• Category Archives Shadow Mountain
  • Penultimate

    Beltane and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Friends. All of them. Near and far. Family. Ruth and Gabe. My son and Seoah and Murdoch. Mark. Mary. Diane. Tara’s help with some additional Hebrew I got for tomorrow. Tara. Irv. Tom. Paul. Marilyn. Heidi. Alan. Jamie. Veronica. Mindy. Kat. Lauren. Elizabeth. Kate and Mike. Kate’s Creek. Kate, always Kate. Great Sol. Exuberant this morning.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Completing a long journey

    One brief shining: The Shema in the morning, I cover my eyes: Listen, God-Wrestler. YHWH is our God. YHWH is one, touch the mezuzah, still sleepy I pick up my phone, take my morning pills, put in my hearing aid, check for dishes and empty cans of mineral Water, try to remember when I took my synthroid, then upstairs to see Herme still lit from the night and turn him off. A new life has begun.

     

    Bar Mitzvah day tomorrow. Today is penultimate, one of Kate’s favorite words. I’ve practiced. A lot. I’m as ready as I can be. Within one year I have converted, completed the studies necessary for conversion, learned my torah portion in Hebrew so I can read it with no vowels and no punctuation from the torah scroll, practiced leading portions of the morning service, gotten my tallit from Joanne and learned how to use it. Tomorrow the Hebrew meets the scroll as we say. Ha.

    It’s not been easy. At times I felt I might founder under the expectations, the constant study. Like learning a new language. The religious language of an ancient people. Yet each step has deepened my conviction about becoming a Jew. Even with the whole Israel/Gaza mess and the aborted trip to Israel.

    Each time I go in the synagogue, if I remember, I wear my kippah. I say we when discussing matters Jewish. My lev, my heart-mind, has shifted allegiances to this oddly rigorous, yet undogmatic spiritual path. My inner pagan remains intact, nurtured now by Rosh Chodesh, the Jewish lunar calendar, Sukkot, Passover, Shavuot, Tu Bishevat as well as the Great Wheel and the unitary metaphysic I claim every morning and evening when I say the Shema. Reconstructionist Rabbi’s like Jamie, Art Green, Toba Spitzer, Rami Shapiro, and Michael Strassfield continue the radical project of Mordecai Kaplan. In doing so they have, for me anyhow, opened my lev to the intimacy of teshuvah and the world-embracing power of tikkun.

    Yes. But that’s not where it started for me. First with Kate. The convert. A slumbering Judaism that got reignited when we moved to Shadow Mountain and found Congregation Beth Evergreen. Rabbi Jamie made it easy for us to be there, even pagan me. Friends that we made made it home.

    It was those friends who engendered the aha that decided me. Those who enter the sanctuary, the mah tovu implies, make the sanctuary sacred. Our friends. Now, after Kate’s death, my friends. My sacred community. Here in the Rocky Mountains. Among the Mountain Jews. Which now include me.

     


  • Taller than its neighbors at Elk Meadow Park, Tree #3

    Beltane and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Occurred to me today that I can honor any tree I want. Doesn’t have to be in my yard though I imagine the bulk of them will be.

    Today I had a blood draw in Evergreen so I drove up Stagecoach Road to one of the many trailheads for Elk Meadows Park. Got out of the car and walked over to the main path. On the left side of the main path was a stand of Lodgepole Pines. Though the elevation was only 7,700 feet they seemed to be doing fine.

    Probably influenced by reading Wild Trees I chose the tallest of those in the grove for my honoring.

    A sense of the Park
    The tallest in this shot

    This Tree grows in a small Grove on a slightly sloped area. A Colorado Forestry website says Lodgepoles prefer a slight slope and this Tree has found one. Like my Lodgepole Companion most of their Branches push out from the Trunk toward the Southeast. Also like my Companion this tall Lodgepole has almost no branches toward the Northwest.

    Its lower Branches contained fewer male sex organs than my Companion, but shared this characteristic with its neighbors. Further up they began to proliferate. About two thirds of the way up a row of Branches had female Strobilus that were taller and fuzzier than the others. Don’t know what that means, but some of Tree #3’s neighbors had the same pattern.

    The softer, yellowish pine cones are the male organs. The more erect one in the middle is female which will transform over time into serotinous cones. Serotinous cones have heavy pitch sealing the precious seeds inside. Only the heat of a Forest Fire will cause the pitch to melt and allow the seeds to disperse onto the scorched earth.

    When you live in the Mountains, it is so easy to drive past the Trees, seeing them only as a barrier to accessing the slope of the Mountainside. Or, to see them and think they’re all alike. If you’ve seen one Lodgepole, you’ve seen them all. They do share many characteristics. Altitude and soil preferences. Monoecious reproduction. A thin bark. A susceptibility to Fire, especially Fires that advance from Crown to Crown. The hardest for smoke jumpers and hotshots to control.

    Yet they are all different. All unique individuals expressing their full potential in that one spot where they grow, adapting their Branching strategies to the microclimate of other Trees, position on a Mountain, shelter or not from Storms, the nutrient value of the Soil.

    The bark of Tree #3

     


  • My Lodgepole Companion, Tree #2

    Beltane and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    My Lodgepole Companion

    This Tree, a Lodgepole, a Pinus contarta latifolia, stands first in the view out of my window where I write. I can see other Trees and Black Mountain, but over time I’ve developed a fellow feeling for this Tree. Watching Snow sag its Branches. Then how they slough off the Snow. How its Leaves (needles) change color with available moisture. Right now, at the end of a wet Spring, intense green. How it waves gently in a breeze, sways from its base in strong wind gusts. How it remains in its spot, committed and content. I feel it as a literal companion, there when I need it. Always steady and strong.

    My Lodgepole Companion is the center Tree in front closest to the house

    On close examination I noticed it has few Branches spread toward the northwest. Other Trees in its small Grove block the sun from that direction. Its Branches have multiplied on the southeast. Right now they seem to be agreeing with my writing, nodding vigorously as a breeze contacts them. This Tree also has Branches near the ground. Due to fire mitigation needs I trim those off unless, as here with my Companion, the surface is rocky, not flammable.

    These Trees grow close together. Lodgepole Forests have evolved to burn in crown Fires, then reestablish themselves anew when the high heat melts the pitch holding their serotinous cones tight. This evolution might make you wonder, why live in a Lodgepole Forest? As I do. Well. Gee. Shuffles shoe in the dust. Don’t really have a good answer to that outside of beauty and the Mountains.

    I’ve got get to down to the main Denver Public Library which has a special internal library holding of books on Colorado History. The Colorado History Museum, too. I want to chase down the logging history of the Front Range, especially along what is now the Front Range corridor. An arborist I know told me, and I’d already suspected, that the whole area on either side of what is now Hwy 285 was clear cut to build the city of Denver. 285, also according to him, follows the route of the logging railroad built out as far Kenosha Pass, almost to South Park.

    Here’s a map of Lodgepole stands in Colorado. I’ll later post one for North America.

    I want to put the Arapaho National Forest, Conifer, Evergreen, our chunk of Jefferson County in perspective. Who lived here first? The Utes, I imagine, but I don’t know that. Why did they leave? When did the first white folks settle here? When was the clear cutting? How long did it last? What did it ruin? Enhance? When was 285 built? Our small communities, when did they come to be? Why?

    My Lodgepole Companion represents a contemporary Forest grown up, I think, to replace the one clear cut at the turn of the last century.

    Their (I’m using binary pronouns for the Lodgepoles since they have both sex organs on the same tree. Monoecious.) growth has a reason here in the montane/sub alpine altitude range, 8,000-10,000 feet. Not sure what it is.


  • Honoring the Aspen, Tree #1

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    This is the first entry in my honoring the Tree mussar practice. I will post these as I do them.

    My kavanah, my intention, is to enhance my capacity for honoring all things, all Earthlings. Including humans. In this honoring means paying attention, close and uninterrupted attention. Seeing the other for what they exhibit, to imbibe their uniqueness and their interconnectedness. This uniqueness has many names: Buddah nature, soul, highest potential, essence, wholeness, image of God. In seeing the sacred reality of this Aspen I am in turn seeing my own sacredness in the process of seeing the Aspen.

     

    When we first moved here on the Winter Solstice of 2014, this Aspen had no leaves. Tiny shoots of its clones were hidden beneath the Snow cover. But they were there.

    Nine and a half years later I went out today, out front since this Tree is in the front. As I walked up to it, I noticed its Trunk’s variation between a smooth gray Bark and a wrinkled black Bark. As if the Tree could not make up its mind. I’m curious now as to the purpose of the two different types of Bark. A Spider and an Ant crawled over both smooth and rough, unconcerned.

    My hand found the change in textures though they seemed more graduated with touch. The smooth Bark had some grippiness to it and also contained small raised bumps of the rougher black Bark. When I walked around the Tree, I noticed at its base a large scar, black Bark that looked like a Fire scar. Doesn’t make sense to me, but it’s a distinctive feature of this Tree and a reminder that its journey has not always been easy.

    Looking straight up the Trunk toward the Leader reaching for the Sky the Bark got smoother and smoother as it went up and the Trunk got smaller. Could it be that a certain girt stretches the smooth Bark far enough that it separates and allows the rougher Bark to form? If so, why?

    The most striking feature of this tree for me, on this sunny Colorado Mountain morning, danced on the ends of short stems, quaking this way and that. Throwing shadows on the Leaves behind them, then fluttering out of the way. Leaves in groups of five opened and closed each others access to Great Sol’s brilliance.

    The interplay of light and shadow these Leaves put on would make a great Calder sculpture. The shifting moving Leaves were beautiful. As beautiful as any work of art in a museum.

    While being beautiful, they also perform Mother Earth’s true miracle, light-eating. Turning photons into sugars. The sine qua non for all complex life on this planet.


  • Kavod. Honor.

    Beltane and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Eleanor, Tara’s new dog. What a cutie! Tara. The last practice with Tara. Using a Yod. MVP last night. Joanne’s new tooth. Rich’s weight loss. Honor. Seeing the Buddha nature in another. Seeing the sacred image in another. And in yourself. Honor the other and your self with complete attention. Early finish for my 150 minutes this week.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Going down the Forest path

    One brief shining: Reach out a hand, feel the roughness, the curvature, perhaps put a finger into one of the fissures, sap or resin may stick to it, may have the scent of a Pine Tree, a Pinus contarta perhaps, or one of the Ponderosa Pines a bit lower down the Mountain, their Bark their persona their face to the world, a point of contact between the inner and the outer Tree.

     

    My mussar practice for this month: honor as many of the trees growing around my house as I can. That is, see each of them as an individual, stand with them, look up, feel their trunks, note the marks of their individuality, their uniqueness. Honor the journey of that Tree from seed to maturity. Honor the work they do above and below ground. Remain in their presence. Listening. Smelling. Touching. Seeing. Hearing.

    The Branches as they wave up and down in a morning breeze. Their rampant Strobilus ready to send pollen out to the female flowers. The green Leaves (I know, needles. But this is what botanists call them.) growing in brush like clusters up and down each Branch. Their stillness. Their occupation of one spot for the duration of their life. The Bark, protecting. How the Branches may stretch out only in one direction. The Trunk sways in the Wind. Their height. Even the Lodgepoles are taller than my house, my garage.

    Working on my new purpose. Reading. Observing. Thinking. Not sure where it all will lead. The fun in it.

    Noticed last night driving home late from my MVP group at the synagogue. Trees. The same Trees that were there on my drive down. The Arapaho National Forest. Mostly Lodgepoles. Realized how difficult the density of the Lodgepoles would make a night time hike. How instead of welcoming they became menacing. Barriers to easy travel. Trees change character for Forest dwellers depending on the time of day.

     

    Just a moment: I’ve made a couple of decisions. First, I will sell this house when I’m 80 and move to an apartment somewhere close to Joe and Seoah. Why? They finish up in Korea the year I turn 79. I want to be close to them as I head further into the thicket of aging.

    Second. No more doom and gloom about the orange one. Or MAGA. Or the convinced. No. I’m 77. Life’s gotten a lot shorter. I’m going to continue living my life no matter what happens politically. I may engage or I may not. What I will not do is succumb to despair, constant anger, bitterness.


  • Pinus Contarta

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Good night’s sleep. Bringing together past and present. Knuckling down for the next chapter of my story. Excitement. Starting with and staying focused on Trees. Coastal Redwoods. Sequoias. Bristlecone Pines. Lodgepoles and Aspens. Slipping out from under the pale of grief and self-doubt. Teshuvah for tikkun.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Trees

    One brief shining: Each morning my Lodgepole Companion stands tall, Branches thrust out to the east awaiting food from Great Sol, the light bringer, gentle morning winds move its Branches, in heavier winds the whole Tree sways, taking and releasing energy, its male Flowers now standing up at the ends of its Branches, readying themselves to disperse yellow Pollen with the wind, a yellow dust that will coat our driveways and make my nose itch all while impregnating the Lodgepole’s female flowers.

     

    Early June. Tree sex season. When, if this season is like the others, I will have to close up my house to keep out Lodgepole pollen. It coats every surface in its broadcast of Tree passion. It only has to hit the female flowers-which grow on the same tree as the male flowers-but evolution has taught Pinus contartathat its survival depends on a blanket of pollen among its near neighbors. No female flower should go unfulfilled.

    It’s easy for those of us suffer from pollen allergies to blame Pinus contarta for our sneezes. Its pollen comes the same time as many pollens from Grasses. But its grains are too large to bother humans.

    This is also the time the Elk Bulls come to my yard for Dandelion dining. I’ve had Mule Deer Does, yearlings, over the past couple of weeks. Yesterday evening a yearling came up to my lower level door and looked in at me. Then turned her head and went back to the Grass and Dandelions.

    Early June is also the time, now five years ago in 2019, that I began my 35 sessions of radiation. Started on June 6th, the first day the three Elk Bulls came. One or two of them have come each year since. Identifiable by the Bull with only one rack. They grew from young Bulls to full sized Bulls ready to have their own harems of Cows.

    Lodgepole pollen, Elk Bulls, and radiation. Memories of summers past and present.

     

    Writing, as always, massages my mind, makes it relax, then throw off sparks. Today the sparks led me to an idea, a perhaps I will notion. A focus on Colorado Trees. Visiting Forests. Learning the ways of Mountains and Trees, their mutual dance. Fits well with another spark I had yesterday. Tree mythology. Tree fairy tales. Trees in Kabbalah and in other mystical traditions.

    The gardener in me. The lover of mythology and fairy tales. Of Ovid. Of religious insights. The Mountain dweller. The Hermit.

     

    Just a moment: Who woulda thought? A Jewish female President. In Mexico. Oh so Catholic Mexico. Oh so machismo saturated Mexico. Yet another country teaching us what can be if we turn away from the yellow fascist pollen spread byPolitico contarta


  • Desiderata Days. Mountain Nights.

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Desiderata days. Cool, good sleeping nights. Colorado. Guanella Pass. That jerky store. The Cutthroat Cafe. Happy Camper. The Waterfall. Geneva Creek. The Continental Divide. The Shaggy Sheep. Jefferson Lake. Ruby and her new shoes. Taking a day. Letting it just be. Mountains. Forests. Streams and Creeks. Bridges and trails: The Abyss and Burning Bear Creek Trails. Square Top Mountain. Mt. Blue Sky. Mt. Rosalie. Square Top Mt.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Rocky Mountains, my home

    One brief shining: Great Sol, my inner ohr, has begun to peek over Mt. Grief and Mt. Inertia, encouraged by the trip to San Francisco where we/I/us let go of the Lilliputian ropes with which we’d bound ourself to one place, Shadow Mountain, and to one journey, becoming a Jew, and to the dark arts with which death enthralls our psyche, let go of them and got out, on the train, let go of them and went on a trip.

     

    Yesterday. Ah. Well.

    At last. After too many years. Too much thinking and sitting. Yes. I did it. I went on a short but profound adventure, never leaving the familiar confines of Jefferson and Park Counties. Here’s how it went. With pictures.

    Before. A while ago. I named Tuesdays as desiderata days. Go anywhere days. Let the day unfold. Rather than directing it: Write now. Eat now. Study Torah and bar mitzvah portions now. Sleep now. Watch TV now. Workout now. Do work-a-day things to manage my life. Pay bills. Write e-mails. Contact my docs. No. Not on a Tuesday. On Tuesdays I would set aside all that, get in Ruby and head out.

    Problem was. I never did it. Oh, I went on a few hikes last year. But not on Tuesdays. Just never let myself experience the freedom I put in my calendar. I even have the Tuesdays named on my Google Calendar: Desiderata Days.

    Until. Talked with Tom. The Florida Panhandle has a different understanding of Mountain than we do here. They even put up this mural and named a road and businesses after Blue Mountain:

    64 feet. The highest point on the Gulf of Mexico. Photo Credit: Tom Crane, retired.

    After I finished talking to Tom the day could have devolved into a usual Tuesday. But it didn’t. I put on my jeans, my LL Bean vest, got my car fob and tiny wallet, a hat, got in Ruby, and left the house. First to King Sooper for the ATM. Cash for the Happy Camper. On to 285 headed south and west toward Pine, then Bailey.

    Bought some edibles. Still can’t believe this is legal. Always feel a bit furtive.

    Down Crow Hill and it’s 7% grade into Bailey and the Cutthroat Cafe. Passed the Smiling Pig Saloon and Smokehouse where I hope to take Tom, Irv, and Paul in a couple of weeks. Breakfast outside. Oatmeal and Italian sausage. Coffee, sourdough toast. Over for a look at the Sasquatch Outpost. They’re all in on Sasquatch tourist items. From t-shirts to action figures, signs and blankets. Plus footprints.

    Faced a decision. Go home or go to Guanella Pass? A desiderata day. Guanella Pass. On Highway 285 through the Platte River Valley, past Shawnee, the Orvis ranch and fly fishing destination, Villa Marie, the Shaggy Sheep, and onto tiny Grant. Turn right.

    The Continental Divide
    Upper Geneva Creek
    Turned Around here

    I only drove part way up the 11,700 foot Pass which leads to the old mining town of Georgetown, also accessible from I-70. I had gone on a whim with no water bottles or camelpak. No sunscreen. Plus, it rained much of the time. No raingear. No such thing as bad weather only inadequate gear.

    On the way back down I stopped at the jerky place I’ve driven past many times. The owner, a luxuriantly white bearded old man with an oxygen canula, said, “It’s a tiny shop. Just look.” He pointed to the signs above the racks: Salmon jerky, Beef jerky, Alligator jerky, Buffalo, Elk, local beef. I paid with cash and when I did he pointed to a sign, no tax with cash. Cheating the taxman, I imagine. Especially since above this sign was a $1,000 bill with a head shot of our criminal ex-president. The Mountains.

    Back home I rested. Thinking. Yep, about a half a day’s energy. That’s my limit these days. Most important. I smiled. Desiderata days. After the bar mitzvah, a desiderata week. Off to Taos.


  • Gettin’ Real

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Shirley Waste. Great Sol yet again. All the Water falling down the Mountain toward Bear Creek. Reconstructionist Judaism. Irv and the Ancient Brothers. Taxes. Tom and his test. Ruth and her gift. Domo. I-70, experiencing Crash Week. David. Kristie. Learning Hebrew. Learning the Morning Service. Pushing on through to the other side. New tires Thursday.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Driving in the Mountains

    One brief shining: Velveteen Rabbiting so many things: that Stickley couch with naps, the Stickley chair with books of all sorts, the living room with its Garden Path paint and Jerry’s painting, Joseph’s self-portrait, Ruby with every nick and scrape, Judaism with each Hebrew word and phrase I learn, Great Sol and my driveway, my lev each time I write a post or go see a friend, becoming, changing participating in the One.

     

    “God is that aspect of reality which elicits from us the best that is in us and enables us to bear the worst that can befall us.” Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, Reconstructionist Prayerbook

     

    Shadow Mountain. Rubbing it each time I drive up and down the hill, each time I get up in the Morning, say the Shema, touch the mezzuzah, cook a meal, read a book, see it whole from the Safeway parking lot. It is the literal foundation of my world. Its rocky, knobby forehead posed toward the West, its long flank running from my house all the way downhill to Hwy. 73, and then, too, toward the north and the Valley of Cub and Blue Creeks. Its broken Rock Aquifer holds Rain and Snow for the Lodgepoles, the Aspens, and my shower, dishwasher, toilets and sinks, and boiler. Shadow Mountain also lifts me up to 8,800 feet above sea level. Making Oxygen less available. How big it really is I do not know for it shades into Black and Conifer Mountains. Mountains, at least in the Front Range, do not live isolated lives, rather they brush against each others’ Valleys, Meadows and often join together below the surface, stand together in runs of Peaks and Valleys. Yes. It is Shadow Mountain Home.

    Kate’s Creek and Valley: Also shabby from an abundance of love. Where I first dispersed some of Kate’s ashes, where I later distributed them all. A spot I’ve used for hiking for several years in all seasons. I know where the Strawberries and Raspberries and Wild Roses grow. Kate’s Creek Waters its banks. A White Pine grows straight and tall. Perhaps a ship’s mast in another century.

    Congregation Beth Evergreen. Rubbing shoulders. Literally. Mussar. Evening Services. Outdoor performances. B’nei Mitzvahs. Classes of all sorts. So many years with Kate. She rubbed it, too. And is part of what has become real, alive for me there. Breakfasts and lunches.

    The loft. Where I workout. Where I paint, store my books, most of them, read and used to write. Everyday for so many years until Kep’s illness. A place made real.

    What, I wonder, are you Velveteen Rabbiting right now?


  • Cabin Fever Trip

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Tuesday gratefuls: Great Sol. Brightening our day. Counting the Omer. Begins tonight. Traveling readiness day. Delayed, but happening today. Diane’s great work on setting up an itinerary. Museums, as Ode says, temples of creativity. The Artist’s Way. My Jewish immersion. The Three Body Problem trilogy. Fall Out on Prime Video. High quality television. Kindle.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Artists-painters, writers, playwrights, musicians, poets, actors, sculptors, architects, composers

    One brief shining: With awakening I’m in a new life, a multiverse reality based on the day before yet new as the dew on a spring ephemeral, in that day my many breaths each constitute life breathed out and back in, new lives each breath, how can I keep from singing?

     

    Feeling the welcoming breath of a travel day exhaling from the end of the week toward me. Inspiring my activities today. Finalize packing. Stop mail. Get a pedicure. Collect myself for a journey.

    This is mostly a cabin fever trip. A way of escaping a place I love because the snow and the cold stayed a bit too long. And for most folks I’ve talked to. A way to refresh the joys of home by vacating its presence for a bit. Enjoy the graces and beauties of San Francisco, see Diane. Live in a hotel for 7 nights, 2 nights in a sleeping car there and back. Write. Read. See the Rockies, the intermountain West, the Sierra Nevadas, canyons and deserts.

    I’ve missed seeing good art on a regular basis. I’ve not found the Denver art scene at all comparable to the Twin Cities and I’ve let that attitude, plus the drive, keep me from seeing much at all. That’s on me. This trip will allow me to visit at least three of the country’s great collections: The Legion of Honor, the De Young, and the Asian Art museum. I plan to see them slowly. Taking as much time as I need. Reenter the world of Zhou and Han, Song and Tang, Picasso and Hokusai, Rodin and Giacometti.

    Yes. You could say of me. Religion, politics, and art. The subjective, the debatable, the aesthetic, the aspects of culture not manageable by STEM. Sure I like a good scientific discovery as much as the next nerd, but to examine an ancient text for the message it carries down the millennia to this day, to stand in the street and face down an oppressive economy, to join the conversation of those for whom shape, color, and language create whole worlds and dizzying perspectives, yes. That’s my journey.

    That and one other thing. The wild spots outside my door, up the flank of Black Mountain. Here on Shadow Mountain I can integrate the seeker, the advocate, and the artist with the world around me. My Lodgepole Companion and I see each other each morning. I said hello yesterday to those Mule Deer Does munching grass along Black Mountain Drive. Within them lie the same message as the Torah portion I will read on June 12th, the same spirit of over against oppressive structures, and an equivalent beauty to the best of Monet.

     


  • Apres la psilocybine

    Spring and the Moon of Liberation

    Wednesday gratefuls: Shirley Waste. Up early. Cleaning out the freezer. Two weeks from today, Amtrak. Shadow Mountain Home. Rebecca. Wild Alaskan. Black Mountain Drive. Brook Forest Drive. Shadow Mountain Drive. How I get down the Hill. Kate’s yahrzeit approaching. Eight Track Day. My transistor radio of long ago. Ruby. Will need summer shoes.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The generator

    One brief shining: Could be the morning rises with a hint of darkness reluctant to let go, with a slow and lazy illumination spilling like molasses first over the base of Shadow Mountain, then up up up defying gravity, turning on the lights as it goes, until Black Mountain, my Lodgepole companion reappear, and another Colorado blue Sky day has begun.

     

    Gotta leave this writing a bit early, but will return. Biweekly trash day and I’m clearing out my freezer, getting ready for Spring and for a less hoarding way of using the freezers -21 degree temperature. Trash has to be out by 7 am in case the routes have changed. Mostly ready but the freezer clean out had to wait until just before I move the clunky plastic bins. Bears. As I long I put the freezer contents out still frozen, their scent should not become a problem. Bears have just begun to wake up and they’re hungry. Long, long nap.

    Life is different in the Mountains. In any rural area with Forests and Wild Neighbors. The back and forth between humans and their environment never disappears in a cloud of bus exhaust or the twinkling of store lights. Here we have to travel within the Wild Neighbors’ domain. They are not relegated to alleys and basements, parks and open spaces by streets and acres of buildings, apartments and factories and businesses, hospitals and schools. We two-leggeds are the interlopers here. Exactly. Interloping. Loping along in our metal noisy contraptions.

    Careful now. Weeks old Mule Deer and Elk and Moose wandering the Arapaho National Forest. Fox Kits and baby Porcupines, Marmots, Albert and Red Squirrels all waking up to their first Mountain spring. We must lope with attentiveness. With care. Bear Cubs. Mountain Lion Kits.

    Not green here. Not yet. Still plenty of Snow in the back. On the ski runs of Black Mountain. In the shaded parts of the National Forest. Occasional scents of thawing Soil. The hurried babble of Mountain Streams draining rocky heights. (Gone for about 15 minutes. Finished. Freezer clear. Trash bins rattled out to the driveway’s edge. Waiting for the truck.)

     

    Just a moment: Apres la psilocybine. Surrender. Not resignation. Not aimlessness. Definitely not submission. Perhaps openness. Acceptance. Wu wei. That moment while watching the Nahuatl Gods and Mayan hieroglyphs scroll across the ceiling of Heidi’s therapy office. That moment when in response to an inner doubt. I’m not using this trip well. I’m having too much fun. Very Calvinist inner dialogue. That moment when I wondered what I needed now. Up came the word surrender.

    And it lodged in my consciousness. Where, to this day, it filters moments and conversations. Finding evidence. That woman I know with stage 4 breast cancer. Who said cancer had clarified life. Distilled it to its essence. She asked me if I’d had the same experience. Not quite. But that crisp December morning on Crooked Top Mountain. Yes. Clarity.

    All of us over 75 are in stage 4 life. We’re terminal and we know it. Clap your hands. Life did not end abruptly for us. As it did for my mom, for example. No. We have the chance to pass through the last of the gates, the one that opens to eternity, knowing. If we surrender ourselves. Accept death for what it is. A final mystery. One that hides its truth even now.