As we hiked at Lory State Park this morning, I kept noticing spots that had burnt in recent fires but were now coming back in, green and full of wildflowers. It made me think of how grief is like that, a fire that burns everything, strips it all bare and raw, but how that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Given time, sunshine and rain, new seed, things grow, the landscape is restored. The destruction isn’t forgotten completely (notice the singed trees in this picture), but rather it forms the foundation for the new growth. It’s a harsh process, but on the other side, there is something like beautiful.
I can’t think about play without thinking of Dexter. He was the most cheerful, happy dog, always looking for an opportunity to have some fun. He is the only dog we’ve had that if we were going on a trip, we needed to make sure and pack toys, and he had favorites: his Little D, various other babies such as his kitty or his baby ram or Monkey, and any tennis ball, even better if he’d found it on a walk.
No matter how much he loved playing with other toys, Little D was always his favorite. It was a bit sad because Little D was the present we gave him for Christmas the month after Obi died, a sort of “sorry your brother is gone” gift. He loved Little D almost as much as he loved his Obi, which is really saying something. One of Dexter’s favorite games with Little D was to throw him into a pile of leaves or snow, bury him deep in the pile, dig him out, shake him around, and then start the whole thing all over again. I’m not sure how much Little D liked it, but Big D loved it.
Without Dexter, play looks a bit different. This morning, it was taking my two boys and my camera up to Lory State Park, going on a three hour hike, being surprised by not one but two mama deers with twin babies, noticing how green everything is and how many wildflowers there are, stopping to smell the vanilla sent of the pines, taking lots of pictures, remembering and missing our Dexter even as we imagined what our next dog might be like, hoping he (she?) has the same playful attitude, cheerful disposition as he did.
This morning, we went on a mini hike with Dexter at Lory State Park. It’s been three weeks since he’s been there. That last hike was a real one: at least eight miles, most of it spent running. But then things shifted for him just enough that we decided that kind of exercise might be too much for him now, and the times since when Eric has gone with Sam, Dexter has waited at home with me. I was feeling so bad about it that I asked Eric to go this morning, so we could all be there together one more time, even if we couldn’t go that far. We still went about six miles, but we stayed down in the flat land, rather than hiking up in the rocks. We saw the sunrise and lots of deer, and I took a lot of pictures. It felt good to be there, together.
I have to admit though that this letting go is wearing me down. I am tired, depleted, and raw. My intention to work on this book, to keep going is every bit as intense as before, I just don’t have the energy right now to do anything more than to live it. Today I chose to spend what I have, energy and time, with my little family, to take comfort in that, and then to allow myself to rest.
25 Self-Care Tips for the Body & Soul from Gentle Living. This is a really great list. The only thing missing is “26. Read this list.”
The Power of Vulnerability, a two day workshop in Boulder with Brene’ Brown–holy wow! I wished last week that I could experience an in-person workshop with her, and only five days later, less than a week, a friend emails to tell me it’s happening. I registered right after I heard about it. It’s going to be awesome.
Telling True Stories with Laurie Wagner. It just started today, and it’s already awesome. Just to give you a taste, here’s a quote from Laurie, “Good writing is honest writing. Good writing is just naming things as they are – beautifully, soberly and as truthfully as you can.” See what I mean?
Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness Juice. My favorite one so far.
And to finish, a few things I love right now about Fort Collins, (in addition to all the things I normally love about Fort Collins):
Gilsdorf Garage. Growing up the daughter of an incredibly skilled, smart, and honest mechanic, I have high standards for mechanics and shops. In the many years I’ve lived too far away from my dad to have him work on my car, I have at various times been mistreated and cheated (once it was so bad, we nicknamed that car “the money pit”), and would never recommend someone who wasn’t really good.
On the Gilsdorf website, they say “Gildsdorf Garage has been in business for over 50 years with the principles of honesty, integrity, and quality, guided by the ethics founded by Ed Gilsdorf in 1950.” When I got the snow tires taken off my car this weekend, the tire shop said it was time for new brakes. This morning, we showed up unannounced at Gilsdorf’s and not only did they work us in, but will have my car ready by the end of the day. They are always professional, kind, and they do good work for a fair price. There’s even a chance that they might wash my car if they have time and that would be awesome.
Red Table Soups. I’ve had at least ten different kinds of soup, (there’s a different one each day), at both locations, (the original and The Mayor of Old Town), and they have always been awesome. How do they do that? They also make some pretty fine sandwiches, and I’ve heard their pizza is really good too.
Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. Eric and I hiked a trail on Sunday that started in Lory State Park, went into Horsetooth Mountain Park, and looped back around. Lory is only ten miles from our house, so super easy to get to, and there are so many trail options. You can hike as easy or as hard, as short or as long as you like.
One of Eric and I’s favorite things has always been hiking. Anywhere we can take the dogs, be with them in nature, go exploring, is good. We love the exercise, the joy of the movement. We love the solitude and quiet, as well as the time together. We have long talks that remember where we’ve been, and consider where we want to go. We catch up and dream and plan and forgive and give thanks. There is effort, but there is also relaxation.
In the winter, I don’t go that much, but Eric does–gears up in gaters and gloves and spiked shoes, grabs the dogs and goes. I stay home, sleep in and write. But I have really been missing it, and the weather has been so great, so today we went to Lory State Park and hiked together (a trail we first hiked together almost 20 years ago), getting there just as the sun rose.
This hike reminded me of Dexter’s awesome trail and scout skills. He’s the perfect guide. He’s kept Eric from getting lost many times, when the trail is hard to see or covered in snow. He always lets you know when someone is coming or when there’s a choice to be made about which way to go. He’ll sometimes pause and look back, maybe even come back to touch everyone in the pack with his nose, look them in the eye, making sure everyone is doing okay. He’s been a natural at this, starting from the time he was a puppy, and we almost always let him lead.
We found treasures and saw beauty today.
My favorite part of lots of trails, especially anything with “gulch” or “ravine” or “canyon” in the name, is the sweet spot: that moment when, after miles and hours of steep trail, you come out at the top into this space, sometimes a meadow, but always beautiful.
In Northern Colorado, there are these pine trees that smell like caramel, when the weather is warm and you are hungry, it can make you crazy, make you want to eat the bark.
Dear reader, kind and gentle ones, with my whole heart I wish and hope that on this day of rest you are reminded of all the things about your life that you love, those large and small, near and far. I hope you fall in love, all over again, with who you are, where you are, and what and who is there with you. I wish that your heart is so full today that it feels like it’s going to break..