A Prayer for Rain

My mind is clouded with smoke.  Embers of sadness pull at me, while the miserably hot, windy days continue to come and go.

Colorado is aflame.

The images of trees exploding instantly into flame haunt me.  Evacuation orders for entire towns make my stomach churn with worry.  And the images of over 250 homeless families, sleeping on makeshift cots, displaced with only ashes remaining of their homes and their entire life’s belongings makes my heart hurt.

Entire tracts of land, mountains and hills left with only a black, ashy scar of what once was.  Trees, grass and wildlife only a distant memory now, something we will not see recover in our lifetimes.

All I can offer is a prayer for rain.  I have no other option but to beg Him to quietly send moisture to fall upon our dry land, calming the smoke, the flames and the hurt.

Dear Lord,

Bless us with some relief from the drought, the fires and the smoke
That threaten these places we love, Oh Lord.
Cover this burning land with a blanket of your clouds,
Releasing raindrops to give life back to this dry land,
Let their cool wetness calm the smoke, the flames and the hurt in our hearts.
Fill our rivers, from trickles to streams again.
Quell the winds, even momentarily, to deflect the flames
To push them back in their tracks, instead of hurtling them forward.
Provide us with tools to put the roar of these fires out.

Bless, Oh Lord, those families who find themselves homeless,
Empty, heartbroken with loss and overwhelmed,
Give them hope that You will provide for them those things they need.
Bless them with sweet memories of their homes and land
And give them a sense of peace and renewal,
To face each new day with strength, courage
And gratitude for even the smallest of blessings along the way.

Watch over those fighting on the front lines,
Bless them with cool relief in the face of a scalding enemy,
Bless them with rest to reinvigorate them to continue fighting,
Bless them with hope that their fight is not in vain,
And as impossible as it may seem, give them faith that it is possible.
Hold them closely and keep them safe, Oh Lord, in their battles.

And with the fast fury of the flames approaching,
Remind us of Your powerful presence, and Your ability to calm them.
With the tall, billowing plumes of smoke,
Remind us of the hope You give us for the future.
With the temporary quieting of hot, unrelenting winds,
Remind us that all things are possible through You.
And with the feeling of overwhelming loss,
Remind us that all things grow again through you, Oh Lord.

Summer’s Sweetest Scent

I sense it the moment they open.  The air is instantly different.  Heavier with fragrance, yet lighter and warmer with summer’s sweetest scent.   It is as if the world has stopped.  And I am encapsulated within a gossamer cocoon, spun of the perfume of tiny yellow blooms peeking out shyly from among the silvery green leaves of its tree.

You cannot even see them, until looking close.  Close enough to notice their bright yellow eyes, their sweet scent almost visibly aloft in pale waves upon the summer’s evening air, proclaiming dreamily that summer is here.

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I’d love to bottle their sensory beauty, corking it carefully airtight, and displaying it reverently upon a shelf.  But it wouldn’t be enough to just look at it.  I wouldn’t be able to resist its summery magnetism, opening it slowly with its soft scent taking me back to June, no matter the month.

One summer evening years ago, as they were just beginning to unfurl their fragrant blooms, I thought there could be nothing more perfect than cutting a few branches to put in a vase in my house.  I imagined their perfume lightly scenting my entire house, waking me in the mornings with their sheer, veiled aura.  But after only a few hours, their scent had fermented into something hotly putrid and overpowering.  I’m not sure if it was their anger at being cut from their mother trees or the extremely close proximity, but I quickly realized that some things are better left unrestrained, wild and floating freely on the hint of a summer breeze.  That they just cannot be bridled and harnessed into a vase indoors.  They must be aloft upon the breeze, their yellow scented pollen riding happily to destinations unknown.  Their strong scent diluted with the warmth of the air, moving and swirling their fragrance here, there and everywhere.

Of all the many scents in the world, I know it is my favorite. It is memories of small towns in summer, of tall grass growing green in the hay fields, swaying with the breeze like a loosely-threaded tide.   It is memories of summer concerts, the music rising and mingling with their perfume upon the still summer air.  Of barbecued ribs, and warm evenings not yet disturbed by the hum of mosquitos, serenaded with its sweet scent upon the dusk.  It is the feeling of night’s coolness slowly filtering across our little valley from the wet rushing of the river, dampening the grass and the day’s memories with dew.  And in the morning, its perfume rises again, lifted from its tiny yellow petals to be wafted upon the light air for another day.

How I wish it lasted all summer, this perfect essence of fragrance.  Ushering us into and out of summertime, like a graceful doorman, visible with the first opening of the glass door to summertime, but almost unnoticeable the remainder of the summer with his well-trained etiquette and quiet existence.  Eventually they would escort us out of summer without even a goodbye, only the faint fading of their scented beauty growing slighter and slighter, until we no longer even miss their presence.

Alas, we are blessed with but a week of heaven in June.  Maybe that makes its arrival all the sweeter, and its exit all the more lonely in its abrupt end.  Its short-lived aromatic culmination something relegated to just memory again for another year

So as the lovely season of the fragrant Russian Olives draws to an end, may you find the time to be still, soaking up the most of what comes around just once a season.  May you enjoy the sweet scent of summertime upon the warm breeze and may you relish the many blessings summer brings.

*As a footnote, I feel I must tell you that the Russian Olive tree is an outlaw.  It is a foreign species that gained notoriety for its overtaking of western river banks since it was introduced to the US in the late 1800’s.  But in its defense, it is without a doubt, a scrappy survivor.  With shoots of sharply-thorned branches hurtling forth from its trunk almost daily, it doesn’t mourn for the weak.   Their roots ground them in odd places, unfit for other trees.  They thrive in sand and poor soil, reaching deeper and deeper for water and nutrients. And according to multiple sources, their roots can produce their own nitrogen, allowing them to grow even in nutrient-deprived soil.  They have a bad habit of out competing our native trees and shrubs in wild areas and they enlist the help of our feathered friends, who gorge upon the tree’s ripened berries, to disperse their seeds.  The Russian Olive is currently classified as an invasive species in Colorado and 29 other states.  For this reason,Colorado banned the sale of Russian Olive trees within the state to its residents in 2002.

When All That Remains is a Memory

Memorial Day weekend.  I expected the tributes to our troops, both current and past, and the deep thankfulness that you cannot help but feel for our hard-earned freedom.  Red, white and blue flags flying, headstones marked with crosses, flowers and tears.  What I didn’t expect, was to find myself contemplating memories on death, loss and the hand-picked timing of certain moments in life.  I found myself grieving, quieted by a once-familiar place, now darkened with long lasting scars, and only the stark skeletons of what once was.

I guess I hadn’t been there since the fire.

Photo courtesy of Drew Smith via www.panoramio.com

Trapper’s Lake and the dirt county road leading to it was a place we frequented growing up.  Pulling a cream and green “Wilderness” camper, loaded down with fishing poles, a hibachi barbecuer, Shasta Cream Soda and large amounts of excitement, our family would find ourselves heading up to go camping almost all summer long.  The little county road seemed to go on forever then, clouds of dry dust following us the last part of the way, surrounded on both sides by mountains, pine trees, quaking aspens and the rare  glimpse of a shimmering, snow-fed creek.

Our weekends were spent hiking under the canopy of pine forests, being swallowed by the sweet scent of pine trees in bloom and fishing in excruciatingly cold, clear volcanic-formed lakes.  We loved this beautiful place that was right in our back yard.

I guess that’s why I found myself grieving so palpably over the weekend.

Photo courtesy of Drew Smith via Panoramio.com

I had no idea that the wildfire that took place nearly ten years ago, would still have as fresh a scar on the land, as if it had just happened a few years ago.  The mountains looked scraped bare, with only dry dirt there where the beautiful pines once stood, where spring rains and winter runoff would have fed the once-dense green brush and undergrowth.  All that remained were skeletons.  Sharp ghosts swaying with the cold wind, hundreds, thousands of other skeletons fallen in shards at their feet in a nasty, tangled mess of a larger-than-life game of Pick-up-Sticks.

Instead of the breeze singing through soft needled branches, the wind screeched and hissed now, whistling through their gnarled bones and around this ghost town of dead trees, their burned forms standing as tombstones for the fallen, now only a memory.

Ten years after the Big Fish fire near Trapper’s Lake

I was out of college, living two hundred miles away, when I first read their words.  A Letter to the Editor published in our little Rio Blanco Herald Times, that would never let me forget.  That would, from that day forward, always cause me to think upon timing, upon moments, and upon God’s big plan.

Dear Editor,

What a sense of loss and despair.  Trappers Lake is a very special place to a lot of people, for a lot of reasons.  While living in the Yampa Valley my family got to know Trappers Lake, to know the meaning of what a special place does to one’s soul.

We moved to Texas seven years ago and my son always asked if we could return to Trappers Lake some day.  I told him “sure and we’ll go there many times together.”  My son died last summer at the age of 21.

My wife and I brought his ashes back to Trappers Lake this summer.   It is his favorite place on Earth and that’s where he should be.

We stayed at Trappers Lake Lodge Resort on this recent trip and made reservations for our return next summer.  Years past we had camped in the campgrounds but enjoyed this stay at the lodge.  Our mind set was not focused on the camping experiences we normally enjoy, rather the personal emotions and continued feeling of loss with our son’s passing.

The experience of placing a loved one into the environment they so love the most for eternal rest is comforting but yet so difficult.  You go through the grieving all over again but it is the same grieving you never stopped experiencing.  The sense of loss is tremendous but you know you are doing the right thing.  With that comes some sense of acceptance.

Our last night at Trappers Lake Lodge Resort was fraught with many sudden awakenings from the lightning and heavy rains.  It was quite eventful that night and we were glad to see some rains returning to the high country.  We got up very early that morning, went down to our canoe on the lake for a short paddle and wet a few flies.  We marveled at the rain-cleared sky, no longer saturated with the Lost Lake fire smoke.  The reflection of the Amphitheater on a still glass lake surface left no doubt our Creator has a plan. 

It mattered not the fish would not rise to our imitations, we were in the presence of an awesome experience and were touched deep in our souls.  One day too we both will return to be with our son in this awesome place crafted by the hand of God.  My wife and I said our last goodbyes to our son and departed this special placed called Trappers Lake.

As we left the lodge we got only a short distance down the road when we saw the smoke from a new fire.  It was nothing large, looked like the smoke billowing from a cabin chimney on an autumn day.  That was Big Fish Canyon and that was Saturday morning the 20th of July.  The morning after the birth of this fire.  How could we know what was to come?  How could we anticipate what we read and hear now about this place so distant yet so close to our hearts?  How could we imagine the destruction to the buildings we had only just left?

We couldn’t, just as we could never have thought we would ever experience the great loss of a child, a son, a friend and companion in all life’s experiences.  What a sense of loss and despair we feel and share with you.

Richard and Cindy Scott

From the Rio Blanco Herald Times, August 29th, 2002

I don’t know them.  But I hope one day to tell them what a profound effect their Letter to the Editor in our local newspaper had on me.  Now, even ten years later, I cannot read their beautifully thought-out words without feeling my chest tighten and my eyes blur with tears.

Photo courtesy of Drew Smith via Panoramio.com

They experienced not only the loss of their son, but then the terrible loss of this place that held so many happy memories.  A place held dear with memories surely of laughter, gentle lapping lake water, cutthroats with their bold red markings darting in the dark shadows of the creek, cool nighttime falling quickly under the shadows of the mountains, the fresh, crisp forest air of evening, and the immense blanket of a million glimmering stars just overhead, feeling close enough to reach out and touch.

I knew about the fire all those years ago, but I hadn’t “felt” it.  I had read about it, I had heard about it, but I hadn’t yet seen it with my own eyes.  And now, all these years later, I finally felt my heart heavy with grief for a place so special, so beautiful.

And this Memorial Day, I remembered the great loss that these strangers felt and must still feel for their son.   God’s hand holding them as He brought them back to this place one last time, only Him knowing that just days after they spent their last night there, it too would be gone, smoldering with only the memory of what once stood.

Wind, Snowshoes and Slander

The wind whirled in raging swirls around the peaks of far off mountains as we strapped our feet into the bindings of our snowshoes.  The fierce wind gusted temperamentally down over the edges of the summer hay fields, up the frozen creek bed and raced across the meadow, gaining speed until it loosened its grip on the picked up snow, dropping it in drifts upon the groomed trail ahead of us. White, deflated clouds raced along the bright blue sky pushed by speeding winter winds aloft.

The windy trail ahead!

Moment by moment the beautiful, snow padded landscape around us changed from tranquil and serene to blustery and windswept.  Our views were temporarily stolen by sudden bursts of snow crystals being swept up and off the ground into giant swirling, miniature funnel clouds of ice whipping across the trail ahead of us.  Were we all wondering whether to grab our stocking caps?  Did we need our heavy gloves instead of the lightweight ones we had?  Was my coat going to be warm enough?

And then, as fast as it was scooped up by the wind and into the air around us, the cloud of cold was gone and calm warmth ensued.  Should I leave my stocking cap?  Maybe my lighter gloves will do instead of my mittens?  Do I even need to take a coat?

We probably could have spent all afternoon there at the trailhead, our minds changing by the second from one wind gust to the next.  But without waiting for another cold wind burst to change our minds, we set out onto the groomed road ahead of us.  With a beaming blue sky above and awkward, wide snowshoes at our feet, we began . . . our shoes crackling with the sound of our sharp, metal crampons biting into the drifted snow below us.  We definitely didn’t need to worry about accidentally surprising a bear just escaped from winter hibernation, I’m fairly certain they could hear us coming from a mile away.  In that respect, I think our snowshoes were doubling as an official alert to the wilderness that we were invading their space, and to please remain at a safe distance to avoid close-range ski pole artillery.  Forget speed as any defense mechanism at our disposal in these contraptions.

A "claws out" bear track? Just the metal crampon tracks from our snowshoes -- no sprinting or ski pole artillery necessary!

There are moments in life that you severely regret decisions that you have made along the way.  After spending 10 minutes being blown about by the raging wind, sweat already trickling down my forehead, I knew I had made one of those most regrettable mistakes:  deciding to ever cut bangs into my hair.

I couldn’t take it any longer.  A pit stop in the middle of the trail was hastily made and my emergency bobbie pins were retrieved, luckily, from somewhere within my pocket.  Without so much as a care of what they looked like, those suckers were pulled back taut, pinned back out of my face and re-pinned with a second as an insurance policy (no need to take any further chances here.)  With the first emergency situation averted, we walked on, crunching our way up the hill farther.

Unfortunately, I have had experience with wind and snowshoes in the past.  Quite a few years ago, a group of my friends and I volunteered to help at a Tubbs Romp to Stomp Out Cancer event in Breckinridge.  We were bribed with a free lift ticket to the top of the mountain and the promise of a free meal following the race.  I think we forgot to consider that this was a race . . . . in the middle of the night . . . at the top of a ski mountain . . . . where the wind blows incessantly.  I think we also had no idea that our “job” would be to stand at the finish line and cheer on the racers as they crossed the line.  In the middle of the night, at the top of a ski mountain, where the wind blows incessantly.

I guess I pictured families walking their way across the 5K finish line, leisurely, enjoying the time spent with each other, albeit in the cold dark of night.  What I did not expect was the first racers sprinting across the finish line just 15 minutes after the race started.  I really had no idea that it was possible to run in snowshoes, let alone sprint in them.  By the last stragglers that slowly made their way across the finish line two and a half hours later, I was wishing someone had taught everyone how to run and sprint in them.  We were cold.  Our voices were gone from cheering sweet nothings to the finishers.  We were hungry.  It was time for our promised free meal inside.

A miniature pinecone-like seed blown from its tree home to rest upon the drifted snow.

We sauntered in, drifted snow peeling off the bottoms of our ski pants, noses and cheeks reddened by the windchilled air, frosty eyelashes and iced-over eyebrows, toes that we only realized were still there when we looked down and saw that we really did still have feet attached to our legs.

As we unwittingly stood in the food line, already tasting the free hot meal hot upon our tongues, we had no idea that the food had ran out long ago, before even the last racer had finished.   So we waited in line, not realizing that what we were actually waiting for was a token, an “I’m sorry we ran out of food” Clif Bar that would hopefully tide us over until we could make it back off the mountain.

Have you ever had a Clif bar?  They come in delectable sounding flavors like, “Chocolate Brownie,” “Crunchy Peanut Butter,” and my personal choice, “White Chocolate Macadamia.”  They are granola bar-esque, only they pack the punch of an organic energy bar.  They are grainy and unbelievably dry. A chocolate brownie, they are not.  And White Chocolate Macadamia is just slander, defamation of character of the sweet cookie we all know.

But after a night filled with icy wind and freezing temperatures, we resigned ourselves to our personal choices in Clif Bars, coming to the realization that White Chocolate Macadamia was not to be trusted.  Ever again.  In any form.

A pine bough blown down to a new place with the gusy winds.

So today, as we found ourselves just finishing up our snowshoe excursion, the wind howling cold in our faces now, I couldn’t help but think of previous snowshoe adventures.  From remote trailheads to the tops of ski hills  — Where will my snowshoes take me next?  All I hope is that it doesn’t require any sprinting.  Or Clif Bars.

Six Degrees of Conversation

Race horses, seatbelts, buzzing windmills in airplanes, Lady Antebellum, World War II, county commissioners, Hawaii, personal meetings with Eleanor Roosevelt, blizzards that nearly coincided with births, rattlesnake antics, telephone calls from Ann Romney, the cost of bulls (as in the cow kind), Ford v.s GMC, airport expansion plans, kitchen cabinet installation, road trips from Colorado to Alaska and Tim Tebow, of course.  Yep, I believe we covered it all.  In the course of just four hours.

Oh the art of conversation.  And it is an art.  Finding those connections, inquiring into things of interest, the back and forth volley between two people can truly be an art form, in and of itself.  How can one thing lead to another and another until we find ourselves at somewhere completely opposite of where we started?  It’s kind of like the road trip from Colorado to Alaska.  With a primary route in mind, our conversational trip took a few twists and turns tonight.  A few back roads were taken, and even a ferry at one point.  But eventually we wound up in Alaska, maybe not exactly where we had anticipated, but we covered a lot of territory and we made it somewhere new and different, with lots of discoveries along the way.

There were stories involving bad flight weather and a split second decision to land a World War II fighter plane or push the eject button (or rather, open the door and bail at that time) with your superior sitting next to you, inquiring which it would be.  With the choice of landing strip or parachute, he chose the landing strip option and fell out of the low clouds to find the barely airborne plane touching down almost immediately with crews of fire engines ready for the impending crash. In the end, there was no crash.  But he admitted, it did seem a little eerie.

We’ve all had memorable conversations throughout our lives, discussions we will cherish and remember for all time.  Warm summer nights spent under the stars, with nothing but beautiful words rising out of the darkness.   Long discussions with children, just learning the meanings of words like “thermometers” and “mysteries,” using their newfound words in sentences and paragraphs strung together like macaroni on string necklaces.  And we’ve probably had a few serious debates and arguments that won’t ever be solved, but will remain symbolic of certain times and certain people in our lives

I don’t consider myself an artful conversationalist. I’m usually not willing to dig much further than, “Hi, I’m Katie.”    I typically find conversation with strangers to be difficult, and I’m pretty sure my awkwardness is apparent.  To be honest, most times I wonder “Why?”  Is it worth the effort?  Why bother trying to find those connections?  If only it were as easy as the conversation hearts we just exchanged on Valentine’s Day – a simple “Be Mine” or “You’re Sweet” would suffice as an entire conversation.  No awkward segue necessary.

I personally know a couple of true conversationalists, properly trained in the art.  And by properly trained, I mean one has actually attended a structured class on the how-to’s.  They enjoy conversation immensely.  They seem to know the appropriate questions to ask, honing in on new directions to take the discussion and they are really adept at listening.  That may be the real key.  They are actively listening, while participating in a conversation.  Who knew easy conversation actually requires a heavy dose of multi-tasking?

The art of easy conversation obviously requires a mind that is silently turning frantically in the background, continually creating new questions to ask, inventing new scenarios for the discussion to take and working to find previously undiscovered connections.  I picture gears grinding together at a fast pace inside their minds, clouds of steam rolling off of them, lightbulbs of new ideas flashing on and off, lighted exit signs perched precariously at the end (just in case an emergency exit from a particular subject is warranted) and a crew of miniature men dressed in suit coats, sweating, typing the things they hear into memory at the speed of light.   Where did all my men in the little suits go?  It seems when I need them, they have exited out the emergency door, unwilling to sit at their typewriters in these hot, low paying working conditions any longer. They won’t even do me the favor to stamp a just-introduced stranger’s name into my memory.

Conversation begins to sound like a lot of work to me.  And to be honest, sometimes it’s just not worth it in my mind.  Especially those situations on airplanes, early in the morning, for a measly one hour flight.  In those instances, I usually err on the side that it’s just not worth it.  Things that look easy, never actually are.  It has taken a lot of practice, missteps and re-dos to finally make difficult tasks look easy.  And stimulating conversation must be one of those things.

But most true conversationalists will dig and dig, talk and talk, chat and chat until they can find that connection.  Maybe it’s almost a challenge for them – to find that little bit of something they have in common.

A visual of our Six Degrees of Separation. Illustration courtesy of Wikipedia.

We’ve all heard of Six Degrees of Separation:  the idea that we are all really only six steps away from anyone else in the world, and that through friends of friends of friends, we should be able to make a connection or introduction with that someone in six steps or less.  Maybe their friends are a little more connected than mine? At one point in the 1990’s, a similar concept in Hollywood became known as Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.  Current social media outlets have assisted the Six Degrees of Separation theories.   According to a recent study, it’s been shown that Facebook reduces your degree of separation from six to four – in that via Facebook you should only be four steps away from anyone else in the world at any given time.  Apparently our big world is getting smaller by the day.

So maybe conversationalists are, without an exact goal in mind, just trying to find that sixth degree of separation between two people.  A commonality that makes this big world of ours seem just a little smaller.  A connection that assures us all that we are inherently related and similar despite cultural and geographical differences.  But it will always come down to asking the “right” questions and steering the discussion in the “right” direction to enable us to discover those connections.  So, an art it remains.  Let me go round up my little miniature men in suits again, and give this art of conversation thing another try.

Angels in the Snow

It fell last night, in fluffy flakes as big as your nose.  Without as much as a waft of air to push and pull their tiny forms this way and that, they fell silently, nearly straight downward from the heavens to the earth below.

Snow has a curious effect on me.  It sparks an innocent excitement, that as an adult, I sometimes forget I’m capable of.  I watch it carefully, secretly wishing for it to snow and snow and snow some more.  At night, I find myself unable to sleep undisturbed.  It wakes me by the hour, bribing me to pull back the shades and see if it is continuing.  I’ve become an expert at judging the pink tinged, bright yet dull light that sneaks into my bedroom at night, announcing the snow outside.  I know the pink light that “tells” me it’s still snowing.  But I have to look anyway.  I’m worse than a child on Christmas Eve.  Just the thought of millions and millions of sugary crystals being sprinkled from the sky, as if on one giant cookie of land, awakens my inner child and begs me to keep watch out my window, excited with hope of the unequivocal magic it may bring by morning.

I also love the muffled effect a good snow has on the world.  It’s like the heavens have pushed the universal mute button, giving our ears and minds a chance to just be quiet. A moment of stilled peace, if only but a moment.  We all know it’s only a matter of time before the plows push out of their garages and the quiet solitude and magic of a new snow is plowed to the side in dirty piles to facilitate everyday life again.  But for a moment, it is serenely unaltered.

I drove along the pastures today with winter’s white snow upon them.  There were herds of cattle gathered together, no doubt longing for summer’s tender green grass instead of the stale bale that would be churned out for them, leaving not even a sweet memory of sunny summer days in their mouths.  I saw the other usual suspects as well.  A group of retired, swayback horses.  Their days of cattle herding, ditch jumping and cowboying were obviously long over, I knew from my neighbors that the one gray gelding of the group was now the granddaughter’s ride.  Slowed with age, gentle with ailing joints, the grayish white horse had hung up his youthful dreams and trotted into a new, age-appropriate purpose.

But this morning, I caught him in a perfect moment where he forgot his age and reverted back to the innocent joy of a newborn foal.  With snowflakes still floating in the air, he sank to his weary knees and haunches as if in praise of the white stuff that had fallen overnight.  He rolled onto his back, twisting back and forth in joy, hooves kicking in the air with innocent abandon.  It was the equine version of a snow angel.  I wondered if he was sticking his tongue out trying to catch a few snowflakes at the same time.  We were all glad it had finally snowed.

My nephew couldn’t help but fall on his knees in the snow too.  And on his back.  And on his tummy.  Eating some of the white stuff here, spitting it out again there.  At one point, he bent halfway over to take a bite right straight out of the snow bank that was nearly taller than him.  I pictured him bending back up at this moment and declaring, “Look Ma!  No hands!” with a mouthful of snow.

Have you ever seen this before? The perfect weather conditions helped two snowballs form on their very own!

He too was called by a yard full of fresh, white newness.  He fell onto his back, arms waving like juvenile angel wings, legs struggling to keep up with the frantic pace of his arms.  Instead of a snow angel, it resembled more of an angel’s near fluttering to ground.  Its breath warming and melting the form on the edges, but not heavy from landing.  This angel didn’t touch down, but fluttered just above the pillow of downy snow, leaving but a feathery indentation, nothing more.  Not even the shape of an angel remained, just the happy, fast footprints of a four year old overjoyed with the blank canvas of new snow.

I guess you could say it’s the simple things.  Like the joys of fresh fallen snow.  The glittery prism ignited when the sun finally peaks out again.  The awesome magnitude of tiny flake upon tiny flake, joining together to magically transform the world.   The blank canvas created in its wake, in those moments where nothing has yet altered its pure state.  It remains just as it fell, when it floated silently to the earth upon crisp, frosty air.

The days of youth, innocence and purity can be pushed to the sides of the street like new snow, too.  Remember the morning as a new sun rises over sparkling white snow and let us never forget to take a moment to relish the change it brings, the innocence it sparks and the magic it creates.

Where will a fresh new snow take you?

Trouble in January

There’s trouble brewing.  Out of the moist with snow-just-melted, dark soil, trouble is brewing . . . sprouting actually.

Crocus sprouts peeking their heads into the chilly January air.

I thought I glimpsed something green poking its way out of the dirt into the chilly January air.  I took a closer look, to rule out a newly germinated weed left over from last summer.  I couldn’t believe it.  The little crocus bulbs I planted only a few months ago, when the dirt was still warm with autumn’s sunshine and blue skies, were peeking out from their winter beds.  The new moisture plus warm sun on the south side of my house are obviously having a fast forward effect on my bulbs.

I blame it on the bipolar winter we’ve been having.  Apparently, El Nino is more my kind of Northwest Colorado winter.  Strings of sunny, blue skied days are boring, bring on the blizzards, snow days, plow trucks and shoveling.

A singular srout braving the winter still around.

This El Nina winter weather pattern, with its sunny 60 degree days and “snowstorms” bringing just a dusting of snow are really starting to mess with my winter.  And now it must be altering the growth patterns of the plants in my flower beds, beckoning my hibernating bulbs to sprout to life in January?  Yes, something is definitely wrong with this picture.  With a good two months of winter left, I’m worried sick about my new bulbs.  At this rate, they’ll be in full bloom at the end of February!

While purple, yellow and orange flowers in March would no doubt be good for the soul, I don’t trust this bipolar weather pattern.  I can’t help but think that it’s faking us out, that this warm weather must be setting us up for a blizzard to beat all blizzards that will hit us sometime in June.  I just can’t bear the thought!  I’m a fan of winter snow, but no self-respecting, non-skier wants a good snowstorm in June.

Cheery daffodils smiling out at me!

But the little crocus bulbs aren’t the only things sprouting and blooming now.  A few days ago, I found myself in a grocery store, drawn inexplicably to the floral section.  Spring had officially sprouted into bloom in this store.  There were buckets and buckets full of spring’s grandeur . . .  sunny, golden daffodils and rainbows of tulips, all smiling brightly out at me from the corner of the store.

A springtime rainbow of tulips!

Their cheery dispositions promised that spring was on its way, snow or no snow.  I guess it’s never too early to celebrate the expected return of new sprouts and blooms.