On the road and on the table

It’s summer and thus house-guest season. My Dad’s the latest–he’s been here since Thursday, mostly to take care of his legal affairs. Still, Richard took Dad out birding on Friday morning, and yesterday we celebrated the “July boys” birthdays–Richard turned 61 yesterday, and Dad’s 83rd birthday is later this month, so I organized a picnic lunch and drove us out to Hecla Junction, the only road access to rugged Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River upstream of town.


The river’s still boisterous with snowmelt in the upper valley, so Hecla was crammed with rafters and kayakers launching to run Browns Canyon, but we managed to get away from the crowds and find a quiet spot in the shade to watch the river thunder by, carrying its load of boats. (That’s the birthday boys in the photo above, with the Sawatch Range of the Rockies forming the skyline behind them.)

As we ate our picnic lunch, we reveling in the feel of water carried on the upstream wind and the twittering voices of swallows flying loop-de-loops over the rapids. On the walk back to the car, I found a few wildflowers (the river may be high, but the landscape around it is brown and dry from months of extreme drought), including the sand abonia (Abronia fragrans), in the photo below, a particular favorite. This sprawler grows only in deep sandy soils in the desert Southwest (we’re at the uphill, northern margin of the desert). Its small white flowers open in the evening and are sweetly fragrant, inviting dusk-flying moths to sip on high-calorie nectar and in the doing, pollinate the flowers.


After saying goodbye to Dad at the bus this morning, I started preparing for our departure this afternoon. (Richard’s energy and his brain are not at their best right now, but he’s been helping as he can.) In a few minutes, we’re headed to The Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch on the Yampah River in northwestern Colorado, where in the wet winter they had, the moisquitoes are reputed to be as big as alligators and twice as fierce. But at least the landscape will be green…

We’ll make some more progress on the interpretive garden replacing the back lawn of the historic ranch house there. This time we’ll be working with a crew of high-school-age LEAF interns from inner-city New York. They’re laying out paths, planting some of the first plants, and helping build the new deck that overlooks the garden area. We’ll teach them about pollinators and their importance to the food we eat, as well as to the community of the land, whether city or wild.

From Carpenter Ranch, we’ll head directly to Denver for Richard’s next round of testing and his next chemo infusion. So I’ve spent the last couple of hours preparing meals to take with us, including the homemade anti-cancer hot cereal I make for Richard every morning. (I use organic grains and dried fruits, as local as possible; it’s delicious and surprisingly healthy.) I promised the recipe in an earlier post:

Yummy And Healthy Hot Cereal

2 T steel-cut oats
1 T washed quinoa (I just put it in a strainer and run warm water over it until it’s clean)
3/4 T oat bran
3/4 T flax meal
1 T dried blueberries
2 tsp dried cranberries (not the really sweet kind)
1 T dried sour cherries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 – 3/8 cup water

Combine the grains, dried fruits, and spices in a microwave-proof bowl. Add hot water and soak for half an hour. Cook on high for five minutes, stir, and then cook for two more minutes. Good by itself, or with a dash of maple syrup for sweetness and milk, or yogurt and fresh fruit.  (1 serving)

Richard loves his topped with our homemade yogurt and fresh fruit; right now, that’s strawberries from the garden. Ummm!

We won’t be home until Friday, and between now and then, I’ll mostly be offline. Internet access is sporadic at Carpenter, and anyway, I’ll be outside working with kids and garden plans. (And evading mosquitoes.) With any luck, Richard will feel like joining use. If not, at least he’ll have a lovely place to nap and continue his gradual brain-healing in the bunkhouse where we stay…

Blessings to you all!