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the path back is the path forward


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i left it there. [two artists tuesday]

i left it there.

we had a few hours and needed a fix in the mountains. just a short distance away from congested civilization was a trail that lead into higher elevation and quiet. everything else slipped away as we climbed and followed the columbine.

i was moved by this fragile blossom on the side of the trail. delicate and perfect in every way that flowers are perfect, i picked it up, turned it over, felt its short life. like the sun, its tiny petals radiating from the center. its flawlessness is simple; its budding-lifeline complete. it was laying in the mountain meadow, waiting to be noticed. not much different than any of us.

and then, i laid it back down where i found it. and it will be there for the next person who hikes by, glances over and sees it. one sun-low-on-the-horizon-fall-dried-flower-blossom, past its season but not past its beauty.

that’s why i left it there.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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sopris gold. [two artists tuesday]

it was a bit cloudy and drizzling when we drove into town and stopped at the market before finding our airbnb. the next day dawned much of the same, but around us the red rock shimmered deep ruby in the rain, the sage glowed and the air was clear and fresh.

we got into big red to lumber into town early that evening, the sun not yet ready to set, clouds breaking up to allow blue skies. down the dirt and gravel road, just around the bend, across a field of wild grasses and beyond the horses, suddenly there it was.

mount sopris, in all its glory, rose above us and above everything else in the valley. it was astoundingly beautiful and made me pull over to laugh aloud at its presence. this giant had been there all along, steady, its very existence a silent companion. just shy of 13,000 feet in elevation, with twin peaks, once i had seen it, i found myself turning to look at it, especially at every bend of the rio grande trail we hiked the next day. it felt grounding and majestic and very, very wise.

mount sopris is named after a gold prospector who led an expedition in the middle 1800s. “there’s gold in them there hills,” led them into the roaring fork valley. i don’t know the whole rest of that story, though they did not find gold.

i do know that the presence of this mountain, for me, definitely has the allure of the precious and captured my desire to stay put in its magnificent power. the surprise of seeing it appear out of the clouds was worth its absolute weight in gold.

it was a reminder of things unseen and yet there. a reminder of strength and steadfastness, quiet and unshakeable. a reminder of beauty where you don’t expect it. a reminder that behind clouds there exists a bigger presence, the universe vast, full of potential.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the beauty of $2.99. [k.s. friday]

my sweet dad would buy my mom grocery store flowers often. she kept a vase on the table in the high ceiling-ed foyer near the front door in their last home together and flowers would welcome you as you entered. momma wasn’t really a red-rose-florist-delivery kind of gal. she was more a bundle-of-flowers, a miscellaneous-bunch, a day-old-flowers-sale woman, always so pleased with the simplicity of her own arrangements. now, don’t get me wrong, she was delighted to receive flowers that arrived on her doorstep, but those were not required of my poppo. instead, she reveled in the extraordinarily ordinary blooms they found at publix.

we went to the citymarket when we got to carbondale. needing to find lunch and some dinner items to bring to our airbnb we walked into a new store, inviting and with lots of light. it was in the produce section that i passed the display, advertising a clearance – merely $2.99 for cellophane-wrapped bundles beyond their recommended dates. the hypericum beckoned to me whispering a suggestion, “table centerpiece”. we travel with a small jelly jar and tea lights and i knew we could find something we could use as a vase in our place. as it turned out, it was a ball jar and, together, ball jar with berries and jelly jar with candlight paired on our table. it was time to embrace a precious stay in the high mountains.

scrolling through my photos, the pictures of the hypericum berries on our table easily bring back the moments we had with my daughter and her boyfriend. so much anticipation when a child lives far away and yet the time uncontrollably flies by and, today, i am reeling with wistful thoughts that just over one short week ago we had already been to and left those giant red rock mountains, the snow-capped mount sopris, a trail along the rio grande, horses down the road, dinners at the gathering table, laughter at the high counter in our sweet unit, a pedicure and a few errands with my girl. it would seem the stuff of songs and somewhere, deep inside, they are writing themselves.

we left the hypericum berries in our airbnb. still beautiful, it was a way to say thank you to our hosts. besides, they belonged there on a little slate plate in the middle of the table in a room filled with sunlight. promise for the next occupants, perhaps. a little gratitude left behind.

we aren’t frivolous. especially not these days. anyone who knows me knows that i am a slow decision-maker when it comes to purchases for myself. most places we go we try to find a couple cloth napkins to bring home with us. as we sit at our own table it is a way to remember other places we have sat, meals we have shared. we didn’t find any on this last trip but at the hardware store we discovered after our river-trail hike, we picked up two tin camp mugs for our coffee. they have mountains on them and will remind us of our time this trip.

i already miss my girl and wish i had run outside for one more hug – an extra – the morning she drove off. but she was in a hurry, i knew, and i know a mom-hug can get in the way. so i held back and just waved, trying to be nonchalant about the tears running down my face.

i returned back into the space we had lived in for those fewest of days and looked around at the now packed-up airbnb. my eye caught the sun-rays through the window lighting up the hypericum berries. and i whispered back to them, “thank you.”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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“christmas tree drop-off”🎶🎶 [merely-a-thought monday]

it was instant. “christmas tree drop-off” to the tune of “beauty school drop-out” started singing inside my brain. it would not stop. i still cannot look at this sign without the 6/8 song incessantly nagging me and nagging me.

it was the day after christmas – just one mere day – and we went hiking out in one of the nearby state parks. we came upon the drop-off near the parking lot. already – not even 36 hours since santa’s arrival – there was a tree, lonely and discarded. a few days later, after the snow had fallen and sleet had crunched over the trail, there were several more trees. we are pretty certain that these will be chopped up into mulch, which is a good thing – back to the earth – but it was sad to see a pile of no-longer-wanted christmas trees, their value diminished by the passing of the day.

hiking the snowy trails, my memory bank filled with sweet stories i read aloud to my girl and my boy. “why christmas trees aren’t perfect” is a story about an imperfect tree named small pine and my ridiculously emotional heart remembers this sweet tree and its generosity, its commitment to the wildlife in the forest, its community. in this classic book, also a video, small pine was chosen for its connection to sweet animals and its warm and giving spirit. each time i read that little book, my heart celebrated the spirit of that tree. in that same thready heart, i wonder about what it feels like to be one of these trees, out in a cold pile, chosen, used and then quickly and unceremoniously discarded out in the snow. do they know why, i wonder, as i gaze at the pile, animating the inanimate.

ditch sits on our table in the sunroom. it is surrounded by twinkling white lights and we sit with it at that table every day. we will not dispose of him. his purpose is not just for christmas. instead, his role continues on – to remind us of time spent in the mountains, to remind us to see the little things, to appreciate the imperfect, to remind us of caring for something that may not otherwise have made it. it reminds us that being chosen and employed in good use deserves explanation in discard.

and so, i want to go sit in the snow and talk to these trees.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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be nice, say hi! (duh.) [two artists tuesday]

“duh” went through my mind when we hiked past this sign on a high mountain trail in aspen. every time we hike – absolutely anywhere – we are nice and we say hi. that seems pretty basic. “what’s with the sign reminder?” i wondered.

most trails in high elevation are shared. hikers trek, mountain bikers bike and equestrians ride – all on the same trails. kindness, mostly, prevails. friendliness, mostly, is at the ready. in this covid-19 time, with some exception, masks are pulled up as people pass each other face-to-face; safety is, mostly, first.

but there is always that element. any where. those who do not share well. those who do not trail together. those who are not nice. those who do not say hi. those who don’t even wave. those who need reminding. those who need signs.

today is – finally, at long last, after an interminable political season – election day.

given the run-up to this day of threats of national security, of people in trucks chasing down buses from the other side, of the president threatening to sic the supreme court upon the election, of mistruths of voter fraud, of concerns about gun-toting and armed observers at the polls, of covid-19 superspreader rallies held by the leader of the free world in a country raging with pandemic, of any number of examples of malfeasance by leadership et al, it would seem that signs might actually be necessary. basic signs. signs to remind people how to be. signs posted in most kindergarten classrooms across the land, from sea to shining sea.

signs that say, “be nice, say hi!”

signs, well, freaking everywhere.

because people are exercising their right to vote. people are having a say in this country that we all share, so that people can trek and bike and ride, metaphorically speaking, all somehow together on the same highways, the same backroads, the same trails, in the same states, in the same communities, the same cities, the same schools and businesses and religious institutions, the same neighborhoods, the same workplaces, the same clubs, the same friend-groups, the same families, across this vast country. people are voting so that their voices are considered, so that they are included, so that they can share in this democracy.

on the never-ending, incessant, ceaseless, uninterrupted, tedious, wearisome campaign trail, maybe the signs would help.

“be nice, say hi!”

pretty basic.

duh.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY – you will love his last paragraph!!


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she led us up this mountain. [two artists tuesday]

she led us up this mountain. my beautiful daughter, surefooted and strong, an exceptional guide, stopped in high altitude to allow me to catch my breath, to sip water. i wondered where the lake was…each step i took. but, following her, i stopped wondering if i would make it there. the confidence she exuded was both palpable and contagious. and so it was both thrilling and challenging to be high on independence pass, starting at the trailhead just a bit down the road from the summit.

she led us up this mountain and everything else fell away. far below us was the gravel lot, the highway. far below us was the truck that would soon take us away from these mountains, this heart-place. far below us were thoughts of leaving, thoughts of anything back home, thoughts of the pandemic and the election and real life and the worries embedded in all of that.

she led us up this mountain and we gained more than elevation as we trekked, our footfalls on the trail lost in the sound of the wind. we gazed around us, first below the treeline, then above, with fir and pine our hosts, the quaking golden aspen far below, unseen. the creek punctuated our thoughts and – admittedly, my puffing breath – tufts from mountain goats decorated thick branchy and leafless bushes.

she led us up this mountain and the less air i had left, the more it filled me. i wanted to hold onto every last second. i wanted to stand high on this mountain, next to this stunning pristine lake with my beloved daughter, and just weep. my heart needed this hike. my soul needed this hike. my body needed this hike. every other hike we had taken over our joyous days in these colorado mountains had led us to this hike. i was exhausted and cold and invigorated, hot-flashing and weak-kneed. and so, so grateful.

because mostly? because she led us up this mountain.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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snow? [not-so-flawed wednesday]

snow on the lakefront copy

december 2016 – snow on the lakefront

we are waiting patiently.  after all, this is wisconsin.  snow is a part of our climate.  our average annual snowfall total is just over 36″.  we have a long way to go to achieve that.

it snowed in november but didn’t really stay around.  it dusted snow a few days ago.  and that’s really it.  for two people who love to hike in the woods as a quiet snow falls, this is not exactly our cup of tea.  we didn’t even have a white christmas.  i’m thinking of asking for my money back; this is not the winter i anticipated.

now, there are plenty of people here who are perfectly content without snow.  it’s hard to imagine why they would prefer cold grey days to sky-blue-brilliant sun reflected off of snowcover.  i lust over every photo My Girl posts, not just because of those colorado mountains in her pictures, but the snow is spectacular and necessary – regulating the surface temperature of the earth, protecting root systems, melting to help water tables and avoid drought.  this is the point where i am not mentioning all the research i just did for the last hour about snowfall and our earth and climate change.  it’s painful.

anyway….i know it isn’t convenient.  i know if you must move around in it, it can be dangerous.  i know it’s a lot of work.  but, i’m really thinking it’s about time for a good-old-fashioned blizzard.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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snow on the lakefront ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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in the headlights. [flawed cartoon wednesday]

DeerHeadlights BIGcopy copy

it was close to midnight and we were on a pretty windy and mountainous road (might i mention with no guardrails?!)  The Girl was driving and all of a sudden the deer ran out from the side, sprinting across right in front of us.  she handled it like a pro; driving these roads can be stressful and dangerous, but she is level-headed and careful, a really good driver.  and she kept us all safe.  i was grateful it didn’t just stand there staring at the glare of our headlights.

i taught at a school in florida a longgg time ago.  it was 1982 and i was in the teachers’ lounge eating a small snack lunch with one of the teachers, my friend lois.  there was a group of teachers in there, all gathered around the stove (this alone seemed pretty bizarre to me – a stove in a teachers’ lounge.  who has that kind of time??)  they were cooking something in a large cast-iron frying pan, an economy size container of crisco on the counter next to the stove.  i was new at the school and i was still trying to make friends, so i asked what they were cooking.  “possum,” i was told.  (possum?? insert grossed-out emoji face.)  here’s the part where i slipped up:  i -in all sincerity- said that i hadn’t seen possum in the meat counter at publix and asked, “where do you purchase possum?”  without blinking (no pun intended) they told me that they go out most nights “shinin'” in the woods, snaring animals to hunt with the use of headlights.  “you never know what you’re gonna get!” they added.  i never really fit in there.

for heaven’s sake (and your own), dusty.  blink!!!

read DAVID’S thoughts on this FLAWED CARTOON WEDNESDAY

FLAWED CARTOON WEDNESDAY – ON OUR SITE

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blink, dusty! blink! ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood