Dreaming of Colorado

Buena Vista at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks

Buena Vista at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been dreaming about Colorado a lot lately.  At random moments, a John Denver song will pop into my head and I’m thinking about the Rockies and the way Colorado felt. I lived there for two years in my early teens, and while at the time I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have, now I find myself missing it horribly.

Just recently I was watching a Tiny House, Big Living where a young couple converts a bus into a tiny home. The couple was out of Boulder, but they traveled to outside of Denver and Red Rocks. I watched the weather and the scenery wishing desperately that I could be there or go. Red Rocks has been one of those places I really want to go and see a concert played. Unfortunately, who I want to see play is either dead (John Denver) or won’t play the concert I want to see (Mumford & Sons version of “I Will Wait”. With all of those amazing lights strung across the stage.)

Recently I have started a story that takes place in Vail though I have never been there. In face, I have never been to Denver, Boulder, Red Rocks… I lived in the middle of the state, half an hour from Leadville (been there), an hour from Aspen (haven’t been there), and a few hours from Ryal Gorge and Canyon City (been there!). I wish I could have seen Aspen, but Mr. B didn’t want to see how it had changed from the 70s when he had seen it. I can understand that. But oh, Colorado aspens, can I rave?

English: Aspen trees near Aspen, Colorado

English: Aspen trees near Aspen, Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But occasionally I dream of living where John Denver made his home. I love that he wrote songs about it, like Starwood in Aspen and his Christmas song, Aspenglow. Then there’s Rocky Mountain High. Seriously those songs sum up Colorado perfectly. (Ironically a John Denver song came on a the doctor’s while I sit here, but it’s Country Roads, so not technically about Colorado- and I wrote this two days ago and I’m just now typing it up. I’m not actually at the doctors right now)

Mount Princeton near Buena Vista, CO.

Mount Princeton near Buena Vista, CO. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure why Colorado is calling to me, except for lately not really feeling like I”m in the mountains. Strange since yesterday was one of those perfect stormy, mountain days. A day where the mountains were obliterated by clouds and we woke to snow all the way down. But since I live on the valley floor, I feel like I’m more in the country. Strange as well since I have to only walk fifteen to twenty minutes and I can be climbing up the mountains. I’m that close. But California mountains are different from Colorado mountains. I remember telling a boyfriend, who visited from Pennsylvania, that we did everything big out here, but our mountains are nothing compared to the amazing beauty of the Rockies. The sheer size of 14,000-foot peaks can’t be explained.

There is a wildness about Colorado. Still untamed. Still undiscovered, though I doubt that is the case. I just remember visiting Tincup and that had once been something, but was no more. Okay, there was sort of a town, but one place we stopped outside of Tincup was what you see in the pictures above. The way the wild had claimed everything again. The way the exploding brightness of the sun shone on the clear mountain streams, being so high up the air was crisp and clear. The air was so pure. So clean. So cold and brisk.

The mountains, lakes, and aspens were magic.

I love California with all of my heart. This is my state. This is where I come from. I’m a fifth generation and the Sierra Nevada mountains are my ‘home’. But there is something about colorado that just makes me want to come stay a bit and visit again. With my camera where I can take so many pictures I couldn’t possibly forget.

To visit St. Elmo where the hummingbirds take over the historical ghost town….. while across the street the chipmunks enthrall people…. that is one place I definitely want to see again.

Well, I’m dreaming of Colorado, wishing for a Rocky Mountain High…

Kate

 

Haying Season

I wrote this back in mid June when I happened to be waiting for my dachshund to have eye surgery. Then life got busy and I did not finish posting it. I still have it in my notebook. So, finally, after a month and a half and here we are in August, is my post on haying season.

It’s haying season here in Norcal. The air has a perpetual haze and an ever present ‘green’ smell that you don’t even really notice is the scent of freshly cut alfalfa or grass. Personally, I feel the alfalfa has a more green smell than the grass. I would know as we have a few alfalfa bushes growing in our yard and I cut the plant for compost, feeding chickens, or in the past, rabbits. I know green smells. I live with them year round.

Haying is an essential commodity in a farming community. Here, because we are in the mountains, our hay/alfalfa is supreme. Because of the mountains, shorter growing season,and probably other factors I don’t know about, we only get three cuttings versus the seven to nine that come from, say, the Central Valley of California. Farmers here don’t use their own hay for their cattle, instead purchasing hay from outside the area and selling their own hay for a higher prices for other outside areas. Inf fact, our hay is so rich and nutritious that it is used in racing stables for high end horses. So it is worht it for the farmers and ranchers to sell the hay they grow for a high price, then ship in hay for their own livestock.

Right now we are in the first cutting. There is something so base and primal about seeing the land produce a crop so critical to life’s function. I get a set of chills when I see the cut alfalfa or grass laying in neat rows. Seeing the outer parts of the field cut first, maybe three rows and all the inner field still tall, is perfection. Then there is the turning process, or combining the cut rows into larger rows ready for baling. I have only seen hay baled by a very small operation, but seeing bales coming out of the back end of machinery is amazing. But the best part about the haying process is seeing the bales in the ‘zen’ fields. Pure perfection. Neat, compact rows of tight, green rectangles following a neat grid.

Depending on the rancher, bale size and placement differs. The H ranch has bales that are the sixe of four regular bales, while just down the road are messy, non-uniform bales. Over the hill and down into another small valley are the neatest, most uniform bales I have ever seen. Like soldiers lined in a row……. No, more like bricks. Row upon row.

I have tried to capture the magic i feel seeing the hay, but it defies me and unless you experience and have an emotional connection to the land, you won’t get it. The same chills I get listening to a symphony or watching our military fighter planes take off or having wind in the pine trees, hit me when I see the haying process. I can travel up the twelve mile long  valley and see every stage from green fields, to cutting, turning, combining, baling, and finally stacking. Big, beautiful stacked rows of hay. And lastly, the large trucks hauling the green bales down the valley to be delivered elsewhere.

This is a very big ranching and farming community, and while for the most part I don’t like most ranchers, I have such a  personal connection to the land. There is magic in growing. There is the amazing opportunity to see God’s hand at work. I never had much feeling for the farming life, but I hold it in high regard, especially since living here for fifteen years.

Having Boris in my life has made me take a closer look at the life as well. I don’t think I’ve ever told him what haying is to me. Which is funny because he grew up on a Kansas ranch and still owns and runs it. Ranching/farming is half his life.

I have dreams of seeing a field of Kansas wheat then seeing it cut and baled. The sky of blue and golden waves. There is John Denver’s song “Matthew” and it talks about those two things.

Gold was just a windy Kansas wheat field,
blue was just the Kansas summer sky.

Himmel licht (Sky light)

Himmel licht (Sky light)

I can see it in my mind, but I’d love to see it in person.  That is a hint to Boris…..

For me hay season is magic season. Just don’t get me started on my allergy complaints……

Kate

I Smell Snow

Tonight, it smells like snow.  Or December.  I think December has a very distinct smell that reminds me of The Carpenters, John Denver‘s “Aspenglow” song, Columbia, California  and clearly Christmas.  It’s this woodsmoke and cold, mountain air. It’s misty cold from the pines. It’s pines.  It’s the smell of Christmas trees and old candy canes.

Snow smells. People that don’t get snow wouldn’t understand, but snow has this metallic, slightly dirty smell. Like damp dust.  Only it’s cleaner and fresher. And colder.  I know it sounds strange to say snow smells like dust, but every snowflake is made from a speck of dust.  you would not have snow unless you had dirt.  Sounds even stranger.  But seriously, melt snow and the water isn’t very clean at the bottom.  And it tastes weird.  Definitely dirty.  I like to eat snow, but even it doesn’t taste like clean water. Yet you think it is because it’s white.

So, tonight, it smells like metallic cold pines and woodsmoke.

Tonight I smell snow.

That being said, I don’t know if it’s going to snow, but it might be in the mountains. All of California is getting much needed precipitation of some sort.

Kate

Dreamy – A Weekly Photo Challenge Post

Milkweed Fluff

Milkweed Fluff

Rarely do I have the opportunity to go with The Daily Post‘s weekly photo challenges, but this week’s theme of ‘Dreamy‘ hit me perfectly. How MichelleW spoke about the clouds and the Utah morning just spoke to me. I am always looking at the magical side of things. The foggy mornings, the misty mountains, the milkweed fluff on a dewy lawn on a crisp fall day…. These things get to me and make my heart want to explode out.

This last week the milkweed seeds have been scattered every morning on the back lawn. It’s more of just a grassy area, mountain grass, that happens to exist despite lack of watering. The milkweed explodes out of its pods in the middle of September and keeps right up through October a lot of the time.

I have this thing about milkweed. When I was little, Fantasia with the milkweed ladies floating down to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite was magical, and still is to this day. I adore that part of the film. I always wanted to see milkweed, but it didn’t seem to grow where I lived. So, since moving to the mountains in NorCal, where milkweed abounds in my backyard (much to Walter’s disgust and total annoyance) I am a very happy girl. I take pictures of milkweed all the time.

I think this one constitutes as pretty dreamy to me.

Signing off
Kate

Cloud Banks

I’m in a cloud bank.  A wet and rainy mist-shrouded world of constant drip, drip, dripping.  Plunking on the metal roof, and a perpetual splat sound echoing outside.  Rain, rain, rain. It’s wet, it’s misty, it’s damp.  Paper is feeling damp.  The hygrometer says it’s 77% humidity in the house.  Damp, damp.  Soon anything that shouldn’t mold, might start.  It’s an old house.  Things mold.  Musty smells are common.  Thank goodness it’s not Britain….

The year started off dry.  So dry.  With one small snow storm that turned to ice for weeks… or a week (a week of ice feels much longer than it really is).  No rain.  Dry, dry, dry.  Everyone kept asking. “Well, what are you going to do if it doesn’t rain?”  This was in December or early January….  Can I smack those people now?  Not rain! Ha! Right.

Why do people feel the need to bemoan the weather before the season is even over? I get so tired of people saying it’s too wet, it’s too dry, it’s too windy, it’s too hot, it’s too cold.  Really?  Is there any perfect weather?  Uh, no.

We live in California. It can rain, it can snow, and it can be dry.  Heck, it can do that all in one afternoon where I live.  You think I’m joking?  The standard reply to whether or not you like the weather is to wait five minutes.  It can change that fast here.  Yet people that live here feel the need to predict the bad weather 6 months in advance, or ask me what I might do because of the bad weather, when the result will be six months from now.  That’s like asking me right now what I plan to have for dinner on the 8th of August.  Tell you what, why don’t you call me up on that day and ask me.  Not now.

So, rain rain rain.  It’s good.  There might be some minor flooding for the area, but hey, we can handle it.  Though I’m sure someone, somewhere is going to be complaining there head off about it.  Don’t look at me, I don’t make the weather.  Ask the Big Guy upstairs.

Signing off

~Kate

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Summer Nights And Summer Films

From the front porchI’m sitting out on our front porch, which is almost de rigur  in the country, watching a tree swallows attempt to fit a too large feather into the hole of the birdhouse the swallows claimed months ago.  They should have had a nest built and babies there already.  Now he, or she, is poking its head out after succeeding in shoving the feather into the hole.

The sun is minutes from setting on this hot, June evening.  Clouds of gnats hover and congregate over the tall weeds.  The mountain air smells more like cow manure and a tractor just went down the highway.  Everyday things in the country.  In the field next door is a tractor waiting to cut the long grass tomorrow.

The days have been viciously hot, if you can call the low nineties vicious, but June evenings are magical.  When everything is still vibrant green and lush, not dried from the summer baking.  The air is filled with the golden flashes of flying insects and there is an ever present sound of birds singing. Or fighting, as I just heard that sound.  Crickets abound and mosquitoes are typical.

There is something about this time of year that makes me want to watch certain films that seem to scream summer.  Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Paris When It Sizzles, Sabrina, (yes, those are all Audrey Hepburn films), The Seven Year Itch, and old westerns like Once Upon a Time in the West.  There’s something kind of sexy about all those films.  The Audrey ones are probably my favorite, but I am an Audrey Hepburn fan.  For years I was a Marilyn Monroe fan, but since I only like 3 or 4 of her films, and her life wasn’t as admirable, I’ve changed my likes.  I adore Audrey Hepburn and I’m in a mood for summer films.

Like films, my music tastes change come summer.  I love pulling out Carole King’s Tapestry album because it should only be played in the hot summer months. Or America, Loggins and Messina, Seals and Crofts, and various other bands from the seventies.

And now the sun sets and the air is scented by the hot, spicy scent of pine resins that float down the mountains.  I’d love to stay on the porch reading and enjoying my cup of coffee, but I’m sure to be slapping mosquitoes soon, and I can’t bear that.  Besides, I spent this time writing out this post in my journal and I’ll need to type it up and post it with the picture I took of a view from the porch.  Also, after a day of watering and burning out in the sun, a shower is definitely in order.  too bad we don’t have an outdoor shower or a cattle trough bathtub.  I would love something like that.

So here’s to summer, sun, and sexy heatwave movies.  What are some of your summer must watch films?

Signing off

~Kate

Mountain Life

Stormy mountainsI live in the mountains.  Not technically in the actual mountain mountains, but in a valley surrounded by mountains.  At an elevation of 3000 ft. and being that I am in Northern California we are in what the Sunset gardening book calls a zone 1.  That means at any time of the year we can get snow or a freeze.  Yup, ever heard of snow in July?  Well it has actually happened here.  Not to me personally, but it has happened.

Usually though, the weather is pretty typical.  The past few days have been in that category after a week of nights down in the twenties.  We’ve had sun, a little too much, and warm temps, a bit more than I want.  But it’s finally Spring.
I mowed the lawns the other night, which is a challenge and a half using the electric mower (my parents say the gas is way worse, quit complaining) and dealing with all the excess weeds and various rock piles I may or may not run over.  But oh, when the lawn is mowed it looks so lovely.  Perfect.  Even the tall weed patches have some defined shape.
Throw in a sweet resinous smell that comes down from the mountains after the pines have baked all day in the sun, and then good clean spring smell and you have somewhat the epitome of the mountains.  Okay, it is actually better when you smell wood smoke but that was nixed the other  due to it being warm.  However there were the distant sounds of a dance going on at the small rodeo grounds.  Today is our annual local rodeo.  A joke in itself.  I’ve been once and I’m not impressed, but I love the sounds that come up from the rodeo grounds.  And it turns out after going up into town today and seeing the signs posted that it wasn’t a dance but actual rodeo proceedings.  Personally I would rather picture a rodeo dance on the grounds.  More fun, inspirational, romantic that way.

The mountains are cool, unique and very much me.  I told my cousin recently that was a city girl, and it’s very true. I am very girly girly, though I have to stick with jeans and boots most of the time due to living in the country/mountains.  However, I while I would love to wear heels and skirts more, have sidewalks and stores that actually carry what I want, I love being in the mountains.  I love that a storm can come up out of nowhere, which it did today. I love being able to step out at night and see all the constellations and stars.  Oh the stars you can see in the mountains.  So clear, so bright. I love the smell of pine, sweet grass, and cow manure.  I love seeing all the birds and having deer walking down the street, a la Northern Exposure style.  The mountains are kind of my home place.  I don’t have an actual home place after moving around all my life, but I could say I feel most at home in the mountains.

Signing off

~Kate

Springtime, French, and Should I Write About It

English: Dirty Weather Over Hagg Wood Not quit...

English: Dirty Weather Over Hagg Wood Not quite the May weather I had in mind for my walk. From the path above Swinburn’s Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I set about to walk to town yesterday and it was a lovely walk, albeit a bit on the blustery side.  For some reason, I always manage to walk when the nastier weather is coming down the mountainside.  Yesterday was no exception.  Fortunately I had my cloche hat on, though it did require me pushing it down squarely several times due to a brisk wind.

As I walked, I had a selection of French music playing on my mp3 player.  There is something about spring, wind, rain and French music that just goes together. The old adage of springtime in Paris perhaps?  Whatever the reason, Zaz’s La Pluie was tres parfait for the moment.  I highly recommend the song.

As I walked I contemplated on how the weather was perfect for something to write about.  Have you ever noticed that right at the height of a season, you are so immersed in it that you must write about it?  And yes, even though it is right at the ‘first of spring’ we are smack dab in the middle of it.  Spring started back in February when just the start of things came out.  I’ve only come to this realization after reading Liza Dalby‘s East Wind Melts the Ice, which I commented on just the other day.

But seriously, when you are at the height of the season, you just want two immerse yourself in it and kind of wallow.  I feel that way in the summer when it’s hot and muggy, or when that summer storm comes through with all it’s ravaging brilliance of a thunderstorm.  The lightning and thunder, the oppressive moisture cloying the air and pressing down.  Or in autumn when the leaves swirl around you as you walk home.  The all consuming desire to wear plaid and eat apples while carrying a pumpkin home to carve.

Okay, it might be just me, but seasons, weather and nature are very important to me.  They impress upon me not unlike music.  It’s all very important to me and my writing.  So, now I have to add or write something about walking in the blustery weather, wearing a cloche hat and French music playing….. Funny thing, all but for the French music thing, I started something last year that highlighted some of that. I just never finished it.

Typical.

Signing off

~Kate