Today was road trip day: I drove to Colorado Springs to do city errands, including buying cartridges for my computer printer necessary to finishing my memoir. I've been putting this trip off for weeks; I didn't want to spend a day and the energy required to make the four-hour, 230-mile round-trip drive.
That drive is one of the trade-offs of living in this spectacularly scenic part of rural Colorado, hours away from cities, malls, interstate highways, and crowds. Still, I'll take being able to see Jupiter rise, bright as a headlight, over a horizon unpolluted by sky glow and living a short walk from the trail head and the local-food grocery store, over being nearer to Office Max, Whole Foods and Home Depot.
The going-to-the-city decision was made for me Friday afternoon when my printer rejected the brand-new, genuine HP cartridge I installed. "Defective cartridge," said the read-out, and the machine refused to print. I had no other cartridge, and I need to print the manuscript pages as I finish them.
I could have ordered new cartridges from that huge internet retailer I won't name, but since the last two cartridges the printer rejected as defective came from that very retailer (two out of six in a package, a one-third failure rate), that option wasn't appealing.
So I looked at my "city list" and picked today for the trip, based on the weather (which has been so balmy and dry that our snow pack, our water savings-bank for summer, is looking poor indeed) and on the lack of rush-hour. I left at quarter past ten this morning and was home at quarter past five tonight.
Not bad, except that the four-hour drive, the city traffic and the shopping sucked me dry. I'm exhausted.
I'm also reminded of how fortunate I am to live in a quiet valley just east of the highest portion of the Rocky Mountains. A place where my "commute" to the nearest city takes me 60 miles down a wild and winding river canyon, and then another 55 miles across the very western edge of the ocean-like expanse of the Great Plains.
It's a spectacular drive, even when the weather and roads aren't as favorable as they were today.
So as exhausted and grumpy as I am, I'm grateful too. The trip to the city reminded me. Without the good fortune of knowing and loving Richard, I would never have come to know this small town where he lived as a child, a place we finally figured out how to return to seventeen years ago.
And even though brain cancer truncated our time together, I can still hear the sound of his laughter and feel his delight in these rocks and trees, hills and peaks, and the community of humans and wild species who weave the living tapestry of this particular landscape.
The place we shared longest in all our years together. And the only one we called home. The place I still do.