As my life carries on, all moments in time swirl around me like raspberry flourishes on a decorative entrée. With each passing day, there is something new and exciting to reflect upon. I have shared with you over the course of twelve plus years my own meandering thoughts and it is with great sincerity and humility, I say I hope you have enjoyed my writings. The year is rapidly drawing to a close and what a year it has been. With this post, I have written more than any other year.
I have only ever wanted to connect with people and as I have mentioned before I have definitely accomplished that. Whether it be Ira Cooper finding my posts about his uncle’s costume company or new friends Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine taking time out to enjoy my musings, it is all such a blessing. I have great friends here and I know some of you are reading each and every post and from my heart, I thank you. I have often thought of retiring this blog but it is because of YOU, my small, dedicated audience that I will keep it running. For this, I humbly and sincerely thank you!
I shall be taking a break from my ‘American in London’ series as I focus on my traditional Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas posts. The holiday season has begun! I won’t have as many Halloween/autumn stories as last year and for that I apologize. I will post one today and another next Sunday. I shall endeavor to make up for this with the Thanksgiving and Christmas posts. As an aside, this is the time of year where I love to highlight the gifts of others so if you are reading this post, and you wish to contribute a guest post, please let me know! I would love to share with the world the words of my fellow readers.
Note, as I type this, I am listening to the ‘Remember, I am’ – Live Studio Album by Kristin Rule. If you wish to listen to this gorgeous music as you read, I strongly encourage you to do so. Please click here and click on play to enjoy the full experience of this post.
Now, without further ado…. ‘Autumn Reflections in Parallel’
Small Town Comforts
I am pleased to say this now that I find myself in my late 40’s I feel so blessed that I grew up in a small town. This realization of how lucky I truly was managed to evade me in my younger years. Today, at a wiser age I know I am who I am because of where I grew up. Maybe in a parallel universe, there is another version of me that navigates the busy streets of New York. That alternative me would be always on the go, hurrying around and not taking time for the quitter side of life. Well, with all due respect alternate self, I am extremely content with my quiet, peaceful existence and I take great pleasure in enjoying the simpler, softer side of life.
I say this as a 47-year-old but as an 11-year-old growing up in a small town where I didn’t quite fit in, it was a bit of a lonely existence. I often felt that there was something more exciting waiting for me out “there” wherever there was. I suffered greatly from wanderlust even back then. I always wanted to go out beyond the realms of my existence and discover something new. How could I do that in a town so small that at one point all school grades could fit into one series of buildings? Junior high students shared a building with the high school students and that building was connected to a newer building which was home to the elementary school students. This definitely made for an interesting educational experience, carrying with it unique benefits.
Leaves Are Falling All Around
I slipped away quietly out of class. It was the last class of the day and I can’t remember now whether it was English or Math, but I felt like a bit of a walkabout, so I made some excuse related to the bathroom and was on my way. The closest bathroom was just down the hall from class, but I walked right past it and kept going to the double set of doors that led to the elementary school. I sometimes liked using these bathrooms because they were almost always empty.
There was a particular bathroom that I liked. It was near the second-grade classrooms. I think perhaps this was because 2nd grade was a wonderful year for me as far as school goes. I spent my elementary school years in a bigger town and my school –Harrison Elementary of Green River – was amazing. I digress. Before going to the bathroom, I took a moment to admire the walls of orange construction paper pumpkins with varying black construction paper facial expressions. I remembered making these when I was seven. Life was so much simpler then. Even in sixth grade I realized that as you grew older, the more complicated and difficult life became. I can still see this wall of art in my mind. Some of the pumpkins were exceptional!
Shall We Dance?
After exiting the bathroom and grinning at the miniature urinals I left behind, I took one last look at the art and started the arduous journey back to class. I took my time and looked out all the large paned windows that flanked the entire hallway leading to the double doors which led me back to the grim, bleak hallway that led back to class – English or Math, I can’t remember. I stopped midway and was mesmerized by the brown and yellow autumn leaves blowing all around outside. It was a windy, chilly day with clouds blowing in and out intermittently blocking the sun. When the sun did shine through, it created an ethereal glow illuminating the lonely, baring trees and yellowing grass decorating the front of the school. I had to be a part of it.
Have you ever seen the movie ‘American Beauty’? If so, you may recall a scene where the neighbor Ricky Fitts played by Wes Bentley shares with Jane what he considers his most beautiful video ever. It is a video of a plastic bag blowing in the wind for over fifteen minutes. When I saw this movie for the first time, I immediately recollected this day I am describing to you now. Mid-autumn in Wyoming often brings snow and there are days when you know without seeing or hearing a weather report that it will snow. It is that anticipation of what will come which is always so magical to me.
Entire Life Behind Things
With the clouds playing peak-a-boo with the hazy, distant sun, the empty front of the school transformed again and again. For brief moments, it would be cozy and warm as the sun’s rays bounced off my skin. Then, like being thrust into a freezing lake, that warm skin would be assaulted by the wintry needles of a wind promising to bring snow. I didn’t mind. It was quiet, peaceful and I was embracing my solitude. I knew I had to get back to class but for that moment, I didn’t care. Just like that plastic bag in ‘American Beauty’, the leaves were blowing around and upward in a dance. Just as Ricky explains, these leaves were begging me to play with them. Also like Ricky, I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid. Ever.
I remember I gathered up a leaf or two and studied them. Starved of chlorophyll, the once green leaf had transformed. The metamorphosis created a beauty so stark and so hypnotic, I could have stared at the leaves for hours. A gust of wind woke me from my reverie. If I didn’t get back to class, the class and the school day would soon be over. I held onto my leaves, headed toward the doors and before entering I looked back. The sun was poking through the clouds for what would be the last time that day. Goodbye I said. Until next time.
The Open Road Beckons
Autumn for me represents a mysticism that so few words can accurately describe. Being one of the equinoctial seasons, it is often described by many as their most favorite season. The vernal equinox is glorious with the renewal of life but the peace that accompanies autumn is second only to winter. With each breath of the north wind heralding colder temperatures, comes a reminder that it is time for quiet and rest and the natural world bows gracefully and complies.
Driving for hours and hours represents renewal for my vagabond soul. It is just me, the road, the music, the camera and the scenery. When autumn’s fingers touch every living thing, the result is intoxicating. Often, I have scrambled to take photos of every single leaf, rushing here and there and missing the essence of what was around me. My latest trip was different. Slowly, I allowed myself to be enveloped and it was only at that point that I would take a photograph – well, most of the time.
It is my intention to create a photo related blog at my photo site so I won’t go into all the details of this trip but for now, I will say that being present in all the areas I visited was nourishment for my entire being.
So Much Beauty in the World
There is an old song by C.W. McCall (One of my all-time favorite recording artists) called ‘Wolf Creek Pass’. It is an entertaining song and describes the perils of driving through this magnificent part of Colorado. Today, the pass is not nearly as hairy as it is described in the song and should you ever find yourself in Colorado, do yourself a favor, head to a little town called South Fork, stay the night, get up REAL early, just before dawn and head west toward Pagosa Springs. It is an amazing drive.
Monday, October 9th 2017 6:00 a.m.
I was very apprehensive to head over the pass when I woke Monday morning. Jack Frost and his minions brought a touch of winter to most of the state overnight and snow was in the forecast. I have a very deep-rooted, psychologically debilitating fear of driving in the snow and when forced to travel in snowy conditions, I have to leave my head temporarily so not to have a panic attack. This comes from three bad accidents I had when I was younger which I will discuss another day. I checked my phone weather application along with checking three different weather sites for the current conditions at Wolf Creek Ski area which is near the highest point of the pass. Snow was not meant to arrive for hours yet. My ultimate destination was Taos and I could have gone the quicker way, but I thought no, I am setting my fears aside and took the long way as originally planned.
As the climb started, the skies were teasing me by blowing flakes around. The roads were dry, and the temperature was hovering just at or slightly below freezing. All was going to be fine and immediately I was delighted with my decision. There were so many places to take photos. Have a look at this image I captured not that far away from South Fork.
I continued on.
The Ravens and the Leaves
All around me were the familiar faces of trees laden with gold, red, auburn and yellow treasures clinging to their branches for as long as they possibly could. Ahead was an official scenic overlook pullout. I had to partake. When I arrived, I was met by Chip, Dale and their other chipmunk brothers, sisters and cousins who were accustomed to receiving treats by those pulling into the overlook. I could not resist and fed the little critters. After leaving them alone to scurry about and cache their goodies, I stood up and that’s when it hit me.
The sky, the leaves and the wind. The clouds were floating around the sun obscuring it for a moment and then allowing it to bask the earth below with its last remaining warmth before the inevitable storm arrived. When the sun did appear, it created that same ethereal glow I remember so well from my younger days. Everything around me stopped allowing me to absorb the moment. I have been told the raven is my spirit animal. Feeling overwhelmed by the beauty surrounding me, something happened. Two ravens had landed opposite one another perched on the rocky outcrop. They called out magnificently as ravens do bidding me welcome, enjoyment and relaxation and flew off.
- Wanderlust: An American in London Chapter II
- Thoughts of Halloween 2017 — Autumn Peace