Thursday, September 10, 2009

From Peaks to Valleys

Reflections on the Grand Mesa, Colorado

Ancient petroglyphs of Rocky Mountain Sheep in the Little Dominquez Valley, Colorado

Last Saturday I drove to Grand Junction, Colorado to visit my good friend, Laurie and her mother, Esther. It was a leisurely 4 1/2-hour drive through the desert between Rawlins and Baggs, then on through the mountains of Colorado. There was so little traffic I figured most folks had headed to the hills on the previous night for their Labor Day camp out or were at another venue for a college football game.

My first Sunday on sabbatical found me in another St. Matthew's. I helped last fall with their stewardship campaign, so enjoyed seeing old friends. Their relatively new rector preached a good sermon that dealt with the many places in which we feel fear, then bringing the Gospel of Jesus inclusive presence as an antidote and cure to fear. It helped me to acknowledge my own fears and to place them with Jesus. As I did so I felt my excitement rise for the next part of my sabbatical. Later we went to see the film, Julie and Julia. Starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child, it was the perfect film to get my mouth watering for French cuisine and to get my fingers twitching to hold a chef's knife and start slicing something. I particularly like the part where she got caught up in the competition to be the fastest onion slicer--not that I'm that competitive!!!

The next couple of days took us on two very different hikes. The first was to the Little Dominquez Valley. From the rust-colored dusty desert floor our eyes were drawn to the towering rocky cliffs silhouetted against an ever changing sky--from clear, bright blue to ominous gray swirls to billowing piles of wool fluff. The highlight was seeing the ancient petroglyphs depicting Rocky Mountain sheep and riders on horse back and various lizard-like creatures. We spotted lots of real live lizards, but no sheep. Some hikers ahead of us caught a view of a mountain lion and her cubs.

The next day we headed in the opposite direction to the Grand Mesa, the largest flat-top mountain in the USA. From below it looks dry and barren, but on top it is a huge conifer forest with numerous lakes and rivers. The temperature dropped from 90 degrees in Grand Junction to 55 on the summit. Perfect hiking weather after hiking in the 100s the day before. We had a lovely 6 miler to Cottonwood Lake. Though there was plenty of elk sign, we weren't rewarded with a sight or sound of them. The aspen are just beginning to turn, giving truth that there is "gold in them thar hills."

So we had plenty of sights of God's goodness. And the tasting was all good, too. The famous Palisade peaches are in full harvest; as is the Olathe corn. We feasted on both and found them to be so sweet that it is like eating pure sugar. Eating produce picked that morning sure makes a big difference. The grapes are almost ready to be harvested, a hopeful sign that I'll be in France or Italy when their harvest is going on, something I would really like to experience. We also tried a wonderful Chipotle salsa and found it particularly good as a substitute for seafood sauce on our cold boiled shrimp. The hint of lime and the chipotle gave the shrimp a delightful new twist.

Now back in Rawlins for a few more days with Mother and Daddy, enjoying our time together while attending to last minute packing details.

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