Home Again: Gratitude

On Wednesday morning, I woke at Jackson Lake Lodge in Northwest Wyoming to gray and gloomy light. The temperature outside was 39 degreesF and the patter of rain on the roof included an odd shushing sound. I looked outside and saw that the rain was mixed with wet flakes–snow. 

I had planned to make the 600-mile trip home gradually, over two days. Until I saw that snow in the air and had a sudden longing to be home in Indian Summer.

So after a visit with Diane Spencer, a friend from my Forest Service days who just happened to be staying in the very same lodge on the same night I was with her partner, Bob Hacker (we found each other thanks to Facebook postings), Red and I hit the road for home. 

By the time we crested Togwotee Pass (photo above) it was snowing hard. We wound our way downhill and out of the storm, and headed across southern Wyoming into howling winds.

And I do mean howling. Just outside Rawlins a flashing road-condition warning sign warned of “rollover hazard” and gusts of 65 mph. Fortunately, Red handled the wind well.  

Double-rainbow over the Yampa River Valley south of Steamboat Springs, Colorado

By the time we reached Steamboat Springs that evening and saw the gorgeous double rainbow in the photo above, I was tired and the sun was slanting low. But we were only four hours from home (out of a ten-hour-total drive) and I was determined to sleep in my own bed that night. 

I backed Red into the garage at eight-thirty in starlit darkness, unloaded travel stuff, put things away, and settled in. I slept nine hours that night–I guess I was pretty worn out! 

On Friday, I celebrated my 59th birthday with simple gratitude to be home in my own cozy place, with wildflowers blooming all around.

Part of my front-yard native mountain prairie in its almost-fall bloom…

That feel of gratitude has stayed with me as I’ve caught up on emails, begun summer’s-end cleanup in my yard, and spent time hand-cutting invasive thistles and other weeds as part of the Salida Trail Ecological Restoration Project.

I am grateful to be home, and grateful to have a home to return to. I feel for those who have lost their homes, especially in the devastating fires in northern California

I am grateful that my country is not torn apart by war. I feel keenly for the refugees streaming into the Balkans and Europe from the Middle East and parts of Africa where life is perilous, as well as for the refugees from Myanmar, for all people exiled from their homes and searching for a place where they can live and work in peace. 

I am grateful to be able to hit the road, whether for work or pleasure. I feel fortunate to have Red, my compact truck and also my shelter for nights when I camp out. 

I am grateful to be able to write. My wish for my birthday is that Bless the Birds, my new memoir about living well even as our lives end, will find an enthusiastic publisher in the months ahead. And that the new book in my mind, which I call Meadow, will begin to take shape this winter. 

Tansyleaf aster and blanketflower, two native wildflowers beloved of pollinators=, growing at the edge of my rock garden.

I am grateful to have a passion and talent for restoring nature around me. The work that Richard and I put into reviving what we only half-jokingly called our “decaying industrial empire” and our block of creek inspired the Salida Trail Restoration Project, which benefits our community, as well as Earth itself. 

Mostly I am grateful to simply to be here, walking about, as Richard used to say, “on the skin of this Earth” with love and awareness for the gift of life. 

Thanks for walking with me.