A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summertime and the Living is Busy!

A lot has been going on since I last posted! Sarah, Justin, and Bixby made a huge change in their lives - lately it's been go big, or go home with us all! They stayed with me a couple of weeks while in the process of moving to Colorado from Austin. We all hated to let go of the Kanga tiny house; that was my backup plan if I was ever unable to stay alone in the country. But they found a house with a finished basement, so I still have a safe house! They decided they wanted a new adventure too so they left the house they loved and the city they'd called home for many years and off they went! They are a few hours from me but that's so much better than being two days away!

After they left here I made the hike to Treasure Falls one morning. I'd been wanting to and it didn't disappoint. I went early in the morning and there were only a handful of people there then. I had time at the top of the trail alone, just me and the waterfall! Recently I made another hike on the Piedra River Trail with a group led by an herbal shop owner in town. We learned about the medicinal plants found in this area.

I continue to try and make connections, friends here. I don't go every week but when I can I am meeting some friends at one of the breweries for live country music and drinks. I'm not yet at ease there. There are a lot of couples and I feel the loss of Rickie deeply then. But it's getting a bit easier. I keep going, not wanting to lose the new friendships I'm trying to make, to hold onto the fragile new beginnings of a life on my own.

Last week I started volunteering as a dog walker at the local animal shelter. My neighbor asked me to come with her. There's a large group of folks that go one day a week. The shelter is in a valley surrounded by the mountains and there is a two mile loop for walking. So both the dogs and I get a nice walk in. Afterwards most of the walkers go to lunch together. Slowly, in tiny bits and pieces, I'm trying to fill the empty spaces my life now has.

This week has been non-stop activity and it's all been fun! My sister Kathy, niece Alison, and grandnephews plus one of their friends, have all come to visit. We made sure to do everything we could in the three days they were here!

We started off with a hike along the Piedra River Trail. It was soon apparent that these young men were made for Colorado! Sometimes you worry that nature won't impress a generation that has grown up with technology, manmade parks with thrill rides, and even manmade rivers. But these are Cajun boys, used to bayous and the Gulf Coast and all the outdoor things associated with that area. They were suitably impressed. And if Nature was aware they were there, she was suitably impressed with them!

We found a big bear footprint at the water's edge! Our area has had many bear encounters this year. The drought has sent them on the search for food. Several people in my neighborhood have had them in their houses. Not many people in Colorado have air conditioning so there are a lot of open windows at night. That's not even a challenge to a black bear. My friend Angie was at her boyfriend's house last week when one came in the garage, pushed the door to the utility room open, and helped himself to the freezer contents. While she was upstairs! One was in my next door neighbor's garage but I didn't get to see him. I'm hoping to see one, just not in my house! Unfortunately, Colorado has had to euthanize a lot of bears this year. When they associate people with food, it can become dangerous.

We managed to squeeze in the short hike to Treasure Falls also that first day. It was packed with people at that time. The boys took the primitive trail back from the top and somehow managed not to fall off the mountain, although it was touch and go. Haha!

That afternoon we grabbed our tubes and headed down the San Juan! I had been the week before with some friends and I knew the boys would like it. It's a bit more exciting than our Llano River in Junction. You don't do much lazy floating! They've got some manmade whitewater in town and between that and avoiding the rocks along the river bottom, it's nonstop action.

Day two we headed to the national forest to horseback ride with our cowboy outfitter Larry. He had taken me and my son John and his family riding in June and we loved it! We knew all the horses by name and how they acted on the trail. We were looking forward to this ride. But, in the way things happen, Kathy and I didn't get to go, but we did get a story. It was a sad one. A bear had gotten into the corral that week and clawed up some of the horses. Larry said one probably wasn't going to recover to where he could use him for riding again, although they all survived. He showed me the claw marks on Dusty, his horse. He was short some horses that were injured so Kathy and I headed to Durango to shop while the rest went off down the trail.

We returned after lunch and while the boys went tubing again Kathy, Alison, and I went to the hot springs! I'd been trying to make it over there since I got here and never had. It was wonderful! As a senior and a local I can go for only $8, which is a big savings. Everything you hear about how hot springs ease sore muscles is true. This place has about 20 pools with different temps. We relaxed in the 104 degree one. Have to work up to the 113 one! Might save that one for winter, when the snow's on the ground and the stars are above.

Our last day was spent mostly on the San Juan river. The whitewater was gone with the snow melt so we booked a trip further down the river. This would have probably been too tame for the boys and Alison but it included some inflatable kayaks the outfitter called "duckies"! They had fun with those and we learned a lot of history from our river guide, the awesome Ben! He had been our guide in June and we were so glad to have him again. An eagle flew overhead, catching a current and circling around. "I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly...." Ali took a turn at the oars when one of the duckies came loose and got stuck on a rock. She climbed out and held us on the shore while Ben retrieved it then she got a feel for river rafting with Ben there to give guidance! We stopped for a while at a huge rock with a deep swimming hole in front and the boys flipped off that for a while. Not to be outdone by her grandsons, Kathy climbed up there and jumped off too!

Throughout the week we had some great food, local beers, Moscow Mules, and live music. It was a wonderful week. Once again the move had done what I hoped. Given me a chance to find some joy in living this life that is so precious, to give the family that loved Rickie so much a place for new adventures, things we would never have known had I kept the ranch. I felt Rickie's hand in everything we did.

It's raining outside now; we've had some showers these last couple of weeks. They call it the monsoon season here, though those of us from Houston and South Louisiana know what real monsoons are. I hope it ripens the gooseberries, wild raspberries, and other food the bears eat and sends them into the woods where they are safe. It's summer now but before long the snow will pull a blanket over both the bears and the land. This beautiful place has given me and my family both adventure and peace. For that I'm grateful. And I know, in spite of all that has happened these last years, I'm a lucky person to live this life of blessings.