Traveling Silver on a Persian Carpet

Colorado Mountain Fall

I have a dear friend who is a wonderful artist.  Many of her canvases use as background, patterns from a Persian carpet: colorful and vibrant context for birds, plants, animals and dreams.

The Mountain State of Colorado, this month, is a Persian carpet of color.  We didn’t plan on coming to CO to leaf-peep; we had  plans for a pilgrimage to a favorite Bears Ears destination and Colorado happened to be between us and Valley of the Gods.

We struck gold as soon as we reached the base of the Rockies, well north of Ghost Ranch.  Went from O’Keefe’s soft, rounded and abstract hills of lavender, peach and butterscotch to Colorado’s toothy peaks, foothills and fields of marigold, rust, and garnet.

Stopping at Mancos State Park, we settled into a camp site surrounded by oaks of many colors.  I never imagined that oaks could clothe themselves in such a variety of bronze, gold and rust-red.  And yet, here they were:  three oak scrubs just outside our camper window were dressed in three different warm hues. Quaking Aspens adorned the mountain sides and alpines meadows, uniformly brilliant, sparkling in the sunny breeze.

We weren’t alone in the campground.  Slow walks around the almost-empty loop of sites provided interactions with our 4-legged community.

The trees blaze with the passion of autumnal formal dress.  Grasses blush red at their bases and burn brighter yellow toward the tops of their stems.  Even cattails are burnished.  A feast of colors.  A Persian carpet of patterns.

 

More than grand landscapes: Colorado in the details

Castle Rock Rainbow.Crawford State Park

Connection to the wildness of the land, I think, comes through the intimacy of the details:  a flower, a riffle in the river, the reflection on the lake.  The closer in I have to lean to decipher a footprint, the more real the critter that left that track becomes.  Watching my feet as I hike serves two purposes — keeps me from tripping over a root, for sure; but also brings to my attention the richness of the purple in that wildflower, the lichen of many colors coating the granite underfoot, and the remains of  one who came before. The last sunglow on a tree trunk and sunshine through virgas, rainbows and stacks of rainbows make tangible the details of light. Stillness of breath and movement allow the true owners of this landscape to reappear from their sequester to pursue their own initiatives. If I pass through this wildness gabbling like so many geese, I distract myself from my surroundings and the reason I’m here in the first place. To be at rest here is to be unseen, to not intrude where I am the interloper. Then I become part of the grand landscape.

 

 

 

Want to ensure the future of public lands? Take the kids…

Blake, 7, makes a clean cast.  Hunter, 4, gets some help from Dad with his red fishin’ pole.  Deegan, 4, a family friend, alternately watches and pokes around among the rocks.  Clint, the dad, becomes animated when I mention that I’m writing stories about protecting public lands; he has stories of his own to share.  He lives nearby and takes regular opportunities to hunt and fish on Colorado’s public lands, both federal and state-owned; he’s a fierce proponent of public access.  We became so engaged in our like-minded dialogue, we didn’t notice right away that Deegan–the little guy without a fishing rod — had wandered off.  A quick end to the conversation while Clint went in search of the youngster, but not before agreeing with my sentiment that one important way to ensure the future of public lands is to introduce our kids to the magic of water, forest, hiking trails, and in this case, fishin’.

In this campground on this weekend, there was a plethora of kids enjoying themselves. Bikes, skateboards, walks along the shore during the daylight hours and campfires and s’mores at dark.  Kids having fun while memories sink into their subconscious, to resurrect during gloomy days and sad moments.  Their parents may never talk with them about the value of this land and these opportunities.  But it’s not necessary.  Memories will be enough, reawakened at some point in the future when it’s important to remember and speak out.

Big kids enjoy a weekend on the water too.  I wonder what they would say if I posed the same question to each that I posed to Clint.  I can only hope that they would feel as strongly that this state park and the nearby National Forest deserve their voice.

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