LIfe at High Altitude in Colorado

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

-Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunlight and Shadow

I forced myself to go on my walk today.
Besides the healing leg, I now also have a cold.
However, the sun was shining and the sky was a pure wash of blue.
I figured I'd feel better if I got some "fresh airs"
(as my grandson Jack used to say when he was younger).

snow bank in front of my house

There was a brisk wind, but I hadn't gone far before I had to tie off my jacket.
I walked with bare hands, my face lifted to the sun.
This week is mimicking spring, though we'll still have plenty of winter.

About half way down the snow-packed dirt road,
a cleaning person who had been parked at a rental house near mine
came by me and swerved off the road.
I heard the thump as the car hit the snow bank on the passenger side.
Luckily, it didn't go in far enough to get stuck.
The driver, a young man, managed to steer out and continue on the road.
I thought to myself, "Texting."

necklace of fox tracks

About a quarter mile later, I rounded a bend on a downhill.
A pickup was pulled to the left side of the road.
Beyond it, the car that had just gone into the snow bank
now hung suspended on another bank on the driver's side.
It was only a foot from toppling down a steep embankment.

The pickup driver was telling the young man how to attach a tow rope.
I waited a couple minutes trying to decide if I should pass or turn to go home. 
I finally decided it was safe to pass, so I continued on my walk.

sunny forest

Of course, I now wondered if the young man driving the car was drunk.
Or, was he stoned and unable to steer the car?
He looked like a typical kid here for winter employment:
flannel shirt, red sneakers, knit cap, skinny jeans - young. 

On my return trip, the kid was just easing his car back onto the road.
He and the good samaritan in the pickup exchanged a few quiet words.
I heard "thank you" and "stay safe."

As the youth drove away I called out to the man returning to the pickup.
"Is that kid drunk? I asked. "Is he fit to drive?"
I explained that I'd  seen him drive into another snowbank.

sun and shadow

The young man who helped shook his head. 
"He's not drunk. But, he has a sad story.
Two weeks ago his wife died.
He's driving with a broken heart
and a lot of grief on his mind.
It doesn't help that his tires are bald."

My hand flew to my own heart.
"Oh, no!"

Both these men looked very young to me.
Surely too young to know death and heartache.
But, of course, we often don't know the burdens others must carry.

Just an ordinary day, midweek,
on a snowy back road in Colorado,
under extraordinary circumstances for some,
I witnessed heartbreak and sorrow,
kindness and understanding.


People pass by us like shadows,
sometimes leaving bits and pieces of themselves
teaching us something we need to learn
about life.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Time for Healing


Thank you for all your good thoughts and healing wishes.

I've been housebound since January 24
when I injured my calf muscle while skiing.


My days are spent looking out into the wintry forest.


On weekends, my family skis through the trees toward the lifts.


Some days there are white-outs with wind howling and blowing snow.


When Sam (3) visits, he helps Pop Pop with the shoveling.


Today for the first time,
I walked slowly on a road near my home.
Clouds are forming.
More snow is due tonight.
The icy air felt wonderful on my face.


My calf is still healing.
I won't be back skiing for a bit.
However, I'm gently stretching the muscle and walking short distances.


The foxes are keeping me company.


I'm still enjoying winter!

PS The foxes come onto the deck and look in the back door window. 
I stand inside the door, taking the photos through the glass.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ouch!

I'm feeling a little grumpy today.
Actually - a lot grumpy.


On a blue sky, sunny day, I'm housebound.
I'm spending most of my time in the big chair by the window.
I'm using elevation, ice, and an ace bandage on my left leg.

Yesterday morning while skiing, I felt a pop in my left calf.
Years ago, I felt that same pop in the right calf.
I knew it was a muscle tear.

I managed to ski to the base with our friend.
Bob brought me home in the car and helped me inside.


I used Arnica immediately.
Bob found the old cane I'd saved from the previous injury.
I hobbled around on it when I had to get up.
The cane is black - very utilitarian and ugly.
I'd like one with a silver bunny on top.
Actually, I don't want to use one at all.


Today, there's an ache deep in the calf muscle but no sharp pain.
I'm shuffling around occasionally (cane-less) but mostly sitting, leg elevated.
Bob is waiting on me hand and foot.
I'm letting him.


I'll have to stay an invalid until I'm sure the muscle is healed.
I don't want to make matters worse by hurting myself further.
I'm reminded once again how quickly life changes.
Health and well-being can't be taken for granted.
I usually heal quickly, but age isn't in my favor anymore.

I'm ashamed to be such a whiner.
"Change your attitude!" I say to myself.
I know it could be far, far worse.


I'd like to be outside looking in.


Instead I'm inside, looking out...

I have lots of books on the Kindle.
There's a fire in the fireplace.
I have veggie beef soup made.
It's not all doom and gloom -
except I'm grouchy.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter in Breckenridge - the Skiing is Great!



Alpine skiing is a little like riding a bike.
You develop muscle memory.
Balancing on 2 "sticks" becomes second-nature.


I dress in several fitted layers to retain body heat.
My boots have heaters to keep my feet warm.
I wear chemical heat packs in my down mittens.
In frigid temperatures, goggles and a balaclava protect my face.
I'm old - younger people don't go to these extremes for comfort!


A metallic glow from the rising sun lights the forest.
We click into our skis behind our house.


Fox tracks lead us through new snow toward the ski trail.


If we time it right, the lifts are just starting to run.
We don't want to stand around too long on a cold morning!

Looking toward the town of Breckenridge and the Continental Divide from Peak 10

It's exhilarating and addicting to glide through powdery snow
using your body's balance and rhythm to guide the skis.


We ski off Peak 10 through the forest to come back to our house.


Bob and I have been skiing for 44 years.
We learned to ski at age 27 in New Hampshire.
When our children were young,
we had a house near a ski slope in Vermont.

We've lived in Breckenridge since 1989.
Part of what drew us to CO was the great skiing.

At age 71, in all kinds of weather,
the slopes still beckon us.

I know not everyone is fond of winter.
What outdoor activity do you most enjoy?

(All photos taken with iPhone 6s)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Who Are You?

Some people feel renewed and rejuvenated
by bright lights, swirling crowds, and constant motion.
That type of hyper-exciting environment quickly tires me.


However, I'm drawn to people
who are talkative and outgoing.
Some of my closest friends are extroverts.
When I'm with them, they bring me out of my shell.
I become a livelier and maybe a more interesting person.
I still listen, but I also become more chatty.


But, at the core, I'm more of a listener than a talker.
Even as a child, I was aware of others' body language.
I learn a lot from people's inflections and tone of voice.
I often read between the lines.
Sometimes, I realize that what a person is saying/writing
isn't the true or the whole story.


I'm a person who thrives on quiet.
Nobody would characterize me as the life of the party.
I need alone-time to restore calm.
In order to truly understand myself and others,
I seek a silent space.
Sometimes, that space is within myself.
Other times, Nature offers respite and solace.


If I were to list one trait that defines me,
I'd say that I'm a good listener.

Each of us develops in different ways.
That's what makes people and life so interesting.


Tell me a life skill that you think defines you.
I like getting to know you better.
(I'm listening...)

PS The photos have nothing to do with the words.
But, they might have everything to do
with who I am.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Breckenridge Inside and Out


I watch the sun rise
to watercolor the sky over the western peaks.


The forest behind the house casts lengthy shadows
as the sun moves higher in the sky.


It's very cold in the mountains of Colorado.
On days that I don't downhill or cross country ski,
I walk 4-5 miles on a nearby plowed dirt road for exercise.
I wear Yaktrax on my trail shoes so I don't slip.


On weekends, Grandchildren visit.
They range in age from 12 to 3.


We all love to play in the snow.


Sam and Pop Pop sometimes have work to do.
They need to plow the driveway with the John Deere.


Even though we're buried in snow,
I'm looking forward to flowers blooming
in the next few weeks.


Both the amaryllis and the narcissus
have several buds.

Snow and cold outside,
warmth and blooms inside -
sounds just about perfect to me!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

With a Grateful Heart

In the mountains of Colorado,
frigid cold heralds a new year.
If it's above 0 degrees F,
I bundle into layers
for outdoor exercise.


I try to go out just as the sun is waking.


In a wooded  gully,
I notice a necklace of fox tracks
sparkling like a gift
in the dim morning light.


Six years ago on January 7,
I struggled to free myself
after falling in deep snow
while downhill skiing.

I unknowingly tore the inside of
my LAD artery near the heart.
At 4 AM on January 8,
a blood clot from that injury
traveled to my heart causing damage.


To be alive today after a heart attack
and to feel strong and healthy
seems like a miracle to me.

Perhaps I'm more mindful now
of the myriad gifts, large and small
that give meaning to my life:

love of family
 support of friends
encouraging smiles
unexpected kindness
bolstering hugs
compassion
and 
the infinite, ongoing cycles
of Nature's renewal.


I appreciate the magic and mystery
surrounding all of our lives.

Each year as I near the date of my heart injury,
I reflect on all that I could have lost
and all that I have gained.

Many of you have seen me through the past 6 years.
Thank you for your encouragement and empathy.


For anyone interested in my heart attack symptoms and rehabilitation,
please click on "heart attack" in the content labels under this post.

Ben (12) snowshoeing with Grammy

I'm alive today,
and for that
I'm grateful.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Meditation on Darkness and Light - Hopes for a New Year

I think of darkness and light
as the new year approaches.


I believe we cannot fully appreciate 
the illumination of one
without the backdrop of the other. 


I'm drawn to light
but 
many valuable lessons in my life
have emerged from darkness.


Approaching a new year,
I hope that I'm guided by light
as I navigate through darkness.


Each of us has different needs and wishes.

For myself, I continue to work on becoming less judgemental,
more attuned to what is true and good in others.
That has been my goal for many years
and still needs daily commitment.

May the new year 
supply your most worthy desires for

love
hope
health
patience
forbearance
compassion
and 
understanding.



Happy 2016
from
Barb