Beautiful, Unexpected Adventure

Looking at the news for the last few days, specifically the FBI executing a search warrant on Old 45’s basement, a phrase — some idiom from my childhood — waved and flapped through my mind, “It’ll all come out in the wash.” Maybe it’s about to.

In more personal news yesterday I took Bear for her rabies shot. “My” vets have both, apparently, retired. That’s OK. They were around my age but I really liked them. The practice was bought a couple years ago by some young women vets and they immediately set about girly-fying the place appropriate to a vet clinic but also to young women of their generation. I miss the old vibe but change is the nature of things.

The first time I went to the vet was with Mindy 8 years ago. I was still staying in a cabin up in South Fork. The vet examined Mindy (a guy who is now about to be the new County Commissioner) and explained that her legs were not the same length and it caused pressure on her hips. Well, I know THAT story. I was instantly impressed. Anyway, to get to the present moment, Bear and I walked in and there were kitties on leashes. A young German shepherd, leashed, and a puppy. A black and white short-haired puppy with it’s very large person. Bear was very happy to meet the puppy — Bambi. In fact, she was more chill with the other dogs in there than I’ve ever seen her.

Debbie, the practice manager said, “You and Bear are all checked in, Martha.”

I’m not the new kid any more.

Lots of new people at my vets. A kid from UNC interning as a tech. A new vet who’s 12 years old. She examined Bear and asked, “What do you use her for?”

Yeah, dogs like Bear are usually employed. I told her Bear’s story and she looked very sad at the thought of a puppy being tied up at a gas station and rescued by the sheriff, but such is life. “So, she never had a job. I’m her job.”

“Well, she’s lucky to have you.”

12 year olds at their first real job are often pretty nervous and many people go into the vet field because they’re not people people. My heart went out to that young woman. She’ll get it. Some young people think we “boomers” are “against” them. I’m not. While I feel more comfortable around the two old guy vets, I’m happy that this girl has entered the field. I want her to do well. Yesterday I learned of a kid who just got hired to teach high school math; I almost wept. “Yay, guy,” I thought, “young teacher the brave and good.”

I met a very lovely old old kitty on her last few days of life and her wonderful person. The kitty was skin and bones. Her skin so fragile it was splitting. “She has liver cancer,” said the woman. “She’s 14. I think I should put her down — I know I should — I just can’t stand to say good-bye yet.” The lady was a remarkable older woman wearing shorts, a leopard print top, gold earrings and embellished sandals. When we were in the vet’s office, standing behind the woman and her kitty, Bear had pulled the leash, trying to reach the kitty to take care of it. She’d startled the woman by touching the lady’s bare leg with her cold nose. “Oooh! OH! Hello,” she said turning to see Bear. Bear nudged the kitty’s tail. I took Bear to the car.

I met a German shepherd puppy belonging to another intern. I talked to the puppy while Debbie — the practice manager — took my credit card. The puppy, as usual with dogs, gave me its undivided attention. “He’s amazing,” I said to its owner. “Very smart puppy. Oh well,” I said. “I just love dogs.”

“That’s obvious,” said Debbie handing me my receipt.

The manager of the Vet clinic is one of the first people I knew here. We had hip surgery and did PT at the same time. We were very happy to see each other. It feels like there’s a kind of awakening (in me? in everyone?) “Oh, you’re still here. I’m so glad to see you again.” Fuck their politics. I’ll vote my vote. And I’ve had Covid and all my shots, so???

After all that I decided to reward Bear if I could. My hip hurt like hell yesterday (I overdid it Weds and Thurs) but I wanted to take a walk if we could find a good trail. Because they’re close to the vet, I turned toward the lake and the wildlife area where we used to walk all the time. I headed down the road and saw that all the parking areas were empty. Waaaaaa-HOOOO! I pulled into the spot that leads to a walk by the river. The trail was open but overgrown. The sign makes a point — in red — that without the proper permits the area was closed. Well, I have the proper permits. I was so happy to see that sign. I quit going out there because people were abusing the trails and the area, turning loose their dogs, spending the night out there were there were no facilities, etc. Yay Colorado Parks and Wildlife! Plus, the permits help support the wildlife areas.

Bear immediately noticed scents and was more driven to explore them than I’d seen her in a while, but I figured it was a place we hadn’t visited in 2 1/2 years. Bear sniffed, left scent, sniffed, left scent. I walked up and down hills in no pain trying to figure out “What’s up with that?” meaning my leg. We finally got to the river and I was so happy to see it again. Then, I looked at something that had caught Bear’s eye (meaning nose).

Mountain lion scat. Pretty fresh. Thrilling.

I looked at my partner and thought, “Well, this is as good as it gets without seeing the lion.” I looked around for tracks, but it is a mostly grassy trail and what isn’t grassy is packed pretty solid. Even though I’m alone out there, I’m not alone. Bear was bred to defend her “herd” against animals like mountain lions. Lions are shy animals, generally don’t like dogs and can smell them. I talk to my dogs when I’m in a place like that and never hike in a wild place in silence. I have hiked for decades in mountain lion country and I’m glad they are there. The greatest day of my life was August 4, 2004, about 6 pm, when I finally saw a cougar. If you’re interested in the story, you can read it here.

Home on the Range

I grew up with cowboy songs and while “coulee” and “draw” figure prominently in my favorite cowboy song, the word “gulch” is nowhere to be herd (ha ha ha I’m so funny). BUT the word shows up in titles to cowboy stories and songs, usually, “dry gulch” which is meant to evoke a dusty trail on the cattle drive north from Texas or maybe a bunch of outlaws hiding from the good guys, “I reckon they’re waiting down in that dry gulch. Be careful Lamont. I think they’re holding that eastern Dude hostage.”

Sadly, Lamont WASN’T careful and that explains how he became momentarily extinct back in the 19th century and Dude was dragged across the cactus flats for a good ten miles, not that good for HIM, of course. It’s an idiomatic use of “good.”(for disambiguation type “Lamont and Dude” in the search bar of this blog).

I never got all that interested in TV or movie westerns and I only read one Zane Grey novel, Wyoming, which, as it happens, has a protagonist with MY very name — Martha Ann. I thought that was pretty cool, but the story didn’t grab me. It was just a fiction dry gulch to me.

The “old west” was too close to fascinate me as a subject for fiction. At dinners of the extended family, I listened to stories of the “old west.” Maybe less old than the gold rush(es) but still pretty rough and woolly. I was interested in the settlers and REAL cowboys — like my uncles were when necessity put them out there working cattle. But other times they were working in wheat fields. Other times? I don’t even know. All work was gig work — seasonal labor. The family didn’t own any property to speak of. I’ve wondered sometimes who they might have been if it hadn’t been for WW II. WW II took one of my aunts to Washington state to work on ships. Another aunt became a nurse. Another aunt was already a teacher. It sent my mom to “normal school” and to the reservation to teach. My Aunt Martha went to DC to work for the OSS. It sent my uncles to war. Really, how DO you keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?

But… the nostalgia was passed down to me. I loved my family and I loved their stories, and, obviously, I love the Big Empty. In 2014 (as they would say) my “chips were down”, I gathered up my “winnings,” and came home to a world where men in cowboy hats drive trucks and there are more cows than people. I believe the heart carries within it images of home, and it might even be a place a person has never seen. The featured photo is one of my first photos of the Refuge. This is one of the first photos I took of the San Luis Valley near Monte Vista.


I sang this song for my 6th grade choir grade at the private school I attended in Omaha, Nebraska. My teacher, who’d been in Mitch Miller’s choir, stopped me before I could finish. “There’s more to music than cowboy songs.” Well, maybe, but it’s a beautiful song. This is a very un-fancy version.

Lilacs

A bright spot in this weird spring has been the gigantic lilac hedge along my yard. Its blooms have been beautiful and every once in a while I catch their scent. It’s an important and nostalgic fragrance for me as it is for a lot of people. My story involves the measles.

Back in the dark ages of the 1950s kids got the measles, and I was one of those kids. There was no vaccine and measles was a dangerous childhood illness. I was sick a long time and ran a very high fever. I was delirious for a while and, apparently, even the doctor was worried I wouldn’t make it. My dad called my Grandmother Beall up in Billings, MT, my mom’s mom, and wired her money for the train.

I lay in my parent’s bed, why there I don’t know except I was probably sharing a bedroom with my little brother at that point. I guess my parents set up the roll-away bed in the room my dad used for an office, but I don’t really know. When you’re a desperately ill six your old you don’t really care how other people arrange themselves. The first memory I have of this whole thing is waking up from that to find my grandmother’s cool hand on my hot forehead.

A couple of weeks later, I was finally able to go outside. My mom had planted lilacs by the back door because “When lilacs last in the door yard bloomed,” right? As I walked out the back door, I re-entered the world through their lovely fragrance.

Here in America it is a “holiday,” Memorial Day. Originally it was meant to honor those who died in the (first) American Civil War back in the middle of the 19th century. My little town has some ties to that. The Homelake Veteran’s Home on the east end of town was built for Civil War veterans.

Walt Whitman’s poem, “When Lilacs First in the Dooryard Bloomed” is a powerful evocation of the sorrow and horror of the Civil War. He was a nurse in a battlefield hospital and saw the real nightmare of the war very close up. With no antibiotics, limited painkillers, the whole intense reality of the 19th century, a battlefield hospital was death and dismemberment in tents. (Please see the note below. I am afraid someone’s going to take away my degree in American Lit after this…)

I’ll just put the last stanza here, but the whole poem is painful beauty.

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night, 
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird, 
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul, 
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe, 
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird, 
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for the dead I loved so well, 
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for his dear sake, 
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul, 
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.


“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed” Walt Whitman — idiot that I am I forgot that this poem is about the moment when Whitman learned Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. The story goes that Whitman was visiting his mother and brother at his mother’s home in New York; he stepped out the door and observed that the lilacs were blooming. I’m very embarrassed and think maybe I should write my posts AFTER I drink my coffee rather than WHILE I’m drinking my coffee. In my mind’s eye, was Whitman in the hospital tent with the horribly wounded soldiers. I’m very sorry.

Walking in the Hood

After a couple of days of being more-or-less yard and house bound (except for an interesting but not fun jaunt to the hospital for a test) I had to GET OUT OF HERE and so did my Bear. To my total surprise, about 8 last evening the sky clouded over a bit, the wind died down, the trees stopped looking like they were on the verge of toppling. I grabbed my Bear by the collar, I closed the back door, I put the leash on my big white dog and we went out the front door before Teddy figured out what was going on.

Before Covid, come a summer evening (beautiful archaic structure there <3) we always walked down the alley to the street then down to the high school and around the pretty campus and back. It was no great adventure but my dogs loved it more than any other walk because of all the messages left by their invisible (but extant) friends. It has been more than a year since we took that walk. The last time was last May, I think, and it wasn’t great. Too many loose dogs. Last night I took a gamble.

The neighbors on the alley who’d let their dogs run loose have built a fence, but we didn’t go that way; we went down a street, turn toward the high school and there we were. Bear was happy and I was happy and we were OUTSIDE and the wind wasn’t blowing like a MOFO. The flowering crab and apple trees are blooming and in its own tired way (tired from wind) civilized nature looked OK, as if it — like my dog and me — was holding its own. I plan to take Teddy this evening, and, in conditional good gnus, the wind is predicted to give us a break tomorrow. Valley natives say they’ve never seen this weather pattern before. I hope they are just forgetful.

Bear did everything she hasn’t been asked to do in a long time — she stopped at corners, she did her obedience routine (we haven’t practiced that in 3 years!), she happily did “go slow” when I asked her to. I got the distinct feeling that she has missed our summer routine. There was one melancholy moment when we passed the house where the kids lived. Bear paused and turned to look at the house. I think she understood when I said, “They moved away Bear.”

Those beams of light are no longer there. The “eyes” of the house (windows) were dark, no toys in the yard, no chaos, just a funky little empty house. We both miss the kids. The featured photo is from 2020 when Teddy and I were on a walk. The kids had each gotten a “dog” of their own. ❤ I don’t know why we’re not all wearing masks, but maybe because we didn’t expect to meet up with anyone and were outside.

First of All, I’m Fine

Yesterday was a strange day here in Heaven. Around noon I heard every fire engine in the proximate area roaring down my street. “Shit,” I thought. Some people would think, “Fire,” but… About an hour later the power was out and the water was turned off. My “fire brain” was on hyper alert, but I never said the word “Fire” to myself. Too scary. Then the cell towers were off. No updates on what was going on. That got, for me, very scary.

I remembered October 27, 2003, when my dogs and I were evacuated to a park in Pine Valley, CA because of a massive wildfire. That I spent a lot of time plopping quarters into a pay phone by the drive-in (ice cream, not movies) contacting friends to tell them I was OK and giving quarters to my friends any anyone else around there so they could do the same. I kept quarters in my car for parking meters, car washes, etc. back then.

The water came back on. The UPS guy came by and we agreed it was a very very very strange day. Everything seemed distorted and kind of unreal.

I took off in Bella to see if I could find “bars.” The traffic lights were out except one (???). Out by the Refuge it was business as usual for the hawks and sheep and horses and cattle. I needed to see that. Animals generally have a better clue to what’s going on that humans do.

I turned around and that’s when I saw the water-dropping-fire-fighting helicopter over my town. Because the wind was blowing away from my house, I hadn’t smelled fire or see smoke. That helicopter told me everything.

Damn.

It’s desperately dry down here, the wind has been blowing like a MOFO and fires are easy to start. Colorado Bureau of Investigation is investigating the cause of the fire. It could have been anything. 17 acres burned, 30 homes are still evacuated out of 100. The firefighters did an amazing job.

This year people have been working hard to diminish fuel. I watched a guy mowing the field near his house — that’s usually grown over with brush — mowing his field with a push mower. Too small for a tractor, but too dangerous to leave alone. Sparks from trucks, cigarettes tossed out of windows, all kinds of thing. In Descanso I remember a grass fire started from a guy’s weed-eater and so, in high fire times, the word went out, “No weed eaters.” THAT fire was put out by two of my neighbors with wet gunny sacks.

Anyway, I’ve let my fire preparedness slide since I moved here. I will have to get that back together again. It might be a long summer… I mean, here it is April and I’m wearing shorts. No, you don’t have to visualize that.

You can read all about it here with videos… The news….

My house: little red line under blue marker. Fire area outlined in red. It’s about a mile. My town is small, only two miles the long way. ❤


Letter to the Governor

Dear Governor Polis —

I’m a 70 year old woman living in Monte Vista, a small town in the San Luis Valley. I recently had an experience that I’m sure a lot of other people down here have had. I recently had flashing lights in one of my eyes, so I went to my doctor in Alamosa. He wasn’t able to diagnose it, and he feared I had a detached retina. He wanted me to HURRY to a specialist in Colorado Springs. That was this past Thursday when both passes out of here were in terrible, dangerous shape. I was given an appointment in Colorado Springs for 1 pm the following day. 

I live alone with two dogs. I don’t have family, though I have a friend who offered to drive me. She’s 82, and it was an offer of love, as much as logic. I have a Jeep, 4WD, but no chains and even so, did I want to be at a chain-up spot in a blizzard putting chains on my car? I didn’t, really. I wasn’t in the best emotional state. It was a natural freak out situation to be in.

I was awake all night, scared about my eye, scared about the passes. At 5 am I looked at La Veta Pass and Poncha Pass on CDOT and both of them looked very bad. I figured I would need at least four — probably five — hours to get to the Springs and hoped to get out by 6 just in case. On the map were wrecks and ice and all the nightmare of a mountain storm at night. But…the conditions on the passes didn’t improve in the next hour. They worsened on both the passes and on I-25. It finally hit me. I wasn’t going to risk that trip, not even for my eye. I didn’t go. 

It seems my eye isn’t going blind, but it’s still not OK, and I have an appointment. BUT…it occurred to me that if I lived in a remote mountain town in Italy or Switzerland or, presumably, France, I would be able to get to that doctor by train or, worst case scenario, Post Bus. 

We need trains. Two trains a day. A morning train and an evening train. The ridiculous bus that goes from Alamosa to Colorado Springs runs once a day and takes 8 hours. This is crazy. As you know people live here and many of us are not young. And since we don’t have an opthamologist anywhere in the San Luis Valley, I’m not the only person who has to make a trek to see one. 

I realize the person who represents my district — District 3 — in the US House of Representatives voted against the bill that is supposed to improve infrastructure in her district, but still there are viable tracks everywhere and depots in every small town. High speed trains would be awesome, but in the meantime? 

Thanks for listening! 

Quotidian Update 91.7.ii.xi

Christmas here in Heaven is a two month deal. It starts with the Christmas Boutique the first weekend in November and is wrapped up sometime after New Years Day. That’s pretty long, though this year has been strangely different, sweeter. Yesterday the celebration continued when my neighbor, Karen, and I took a walk to try out (ha ha) the newly made little walking trail near our houses. We had a good time, a nice walk and conversation.

The trail itself is important in that it sets apart a “green” area forever, so, as my town grows west (as it seems to want to do) this open area will be there. One of the bigger ditches runs along it. It’s not a good trail for me and the dogs because it’s too convenient for people who want to open their doors and let their dogs out, but that’s OK.

Our small adventure ended at Elizabeth’s house where she had tea for us and had made us Christmas bread to take home. Karen gave me some beautiful, newly-harvested potatoes. I’ve never been a big fan of potatoes, but truly, newly harvested San Luis Valley Potatoes are tasty. And they’re pretty — for potatoes.


Next week things will begin to “normalize” when I take down my show at the museum and the books for the contest arrive.

Random Quotidian Update 41.3.ii.xi

Here it is Monday and I still don’t have to go to work but I CAN. That is the coolest thing in the world. I actually have some work to do today. I sold some Christmas cards on Etsy (yay me) and some other stuff to mail.

My friend’s visit was great. Bear, Teddy and I were sorry to see her go. Ahead of me is the reading. Snow comes and goes from the forecast, but I’ve resigned myself to the reality that neither Bear’s nor my desires in that regard have anything to do with anything.

I used some of my sold-painting money to buy new surfaces, and that’s probably going to be a big part of my Christmas this year. The other part? The fact that I’m here in Heaven.

I recently got a lovely, small art job from the Rio Grande County Museum. I have been hired to do a pencil drawing of my favorite church in Monte Vista, St. Stephens the Martyr Episcopal Church. It’s a small stone church built as an exact replica of a village church in England by some English immigrants. I saw it soon after I moved here and was struck by the fact that it looks like Europe, almost like the little church in Gfenn, Switzerland. I took it as a confirmation that I belong here. It’s my friend Elizabeth’s church and I’ve attended a few services there and once gave a workshop on my book, The Price, in the church hall. THAT was wonderful because there were some people from Pennsylvania there who knew a lot about the Swiss Mennonites and the conversation was great. It’s always lovely when other people can enter into one of my highly specialized enthusiasms…

Otherwise, the book reading/contest-judging gig is about to kick in as well. This year, it will be six categories which could be 100+ books. Winter is a strange and wondrous time. Yesterday, after the busy weekend, I saw about 15 sparrows on the fence by the birdbath, clearly saying, “Where’s our water?” Normally they’re keeping warm in the lilac hedge.

Trip to the Vet

Yesterday I took Teddy to the vet for his customary shots. I had a few strange experiences. One, I have asthma and, in fall, it tends to kick off around 4:30 in the afternoon. Teddy’s appointment was 4:45 right at the golden hour. As soon as I walked into the clinic I had a coughing attack. I said, “I’m not sick. I have asthma. I’ll put my mask on so I don’t scare anyone.”

Debbie, the office manager, whom I’ve known since I moved here, who had hip surgery when I did, who did PT at the same time and place, said, “No, Martha, don’t. That will make it even harder for you to breathe.”

A nice older lady from Texas (they moved here in numbers last year) with a little Dachsund/Chihuahua shaking on her lap said, “No, honey. Don’t do that. You need to breathe. It’s OK. I used to have asthma but thankfully, it went away as I got older.”

“Mine hit me when I was 60,” I said, breathing, finally, wishing I had my inhaler.

I sat down with Teddy, who just wanted to go see everyone, and waited. My turn came, and I was ushered into a little room by a young woman. The vet — Kayla — a young woman who bought the practice a couple years ago — came in and checked over Teddy. “He’s perfect,” she said. “Perfect weight, perfect teeth, everything.” They joked about his determined drive to kiss everyone, “He’d French me if I let him.” One tall girl caught Teddy in her arms as he leaped off the examining table. “He’d go home with you!” said the vet.

“OK,” I said. “There are a lot of dogs out there who’d like to live with me.”

“Really? You’d let him go?” asked the vet.

“No. I think my other dog would miss him a lot. My other dog is an Akbash.”

“Right!” said the vet. “You’re the lady with the Akbash. We don’t seem many of those.” So we talked about Bear. The assistants in the room had never heard of that breed. Anyway, they’ll see her when she goes in for her shots.

When we were finished, we went back to the lobby. There was my favorite vet, Dr. Crawford, the one who took care of Teddy’s leg this past March after Teddy lost in a fight with the glass in my front door, the one who has put down my dogs. After he did the surgery on Teddy’s foot, he came out to explain what he’d done, he cradled Teddy in his arms like a baby. When he saw Teddy, instead of crouching down for Teddy to run to him, he just said, “No, buddy, no happy right now.” Later I saw why.

I took Teddy out to the car, so I could pay the bill in peace and I saw, in the dog pee area, a beautiful, young red merle Aussie and her people. The Aussie was vomiting into a bag. “Shit,” I thought hoping it wasn’t the worst but knowing if it were Parvo, Dr. Crawford would be able to help as well as anyone could. It didn’t seem all that likely as the Aussie wasn’t a puppy, but parvo doesn’t just hit puppies.

When I came back in to pay, the Aussie and its people followed, thinking the Aussie couldn’t vomit more, but she did. When the dog stopped, they put it on the scales. “She’s a little overweight,” said her person. I heard this in the corner of my ear as I paid my bill, words of irrelevancy as a flag of hope.

The vet came in from outside where he’d been looking for the Aussie. He’d come in to fill a syringe and had gone out another door, expecting to see the dog in the dog pee area. He looked intently at me. He sees hundreds of people and their sick and dying animals, and I know from my own experience that sick dogs make him very very sad. He met me at 10 pm one night on the off chance that Bear had bloat. SHE had been vomiting. “I have to charge you for an emergency, Martha.”

“I know,” I said. “It’s OK. I love this dog.”

“She’s pretty special,” he’d answered, Bear was leaning against him and he was scratching her ears.

Yesterday, as we passed, he reached for my shoulder as he hurried to the Aussie.

Driving to the vet, I’d seen the moon hovering just above Mt. Blanca. When I left, there was an amazing sunset. I sent up some good thoughts for that poor dog and her people, but I don’t think they could be in better hands.

Sweet Morning, Quotidian Update 71.23.7.iii.c

Saturday morning I went to the Holiday Boutique, a very special event in Monte Vista with beautiful handmade things produced by talented people like my friend Elizabeth. The women who organize this lovely event decided in 2020 not to hold it because of Covid, no vaccinations, etc.

As I was walking toward the door, the woman waiting for people, gathering the invitations and crossing attendees off the list said, “You’re ALMOST in the sun.” I was on the sidewalk and the sun was about to hit it. It was a sweet, friendly, gentle joke because here the temperature difference between sun and shade can be several degrees and in winter? Even people like me who love the cold and snow, seek the sun. I laughed.

When I looked inside at all the beautiful things, so lovingly made and saved back from last year, some of them, here thoughtfully, attractively, carefully displayed, and I looked at my friend and the wonderful women who are responsible for this, I thought I was going to cry. My friend Elizabeth came out to greet me and she and the woman were prepared to hug me if I really did break down. I held it together. 🙂 I guess a lot of us just got through last year by putting a good face on things and acting as if the small things that add beauty to our lives weren’t all that important and now that they slowly return, we feel it intensely.

Everything in the Boutique is handmade. To be a participant you have to be chosen by the family that organized it long ago. You will find everything for the kitchen — save appliances and pots and pans. Hand embroidered, muslin dish towels like those I grew up with. Homemade jams and jellies, dish scrubbers that people in the San Luis Valley use and buy every year at this Boutique. Jackets, tote-bags, bags for groceries, water-bottle holders, Christmas ornaments, stuffed animals (Elizabeth makes wonderful bears, cats and more),on and on… I would need photos to show you everything and I didn’t take any. My friend is an extremely talented seamstress as well as beyond “handy” with knitting needles and a crochet hook. My “target” was a pair of socks Elizabeth had made with leftover scraps. I bought some Christmas presents and some peach butter. I hope that this wonderful thing continues into perpetuity.

When I got home, I put away my treasures and looked at Bear. The imperatives were absolutely clear. We headed out to the Refuge to enjoy the morning and I was rewarded by hundreds of Sandhill cranes calling, purring, flying overhead. That is the first time this fall I have experienced that — no idea why because I’ve been out a lot, but it’s the crane’s business, not mine. My business is simply to show up. Their business is to get south before the winter cold closes the waterways. If my business coincides with theirs? The best it can get.

When I got home from all my field trips I thought more about the woman’s sweet joke, “That’s a beautiful metaphor for this whole morning, boutique, friends, cranes, sunshine, sky, all of it.”

Maybe we ARE “almost in the sun.” ❤

P.S. Strangely, this song was going through my mind as I wrote this and just now, on “Breakfast with the Beatles,” (WXRT Chicago) the DJ is playing it. So there you go.