Tag Archives: Lee Martinez Park

Day of Rest

*sigh*

This picture is the last one I took at Lee Martinez Park, the place we walk almost every day, sometimes twice. On that morning, that walk, I had no idea that the next day would be the day Dexter died. I knew it was coming, we’d known for a year it was on its way, but on that particular morning it still felt unknown, uncertain, undetermined.

We haven’t been back to Lee Martinez since Thursday morning, the last time we walked there with Dexter, the walk we took knowing it would be our last. We’ve been to City Park, Big South Trail, and this morning we walked at Colorado State University, but we haven’t been back to “our park.” It still feels too hard, too sad.

We’ve managed other grief hurdles. Eric cleaned the living room floor yesterday. The raw wood in that room was covered with tiny spots where Dexter’s nose had dripped, (because of his cancer, he basically had a constant runny nose). I washed some of the blankets from his bed, along with his Little D baby, (I’d originally planned to have him cremated with Big D but in the end I couldn’t stand to lose them both). Eric brought home his ashes, and I put those on top of his mostly empty crate, along with his collar and a clay paw print.

memorialWhen I’m able to, I’ll open the ashes and put some in the urns I have that contain Obi’s ashes (one is on my writing desk and another on my meditation shrine) — I left room for Dexter so they’d be together again, they loved each other so much.

pawprints

I still haven’t been able to put clean sheets on our bed (the ones that are there were slept on by Dexter) and his toothbrush is still on the counter, and I’m still putting a tiny offering of food in his bowl every time I feed Sam. I know it’s silly, but I was devastated yesterday when I went out to do poop patrol in the backyard and couldn’t find any of Dexter’s. I was so sad that I’d never get to pick up anymore of his poop — that’s a crazy kind of love.

Eric has been dealing with his grief, in part, by cooking. Yesterday, he made three pies. We did a pie drive by to our friends’ house last night because even as much as I love pie, we couldn’t eat it all ourselves.

griefpie

Jamie Ridler’s mom, who also had cancer, passed the day after Dexter. Jamie invited me a few weeks ago to do a guest post in honor of her mom, the prompt being something her mom had recently said, “It’s not about being tough, it’s about being tender.” I have so much to say about that, will be finishing up my post and sending it to sweet Jamie later today. These losses (something we all face as we live and love), this prompt, has me thinking about how important it is that we have confidence in our basic goodness, the essential wisdom and compassion and power that rests in each of us, that we practice self-compassion and keep our hearts open, knowing that life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible.

In this audio recording, Pema Chödrön talks about basic goodness. She tells a story about burnt cookies and a fox that is such a great metaphor for how we can approach difficulty — we can allow ourselves to become hard, closed off, or we can stay open to reality, to be present for whatever might arise. Yes this means we will be vulnerable, we’ll get hurt, but we will also be amazed, healed.

My heart is broken right now. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. But there is so much worth showing up for. Such as:

A chance to get away. We hadn’t wanted to do this when Dexter was still here, were worried about being too far away from a vet if something happened. But now, sometime soon, the three of us are going to rent a cabin in the mountains and spend some time together in the green and the quiet.

Pie. Especially the ones made by my person, who is as sad as me, who knows just how I feel, just what I’m missing, who will talk all day about what we’ve lost and never get tired of it, who wants to do whatever he can to make me feel better.

peachpie

Friends, near and far, sending us love and light. So many have reached out to me, offering such kindness, making this heavy thing so much easier to hold.

The sweet animal bodies that are still here, that long for love and need care. It’s Sam’s turn to become my favorite, and when we are all ready, there will be another dog.

sam

Laughter. Last night, on the way to our friends’ house to deliver the pie, Eric suggested that they expected this happy gift of pie, so it would be funny if when they opened the door, we gave them a pie in the face instead. It was such a ridiculous and awful idea we laughed the rest of the way to their house. It felt good.

Brilliant nature — blooms and fruit and animals and trees and landscapes and sky and deep water and weather.

Practice. Yoga, meditation, writing, and dog — this regular attention, showing up and being open to whatever arises, moving in ways old and new, creativity and discovery, is medicine.

Music. I heard this song for the first time yesterday, and am totally in love.

because nothing lasts forever
some things aren’t meant to be
but you’ll never find the answers
until you set your old heart free

I’m so sad, kind and gentle reader, but at the same time I am so in love with my little life, my heart so full of every last wonderful thing that sometimes it feels like it will explode.

Gratitude Friday

1. Lee Martinez Park. Birds singing, mad with love for Spring. How green everything is getting. A lone goose gliding across the pond, a heron standing in the river waiting for a fish. Baby animals, including a litter of fox kits and a new baby cow at the Farm, (that I can’t get a good picture of yet, because whenever I get close enough, my dogs start barking at her, and I don’t want her to learn to be afraid of dogs, or suggest to my dogs that it’s okay to bark at babies).

2. Clarity and compassion. Being able to take a pause, a deep breath when I am confused, to contemplate and write, to look around and consider, to take a long walk, and through these things, with faith in my own truth and wisdom, I know.

3. A life partner. Someone to share the sadness and anxiety with, along with the joy. Someone who is all in, trustworthy, patient, smart, funny, and an introvert like me, happy to be at home with our dogs, sitting in the backyard with a book, or taking a long walk. Someone who likes to watch PBS shows about museums, but also loves Flo Rida as much as I do. Someone who doesn’t mind eating at the same three or four restaurants time and time again. Someone who will clean the bathroom, wash the dishes, and mow the lawn. Someone who loves me and thinks I’m awesome even when I’m being kind of awful. Someone who will send me pictures of my dogs while I’m at work, who leaves love notes for me on the kitchen counter, signing his name in case I wonder who it’s from. He’s my favorite.

20 years ago

20 years ago in our first backyard

4. Getting Naked, the ecourse. Specifically I am grateful for the lyrical, loving energy of our teacher and my friend, Julia Fehrenbacher. Yet again, she’s created a beautiful thing, sent light and love and wisdom out into the world.

5. A spoonful of crunchy peanut butter and a sweet crisp apple. If there is a better snack, I don’t know what it is.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. This past Sunday, Eric took Sam hiking, so Dexter and I walked to Lee Martinez Park. We forgot the Colorado Marathon was happening, that there would be so many runners on the Poudre Trail. The one time we had to cross over, stay on the trail for a few minutes to get to the path on the other side, we were running with everyone, and we both think that for those few moments, we were winning.

Day of Rest

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you already know that taking a long walk with my dogs at Lee Martinez Park is one of my favorite things. Before we got dogs, when Eric and I would take walks together, we spent a lot of time talking about how great it was going to be once we had dogs (and we always intended to have more than one). We were totally right. It’s the best.

One of my favorite parts of the walk is all the other animals we see. This morning, we saw a turtle sitting on a log floating in the middle of the river. We also saw a heron sitting high in a tree over the same stretch of water. Sadly, we also saw a dead Mountain Bluebird.

There’s a den of baby foxes along our regular route, and this morning the bravest of them all had a duck carcass that he was quite proud of.

kitwithduck02

kitwithduck03

When there are kits, Dexter insists on checking on them every walk. Even if they aren’t out, he wants to sit and watch the den, has to be pulled away from it.

This Sunday was such a different day than just one week ago, when Dexter was so sick and weak and didn’t want to eat. I spend each day immediately after something like that being thankful for another day, a day when no one is suffering, noticing the bravest of the kits, laughing at how he prances with a duck hanging from his mouth, too young to be quite sure what he’s even supposed to do with it.

Straight Talk From Fox
by Mary Oliver

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

kitwithduck

What is so magic about walking, being outside in the raw, real world is it reminds me that life is a cycle of seasons, of birth and death, of waxing and waning, hibernation and blooming. It helps me to not feel so anxious about the way things work–impermanence, mortality, the nature of change. The sun rises every morning, the flowers bloom again each Spring, and there are still baby foxes, learning how to feed themselves, how to be foxes. I can live in that world, even as it continues to break my heart.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: A life that looks small from the outside might actually be deep and wide, vast and spacious. For example, you might learn that we’ve walked our dogs at the same park at least once a day (sometimes twice) for the past 10+ years, and think “how boring.” I’ve seen it in every season, every kind of weather. I have favorite trees and stretches of trail, spots along the river I’ve memorized, patches of grass that are special. I know where the turtles lay their eggs each year, where the fox dens are, where the heron fish, and where the beavers live. I know where there are things missing, where there used to be three Cottonwood trees stretched out over the river or where the wild irises used to grow. I remember the place where Obi used to drink out of the river, the bridge that scared him, and the route we took on that last day, for his final walk. I know all this, and yet I am not finished knowing.

2. Truth: I am superstitious. I know I can’t control anything, but my small mind still tries, just in case I’m wrong and I actually do have some sway. I have little altars, tiny shrines at each of the places I write and practice. Some days, I wear a string of black onyx beads around my wrist for protection and healing. I have a black string tied around my wrist that I asked Eric to put there. I think of it as my “life line,” and imagine that as long as it’s there, Dexter will be here. I also drink out of the same coffee cup every morning, for the very same reason. I made a vision board with Dexter’s picture, a white lotus flower hovering over his forehead and a mandala with the Medicine Buddha at the center, and listed my wishes, the last one being “may his death be easy.” Every time Eric and I part, I insist that we tell each other “I love you,” just in case. I think that these rituals, these talismans will keep us safe, keep us together, even as I’m clear that they make absolutely no difference, have no power at all.

3. Truth: I know what I want to do, but for now, it doesn’t pay well enough. The other day, I saw the difference between the two things, my current paid work and my heart’s work, very clearly. I was working my way through an academic training for online teaching. The information was good, useful and accurate, but the context, the framing, the platform made me want to poke my eye out with a pencil. I had trouble concentrating, felt tired and irritable, wanted to bolt from my chair. In contrast, I’m also currently taking a free class from Ruzuku, 5 Days To Your First Online Course. When I was reading through that content, I leaned forward in my chair, stretching towards the screen, focused and intent, taking notes and coming up with all kinds of ideas. The truth underneath all that is that the work in the first situation is paid and that of the second isn’t, and I want paid work, need it to live how I want. And while there is an exit plan of sorts, the intention that things will shift, sometimes I get frustrated, impatient.

One Wish: For acceptance and patience and gratitude, for surrender, for “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

#SmallStone: Day 29

Fog

On our walk this morning, even though it had stopped snowing, the air was wet and humid. When I took a picture of the snow covered playground and the moon hanging low above it, the light of the flash reflected off the fog that hung thick in the air. It looked like I’d taken a picture of a ghost, because my naked eyes saw nothing, only clear sky, but my camera had captured something entirely different, thick cold phantom air.

My glasses fogged up so bad, I considered taking them off. But when I tried, I realized that without them I saw even less, things weren’t clearer at all, so I left them on.

#SmallStone: Day 27

Flight

flockofgeese

Somewhere outside the park, a series of loud cracks, the echos of a shotgun. A flock of geese who just a moment ago were happily resting in one of the baseball fields rises in collective flight, that of both kinds–floating in the air with wings spread wide but also fleeing.

flockofgeese03

The sound of their honking, loud and panicked and fast, excites the dogs, both of them pull and strain against their harness and leads, wanting to go faster, to chase, to catch up. When the geese are directly overhead, the force of their wings against the cold morning air makes them sound like a swarm of gigantic bumble bees.

flockofgeese04

#SmallStone: Day 24

Morning

bed

I don’t wake up for the alarm, which is a light that gets progressively brighter instead of a sound, but rather my sleep is interrupted when Sam jumps up and over me. With a single sloppy kiss, I am all the rest of the way awake.

The moon is so bright it’s like someone left a light on. Long black shadows flood through the back windows the whole length of the house, making it look like I’m walking through a forest, but it’s really my kitchen. I go outside and try to take a picture of the moon, but I can’t capture it, not even close. Either the flash goes off and flattens everything, or it doesn’t and it’s all a blur.

As I’m getting dressed, ready to go on our walk, Sam is on the bed watching me, touching his nose to each item of clothing I put on, lying on the rest, both hurrying me and slowing me down.

As Sam waits for me to finish getting ready, he hears the rattle of tinfoil from the kitchen. He cocks his head to one side then the other, raises his ears, trying to decide if there might be food involved, if he should leave me in favor of a possible treat.

As we cross the river for the first time, a group of Forest Service workers train on the cold, dark, hard ground that’s part baseball field, part empty space. The sky over their heads is starting to change colors, shift to soft pink, bluish lavender, and deep fired orange. I almost trip over the dogs staring up at it. The sky will shift its pattern so many more times before it’s done that every time I look up, it’s a whole new sky. I don’t have my camera, so I know that later when I tell you about it, you’ll just have to trust me, and that there won’t be words to explain how truly glorious, how brilliant, amazing it is. And the dogs don’t care, or don’t understand, so they won’t back me up on this.

On our walk, Dexter decides we should go around the ponds backwards. All the way around, he tracks Friendly Fire (a small man with two huge Huskies, when they run at us he yells “it’s okay, they are friendly” and the resulting situation is never friendly, so we have nicknamed him “Friendly Fire”), whose car I’d noticed earlier in the parking lot so I’d been watching for them too. Dexter keeps his nose to the ground, and marks all the spots that need marking, every once in a while stopping to look up, around, ahead because he’s sure we are getting close.

“Can we go to the little dog park, Mom?” is the translation of the pause and look Dexter gives me when we get to the other side of the east pond, a place where a shorter trail breaks off and banks up a small hill into the trees. I say what I say most days (and especially this morning, because he had a bloody snot when we played last night and that makes me cautious), “not today, let’s go this way.” And as always, even though he knows what I’m saying (at 9.5, he understands many, many words and phrases for a language he will never be able to speak), I have to repeat it three more times, “not today,” until we are all the way past where we could turn and he gives up.

On a spot of trail where we can’t really turn around or get out of the way, a man with two dogs who we haven’t yet nicknamed gets too close to us. I am straining to keep the dogs as far from him as I can, walking as close to the edge of the trail as possible, holding the dogs both on one side, the one farthest away from him, but he doesn’t get it, doesn’t move or give us enough space, and Sam lunges and barks, Dexter strains at his harness as a deep quiet growl starts low in his belly and the hair on the back of his shoulders stands up.

The baby cow at The Farm is almost as big as his mama now. He sees us, bucks and runs. Sam is on his hind legs barking, but it’s because of a squirrel. He hasn’t even noticed the cow, and Dexter ignores him, more curious about Shambhala Jim (my friend Jim who I first met at the Shambhala Meditation Center, who walks the park and the ponds some mornings too), who we’ve been following ever since we came out of the trees. Dexter knows who he is, recognizes his hat and his walk from far away, sometimes before I even see him, and this morning he wants to catch up with him, keep track of where he’s going.

We cross Shields and return to Hanna Farm, our neighborhood. As soon as we do, I feel myself relax, not having realized I wasn’t already. And yet, I hold some tension, some anxiety until we got closer to home, until I know we are going to safely make it back. Every walk, especially those that start in the dark, are a trip into the wilderness, into the unknown.