“the world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”
the last 7 days were full of nostalgia and rain, in Dolores, Colorado. Nostalgia is defined as a wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. What a wonderful thing…nostalgia.
Funny, the way things work out. I had a lot of things on my ‘to do’ list, here. But i was tired going into the week. I was only able to see a few but they were the most important few. I visited the four corners. i went to hovenweep national monument. i went to the hot springs in ouray. i sat in a rocking chair and read, a lot.
I needed that quiet. I needed that time. There was something restorative about it. On the days that it rained I would wake, have coffee and write for a few hours. then i would take a trip to one of the 500 walmarts here and get groceries if i needed or wasp killer. there was also a weed store across the street from walmart. what else is there to do in really bad weather…walmart and the weed store. id be a lot happier if it was target.
during the afternoons i would read or work on photos. i read more than i have in a long time and it felt needed. the house i rented was on 10 acres and had the most incredible view. it made it a lot easier to just sit. sometimes i would stop and look up from the book i was reading and from the rocker i was sitting on and watch the birds outside on the feeders. some of them forage on the ground around the feeders, some out of the cracks in the patio and some fly into the window i sit at all day.
the silence here makes me think of an excerpt from one of my favorite books, West with the Night by Beryl Markham. She says, “There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. there is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of a man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.”
sometimes i listened to music. i had a soundtrack for these days…classical in the morning, melody gardot and nina in the afternoon, miles and hugh laurie while making dinner. just oskar and i and the prairie dogs, the elk, the birds outside and the wasps inside. I drove out to Hovenweep National Monument, which was fantastic. i was surprised i hadn’t heard of that area before now. it was a really nice place to walk around and take some photos. I’ve learned a lot on this trip about the way i use a camera. i have learned to slow down a bit and actually see what it is I’m looking at.
the four corners…aint that the truth?! a metaphor for my life at the moment, for life in general. take this treatment and this will happen, have this operation and this will happen, or you could take these two pills for ten years and this might happen. i went to the four corners with my mom when i was 13. i can remember moments of that day. the market stalls, the photos, the memories of being there with my mom. i remember being in a state of wonder as a young girl wandering around the stalls of colorful, crafted beaded jewelry and dreamcatchers and tomahawks! in 23 years not much has changed. it makes me sort of happy but sort of sad at the same time.
hot springs in ouray. the drive there started out as incredible, the beauty in that area of colorado is undeniable. i try to see past what is immediately in front of me to the other beauty beyond. there are snow covered mountains in the distance. i pass a dirt road called “last dollar road”. sounds about right for this trip. the weather quickly changes as i get closer to telluride. i see signs warning of avalanches and avalanche blasting. it starts snowing and before i know it i cant see much. i smell hot chocolate and think how strange. i realized an hour later that it was an uneaten kit kat on the floor of my car, melting with the heat on.
while driving to the springs, i think about this whole trip and what drive did i enjoy the most. i think it has to be the drive from utah to colorado. mostly, because of the scenery but also because there were a couple of really nice moments that day. i remember thinking how alone i was on those roads. i remember being surprised by the beauty and changes in landscapes of southern utah. i remember the cows and horses. i remember the water that followed the highway. there was a moment when i looked to the right that day and saw two horses running around a pasture and it made me so happy. they looked so free.
it wasn’t long after that, leaving utah, that i stopped at a scenic overlook. i was surprised when i saw what was up there at the top of that hill off the highway. there were two women making and selling jewelry. i stopped to talk to one of them and look at the earrings she was making out of cedar and black beads. i bought them for $10. i walk to the edge of the lookout and i can hear music, but i didn’t remember seeing a radio. i look down and there are two guys standing on the ledge below. one was playing a guitar and one a violin. it was beautiful. i stood there in awe while they played enjoying the moment, as much as i did. they were just travelers passing through, like me.
my thoughts continue to drift off while I’m driving to the ouray hot springs. i think of where I’m going and why and how i even know of this place. in february i was given an amazing opportunity to go on an ice climbing trip through an organization called First Descents. They take young adults impacted by cancer on outdoor adventures. I have said it before but this trip changed my ‘cancerful’ life. They took us to the Ouray ice park and we ice climbed for days. All of us, and we all made it to the top of those ice walls! After a day of climbing, we would always stop at those hot springs for some relief and some good talks and laughs in the hot pools. that is why i wanted to go there. to be in that moment again. to remember. And of course a trip to ouray wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the brewery and the swinging seats at the bar. nostalgia.
The next day I was supposed to go north to RMNP but with 24 hours notice my reservation was canceled due to rats and the lack of heat in the cabin. so instead of allenspark, colorado I’m in fraser, colorado. the drive here yesterday was interesting. rain, ice, snow, smartfood, sprite, repeat. up and down and around the mountains, repeat. two different worlds on either side of the mountain passes. i was up around 10,000 ft in a whiteout, for awhile. The only good thing about having to drive that slow is not getting speeding tickets.
As a side note, while talking to mom the other day she says, “um, you got something in the mail…” she sounds nervous. turns out, that day that i hiked around the lake in arizona and had that awesome moment with the elk and the tire swing, cost me $450 instead of $0. Yep, two tickets, same day. they don’t even have to pull you over anymore. they just watch you from the sky and send you a fine in the mail for ‘excessive use of speed’. F you arizona.
anyways, i think someone must be up there laughing at me as my wrists get sore from white knuckling the steering wheel. my back is sore from straining to lean forward in a better effort to see through the snow. I’m listening to old school MJB. i wonder to myself if oskar recognizes beauty and how he feels seeing all of this or if he’s just like give me another bully stick, mom. i look to the left after one of the tunnels and see a full on snowball fight happening on the side of the highway. four guys, pulled over enjoying the simple things. i needed that yesterday, that smile, that moment.
I am in Fraser, Colorado now. It’s still raining and snowing on and off. I am completely content sitting here in this stunning mountain house looking out the windows and seeing nothing but snow covered pines and mountains in the distance. I think of home, of NH. I think of how a home can be a place or a person or both.
I’m going to be here for the next week and I’m going to enjoy every moment i can of the last days of my cancercation. I’m going to sit in front of this fireplace and read and write. I’m going to think as little or as much as i want. I’m going to rest as much as i want.
i wanted to go up through Wyoming and South Dakota on the way back east next week. I wanted to see the Badlands and drive the northern route back. i have never seen that part of the country. I hope the weather lets me do this.
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”