• Category Archives Wild Neighbors
  • Life. Challenges to it.

    Beltane and the Moon of Shadow Mountain

    General Sherman

    Tuesday gratefuls: Sarah’s back home. Her visit. Ruth tonight at Domo. Kristie today for update on my recent labs. Meeting David to talk prostate cancer. Great Sol beaming. All those Wild Neighbor babies and young ones. Good workout yesterday. Good practice for my bar mitzvah: torah portion and service leading portions. Ordering a few things: new laptop, new laptop stand, a summer weight comforter. Giving on Colorado Jewish Giving Day.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Enough to share

    One brief shining: Can you imagine General Sherman under attack, the largest single Tree in the world, 274.9 feet high, 102.6 feet circumference at ground level, height of first branch above the base, 130.0 feet, by Beetles, Bark-Beetles, possibly aided by the climate tragedy; more, can you imagine being a researcher for the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition climbing General Sherman this week, this great Wild Neighbor,  because “We really feel like it’s our duty as stewards to take a closer look.” I can.

    Quote from Christy Brigham in a San Francisco Chronicle article by Kurtis Alexander, May 20, 2024. Courtesy of Diane.

     

    I feel suddenly protective of these Trees, this Tree. The Redwoods, too. And the Bristlecone Pines. Taller than three blue whales. I mean…

    Gonna add the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition to my donation list. Just donated. What a good feeling. Loving sharing Kate and mine’s money with organizations living out our values. Southern Poverty Law Center. Wild Animal Sanctuary. Kabbalah Experience. CBE. ADL. The Land Institute. The Ancient Forests Society. Makes me happy.

    No, we cannot make much of a difference, but we can add our names and our money to those spots of human activity where social justice, the Great Work, Judaism, the Land, and our Wild Neighbors get attention and progress forward.

    Not sure why the heart connection with these Trees. Mostly Muir Woods, I guess. Standing next to, among. Shaded by. Overshadowed by. A wild amazement that such beings exist, life so strong and vital. Godliness found. Commitment to a location. Perseverance. Majesty. Silence. Love of place, of the Soil. Soul creation.

     

    Today at 11 I talk with Kristie for the first time in a while. My PSA went up a bit, as I wrote before, and my testosterone down. PSA under 1.0 which is the point beyond which imaging can pick up metastases. So no P.E.T. scan. Still off the drugs with my drug holiday. Feeling a bit unsure, unsteady about cancer right now. Will be good to talk to Kristie and get her take, her advice about where we go from here. Back on the drugs, I’m sure. But when?

    Almost all of the time I’m ok with the cancer, letting it go on its way, taking the steps my doctors recommend. Living today. When I get a bit anxious about it, I’m not sure what’s going on. Like now. Hardly crippling, yet also there.

     

    Have supper with my favorite (and only) granddaughter tonight at Domo. There I’ll give her the present from Kate and me. Enough cash to travel somewhere interesting before starting college. Also, some chocolate. I am so proud to be her grandpop. Glad for her that she was able to complete high school and graduate with her class. CU-Boulder this fall. Studio Arts. Her Dad and Grandma are proud.

     

     

     

     

     


  • Sex and babies!

    Beltane and the Shadow Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Sarah. Healthy salad. BJ and Pamela. Ruth and Gabe. Pollen. Tree sex. Shadow Mountain. Working out. Staying strong. PSA. Testosterone. James Webb Telescope. Writing. Painting. Learning torah. Rabbi Rami  Shapiro. Rabbi Michael Strassfield. Rabbi Toba Spitzer. Breaking new ground.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Life, mystery and miracle, ordinary

    One brief shining: The season of rampant sex in the Plant kingdom has begun, trees leading the way up here Elm, Juniper, Maple of which we have few, but when it comes time for the yellow dust to settle all round the house, to line the puddles when it Rains, to coat the furniture and make housekeeping hard, then it will have well and truly begun for us above 8,000 feet, and my windows will have to close so I can sleep.

     

    This is also the time of birth. Wild Neighbor nurseries filled with Mule Deer Fawn, Elk Calves, Mountain Lion and Fox Kits, Black Bear Cubs. A lot of youngsters learning the way of things in the Mountains. Plenty of water for them right now with Streams still full and fast. Fresh young grass and new plant shoots. Prey, too, for the Predators as the cycle of life offers no free passes in the Arapaho National Forest.

    Easy. Too easy to drive down the hill toward Evergreen, passing Maxwell Creek Trailhead, Cub Creek, Black Mountain, Shadow Mountain, Kate’s Creek and Valley and forget the busy and wonderful community of Wild Creatures living, thriving just out of sight. Their lives as palpable and momentous to them as ours are to us, as wonderful and fraught.

    I found new grass! Good water! Let’s go back to the den. I want to play. Be careful. See, you hide here and wait. Where are my babies?

    In short or long lives the gathering of molecules and atoms into sentient beings brings to our Planet joy and diversity and playfulness. As we all move through this world with eyes, bodies, feathers, fur, wings, legs, we participate in a bacchanal of sensory stimulation. Gaia showing herself to herself. Gaia celebrating the multiple inventions, mutations, and transformations she can engender. What a show.

     

    Just a moment: Then of course there’s a helicopter crash in the foggy Elburz Mountains of northern Iran. There is, too, the International Criminal Court seeking warrants against Netanyahu and the Hamas leader Sinwar. Makes sense to me.

    Here in our benighted republic the election of 2024 grinds on in its caricature of a Presidential election year. The good President reviled and unloved; the bad President on trial in many courts, still the nasty racist son-of-a-bitch he’s always been, yet somehow leading in the polls. I can only shake my head, then stop and put that same head in my hands.

    That ship, the Dali, that took out the Francis Scott Key bridge has headed back to port.

    Meanwhile war continues in the Ukraine and in the Gaza Strip.

    I could go on, but you know, too. May you live in interesting times.

    BTW*

     

     

    The Phrase Finder website says: “‘May you live in interesting times’ is widely reported as being of ancient Chinese origin but is neither Chinese nor ancient, being recent and western.”

    According to the site, the phrase was originally said by the American politician, Frederic R. Coudert, in 1939. He referred to a letter Sir Austen Chamberlain wrote to him in which he stated:

    . . . by return mail he wrote to me and concluded as follows: “Many years ago, I learned from one of our diplomats in China that one of the principal Chinese curses heaped upon an enemy is ‘May you live in an interesting age.’”

    Despite this, it does not appear to actually come from China and is not clear to have existed before Sir Austen Chamberlain allegedly said it.

    grammarpartyblog

     

     


  • 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.


  • New Identities

    Spring and the Purim Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Yet more Snow! Today. Blue Colorado Sky with scattered white Cumulus Clouds. The Ancient Brothers. Hafar. K.L. S.F. Maine. Minnesota. Jackie in Bailey. Aspen Roots. Kissing Frogs. Movies. Nights. Days. Resurrection. A new life. The Shema. Full days. Travel. Dogs. Marilyn and Irv. The Socrates Cafe. Meeting new people.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Questions

    One brief shining: Each month I drive eight minutes from Shadow Mountain to Aspen Park, going by the new bakery the Wicked Whisk and my old personal trainer at On the Move Fitness, past the physical therapists who got me through knee surgery, to the never in my time up here full suite of offices and business that contain the Pinball place, the massage folks, a live theater, Thai 202 which makes the wonderful Crying Tiger, and hop up the stairs to Aspen Roots where Jackie cuts my hair and tells me she loves me which I say back.

     

    Long enough now. Long enough for relationships to have come and gone. And for some to remain. My tenth year on Shadow Mountain, begun last Winter Solstice. This is where I live, a Coloradan, a Westerner, a Mountain dweller. All distinct identities created by geography and geology and the human imprint on both.

    As a Coloradan I inhabit a former red hate state, transitioning to a blue progressive state. As a Westerner, I have heeded Horace Greeley and gone west though not as a young man, but as an older one. Greeley, Colorado* is named after him. The Western identity has a good deal of complexity to it as does Mountain dweller.

    To be a Westerner means to enjoy the benefits of manifest destiny, of the push west of the frontier, the railroads, those seeking gold, those fleeing law or custom or poverty in the the East. Of those who slaughtered the bison and the indigenous populations who lived here before we arrived. Those who clear cut the Front Range to build Denver and the many, far too many, hard Rock mines that pollute the Creeks, Streams, and Rivers here. The Western U.S. We who arrived later are not innocent. Yet no one is innocent. Either here or there.

    What happens now. What we do today. Who we are in this moment matters, too. We are the stewards, the fellow travelers in this magical wide open place. We are responsible for what happens here as are the Wild Neighbors, the Forests and Streams. The descendants of all those who lived here long ago and all those who altered the landscape not so long ago. We must build the sustainable way for humans to live here for as long as human beings can live.

    The Mountain Dweller is the most personal of these three identities and the most narrow, representing that place where I live and love and have my becoming. Each day my eyes open to the top of Shadow Mountain, to the taller prominence of Black Mountain, to the Lodgepoles and Aspens that cover them both. My lungs take in the scarce air of 8,800 feet as I set aside my nighttime oxygen canula. Often Mule Deer will be around, hunting for grass.

    To go anywhere. To see Jackie at Aspen Roots. To get groceries at Safeway. To breakfast with friends. To the synagogue. To the doctor. I drive on Mountain roads. Two lanes, blind curves, sudden changes of altitude, vistas opening and disappearing.

    Mountains whose names I do not know rise on either side, the Streams that drain them flowing often near the road itself. Sometimes I am up high and able to see for miles, then I go down into constricted views of only Rock and Trees. All the while, not far off the road Wild Neighbors living their wild lives. Beavers damming Streams, their Ponds. The Mountain Lion on a rocky shelf waiting for Elk or Mule Deer to walk below. In my own way I appear and disappear from view around curves, into a valley, only to suddenly reappear in Evergreen.

    How have these three identities changed me from the sea level view of life that was my birthright as a Midwestern boy? I’ve become more of a spectator of life outside of the Mountains. Back east. Or on the coasts. They are not close to me, and their struggles seem far away. My world has become more focused. There are fewer people out here, less urbanization, less agriculture. In those senses the Colorado/Western/Mountain world was unfamiliar to me.

    I live within a smaller world altogether. My fourth new identity, that of a Jew, makes this world, this more narrow and circumscribed world, a friendly and friend full one. As has the nine years plus of living here, making connections like Jackie. And now the Socrates Cafe. This is important because, like most of us who live up here, going down the hill is not appealing. And that’s where the bon vivant of urban life plays out. Even for those things I enjoy I have to factor in a long drive in and a long drive back. Most often the positive gain is too weak to justify the hassle.

    For me. Today. This Colorado guy, this Western guy, this Mountain Man has found his spot and become one with it.

     

     

    *Greeley began as the Union Colony of Colorado, which was founded in 1869 by Nathan C. Meeker, an agricultural reporter for the New York Tribune as an experimental utopian farming community “based on temperance, religion, agriculture, education and family values,” with the backing of the Tribunes editor Horace Greeley, who popularized the phrase “Go West, young man”.[7][8][9] wiki


  • Flaco, liberated

    Imbolc and the waning Ancient Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Rocky Mountain Land Library. Colorado Humanities Council. Flaco. Wild neighbors. Arapaho National Forest. Black Mountain. Conifer Mountain. Bergen Mountain. Evergreen Meadow. Maxwell Creek. Kate’s Creek. North Turkey Creek. Shadow Mountain. Shadow Mountain Meadow. The Moon and its phases. Lunar calendars.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mario and Babette on the road

    One brief shining: My high altitude coffee maker has a reservoir with always hot, coffee pot sized amounts of water ready to go when I pour in more water and close the lid; so I have a routine, turn on the coffee bean grinder, empty the old coffee filter, fill the coffee pot with filtered water, take the ground coffee basket and the now full pot back to the coffee maker, turn off the grinder, measure the ground coffee, put a new filter in the basket, the basket in the coffee maker, pour the water, close the lid, and in less than five minutes I have fresh coffee.

     

    photo by BJ before Flaco’s escape

     

    Flaco. In case you missed the story of Flaco, here’s a recent NYT article. Sister-in-law BJ wrote this:

    “Flaco was a magnificent Eurasian Eagle Owl that found a free life after someone cut open a hole in his Central Park zoo cage last year. He could have stayed put but his innate curiosity made him venture out. He somehow wandered to the busy sidewalk on 5th Ave and 58th street. People gawked and police stood guard over the animal carrier that the zoo brought to recapture him. In one amazing moment you saw Flaco the owl look at the people and the cage, turn his head and then take flight going into Central Park.”

    He lived on his own for a year in spite of having been in captivity his whole life. Flaco died crashing into a window on the Upper Westside. New Yorker’s loved him, seeing in him a symbol of freedom. But I think the truth of their love lies deeper than that.

    Yes, freedom. Of course. Why won’t the caged bird sing? Whether vandal or liberator the person who slit the screen holding Flaco created a story of escape, of choice, of survival in spite of the odds, and of tragic death. A compelling narrative. Let freedom ring.

    From my vantage point in the Rocky Mountains I wonder if at least part of the freedom story is about urban life itself. Wonderful and stimulating as it can be, city dwelling comes with the price of distance from Forests, Lakes, and Mountains, Oceans. Sure, they can be near by, as the Atlantic is to NYC, but to visit the Atlantic where it abuts a major city or where it is carved up into ports and docks, is to visit Ocean used as a tool for human commerce, not the wild Atlantic of Washington County, Maine for example.

    In Songtan, Korea as in many Korean cities, there are Mountains inside the city limits. In fact one rises behind Seoah and my son’s apartment building. Crisscrossed with trails, small parks, and outdoor exercise equipment it long ago gave way to domesticity.

    Flaco, I think, gave New Yorkers a taste of Wild Neighbor life. His escape, his refusal to return to his cage, his survival meant he made the rare transition from captivity to wild life. How many New Yorkers carry in their briefcases and quick strides a desire to make just such a transition themselves?

    One last note. Wild Animals live shorter lives than their captive specie’s mates. So Flaco’s death, while tragic, was in fact typical of an Owl’s in the wild. Not in its manner, no, but in its suddenness.


  • 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.

     

     

     


  • 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.

     

     


  • 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.

     


  • 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.