Birthdays

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
Eye-popping dawn colors this morning. Eye-popping dawn colors this morning.

It's my birthday!

I'm 57 today, an age I never imaged achieving. In my early 20s, I was so sick that docs figured I only had a few years to live. The condition that could have ended my life is still part of me, I've just learned how to live with it.

As I wrote in my memoir, Walking Nature Home, A Life's Journey, that illness has been my greatest teacher. It's taught me to be myself, listen carefully to what my body has to say, respect my limits, find joy in every day, and to open my heart to whatever life brings.

All of which turned out to be useful lessons for our journey with Richard's brain cancer.

I woke this morning feeling the irony that I'm here and Richard, rudely healthy his whole life until brain cancer, is not. I shed a few tears, sent love to his spirit as I do every day, and padded outside to search the still-dark sky for Orion, my favorite constellation, high in the eastern sky now.

"It's your birthday," I said to myself firmly. "Celebrate!"

The stucco crew applies color to Treehouse. The stucco crew applies color to Treehouse.

Here are some of the gifts the day brought:

A spectacular dawn sky.

A rainbow shortly thereafter. (It faded before I thought to shoot a photo.)

The color coat of stucco on Creek House and Treehouse, which the crew applied in between showers. (The color is called Denim; the siding will be painted pale sage green. I like color.)

A gift certificate to High Country Gardens from my brother Bill and sister-in-law Lucy. An inspired choice: I have a lot of landscape restoration work ahead at my new place and High Country Gardens carries excellent native and adapted plants.

Richard's big studio, almost empty. Richard's big studio, almost empty.

A beautiful bouquet of Alstroemeria from friends Maggie and Tony, who stayed long enough to admire the stucco and my new workshop-in-progress.

A shop building emptied of all of Richard's big woodworking and stone-carving machines and tools. The last big stuff left this morning: the sawdust-collection system went to Charlie, a cabinetmaker in Leadville; the panel press went to Roger, a woodworker in Montrose whose wife Mary is a friend through the fiber world.

That empty studio is definitely bittersweet. The gift is knowing his tools and machines are with people who will appreciate them.

Other gifts:

Goldfinches calling as rain moved in again this afternoon (after the color coat dried).

One late-migrating broad-tailed hummingbird sucking nectar from the Agastache in the courtyard.

A donation in my name to the St. Vrain Flood Relief Fund (thanks to Kerry and Dave of Ploughboy Local Market).

Scavezze Studio earrings, gold curves so light they float, with Tahitian black pearls Scavezze Studio earrings, gold curves so light they float, with Tahitian black pearls

A copy of my dear friend Terry Tempest Williams' When Women Were Birds. (Thank you, Connie!)

A walk downtown, wherein I decided to buy myself a gift that Richard would have. I stopped at Gallery 150, which carried his sculptures and basins, and indulged myself in a pair of Jerry Scavezze earrings I've been ogling.

They go perfectly with the gorgeous necklace that Toni Tischer, Jerry's partner in art, made for my birthday two years ago, during Richard's last autumn.

I also walked around the corner to Salida Mountain Sports to be fitted for an Osprey backpack. In my work as a plant biologist, I spent weeks at a time in the backcountry. Lately, I've felt the pull of the wild again. Last, I stopped in at Yolo Clothing, and bought a soft, fall-colored scarf. (Thanks for the birthday discount, Loni!)

Necklace by Toni Tischer and Jerry Scavezze, opals from Susan Bethany; pin by Harold O'Connor Necklace by Toni Tischer and Jerry Scavezze, opals from Susan Bethany; pin by Harold O'Connor--Salida artists all

I walked home feeling very celebratory, very fortunate--and missing my love and his warm hand to hold, the smile that lit his face.

My day also brought a wonderful stream of sweet, funny and loving messages from friends, family and well-wishers all around.

Thank you for being part of my community. I am blessed to have your company on this journey!