Minutiae

DSCN3638
DSCN3655 DSCN3691DSCN3689
DSCN3628
DSCN3620
DSCN3664 DSCN3667
DSCN3682 DSCN3678
DSCN3714
DSCN3693 DSCN3704DSCN3720 DSCN3725 DSCN3723 DSCN3730 DSCN3756 DSCN3757DSCN3764 DSCN3782 DSCN3785 DSCN3746DSCN3588DSCN3593

Little things in the big land! From tiny mushrooms on a hike at the lakeshore to autumn leaves on the ground – I tried to notice the details in the grandeur while we were in Wyoming. Around every corner were more hints of the changing season. The underbrush was turning red and yellow, the air chilly enough in the shade to warrant a light jacket.

Our favorite little visitor was a chipmunk by Phelps Lake. He scurried around our feet before eventually venturing close enough to put his little paws on my aunt’s shoe. Kevin – a big fan of squirrels and chipmunks in particular -was so excited when the little chipmunk came over and put his front paws on his shoe too! We were definitely suspicious that this little one’s gregariousness came from park visitors feeding him tidbits. He gained no such handouts from us (though I suspect Kevin would have eventually acquiesced).

I’m still catching up with several posts that have been on the back burner. Stay tuned for some thoughts on Michaelmas and glorious October days at home.

Wishing everyone crisp days and cozy nights.

Advertisements

Elk Songs

DSCN3384 DSCN3391DSCN3405 DSCN3547DSCN3551
DSCN3480DSCN3565
DSCN3585DSCN3581

This post has been a long time coming — please excuse its tardiness. Life is so full and messy and wonderful and busy that sometimes I forget to take a step back to reflect and work in this space. So here’s a post about our trip at the end of September.

In the autumn, the elk sing at night. We went up north to hear them this year, and I’m always filled with wonder to hear them calling to each other, their song echoing off the mountains. For me, elk song is a symbol of the turning of the year, a reminder that the nights are growing colder and longer, but are still filled with so much magic. The moon and stars seem brighter too as the nights grow longer. My cousin and I found Cassiopeia, Hercules, the Pleiades, Taurus, and the dippers one night while stargazing. At the end of the road to the west we could hear elk by the river, and coyotes howling and barking to the south.

While we were in Jackson, my grandpa passed away. It felt peaceful to know we were in the valley he loved so much, surrounded by the mountains and sagebrush. That afternoon, two buffalo wandered down the road and stood behind the cabin watching us. The herd was up in Yellowstone still, so these two travelers were the only bison we saw in the valley – magically appearing that chilly afternoon.

After seeing them, I read about how buffalo represent abundance and prayer. Buffalo’s lesson is also that of arriving at a goal or destination at the time that is best for you. Buffalo never hurries or cuts corners, but takes the time to complete the entire journey from start to finish.

I thought about how my grandpa’s life journey led him to this beautiful place, and how the roots he created here allowed my family to share a part of this land. I will always be grateful for his love of this beautiful valley. Standing on the deck of the cabin and looking out at the two buffalo in the grass, I felt they had stopped here to rest, just for a little while, on their journey north.

DSCN3538

Early Autumn

DSCN3112 DSCN3158DSCN3162DSCN3167DSCN3168DSCN3175DSCN3178DSCN3180DSCN3183DSCN3184DSCN3189DSCN3216DSCN3217DSCN3119DSCN3223DSCN3230DSCN3233DSCN3237DSCN3241DSCN3243DSCN3250DSCN3258 2
DSCN3261
DSCN3215

And so we slip into the magic time of year again.

Though the days are still warm, each morning a chill is in the air and in the evenings the crickets are slowing down. Walking at night, you can hear a solitary cricket creaking slowly in the underbrush, the last solo singer from the deafening August chorus. On particularly chilly nights there is a smell of woodsmoke in the air, and the full corn moon glows in the east. Birds are migrating again too – the pelicans are gone from the lake – and the cormorants and egrets will be next to depart for the winter. Mums are on the porch, apples on the kitchen counter, and soon we will fill our house with squash and pumpkins in October.

Last week, Denver was overrun with Painted Lady Butterflies. Walking to the park, clouds of butterflies flew up from the pavement and hovered in the air. They too are heading south for the winter, traveling 2000 miles from California to Mexico. It was such a lovely sight to see them all, fluttering among the last tomato blossoms, darting amongst the Black-eyed Susans.

The kitchen is shifting for the fall. My mom is a pie baker, and often our house is filled with a lovely smell of peach pie and cinnamon. There is nothing better in the world than a slice of warm homemade peach pie! The tomatoes are bountiful now, and I’ve made our favorite “Valeria’s Pasta Sauce” with garden tomatoes as well as Caprese salad. They come in all different shapes and sizes: Julia Child, Black from Tula, Dr. Wyches Yellow, Ananas Noire, Cherokee Purple, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Green Zebra, and Sungold.

As the season shifts, I’ve been on a new quest for self-care, specifically sleep. Dealing with anxiety, it’s difficult to make sure I get to bed early, especially when I need time to wind down at the end of the day. The night hours are fickle, carrying promises of comfort and solitary time, but in reality only creating loneliness and exhaustion. Going to bed earlier and waking up earlier is my Autumn resolution. Additionally, I’ve been dealing with another typical bout of sinus illness and sore throats. I’m once again reminded of the importance of rest to keep myself healthy as the season shifts to colder and longer nights.

This week, we look forward to Michaelmas on the 29th (read about our Michaelmas celebration from last year here). As the days grow shorter, I’ve been thinking of the inner courage and strength that’s ignited in the Autumn in order to forge through the darkest months. Now is the time to create new resolutions, and to confront the darker parts of ourselves.

Wishing a peaceful first few days of Autumn to all. x

Eclipse 2017

DSCN3023 DSCN3028
DSCN3029 DSCN3030
DSCN3034 DSCN3037
DSCN3039DSCN3031DSCN3041DSCN3044DSCN3054DSCN3059DSCN3060DSCN3058DSCN3067DSCN3070DSCN3071
DSCN3078
DSCN3073DSCN3083DSCN3085DSCN3089DSCN3091DSCN3096DSCN3097DSCN3101

At long last the promised eclipse post! It’s been a month since we experienced totality in Jackson, and almost every day since I think about the dark moon covering the sun.

The morning of the eclipse was (thankfully!) very sunny and clear. I’d spent the days leading up to the eclipse checking my weather forecast obsessively and reading about eclipses and eclipse history. I set out four glasses of water to soak up the sun rays in order to infuse with eclipse energy (click here to read more about eclipse rituals.) While the sun began to eclipse, we ran around the yard snapping pictures, blowing off steam, and checking the progress of the moon. Kevin and my dad set up their phones on chairs to record the view of the Tetons during the eclipse. About ten minutes from totality the air began to get very cold, so we all had to run and grab extra layers. The light took on a subdued unusual tinge and shadows began to darken and intensify. Soon, the light was almost silver, akin to moonlight. As the moon slid over the sun completely, an orange rim appeared all around the horizon, as if we were encased in a 360 degree sunset. The sky was deep indigo blue, and planets appeared. The sun itself was black, wreathed by the silver corona and near the edges of the sun, a rim of orange was visible. We all stood in amazement, crying and laughing and cheering with our neighbors. I only let myself take a few pictures so I could be present to experience the moment fully. The two minutes and thirty seconds of totality felt extremely short. The instant the moon moved away from the sun, a bright light exploded from the upper right rim and the world was thrown back into sunlight. The light remained silver-y for a few moments, but the day was swiftly returned to sunshine and warmth. We all waited outside and chatted until the sun was fully uncovered again and the “eclipse water” was ready to drink.

Afterward, we all felt very tiny in the world, but simultaneously very comforted to be part of something so amazing, even in a small way. I loved the raw chorus of whoops and cheers from our neighbors as the total unreality of the moment was shared by everyone. We watched a TED talk about eclipses, and the speaker, David Baron, spoke about his experience with his first total eclipse in Aruba.  “For the first time in my life, I just felt viscerally connected to the universe in all of its immensity. Time stopped, or it just kind of felt nonexistent, and what I beheld with my eyes — I didn’t just see it, it felt like a vision. And I stood there in this nirvana for all of 174 seconds — less than three minutes — when all of a sudden, it was over. The sun burst out, the blue sky returned, the stars and the planets and the corona were gone. The world returned to normal. But I had changed. […] when I think of my own mortality –and I do, a lot –when I think of everyone I have lost, my mother in particular, what soothes me is that moment of awe I had in Aruba. I picture myself on that beach, looking at that sky, and I remember how I felt. My existence may be temporary, but that’s OK because, my gosh, look at what I’m a part of.”

Swans and Kite Flying

DSCN2934
DSCN2931DSCN2928
DSCN2936
DSCN2937
DSCN2938
DSCN2946
DSCN2950 DSCN2951
DSCN2954 DSCN2959
DSCN2963
DSCN3107DSCN3103DSCN2965DSCN2964DSCN2982DSCN2988DSCN2984DSCN2973DSCN2976DSCN2977DSCN2978DSCN2979DSCN2980DSCN2972DSCN2990

We journeyed back to Wyoming for the eclipse in late August. Because Jackson is so much further north than Denver, the trees were already turning and there was a slight chill in the air. Autumn is my favorite season, so I relished the anticipation of cooler temperatures and cozy evenings. We ate out at our favorite Thai restaurant and had coffee almost every morning at our favorite coffee shop. On the way back to the cabin from town, we spied the Trumpeter Swans lazily gliding along the river. During our last trip to the valley in June, every time I remembered to bring my camera there was nary a swan in sight, and yet every time I forgot my camera we would see the whole swan family. This time, I finally caught them when I was prepared. I love watching how smoothly they swim through the river, and how striking their white plumage is against the grey water. We don’t get swans in Denver, as we are too far south, so they are quite a special sight. Swans seem to bring their own quiet magic to the rivers in Wyoming, and I feel so lucky we witnessed a mother and her signets.

One blustery afternoon (the day before the eclipse), Kevin fished out the old kite from the basement and we went out back to enjoy some old-fashioned kite flying! I hadn’t flown a kite since I was a kid and I have to say it was just as much fun as I remember. Though there were many failed launch attempts, the greatest difficulty turned out to be getting the kite back down to the earth after we unleashed it to a great height. We had to have my dad help reel it in, especially since I was nervous about someone getting a finger caught in the extremely tense kite string. Despite this, I can’t wait to find our old kite at home and give it a whirl some windy autumn afternoon.

I have a forthcoming post about the eclipse that I intend to share in the next few days. For now, I’m trying to endure the last lingering summer heat. 97 degrees today! At least the tomatoes are happy. I certainly am ready for autumn and am already thinking about hot chocolate and apple crisp.

p.s. I finally started to run short on WordPress photo storage. You can now view my new Flickr account here! I’m using Flickr now to embed URLs into my posts. So far, so good!

Celebrating Lammas

DSCN2860DSCN2861DSCN2864DSCN2875DSCN2880DSCN2890DSCN2882DSCN2883DSCN2902DSCN2907DSCN2913DSCN2914unnamedunnamed-7

Around here, the summer has shifted. Though we are still steeped in heat, there’s a glimmer of something else in the morning and in the evening, a slight whisper of chill in the air. By no means have we entered into autumn, rather, the summer is in a different faze. Gone are the long days of June or the scorching hot early July days, and here instead are thunderstorms in the afternoon, ripe peaches and tomatoes, and a transition to the harvest. Our garden has begun yielding its bounty, with green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers harvested last week. We’ve used garden thyme, basil, chives, tarragon and rosemary in our cooking, and we are enjoying golden plums, peaches, and tomatoes from our farm share. What a wonderful time for cooking and eating!

In the spirit of celebrating this bountiful season, I chose to celebrate our first Lammas at the beginning of the month. The name Lammas originates from the pagan holiday “Lughnasadh,” which was later christianized to “loaf mass” and then “Lammas.” Observed on August 1st, Lammas celebrates the first loaf of bread baked from each year’s newly harvested wheat. Though we don’t grow our own wheat, we nevertheless baked bread to mark the beginning of our harvest season.  I like that this holiday recognizes the beginning of the bountiful time of year, and also marks the transition I was already feeling from early to late summer. Our bread ended up being a partially successful experiment… We think our dough was too wet, and are eager to try again soon! Now, I’m trying to soak in these stormy days and raucous nights as the crickets, cicadas, and buzz-bugs create a cacophony in the trees.

A storm is beginning outside my window, and the trees are sighing as the wind picks up. I hope everyone gets a chance to go outside and enjoy some thunder!

Rain in the Desert

DSCN2714dscn2711.jpgDSCN2778DSCN2715DSCN2708DSCN2724DSCN2728.JPGDSCN2731DSCN2741DSCN2750DSCN2753DSCN2782DSCN2767DSCN2768DSCN2786DSCN2788DSCN2790DSCN2792DSCN2738

A few weeks ago we were in Sedona, AZ for a short visit to my grandparents. Though much of our time was spent with them, we did explore the beautiful desert around where they live. One specific afternoon, my mom and I walked while it was raining. The air in Sedona smells of pine and dust, and the rain intensified the aromas and cooled the hot day a little. We saw some hawks up in a tree along our way, and even heard one calling from his perch. The red and yellow leaves we spied had turned from the heat if you can believe it! It felt odd to see those colors of cooler weather in the desert in the middle of July. We also encountered a dead tarantula on the side of the road… I am happy to report that this was the only arachnid of this variety we saw, dead OR alive.

Walking in the rain was peaceful and rejuvenating, reminding me once again of the importance of our daily rhythms even when away from home. It was so lovely to soak in the beauty of a new landscape, and equally lovely to return to our comparatively verdant surroundings at home.

Sending wishes for summer rain. x