• Category Archives Mountains
  • The Very Deep End of the Pool

    Imbolc and the 77 Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Valentine’s Day. Alan. Joanne making me a tallit. Marilyn and all the fire. And, candles. Irv. That Cow Elk on the side of the road between two firetrucks. The smashed SUV. Mussar yesterday. Closing in on a new way of understanding the sacred. Torah study. Amber. Tom. Ellory. Wild Neighbors. Rabbi Jamie. Luke. Leo. My dreams last night. The world of dreams. Sleep last night.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The injured Cow Elk

    One brief shining: I came up the slope from Evergreen Lake, past the Conoco Station on my left, saw flashing lights, and with the usual curiosity wondered what had happened, oh, two firetrucks angled out into the right hand lane, cars alongside none damaged, then in a flash of sorrow between the two firetrucks, a Cow Elk lying on her side, still alive, but down, and beyond the second firetruck an SUV with its hood angled up toward the windshield. Oh.

     

    At mussar Ginny started crying as she recounted seeing the injured elk. I was upset and sad, too. Rabbi Jamie offered a prayer for the Elk, for all those others involved. Wild Neighbors lives matter.

    Seeing this healthy animal struck down gutted me. Senseless death. Elk cross the road all the way from Evergreen Lake to about the turn for the Hiwan Golf Course, a distance of maybe three miles or so. Evergreen puts up road signs to watch for Elk. And often has an LED caution sign about where this accident occurred.

    We tend to speed along this stretch of highway, too. Yes, I do it. Gonna stop. The slower speeds are for the Elk. If I think about it that way…

    When I’m on my better behavior, I remind myself that it’s a privilege to need to take care for our Wild Neighbors. I recently slowed down my speed on the Mountain roads for the same reason. Complacency and familiarity breed carelessness. Can breed carelessness and has for me. We moved in on those Animals. Not the other way around. We’re responsible.

    When you consider the interconnectedness and oneness of all things, the sacred nature of all things, life becomes more and more precious. For desert Pigeons, for Camels, for Monitor Lizards and Pythons, for Elk and Mule Deer and Mountain Lions. For us, too.

     

    Here’s the new way of thinking about the sacred that’s beginning to surface for me. Whitehead’s advance into novelty puts creativity at the very core of reality and could suggest that God emerges from the becoming with each instance of creativity. I’ve always felt that a process metaphysics makes the most sense, that is a metaphysics that honors as primary the necessity of ongoing change and creation, nothing just “is”, everything is always becoming something new.

    What’s new for me about the notion of the sacred adds a filigree, well, maybe more than a filigree to the notion of creativity as the primary descriptor for the motor behind a process metaphysics. I’m thinking of adding a Jungian notion to the engine of creativity, an impulse toward individuation, a creativity that drives each instantation of its impulse toward its highest and best possibility. In this way of understanding creativity is the motor for process, yes, but the sacred adds a direction to the change, one toward the rock being as good and sound a rock as a rock can be. For a daisy to be the most functional flower for the continuation of daisies that it can be. For a Cow Elk to be the best Mother and Elk she can for the furtherance of Elks as a species. For all of the diverse realities created and decaying to work together to create the best possible Mother Earth. The best Solar System.

    No, this is not Voltaire’s Candid. This does not mean that best of all possible worlds will emerge. It does mean that even war and climate devastation could work to further the creation of the best of all possible worlds. But might not either.

     

     

     


  • Shadow Mountain. Home.

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Monday gratefuls: The hostages. The empty chairs. Rabbi Jamie. Alan. Cheri. This moment. This keyboard. These fingers. The lev that motivates them. My neshama. Yours. Shards of ohr. Tikkun olam. Home. Eclipse 2024. Aurora, Great Sol lighting the morning. A blue white Sky above Black Mountain. Ruth. Gabe. Mark, leaving Hafir in March. Mary, may the forest and the pythons and the monitor lizards and the monkeys be with you.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Change, our only constant

    One brief shining: The way Black Mountain emerges from the night, slowly with only a dark bulk visible, as Great Sol throws more ohr toward it the Lodgepoles become distinct, Snow on Rock outcroppings bounces the ohr back toward Great Sol white and brilliant, a shade of red orange rests for a moment over it all, then the blue white Sky lights up and Black Mountain stands dominant against my western horizon.

     

    Increasing. My stay on Shadow Mountain tendency. Only the very occasional night out. MVP. Dinner with Ruth and Gabe. Not even services, maybe once a month. Yesterday a solidarity walk with Denver relatives of the hostages in Gaza. Big Snow Saturday and I found myself not wanting to brave the Mountain roads. So I didn’t. Felt a bit of guilt. Ah, Jewish guilt! Hey, I’m really in now.

    Not sure how I feel about this. There are a number of drivers. At night my reaction time is slower. And even with cataract surgery I still get halos and spikes around car headlights. I go to bed early, though I’ve recently discovered not so early for my chronotype, the Lion. Inertia plays a role, perhaps too big a role. Though. This began long ago when Kate and I first started missing St. Paul Chamber Orchestra nights. A long drive and a late night when going from Andover. At some point the negatives begin to push out the positives. This may be that point for me.

    During the day. Still getting out. Breakfasts. Lunch. Thursday mussar. Getting groceries, medical appointments. That sort of thing. Yet I have not gone into Denver to the Art museums and galleries which I can visit during the day. Traffic. Parking. An hour in and an hour back. I’m grateful for Alan and Cheri’s concerts because they’re on Sunday mornings. That way I can still experience live music.

    Not slowing down physically, still exercising regularly, now up to three sets of resistance work plus cardio. My back though continues to push at me. Noticing now if I turn too quickly to my right with my foot planted my hip tends to drop.

    Guess I’m trying to parse out the real limits of my daily and weekly life. Seasons make a difference of course. When winter is over and Great Sol agrees to light more of the evening, it’s easier for me. I love winter. Snow. Cold. But not ice. And not Mountain roads after a storm.

    Whenever I have these thoughts, I think about RJ Devick, my financial advisor, who once told Kate and me that his clients who hit their eighties tend to do much less traveling and their expenses go down. Could be what’s going on with me.


  • A day with texture

    Imbolc and the Cold Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: New candle holders. Memorizing the prayer. Alan. Joe Mama’s. Rocket Bar. Wild Mountain Ranch. A dozen eggs and two beef tenderloins. New blinds. John Ellis. Evergreen Shutter and Blind. Shabbat. Parsha Yitro. Snow. Maybe in feet! Good sleeping. Israel. Hamas. U.S. Iran. Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia. Korea: South and North. Japan. Taiwan. Ukraine. Russia. U.S.A.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Wild Mountain Ranch, regenerative farming in Conifer

    One brief shining: Wouldn’t have found Joe Mama’s, again, if I hadn’t seen Alan sitting at a table near the window, and wouldn’t have thought it was a breakfast place anyhow since it had a pool table, not to mention the bar where three Wheatridge stalwarts sat each with a drink in front of them, one a yellow mug of beer, the others I couldn’t tell, at 9 am.

     

    Don’t usually go to bars. At all. Certainly not at 9 in the morning. But Joe Mama’s had moved from its ten foot wide spot on west Colfax to a new place in Wheatridge. Alan and I liked it, the food was good. We decided to try the new spot.

    They’ve become, I think, the kitchen staff for the Rocket Bar. A no frills spot which looks like the owner took over a small building that maybe housed a barbershop and a small bodega like grocery store. Four separate rooms. Pool table room. The room where Alan and I sat, larger and with tables, the bar room, a narrow area that might have been a wide hallway, and a fourth room with tables. The latter two rooms seemed to constitute the main working spaces for the Rocket Bar.

    Alan and I will not be going back. For one thing the politics of the place had a certain MAGA like feel. For another this alcoholic doesn’t like to eat breakfast while old guys belly up for their first shots of the day. Their choice, not disputing that. But my choice is not to be with them when they do that.

    Always good though to spend time with Alan. We discussed his and Cheri’s first in-home concert. Cheri floated after the morning. She loves music, loves playing, and arranging for others to hear music. And this time, at home. We also dissected the current state of Israel, Hamas, Gaza, the West Bank. Way complicated. But perhaps with a solid solution if Biden stays in office.

     

    Came home to be here when John Ellis, no apparent relation, came with my new blinds. They’re double honeycombed and have a slight green tint. The ones in my office will allow me to work in the morning without Great Sol in my face. The new blinds on the living room/kitchen floor improve on the faded ones that were there before. The blinds downstairs will reduce glare in the afternoons and early evening. It took John less than hour to install all of them. I paid him the balance due.

     

    After John finished, I hopped in Ruby to go find Wild Mountain Ranch, a local regenerative farm I discovered a week or so ago. Not an easy find. Had to turn left on a downhill slope of 285 onto a narrow dirt road. I needed to find Red Hawk Trail. Found it but it didn’t look like it went very far. Just behind Tucker’s horse training and riding facility. Drove past it, then noticed that it took a sharp right that I hadn’t seen. Turned around and went back. Down a steep slope on a muddy narrow road to the right hand turn.

    Drove a long ways on a one lane dirt road muddy from thawed Snow. All the while going up, a gentle rise. No signs for Wild Mountain Ranch. I had an address but I hadn’t paid attention since I imagined there would be a sign. The road ended in the driveway of the last house on Redhawk Trail. A man roughly my age came outside to see what I was up to. We chatted and he said,”Oh, yeah. You’re buying beef?” I nodded. “Turn around and go back down. It’s on the right and you’ll see some cattle, some big ones. A radical right hand turn.” Thanks, dude.

    Sure enough maybe a half mile further back from his small orange home I saw some Highland Cattle lounging in mud. I took a radical right turn, maybe 240 degrees, and found the parking lot. Rang the bell. Nothing happened. Rang it again. Still nothing. I went back to the car, found my phone and called. No answer. As I wondered what to do next, Brittany came out. “Have you been out here long?” No, not that long. She got my name went back in the house, got my dozen eggs and two tenderloins.

    Marketing and customer service are not Wild Mountain Ranch’s strong suit. At least not yet. I wanted to talk about their farm but Brittany seemed distracted. I’ll wait.

    Gonna go downstairs now and have a couple of their eggs before I workout.

     


  • Mountains

    Winter and the full Cold Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Cold Moon. The night landscape through my bedroom window when the Moon is full. All dogs, everywhere. All Wild Neighbors. The Lodgepoles of Shadow Mountain. Its Rocky presence and its height. Living on Shadow Mountain. Gary and the Torah. Bereshit. Zornberg. Hevruta. Lamb by Christopher Moore. Tinned Albacore. Bartlett Pears. 34 degrees Rosemary crackers.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The night landscape with a full moon

    One brief shining: Hard to miss the steady confident support of Shadow Mountain yet it can fade into the background of the trash and the dishwasher and the television and the sleeping through the night though when on occasion I awake I do look outside and see the Lodgepole shadows thrown against the white Snow by the gentlest of lights and somehow Shadow Mountain rises up, gentle himself, to receive the Moon’s gift.

     

    We tend to think of Mountains as rugged stony prominences, all yang in their stolidity, their solidity. Yet live with one long enough and its mellow side emerges. It wants to cradle you, support you as a mother does her child. It says yes to the Trees that wish to grow on its flanks. The Mountain greets the Waters as they run down its side whether Rain or Snow Melt or Hail. Even though Water carries away part of the Mountain itself. The Mountain provides nooks for weary Mule Deer and Elk. Ledges on which Mountain Lions can rest while waiting for supper to walk by. Dens for hibernating Black Bears. Dens, too, for the Fox. The Mountain also shares its height with those who climb it for the long view possible at the summit.

    Mountains prefer the company of other Mountains. Sometimes in huge family gatherings we call ranges. Though self-contained Mountains share Roots, Passes, Valleys with their companions. They have similar origin stories with their companions, too. Geologists call it orogeny, Mountain building. Which of course is not building at all, but a rude thrust from an eon or two spent happily beneath the Earth’s crust, cracking the surface and slowly mounting into the Air and the light of Great Sol, feeling the Wind and the Rain, the Ice and Snow.

    Mountains will surprise you. They change their appearance. Sometimes suddenly as when Black Mountain disappears in the Fog. Or more slowly as Great Sol rises, dispersing the darkness of a Mountain night. In the Mountain Fall the gray-white Aspens leaves turn gold, creating a contrast with the green Needles of the Lodgepoles and the darkness of exposed rock. The Elk bugle then, too, and the Black Bears go into hyperphagia needing 20,000 calories a day. In Winter Snow flocks all the Trees and the Creeks freeze up. While in the Spring, the Snow melts and the Creeks run full, often overflowing their banks. Fawns and calves and kits and pups abound on the Mountainside.

    But Summer. Summer has a red flashing light. Danger ahead. Here in the arid West the Lodgepoles become desiccated, their needles dull. Sometimes the grasses turn brown, only a lightning strike away from Wildfire. All of us Mammals in the Mountains have to pay attention, be aware.

     

     


  • Its All Nature

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Rich. Tara. Jamie. Ron. Irv. Marilyn. Susan. The MVP squad. Tom. Diane in Taiwan. That Desert Eagle Mark saw. Ai Weiwei. Genius beyond genius. Art. Missing art. Missing music. Writing. My life. Shadow Mountain home. Cooking. Problem solving. Life. Death. Faith. Its all Nature. The Sacred. Talk about manifesting. Water Vapor. Clouds. Transience revealing permanence.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Life and death

    One brief shining: Protean a word embedded in the Greek vision of divinity, of gods and powers, able to change shape transform metamorphose Ai Weiwei Protean man building big cabinets and small cabinets, creating a marble toilet paper roll, challenging nations from his spot acquired through doggedness, brilliance, and a love of problems and, oh yeah, Legos.

     

    Wanted to make a black-eyed pea soup for the MVP gathering last night. But. Ordered black beans instead. What to do? In a fateful decision I chose to make a black bean soup with what I had on hand, using as well some of what I ordered for the black-eyed pea soup. OMG. How to make bad choices moi. I think it’s better than I originally thought but I took a bag of clementines to MVP instead. The upside is that I got interested in beans again and soup. Which I know I can make if I have the right ingredients and follow the recipe. So now I’m thinking bean soups, freezing.

    Part of the issue with the soups I looked at it including the black-eyed pea varieties were their use of ham hocks. Fine with me, I don’t share my coreligionists aversion to pork, but I respect it. And, one of our little group, Rich, is a vegetarian. So. Conclusion. I’m going to make some black-eyed pea soup for me with ham hocks and all the trimmings. Figure out something else to take next month.

     

    Coming home the thirty minute drive from the synagogue to Shadow Mountain in the night. Darkness. Trees. The occasional glow of nocturnal evolved eyes on the road side. Hoping for another flashy glimpse into the world of the sacred but fine with the clouds lit up by moonlight, the Lodgepoles and Aspens crawling up the Mountain sides, my own temporary life moving with and through them. Feelings of love for the Forest, the Mountains, Kate who once rode beside me, my friends at CBE, this solitary life I lead now. Some sadness floating up, accepted, yes sad without Kate, without Kep. Without.

    Further on as I make the sharp turn that leads to the top of Shadow Mountain already beyond the sadness welcoming myself back to my home. Enjoying the folks who savor their Christmas Trees and lights so much they can’t part with them quite yet. Enjoying the world I have and am for this time part of. How wonderful it is to be. To open up and let the moonlight in, to feel sad, to shift to feeling at home, to care deeply about friends. In the hospital. Wandering. Discussing faith and wonder.

    How wonderful is to have made bad black bean soup.

     

     


  • Mountain names and places

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: Shabbat. Lighting the candles. Quiet. Rest. Irv. Marilyn. Tara. Ariane. Vincent. Eleanor, the all black Puppy and her white friend. Lots of kisses. Hebrew. My bar mitzvah aliyah, Exodus 19:25-20:2. Kilimanjaro. Annapurna. Zugspitz. Silverhorn. Jungfrau. All roads leading to Tara and Ariane’s house on Kilimanjaro. Apple and Peanut butter, an easy supper. Hearing aid. Oxygen concentrators. Oximeters. Living at altitude.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Friends

    One brief shining: Ariane, an engineer, has made 38 loaves of bread in his bread machine; he has a record of each loaf which includes machine settings, ingredients, and results; he held up a slice of his 38th loaf yesterday morning and told me that the bread inside the crust is called the crumb.

     

    The names up here. I’ve mentioned Troublesome Creek and Troublesome Gulch before. To get to Tara’s yesterday I took Shadow Mountain Drive to the Evergreen Road, turned right on North Turkey Creek, then left on Silverhorn to Jungfrau, Jungfrau to Kilimanjaro. I live on Black Mountain Drive which turns into Brook Forest Drive while passing through the Arapaho National Forest.

    Tara and Ariane live in an upslope house with a wonderful view. Yesterday Mt. Blue Sky and others near it were covered in Snow. Black Mountain is visible from their house, too. Just looked at a map and our homes are not that far apart in straight line distance, but there are no straight line roads here. Mountains in the way.

    When I drive down Shadow Mountain Drive, I follow North Turkey Creek along the flank of Shadow Mountain. Shadow Mountain itself is long and slopes down from the top where I live to the Evergreen Road. I can only see it from the parking lot of the Safeway several miles away otherwise I’m on it or too close to it to make out any of its features. An oddity of living in the Mountains.

    The road to Evergreen goes through a Valley, Evergreen Meadows, a long Valley that runs from Shadow Mountain Drive and Evergreen Road intersection for several miles. While driving through, I pass a couple of smaller Horse ranches, a suburban like development, and a still intact ranch with lots of Horses and a collection of pioneer cabins, all in disrepair.

    Closer to home Black Mountain, at 10,000 feet is 1,200 feet taller than Shadow Mountain and I can see it plainly. Right now. Great Sol has begun to light up the stands of Lodgepoles on it and a blue Colorado Sky. But the massif of Shadow Mountain, huge and over four miles from my house to the Evergreen Road? I live on it and see it as my land, my neighbor’s land, but its shape? Not visible to me.

    A good metaphor for the sacred. We live in it, see it when we can nearby, but its shape and expanse? Not visible to us.

    This is my place. The place from which I see the world most often. What I see are Mountains and Valleys, Mountain Streams and Wild Neighbors like the 8 point Elk bull I saw yesterday on Jungfrau while headed to Tara’s. It has become my home and I would like to stay here until I die.

     


  • A Bold Return to Giving a Damn

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Tara. Her new puppy. Cold. Snow. Sleep. Gabriella. A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm. Amazon. New Phone. Wallet. 2024 on the way. Poetry. Road Less Taken. Lines Written at Tintern Abbey. Kubla Kahn. Notes on a Supreme Fiction. Circles. Leaves of Grass. Ozymandias. The Raven. Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The Wasteland. Song of Myself. The Second Coming. And so much else.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Poetry

    One brief shining: The end of another year approaches, our penchant for deciding calendar dates as the always orbiting Earth’s journey around Great Sol continues, brings us to Pope Gregory XIII who chose in October of 1582 in his well known Papal bull: Inter gravissimas to change the rules for leap years to prevent the Julian calendar’s drift away from the solar holidays, oh you didn’t know, well neither did I but Wikipedia did.

     

     

    Gabriella. My adopted Axolotl. She’s swimming in the chinampas canals along with other wild Axolotls who will repopulate the ancient waterways of Xochimilco. I get excited about this project because it’s both the reintroduction of a wild species into its former habitat (see the five Timber Wolves released a week ago in western Colorado) and a project that supports indigenous farming methods healthy for the chinampas themselves. This kind of work will enable our grandchildren to have their best chance to adapt to a warming World.

    A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm, Six Generations, and the Future of Food relates the story of Will Harris and his disillusionment with Big Ag 30 years ago. The successful transition of his family’s farm to regenerative farming makes compelling reading if you care about the source of your food. This farm is in southwestern Georgia, but it’s an example, not singular.

    The USA Regenerative Agriculture Allliance, Inc trains farmers in regenerative practices. Yes, it’s about good food, food raised without pesticides, fertilizers and other “inputs” that defy the natural cycle and deplete the soil. But, it’s also about how to live in a warming World. Someday regenerative agriculture will use the perennial grains and other crops under development at the Land Institute.

    Want to volunteer in the work of Ecosystem restoration? Look at the Ecosystems Restoration Communities website. They do restoration projects all over the world. The expertise and practical knowledge developed as these organization go about their own individual missions will become the Seedstock for a World that can no longer afford any depletion of natural capital.

    What’s natural capital? An accounting method. That’s right. Accounting. The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University develops accounting methods that define the value of Ecosystems, Oceans, the Water cycle, Forests. Why is this important? Regenerative agriculture is a good example. Corporate farming, by far the dominant model in the U.S. and in most of the World, treats Soil, Crops, and Animals as so many widgets to be manipulated for increased profits. Their accounting methods do not have to take into account the value of the Soil, the Rain, the need for dna diversity in both food Crops and Animals. They don’t have to reckon with the future costs of ruined Soil, the dangers of monocultures in such critical crops as Corn, Wheat, Rice. Maybe they’re not as profitable as they think.

    OK. I’ll stop. For now. But I will return to these adaptive approaches that will help Ruth and Gabe survive in a much changed world.

     


  • See Beyond a Dystopian Future

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: New Snow. Cold. Christmas Eve. Ancient Brothers on Christmas. Animism. Joseph, his brothers. Jacob/Israel. Steel gray/blue Sky. Flocked Lodgepoles. Bears in hibernation. Elk and Mule Deer resting. Fox and Mountain Lions hunting. All wild neighbors adapting to the Snow and cold. Paul and Max. Kate, of blessed memory. Kep. Rigel. Gertie. Vega. Who left Shadow Mountain. Jon, too.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Fire

    One brief shining: Diane gone to Taiwan, Mary and Guru traveled south to Melbourne, my son and Seoah dress for the cold in Songtan, Mark remains in Hafar, while I look out my window for Black Mountain, it’s not there.

     

    Asked the folks at the National Autonomous University of Mexico to send me a photograph of my adopted Axolotl, Gabriella. They obliged. She’s a beauty. In an Axolotl sort of way. When I get my phone cord up here to transfer pictures, I’ll post it here.

    This project has my attention, the reintroduction of Axolotls to the chinampas canals in Xochimilco. Next I’m going to support one of the chinamperos who farm the chinampas in the traditional way. As I wrote before, this kind of work prepares the World for what comes after climate change. I feel a need to support folks willing to see the future beyond dystopian writings and fever dreams. And my lev, my heart/mind, seems to always land on folks caring for the land, for wild creatures, exchanging the old ways, the bad ways for Earth friendly farming, for chinampas canals clean enough to host again the Axolotl.

    This work, a necessary part of the Great Work of our time-creating a sustainable presence for human beings on Planet Earth-does not push back against carbon emissions or try to change the minds of politicians. Though that’s so important and critical for Ruth, Gabe, Imogen, Max and all the grandchildren. It imagines a world once again attuned to the rhythms and needs of the soil, of Plant life, of Animal life, including but not privileging, human life.

    At this age I want to say Yes instead of No. I’m weary of the struggle against greed and exploitation, oppression and entrenched bigotry like racism and anti-semitism. Though again that struggle is so important for Ruth, Gabe, Imogen, Max and all the grandchildren. I’m searching, scanning for projects and ideas that will last, that will ensure food and healthy ecosystems, that have faith in the future, that build that future starting now.

    I can’t support them all and I can’t support the ones I do very well, but I want to have a link, a real connection to them. Money is one way. Making their work known is another. Finding those committed to this work and celebrating them is another.

    We can learn again to farm with the Land, not in spite of it. We can clean our Waters, protect Mountain Biomes, seed Ecosystems with Animals and Plants eliminated by human activity in the past. Five Oregon Wolves have dispersed this week here in Colorado, for example. This work happens on all continents, among all peoples. I love them for it.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


  • I Could Have Said, Hallelujah

    Samain and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Word to Deed. Rabbi Jamie. The dark of a Mountain Winter morning. Good sleeping. Darkness and Fog. Obscurants. Leo. Here again. Luke. Tal. Sofers. Scribes for Torah scrolls, ketubahs, and mezuzah scrolls. Evenings out. Alan. His BMW. Dispatched from the factory. Not yet at the port. Kabbalah. Talmud. Midrash. Faith and its cultured despisers. Including me? Learning. Bread Lounge. French Sourdough. A Cuban.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Christmas Cactus, Alan as assistant director

    One brief shining: The Bread Lounge inhabits a second floor space over Nelly’s General Store in a small upscale shopping center in Evergreen and is at least for now the place to go filled all the time with young lovelies, retirees, the occasional tourist, and the friendly cash register lady who asked Alan and I yesterday morning, “What are you two fine gentlemen up to this morning?”

     

    You know you’re a regular when the cashier not only greets you but on occasion gives you the military discount just because she wants to. Or a waitress leans out from the kitchen, “Hi, Charlie!” Or when the Sugar Jones folks put together a box of 8 creme brulee truffles just for you because they’re selling out their Christmas orders and want to be sure you have your weekly fix.

    My address says Conifer but I spend much more time in Evergreen. CBE is in Evergreen and many of my friends. Though. My precinct is actually an Evergreen precinct. I live between Evergreen and Conifer, a bit closer to Conifer but not that far from Evergreen either.

    As a small town boy, I find these sorts of interactions grounding. I’m known. Not well, but as a person who belongs here. That was the way of life in Alexandria, Indiana as I grew up. Many folks knew who you were, well enough to greet you on the street or in a restaurant or shop. Those greetings said, yes, I know you and I know you know me. The relational glue that made a small town function.

    We also knew when Art got caught again playing poker in the backroom while on duty as an Alexandria policeman. When a local teacher got caught stealing a cup of quarters at a casino in southern Indiana. Who died. Who had a wreck. Who was sick. Who got pregnant with no husband. But we also knew who the father was. Small town life had its definite pluses and minuses, especially in the golddust covered years of the late 50’s and early 60’s.

    Plus or minus my 76 year old person still responds with warmth to situations that remind me of days spent at Bailey’s Drug Store or the Bakery or at the County Fair. 12 years of education with the same kids. Paper routes on the same streets. All those stories involving the same people. A real place, a real there there.

    I want to be clear. These are not conscious triggers. Rather, they are subtle, below awareness until they begin to mount up, hit a critical mass. And I realize, oh, I feel comfortable here. Part of not apart from.

    Had a related feeling yesterday as I drove to Evergreen. Driving through the Arapaho National Forest, familiar with the curves, the houses, the terrain up and down. The sacred began to be visible. Those Lodgepoles growing in the rocky crevices, life powerful and insistent. The wavy brown stalks of Grass covering a Meadow like a beard on a face. The Red Osier Dogwood and the Willow Trees outlining the Mountain Stream from which they drink. Those two Mule Deer crossing the road in front of me. All sacred, all part of the one. Suppose I could have said, hallelujah.


  • International Mountain Day

    Samain and the last day of the Choice Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Ruth. Gabe. Leo. Luke. Friday’s Snow pock marked now by Snow falling from gently curved Lodgepole Branches. Shadow Mountain. International Mountain Day. Black Mountain. Bergen Mountain. Conifer Mountain. Mount Blue Sky. Pike’s Peak. Mount Rosalie. Long’s Peak. The Continental Divide. The Caucasus. The Atlas range. The Wasatch. Sierra Nevada. Cascades. Rockies. Mt. Snowdon. Kilimanjaro. Sea Mounts. Haleakala. Mauna Loa. Kilauea. The Mountain behind my son’s apartment building in Songtan.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mountains

    One brief shining: Each morning I open my eyes on Shadow Mountain, 8,800 feet above sea level, watch Great Sol gradually lighten the bulk of Black Mountain, and whenever I go for groceries or to see a friend or to the synagogue, I drive Mountain roads curving through Mountain Valleys alongside Mountain Streams in a manner similar to the other 15% of the World’s population who live on and in Earth’s Mountain Ranges.

     

    Happy International Mountain Day!* This year’s theme? Restoring Mountain Ecosystems. “This theme was selected to fully include mountains in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the UN Environment Programme.””

    Living on and in the Mountains this one feels personal. Kate said everyday she lived up here she felt like she was on vacation. I’m so glad she felt that way. The grandkids love coming up here. Gabe wants to live in the Mountains. And, he probably will. Folks at CBE often refer to each other as Mountain Jews. 15% of the World’s population live in and on Mountains. Some were born there, but many come by choice like Kate and me.

    I’ve seen a comparison between those who love the Ocean and those who love the Mountains. Beaches-extroverts. Mountains-introverts. Like any broad brush often wrong but in my experience Mountain folks keep to themselves. We spend a lot of time hiking, hunting, fishing. On our decks. Driving to somewhere else in the Mountains. We don’t like to go down the hill more than we have to.

    Our ecosystems matter. A lot. The Snowpack in Colorado gets national and international exposure because its water reserves predict the amount of water available in the coming year for those who draw on the Colorado River. Seven states. Millions of people. On a smaller scale even Maxwell Creek and Cub Creek and Bear Creek flow into the Waters of the mighty Mississippi traveling through the South Platte to the Platte from there to the Missouri and from the Missouri into the Mississippi. It’s all downstream from me.

    I find myself drawn to restoring axolotls, creating perennial crops, heirloom seeds, regenerative farming, restoring Mountain Ecosystems. That’s where my money goes. And to caring for wild animals that need sanctuary. Not to say that other needs aren’t critical. Sure they are. But my heart expands when I imagine a World with organic and regenerative farms and farmers, with Axolotl’s swimming free among the chinampas and the chinamperos make that sustainable, with heirloom Vegetables on everyone’s table, with grain crops that can be planted once and then tended rather than plowed, with Mountain Ecosystems the world over restored to their original purpose. That’s my Other World. May it come soon.

     

     

     

     

    *”The United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day”. As of 2003, it has been observed every year to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.” International Mountain Day, U.N.