I had to fight a battle with my ex-husband early this year, one that he announced on Christmas Eve 2013 and that temporarily drained my spirit and left me unable to write from my truest space. During that time I would write and then just as quickly I would delete my words, filled with disdain for my inability to truthfully express what I was feeling at the time. This is an essay I thought I had destroyed but thankfully had not and I say thankfully because these random ordinary moments were the ones that kept me tethered to my good beautiful life in the midst of anger and anxiety.
Moments from Winter 2014
Tonight driving to Boulder, I spied Long’s Peak shining like a crazy diamond. The Indian Peaks were to her left, but she stole the show, rising higher than her companions, proud and tall, her crystals glimmering sharply. The snow capped peak gleamed and I wished I wasn’t driving and wished I had my camera. Nothing else existed for that one second, that moment when my exhale caught and I was enthralled with the ordinary beauty of a mountain in winter.
Earlier this week, when I woke just as the sun was rising and looked out the bedroom window I saw red clouds surrounded by an otherworldly blue sky and it seemed the colors of that sky were in reverse order, and suddenly the morning was anything but ordinary. I opened the front window curtains and I saw our neighbor standing on her front porch in a white bathrobe, the flash of her camera startling me and I thought then, oh I have to tell Rob to come look, but I was too late, the light of the sunrise had already changed. I thought, light, like life, moves at a frightening speed.
This past weekend we spent in California. We were there to attend Rob’s cousin’s wedding and for two land-locked sea lovers our excitement over seeing family was enhanced by our proximity to the ocean.
It poured while we were there, but still we saw the ocean, wild and stormy with surf that tugged at the pilings of the pier we walked on. The weather didn’t keep us from a walk along the beach, though we fought our way through gusts of wind to the end of the pier and I wished I had a scarf and an extra layer, because the air was moist and the wind worked it’s way through every opening in my jacket and my jeans became damp and my neck is always cold these days. But we rarely get to experience the beach and so we took our time and I looked through an opening at the pilings below us working hard to hold the wharf up, dizzy with the movement of the sea and mesmerized by it’s powerful churning.
We explored main street the following day and the sky exploded once again as we dodged from store entry to entry trying and failing to remain dry, so we explored the farmer’s market with impossible and lush brilliant strawberries and Rob patiently waited while I bought eyeliner and we found a store called The Refill Shoppe and then we explored the Mission Museum with his sister until we decided it was time to walk back to the hotel as we were very wet. The streets roared with a river of torrential and powerful force of liquid and soon the wet we were was replaced with a soaking straight to our bones and we stopped hurrying on the way back because we were about as wet as one could be.
In early Fall, I had set out on a walk in the hour just before dusk when the air becomes instantly crisp and cool as light begins to fade. I choose to walk in my old haunting grounds, the trails of Chautauqua and it’s my favorite time of year, that end of summer seductive time when staying inside is just not an option, especially since we know winter and snow and ice will be here soon, the contrast between autumn and the coming winter melancholy as they melt into one another. I chose a walk uphill alongside the devastated creek that overran in last month’s flood on a path that is often closed this time of year. I think “The bears must be quiet this fall,” and then I stop in my tracks when I see them.
I see not one, not two, but three bears on the hillside just shy of the trail across the way. There is a man and woman standing just above me and I stand with them. We are not afraid.
We watch them nibble on berries and work their way through the brush and marvel at how hikers and runners on the path just above have no idea how close they are. The bears grunt and bark and the smaller two play from time to time, but Mom is all business. It is an ordinary moment in the life of a bear.
It was anything but ordinary for me.