Remembering What Matters

We all have those weeks when one problem becomes much more serious, and then something unexpected throws us off, and then just when we’ve navigated over or around those bumps, we hit one we didn’t see at all and bam!–all four metaphorical tires go flat. And we holler some probably much-less-printable version of, “Why me, Universe?”

A spiny cholla cactus next to an equally spiny plains yucca in Bighorn Sheep Canyon on my way home Thursday. A spiny cholla cactus next to an equally spiny plains yucca in Bighorn Sheep Canyon on my way home Thursday.

That was my week. I know it’s nothing personal on the Universe’s part, just the way the bumps come, but really….

The first problem is that front tooth. A 200-mile round-trip to Colorado Springs to see the specialist and a sizeable dent in my checking account later, I know it’s abscessed, I know the nerve is dead, and I know that a root canal isn’t the solution.

So now it’s back to my dentist to talk about Door #2, which does not contain a new sports car or a cruise, rather a tooth extraction and braces; or Door #3, which contains something even less appealing and more expensive, a tooth implant screwed into my lower jaw.

Oh. Joy.

I contemplated those options on the two-hour-drive home while steering Red into a gusty wind and wondering why (1) the wind was against me both ways and (2) northern Colorado got rain and snow again and we here in the dust-dry south got… more wind.

Then I spotted the apricot tree in bloom by a farmstead so long vanished that all that remains are some rubble from the foundation and one concrete step. I stopped to shoot a photo, and felt immensely better. It’s spring, drought or no, that apricot is surviving all on its own, and my issue is only a tooth and money, for heck’s sake.

One hardy apricot tree... One hardy apricot tree…

Yesterday the sun shone, the wind calmed, and the daffodils I planted last fall in my front yard were in bud. I set out with two trash bags, a rake and a long-handled trash-grabber to do spring-cleanup along the trail and my block of creek. Two sweaty hours, some aching muscles and two full trash bags plus a huge mass of soggy tumbleweed carcasses later, I decided had done enough for the day.

As I walked slowly back downstream, something eerie happened: the creek dried up. The water trickled away and the newly exposed algae on the rocks quickly went from wet to dry in the intense high-altitude sun.

So much for the water-skaters, the Mayfly hatch, and the baby trout.

March and April are normally two or our wettest months of the year, but this spring they’ve brought less than two-tenths of an inch of precipitation. And the daytime temperatures have averaged 10 to 15 degrees F warmer than usual. That’s global climate change. And my murmuring creek, home to a lively community of aquatic wigglers and swimmers, has receded underground for who knows how long.

At least, I said to myself as I walked to the Post Office to collect my mail later, I had woken up before dawn in time to see the truly awesome (as in full of awe, not as in teenage slang) eclipse of the aptly named “blood moon” that morning. It might have been the shortest eclipse of this century, but it was spectacular.

That blood moon eclipse... That blood moon eclipse…

And then I opened my post box and found a letter from the IRS: I owe more. In fact, I owe almost exactly the amount I paid the very expensive endodontist on Thursday.

If there’s some kind of cosmic joke here, I’d like to be in on it.

As I was finishing this post, I walked outside. The sky was a glorious shade of dusk blue and Venus glimmered above the peaks to the west. The kitchen light in my sweet little house glowed in welcome.

I smiled.

The bumps are still bumps. What matters is that I get to live here, in the home–house, community and landscape–of my heart.

My sweet Creek House Creek House at dusk

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