not running, but I don’t have any friends who X-country ski so I’m limited where I can go. I’m willing to go anywhere by myself, but I’m also not foolish. I know I can get hurt or stuck or godnose, so… Anyway, I don’t know anyone who wants to do it as much as I do. It’s always something. Like no snow…. Grrrrrrr…

I haven’t gotten over the loss. I doubt I ever will and reading “fine print” like that I read last night about mobility? The bottom line is I’m still walking and I have a big white dog who understands me and a little black dog who is the realization of joie de vivre when we’re out there doing whatever it is we do on that gravel road in the magnificent light, surrounded by mountains.


The featured photo is the pasture and two of the red horses. You can see how one of them is standing (back horse) with her leg lifted off the ground. The mountain is Cuyamaca Peak. The photo is taken from the exact spot where Lily and I spent time with the red horses. The hills behind the horses burned in the Cedar Fire a couple years before I took this photo.

Dogs and Thanksgiving

Yesterday Bear and I went out to the Refuge. As I headed to the spot where we usually park (a small pull out) I noticed a large bird perched on one of the lonely trees. “Red Tailed Hawk,” I murmured to Bear who couldn’t care less and she’s right. Labels? I noticed a car parked at the pull out just before ours and, thinking the person might be enjoying the bird, I drove very slowly and very quietly past the bird who didn’t ruffle a feather. I parked. Opened my door quietly and took this:

I let Bear out the side door, quietly, and we began our ramble. She trolled the edges of the road for smells. I just looked at everything, the ever changing light and scenery of this Valley I love so much. Snow fell over the two mountain ranges but none in the valley. It’s been a strange little bit of time, these past couple of years, and the refuge has been my refuge as well as a refuge for the animals. Sometimes I’ve gone out there just in time to see a huge ascension of Sandhill cranes or a herd of  Mule deer staring at me through the falling snow. I’ve watched all kinds of raptors hunt, swooping and diving. All of it. I love it. One thing I know about it is that when I go, I will see something. A rainbow in the Virga. Tracks of deer families in the snow, an elk running in the distance, coyotes yipping at sunset, a great horned owl family in a huge old cottonwood. But one thing I NEVER expected to see at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge on a chilly November afternoon was a couple from Beijing. 

Their car approached us on the road as we were on our return ramble. It pulled to one side to let us pass. When a car approaches, Bear and I always go to one side, too, so there was a little of a stalemate. I looked at the license plate. It was a vanity plate from an east coast state, an Anglicized version of a common cat name in Chinese. Hmmmm…..

We continued to wait and finally, they drove by and the driver — woman — waved and then bowed her head to me in a completely Chinese way. 

“Oh my god, Bear! Who would have thought?” I was stunned. I had a lot of things on my mind, one the reading from my China book at the museum in two weeks. Somehow, seeing the Chinese woman was an affirmation, anyway, it was pretty remarkable. We got in the car and headed out. The red tailed hawk was flying low over a pond looking at the edges for something to eat. Just a couple weeks ago we saw a tiger salamander. I thought, “I hope you’re hiding, little guy.” I don’t take sides out there (kill or be killed) but I don’t want my “personal” salamanders being dinner for my “personal” red-tail hawks, not when I’m watching, anyway. I drove very, very slowly so I could watch the hawk without disturbing him. 

Finally, at the far end of the loop, by the ponds and the way out, I saw the Chinese people’s car parked where they could watch the birds. I stopped and put my window down. The woman walked up to my car. 

“Are you from China?” I asked.

She looked surprised. “Oh, some 30 years ago.”

“I was living there 30 years ago — no, wait — 40 years now.”

“Where?

I answered in Chinese, “Zai Guangzhou.”

“Ah Guangzhou,” she said. “We are from Beijing.”

“I visited Beijing.” She was looking at me clearly wondering why I was living in China 40 years ago. “I was teaching at — wait, maybe I can do this. Hua Nan Shi Fan Da Xue.” I’d pronounced it right, but I knew the tones were wrong. The most difficult thing about speaking Chinese is getting the tones right. You can say very strange things to people by getting the tones wrong. “How are you?” can become “You good horse.”

She looked perplexed for a moment then, “Ah ah,” she repeated it pronouncing it right. 

“South China Teachers University.’

“You remember how to speak Chinese.”

“A little,” I said. “I haven’t had a lot of chances to speak Chinese in the past 40 years.”

Her husband came closer and bowed toward me a polite gesture from another place, another time. 

“When I saw your license plate, I knew you must be from China.” I smiled.

“It is our cat’s name.”

“I know.” 

She laughed. “We’re on a trip!” she said. She explained they were from the east coast and were driving all the way to California then back by a different route. “It’s so good to be traveling again.”

“I haven’t been out of the valley in a long time,” I said. I don’t know why I WOULD leave, but…

“It’s very beautiful here. Are you a long timer?”

“No, not really, seven years. It’s a small world.”

“It’s amazing we meet here,” she said. It was absolutely amazing. There was not another person anywhere around and that’s how it usually is, particularly this time of year. I imagined they had hoped to see cranes, but the cranes left a week or so ago. She asked about my dog, so I introduced her to Bear. We said a few more things. Then, I said, “Zai jian, zia jian.” Good bye. “Have a safe and beautiful trip.”

Xie xie,” she said. Thank you.

Bu ke xie,” I answered. No thanks needed.

“Oh!” she said, putting her hands together, “You remember!”

Oh yes, I definitely remember. ❤️

Bear and I got home and I did the things I needed to do around the house. Since 1988, hiking with a dog has been my Thanksgiving tradition and expression of gratitude, but I’m not sure I can have a better Thanksgiving walk than I had yesterday.

I didn’t even have a dog until 1988 when I got Truffleupagus (Truffle) from my neighbor’s front yard. She was a five-month year old lab/springer mix, and I didn’t know anything about raising a puppy. I’d wanted a dog ALL MY LIFE and, at 36, I finally had a dog of my own. I raised that dog in ways I would never raise a dog today, but live and learn is the rule of human life.

That November the Good X read in the paper that there was fall color in San Diego. We both missed seasons (we’d only lived in San Diego 4 years) so we took the advice of the newspaper, and, on Thanksgiving day, 1988, I made my first trip out to Mission Trails Regional Park, though it wasn’t a park yet. There was the historic dam built by Father Junipero Serra, a parking lot, a bridge over the river and then you were on your own.

We parked at the lot by Old Mission Dam and walked the trail described in the newspaper. It runs along the pond/lake made by the dam then crosses a bridge. Beyond that bridge is a whole world of indigenous San Diego County, but we didn’t go far or look around much. We just found a place to perch beside the trickle that was the San Diego River. Truffle was a still just a pup, but she seemed to like all the smells and, a springer/lab mix, she loved the water. Twelve years later, in the last hour of her life, I took her there to smell and walk as far as she could before we made the sad trip to the vet.

The river was lined with golden cottonwood and willows. Some of the leaves, fallen and bruised, sent forth an aroma I had known all my life, giving me an instant sense of “home.”

I returned the next day with Truffle. On this visit, we crossed the road from the parking lot and tried an uphill hike. I was not in good shape, and the landscape and plant life were unfamiliar. I learned how much LONGER a hike seems when the features of the environment are completely new.

Truffle and Molly in the Solstice Circle that was once on top of S. Fortuna Mountain 1993

Truffle and I went back every day the weather allowed, which, in Southern California, was most days. I had not yet learned the joy of hiking in “inclement” weather, or what the chaparral offered the hiker willing to climb a hill in the rain. 

Each day my dog and I went a little higher up the trail. In time six dogs and I would all go together for hours rambling the winding trails of Southern California’s wild landscape. I learned the four seasons of the chaparral, but even more about myself. The biggest thing I learned about nature (life?) is that no trail is the same trail twice, even if it’s a flat dirt road on an ancient lake bed. The important thing is to go. Otherwise there is no chance at all to see.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it. I’m very thankful for this community. It’s a wonderful thing, far more so than I imagined when I started eight years ago. ❤️

P.S. There’s no prompt word in this post. I’m sorry. But the occasion for arms akimbo just didn’t happen in any of these events.

Penitente Canyon

The painting is finished. Any more would be a mixture of OCD and gilding the lily. This is Penitente Canyon, the place my friend Alex (whose paints I inherited) loved most. I felt that the first painting I did with his paints should be of this place. I will be hanging it in the Holiday Show at the Rio Grande County Museum and then giving it to Louise, his wife, afterward.

I know I’ve written a lot about the ancient lake bed, a fraction of which is the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge where the cranes come and the dogs and I walk, but the western edge of the San Luis Valley is part of a giant caldera, one of the largest volcanoes ever to explode on Earth. Penitente canyon is maybe 20 miles from Monte Vista.

La Garita’s eruption was so impressive that it can’t even be ranked on the modern Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). This ranking system, created by the U.S. Geological Survey, is largely based on the volume of material ejected, which geologists estimate by mapping the extent of volcanic rock outcrops in the field. To put it in perspective, the infamous 1980 eruption of Washington’s Mount St. Helens, which ejected about 0.25 cubic miles of material, barely rated a five on the VEI. The eruption that caused La Garita to form discharged more than 1,200 cubic miles of material—so much that volcanologists have suggested that the explosivity index, which increases by a factor of 10 with each whole-number step, needs to be expanded to accommodate its estimated 9.2 ranking.

the-worlds-most-epic-volcanic-eruption/

The canyon is famous all over the world for its climbing routes that you can learn more about here: penitente-canyon The rock is a very hard volcanic tuff, Fish Canyon Tuff described by geologists as an “ignimbrite” — a word I had to look up, but in a very very basic sense means a volcanic rock that emerges in flows and cools slowly so it has time to harden. These rocks are 5 on Mohs Scale (which I actually DO remember from college geology). That and the numerous sheer walls, cracks, fissures and holes easily explain the 300 climbing routes. 🙂 The main photo on my blog is another formation from the La Garita geologic episode.

The canyon has an intriguing human history, too, one that fascinated me long, long ago before I ever realized where this was. It was the home of the Penitentes, a Roman Catholic brotherhood that was seriously into acts of self-penitence. On one of the rock walls, these brothers painted a Virgin of Guadalupe. They accomplished this by lowering the artist on a tire tied to two ropes. It’s interesting that during the flu epidemic of 1918, the Penitentes were the only people willing to bury the dead. In this canyon are also some Native American pictographs.

It’s a stunning place with beautiful hiking trails. I’ve been there a few times and would go back any time.

Alex was a climber and taught people how to climb. Louise said today that if Alex could have lived in the canyon, he would have. I get that.

Women’s Wilderness Legend Waterproof

Last night I bought some hiking boots that are JUST LIKE my old favorite hiking boots — same brand, same design — that I ultimately had to retire. I had replaced the soles at least three times. There was no leather left for another time. I left them behind in Zürich and discovered trail running shoes.

But last night I got an advertisement from Merrell, the company that made my old boots. They still make the same boots (some changes) and I noticed they were half price. For some mysterious reason that I do not understand I bought them. I woke up this morning and the first thing I did was attempt to cancel the order. I mean, seriously?

No luck. They’re already being shipped. That’s absurdly efficient. The service person at Merrell is waiving the return fee so I will have the chance to put them on once and send them back. I don’t need such robust boots at this moment of my life. Or do I? What if I DO make the transition to snow shoes? There’s no reason I couldn’t wear these.

Do we all have objects that are emblematic of not just things we’ve done and moments in our lives, but of who we ARE?

I was also thinking how as young people we think older people are “done” in the sense that it’s time to take the turkey out of the oven. The older people just hang out for our convenience until they die, meanwhile we’re evolved into some other kid’s old person. Sometimes I see something someone has written about the loss of their parent and almost invariably they say things like “I don’t know how I’ll carry on without my dad. He was always there for me.” I would have said the same thing — and probably did — when I lost my dad. So many of the people we know are really just our idea of who they are. That, I realize, is my problem with the little family up the alley that I love but am currently giving a wide berth. I’m not who they imagine me to be. That is exactly how we end up disappointed in other people. We think they’ve let us down when we just imagined them as someone they never were.

We also have ideas of who we are ourselves are, and, it seems, my idea of myself includes these boots. I know that just in this past year I’ve gone through a lot of changes, and I’ve experienced little epiphanies of self-discovery and self-knowledge. I think many of us have. I guess I like to think of myself as Women’s Wilderness Legend, Waterproof.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2021/02/15/rdp-monday-robust/

My Parade

Though I usually take a dog out at a particular time of day, sometimes I get an inexplicable urge to take one out RIGHT NOW. This happened today around 11:30 am. As I neared the Refuge, there were thousands of cranes rising, circling up, higher and higher. I parked Bella and got out. This is what I heard and saw:

I think the dumpster really brings it down to earth 😀

I’m still a little “migrainy” and it all seemed somewhat dreamlike. I was enveloped in the wild racket of thousands of cranes for the first 1/4 mile.

We took Bear’s favorite loop and I was enchanted by the pastel November colors and reminded why I always want to paint them.

Bear’s favorite loop and the beauty of the day…notice the tree in the distance…

As we rounded the loop’s first curve, the cranes became silent. I wondered what set them off — a predator — but WHAT predator? A cool morning. Snow falling on the mountains to the west. No way for me to know. Then, we rounded the third curve on this 1/3 mile loop and I saw…

We always think of owls as night hunters, but the Great Horned Owl hunts in daytime, too. Was it him?

My eyes filled with tears AGAIN. Oh man… And then I realized, “This is my parade! I painted this. Naturally THIS is playing the band and sending out ‘floats,’ the whole thing!” Birds being floats, of course.

I loved the thought and it seemed right. My big painting depicts one of the quietest moments in this silent (except for animals, wind, and the occasional “Hello!”) place. It’s the kind of scene revealed by hours in a wild place. It doesn’t take your breath away or stimulate awe. It’s just a quiet crane moment on a dull day. It’s a love letter from me to the Refuge. My parade couldn’t have been any better, I thought, and then…

I noticed something land on the top of one of the cottonwood trees…

Seems to be a Cooper’s hawk

Soon after I took his photo, this lovely being launched himself from the tree. You can see that moment in the featured photo if you look really really hard, then swooped down in front of Bear and me, then up and began circling the group of cranes and other water birds now hanging around the pond. “Like a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow bend.” (Hopkins, “The Windhover”)

“What a beautiful float!” I said to Bear who wondered why we weren’t moving and smelling stuff. I also realized that I was thirsty and a little hungry, so we turned back. Just as I arrived at the parking lot I saw a pair of Harris Hawks. These guys are noisy compared to other raptors. Their adaptation to environments where prey is scarcer has also “taught” them to hunt in groups. They’re darker hawks, reddish brown and reddish black. I’ve seen this couple a few other times. They like to hunt by the paved road that runs past the Refuge.

Best parade of my life. ❤

Cranes and Time

It’s not easy to record the flight of cranes in the sky with a phone. Until today, I haven’t had a lot of success, but….

Ta-TAAAAAA

There were thousands of cranes. Cranes on the ground eating and dancing, cranes in the air, doing what you see above. As Teddy and I were walking out, toward Bella, shadows of cranes passed over me and I thought, “Shadows of these birds have been passing over the earth for 350 million years.” I thought of my little life. Of the little lives of my cows that I’d just seen and talked to (I hold Teddy in my arms when we see the cows; he’s WAY too curious). The cranes had passed over the Clovis point people who once lived here. The cranes had passed over Lake Alamosa when it was above ground. The cranes had passed over the mammoths and the dinosaurs.

Wow.

Then, as we had to drive the loop today, I saw an osprey on the highest point of a small cottonwood tree, the lone tree for miles. I stopped to watch him thinking about how lucky I am to walk in the shadows of Sandhill cranes with a sweet dog on a beautiful Indian summer day and spy an osprey. I thought about how I am really a single-issue voter and it’s never been abortion or racial problems or the economy or anything like that. I have always voted for this beautiful planet. As far as I can tell, nothing is more wonderful, more beautiful, or more important. Nothing and no one has ever loved me more. This is my home and home is where the heart is.

When I couldn’t imagine this afternoon could get more amazing, it did. Suddenly THOUSANDS of cranes who had been grazing on a pasture some distance away took flight and filled the sky with their darker forms.

Wow again. Our time on this planet is so brief, but afternoons like this? A little taste of the best of eternity.

Women in Early Climbing —

how did climbing shape your life?

High Clip from The Dihedral invited me to write a blog post for her series, Women in Early Climbing. I struggled because I’m not a climber. I told High Clip, “I don’t think I can write this, you see, I’m not a climber.”

She said, “I think you are.” She said I had a climber’s mentality. I returned to the problem and then I saw the long-term effect of my early climbing life on everything that happened afterward and the person I became, am, now. I hope you enjoy it!

Women in Early Climbing —

Nothing Lasts Forever but the Earth and Sky

Wow. I got NOTHING to write that’s remotely “fantabulous.” Or maybe everything is so fantabulous that it is just part of the daily parade of wonder (I suspect the second).

It seems like everybody is struggling with the present moment and striving to know the future. This morning, as I made my coffee, I thought that if Trump wins, my friend’s plan that we all go to Patagonia (I would love that) isn’t very practical for me because of my family and the fact that I can only get a 3 month visa. So, I’ve decided to ignore the whole thing and focus on the fantabulous stuff that’s not going anywhere.

24 Tao Te Ching

He who stands on tiptoe is not steady
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
He who makes a show is not enlightened.
He who is self-righteous is not respected.
He who boasts achieves nothing.
He who brags will not endure.
According to followers of the Tao,
“These are extra food and unnecessary baggage.”
They do not bring happiness.
Therefore followers of the Tao avoid them.

Lao Tzu

The other evening I took Bear to the Refuge. There were people with dogs (leashed dogs, bless their owners) so Bear and I turned to take a different road. Just as we turned, a Northern Harrier hawk flew low over us and landed in some willow trees along the trail we were about to take. We hadn’t walked far before I smelled dead animal and soon the hawk, disturbed by us, took flight in front of me. He joined his mate who was perched in a dead tree beside an abandoned homestead across the highway (well, it’s called a highway…). Bear and I soon passed the smell.

Storms were coming over the San Juans and from the trail we were on, we were close to the mountains, nothing between us. I thought to take a photo but I felt more like looking at it than photographing it. The hawks waited in the tree, knowing, I guess, that Bear and I would have to turn around. We got back to Bella and onto the highway just as the storm broke loose, washing my windows and my car.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/08/31/rdp-monday-fantabulous/