So I share with you the different things this means.
I grew up in the mid-west and lived my life east of the Mississippi River. I spent six years in Germany. Those years were lived at less than 1,000 feet above sea level, sometimes as low as 180 feet above sea level.
My house is at 7,400 feet in the Rocky Mountains. The move was a ‘journey to the heights.’
We live in an area called: Missouri Heights.
My faith expects me to grow and mature, representing the love of God and the life of Christ more and more. For those who personally know me, you recognize some days that is more evident than others. God obviously calls us to a higher level.
For me Journey to the Heights means these things.
I’m blessed with better health living in a higher elevation with a drier climate than any I enjoyed earlier in my lift.
I’m blessed by being surrounded with natural beauty, constantly changing. One can watch the massive skies with the clouds and various colors throughout the day. Stars appear close enough to touch.
I’m blessed to that God put me here, in this location for this time of my life and He is taking me to higher levels in my faith. This is a gift!
We’ve been home a few weeks and thoughts of Ireland still resound in my mind.
Here are some photomontages of different aspects of Ireland that stand out for me.If one were to ask for a quick overview, I would respond by saying –
Green! It abounded. The first photo of the trees growing over the road, shaped by the bus traffic is a common sight.
Water and Beaches! They were everywhere. I loved the wind coming off the ocean; the ever-moving cloud scenes; the smell of the water and the freshness of the air. The beaches varied from being beautiful sand to rocky. It was very different seeing the Atlantic ocean looking in a westerly direction.
Sheep! They were everywhere. They appeared so different from the sheep I see in Colorado. They were shorter legged, more rounded in body and many were dyed to mark who they belonged to. They might be found in meadow fields, climbing rocky cliffs or close to the ocean. Except when we were in a city, we saw sheep everyday.
Tower Houses, Castles, Abbeys – old structures
From BeeHive house structures from 800AD, a lighthouse that’s been functioning for over 800 years, to medieval streets in the heart of cities — there were so many old structures. Some were still being used, some have been restored and some are in varying states of decay. It was difficult for me to comprehend just how old these structures are.
The Burren! This area was a surprise for me. From a distance it lacked the intense green so prevalent elsewhere. The surprise is how rich The Burren is with small plant growth; what a haven it is; and how rich it is in history.
The day we drove Dingle Peninsula, approaching Dingle, we could see a lighthouse in the distance but no signs leading to it. We turned around looking for a road leading to the beach and headed toward a little village called Beenbawn. There we found a small road leading to the shore with a view of the lighthouse on the other shore. The beach area was the first of many special places we would find during this trip. We watched a few people drive up the road, look at the water and turn around and leave. Our experience was much richer. As Tom climbed the higher rock walls over looking the water, I took a path between two rock walks, ultimately leading me down to the shore. The tide was out so I walked the sandy beach. The sound of the waves rolling in and then crashing against the outlying rocks before splashing back into the sea eliminated all sounds save for those from a few sea gulls on the beach. I was the only person exploring this beach. It was heaven!
I found colorful wildflowers, so small and delicate, growing on the sides and tops of the rock walls creating pockets of color against these dark reddish rocks. The sea was alive and vibrant; some of the waves created towering splashes as they crashed against the rocks.
This was the first of many enjoyable trips to the sea.
Cliffs of Moher
As we sat, we soaked up the sun, allowed the breeze blowing off the water to tussle our hair, breathed in the fresh ocean air and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks below.
Not all shores had beaches…
But they all had beauty
Salthill area outside Galway
Lunch on an island at a remote golf course tee overlooking the ocean…
The Hook Lighthouse Beach…
At one beach we met an older gentleman who had recently checked is fishing traps. He said, “The sea gets under your skin. I couldn’t live a day without coming down here.”
We packed up and headed out of Tralee, County Kerry. I’d gotten used to the “green” Ireland offers and had heard so many talk about.
We crested a hill and neither of us could believe what we saw. It did not look like the Ireland we had been introduced to. Our German friends called it a moonscape. I just thought it looked arid and barren.
A couple days later at a local perfumery (more about the perfumery another day), I learned the area is called the Burren and it offers the most diverse vegetation of anywhere in Ireland. There are only a few Irish plants that don’t grow in this area, and there are many only found here. In fact, there is a wild Irish found nowhere but here.
We walked the Burren and I was amazed. The limestone rocks have many cracks, crannies and holes. They are home to various plant life.
I understand why so many consider the Burren to be a very special place.
Yesterday we were motorcycling in Alabama. Thanks to the generosity of a fellow biker, we were able to ride a Triumph through some of the hills and back roads. Few of the leaves have changed colors, so we were met with lush green most places we went. I kept thinking how much I always enjoyed the verdancy of the mid-west and southern states and realized I had been given my “green fix” on this weekend ride. It was a great day!
Sunday, we drove past a dead tree. Dead, yet the sight was amazing. On the top tree branches were small birds perched, almost like leaves on each branch. Hay fields, blue skies and the mountain were the backdrop for this scene. As we drove by, I wished I could share this vision with my grandmother. I would try to share visions of places I lived or visited in letters that passed between us. This was the sort of thing I would have written to her about. Ahhhh…the memories of all those letters filled with love, passing between my grandmother and I!
She’s Back! The brazen hussy chipmunk decided to visit our deck again; the deck where we grow tomatoes and herbs for our enjoyment. This time my hunter man was home. He got his weapon and was ready for action. The chipmunk avoided positioning herself in a good shot area. The goal is to hit the vermin not a piece of glass or a shop door. She dodged behind and between the potted plants. She was at the end of the deck, ten feet above ground. We were sure we had her trapped and simply had to wait for a good shot. Not so! Standing on the edge of the deck, she looked around and then she jumped over the edge. We could not believe it! We headed toward the edge and then heard “Kerplunk”! We expected to see chipmunk splat, but instead she was running for the rocks. The fact she survived the fall was more surprising to us than the fact she jumped from such a height.
Fast forward 24 hours and we looked out the window to see said chipmunk stretched out on our cement umbrella base. Who knows if this was a cooling position on the cement, a sunning position, or an announcement of ownership of the deck? The hunter and I headed outside again. The critter appeared a little confused, running to hide behind patio storage boxes. We moved the boxes and the chipmunk ran. I chased it thinking it would run to the planting area and dodge in-between the pots. Surprised again! She raced right up to the end of the deck and jumped. There was no hesitation she just jumped. Gone again.
Who would have thought a chipmunk we could be involved in training chipmunks for the miniature circus?
I need my hunter home. I spent the best part of the day protecting our patio tomato plant from a brazen chipmunk hussy who thinks she can sneak from one end of the long deck to another to eat the fruit of our labors. I see her scamper past the patio door. She hears the door open and freezes, looking first to the right and then to left. Her dilemma – where to go? To the left is a drop-off, to the right is a solid wall, and to the rear is another drop-off. Oh, my! The only way out is to zigzag back the way she came, with me chasing her. Racing off the deck, she jumps to the walkway then leaps off the wall and scampers under the island deck. Safe again! We have played this game for hours today, and she wins once again. Or do I? Our tomato plant is still unharmed. Or so I think….
I do not see her again for some time so I return to my work. Later I look out the front door to find an entire branch from our patio tomato lying at the threshold. She did not even bother to eat the fruit, just left it by the door to wither in the sun.
When the hunter arrives she will have more than I to face. His aim is good. He has nurtured and protected this tomato plant from the wind and extreme heat. I do not believe he will be willing to surrender the plant to the chipmunk. I believe the rules will change! Let the games begin…..
The 2012 drought increased the number of bear sightings in our area. I saw four black bears during the late summer/fall season. My first sighting was the one to leave the largest impression. I have thoughts and images of the day that will not soon be forgotten. I was able to put the day to words and the following article appeared in the Aspen Times. Since then, it has provided the springboard for other writings. I still find living so close to nature an enchanting aspect of living in the west.
Oh my! Another Bear Sighting….
“Did you see that,” I exclaimed! “There was a bear in the tree. We have to turn around.”
Tom turned and parked carefully under the overhanging branches at the very edge of the road. He opened the sunroof and turned on our hazard lights. It was late afternoon and sunlight was dancing on the leaves in the tree. Right there above us was a young bear, firmly seated within the fork of a branch, intently focused on snatching acorns from nearby branches. He was wasting no time in gobbling them up. At that moment, he reminded me of an oversized snuggly teddy bear. He was oblivious to us and any other passing vehicles. He had no idea he was the focus of multiple photos and a short video clip. The four of us in the vehicle were captivated watching this scene. He would snatch a mouthful from a limb, and use his paws to pick out the unwanted leaves or branches, which were quickly thrown to the ground. The pile of leaves and small branches accumulating on the road were evidence of how long he must have been in the tree. There was no sign of other bears in the area. I was surprised to one this close to a town and at this elevation. I heard bears were frequently seen at higher elevations.
Other approaching vehicles slowed to see what we were looking at. Some snapped photos as they drove by. The bear was disinterested in all the attention. We were getting ready to leave the site, as it appeared the bear had enjoyed his fill of acorns. His agility in scampering down from the tree was amazing. Tom was watching for traffic in his mirror when he noticed a rental RV parking, and the passengers disembarking with cameras in hand. They may have been the reason the bear came down from the tree. Initially he starting lumbering away in the opposite direction, then looked back over his shoulder at the people standing in the street. Turning, he looked intently at the scene. We were backing up, and the people were walking toward him. He stood on his hind feet taking four or five steps toward them before stopping to evaluate the scene again. It almost appeared he was challenging them. They scrambled back into their vehicle and after several moments the bear ambled away in the opposite direction. My ‘teddy bear’ image was quickly replaced with the reality of how large and powerful these creatures of nature are.
We all thought the experience was amazing. I was excited and thrilled. This was my first bear sighting after moving to the mountains. I was grateful to experience such an up-close and safe nature sighting of such a magnificent animal. I was also grateful for the realization of how powerful and quickly these creatures of nature can move, and that this is their domain. Recognizing it was a small bear, I wondered if there were others nearby. I pondered how far down into the valley they really do wander. I was equally surprised a family was willing to get out of their vehicle and approach this wild and un-caged bear on foot just to get a few photos. How much closer might they have gotten if the bear had not turned away and how would the headlines read?
We were on the Frying Pan. We had been busy chatting and enjoying the rock walls or magnificent drops to the valley below as we were driving. Various pine trees and gambel oaks were the primary trees in the area. We were with friends; they were directing us to one of their favorite spots, Chapman Lake. We planned a late afternoon hike and an evening picnic. We had just driven through Basalt and rounded a curve when we came upon this diversion to our trip.
We continued to our original destination. The wonders and magnitude of the mountains and surrounding countryside continued to amaze me. As beautiful as the hike was and the alluring atmosphere created at the lake as the sun started its decline for the night, the sighting of the bear was the highlight of the day’s adventure.