Farewell to the Scottage.

The past four days, I’ve had the pleasure of being in Colorado with some close friends. Though it’s been a while since I’ve actively seen patterns in my life, the theme of this trip was a resounding “learn.”  Being in Estes Park at the Scottage – a wonder in its own right – was as close to being in a different world as I could be, and I realized that there was learning to be done as soon as I got off the airplane.

  • The elevation will snatch your breath away from you as soon as you try to try, leaving you breathlessly in awe of the majesty surrounding you.
  • Hummingbirds will land on your finger if you are situated where they usually perch to drink greedily from hummingbird feeders.
  • Male hummingbirds make obnoxious noises (as do grasshoppers when they fly).
  • Aspen leaves sound cool when the wind blows through them.
  • You can actually see stars at night (and if you’re lucky, lightning striking far-off mountains).
  • A wide variety of mushrooms grow everywhere; you can eat the puff-balls, but avoid the other stuff.
  • Wearing a rain jacket over bare skin is surprisingly helpful for staying cheery despite tumbles into a frigid river.
  • Tubing is awesome, even if you fall in the river.
  • Sunscreen is no jodan.
  • Putting band-aids on and then duct-taping over it will help you ignore popped blisters over the course of the nine-and-a-half mile hike (according to Apple Health) to the top of Mount Ida.
  • You can actually hike to the literal top of mountains.
  • The continental divide is the place where if water falls on one side, it goes out to the Pacific; if it falls on the other side, it goes out to the Atlantic.
  • Puzzles are sometimes necessarily group efforts.
  • It can actually hail on you near the top of mountains.
  • Rocks provide great cover from wind, if you can find them in just the right configuration.
  • Pika are amazing.
  • Nice-u and nice-u janai.
  • Maple syrup is somehow better warm.
  • “Warm” can be pronounced like “arm” with a “w,” or “war” with an “m.”
  • Hammock World grows on you.
  • Never try to re-make the Chosen One; once you throw it across the river, leave its memory behind to become a legacy lest you be pierced by a false prophet – huh?

The list goes on and on; I’m far too tired to record the rest of the factual knowledge I learned.  However, beyond the random facts here and there that I learned, I learned a bit more about myself.  During the hike up Mount Ida, I spent quite a bit of time slowly making my way up the mountain.  Having never been exposed to such biting wind and dry, cold, oxygen-deprived conditions, I found myself switching between being able to socialize and enjoy the hike and mechanically putting one foot in front of the other until the temporary goals that I set were reached, agonizing at each moment about holding back the rest of the group.  The times I found myself alone were spent deep in earnest, complaining prayer with pushback from myself regarding the fortune of my circumstances.  I went through the joy of being in creation and being humbled by God’s creation to despising the many stones that had made the ascent up the mountain possible in the first place.  Having nearly destroyed my ankles at least fifteen times, the only anchor I had was that at the end, I would look back on it as blessing.  And I do now consider it a blessing!  I realized how fickle I was in relating to God on that hike, and at the end of the day, all I could say was that God has provided just enough strength for each step, bringing companions to me when the morale was low.  It was quite a bit more soul-baring than I expected to encounter on the mountaintop.  The best part about all this was that I had read Psalm 61:1-3 the night before the hike, which reads:

Hear my cry, O God,
    listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
    when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy.

Thank You, Lord, for Your infinite wisdom in drawing my soul closer to You.

However, the lesson that I count myself most blessed to learn was encouragement, patience, and hospitality.  During the hikes that I went on, I encountered an abundance of encouragement in the subtlest of ways; sometimes it would be a direct, “you’re doing great!” but other times, it would just be a welcome into casual conversation that forgot the rigor of the hike.  The provision of home-cooked meals day in and day out was coupled with a joy to serve that I had rarely seen in my life, and it made the mealtimes that much more life-giving.  When mushroom-hunting, it was always a pleasure being guided to a large mushroom waiting to be discovered despite never finding many on my own.  The list, once again, goes on and on, but who can complain about such an abundance of God’s nature being manifested in part within men and women?  The people I met and spent time with at the Scottage were all tremendous in spirit and gentle in nature, and I’m sorry to have left so early.  Nevertheless, being at the Scottage was, is, and will forever be one of my fondest memories.

“Oh, the Lord is good to me

and so I thank the Lord

For giving me the mountain trails,

the parents help that never fails

The Lord is good to me.”

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The green leaves washed in the light of the sun looked yellow; the tree stood in yellow-green silence as the wind tried to get a rise out of it.  An unseen, shapeless, colorless cloud – I really haven’t seen the darn thing – passed in front of the sun as other dirty-white, partially-torn cotton balls (or sick vape clouds) moved briskly along the sky blue belt.  They’re moving faster today than usual.  The smell of brown-sugar coated ribs assaults me from the oven downstairs – just morty fore minutes before charring them on the grill.  I begin to hear myself breathe, and suddenly, I’m enveloped in the sounds coming from the click-clack of my keyboard; my typing slows to try to reduce the noise, but the frustration of words passing me by urges me to sacrifice silence for more prose.  The volume goes up, and the inspiration goes down.  Coming face to face with the spectres of assumed creativity can prove to be quite a humbling task.  It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself free rain (simmer down, I know what I’ve down) over the downpour of literary attempts to create, to opine, to connect, to attribute, to illuminate, to narrate, to embody.  4/12    Kim paper #1 scrawled across a moving cloud reminds me that I’ve finished one of the milestones of this semester – I also need to wipe my window clean.  A bird – probably – flies across my window.  It could have been a bat.  Or a bat.  Or Badtz-Maru.  Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.  A smaller bird – seen this time – flies slower across my window headed in the same direction as the previous blurd (this seems the most genuine way to characterize the previous thing).  I wonder where they’re all headed.  Do they even know?  Maybe it’s the annual meeting of birds in which birds of all feathers come together to resolve their differences in orderly, singsong manners.  The crows and the sparrows would probably have much to reconcile.  I yawn, and I feel somewhere behind my sternum, between my shoulders, right at the point of rising when drawing breath, go dry.  Seventeen more minutes, and then it’s off to the ribs I go; my short, meandering, realistic, pointless, odd narrative is finally at its end as the bed calls for me to lay down and scroll until the ribs scream at me from their foil coffins.

Falling Branches.

 

A branch fell down today, carried off by

the wind?

Or was it the weight of life

bearing downwards a moment too long,

breaking its ability to hold on?

It fell slowly but loudly whispered,

demanding my attention, and so I paid.

The leaves fluttered, excited

to meet the ground.

The grass! Their unknown, distant cousins embraced

some of them, yet some of them

were still born aloft by the natural way of

the branches.

They had to wait their turn.  Warmth found them all

as the sun shadowed them with light;

they wait until night to begin life anew.

The thoughts of the natural world are –

or aren’t they?

Perhaps I’ve been staring outside for too long.

Moon Beams.

Tonight is a good night for nostalgia,

so go to the lake.

The moon says hello from the surface,

you wave politely.

~

What memories shall we make tonight?

Perhaps the trees will light aflame

in remembrance of

three hundred forgotten stars.

~

Your sighs howl in branches

and wind up in your lap;

don’t forget to look

up – and see yourself always upwards.

~

Eyes put on colder lenses

as the night grows softer, fuzzier.

Warmth yearns for freedom

from weathered tombs.

~

You let go of the clinging in your eyes,

scattered free on moon beams.

So they walked on the moon,

forever forgetting home.

Magnificence.

A crashing wave upon a stone,

centered beyond its usual home.

Alone, the wind guides waves

back to shore so they can tell a poem.

What legends must they tell?

What fable is so pressing?

Beyond the horizon is a

return that needs addressing.

Swiftly, Lord, You are coming;

with love, You’ve waited all these years.

The stones of Your creation

are crying out, stained with ocean tears.

Oceans deeper than our fathoms,

Forests fuller than our dreams

speak to Your imagination

Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.

Forgive us when we are

silent about Your glory.

Make us each a crying stone

that speaks, in part, Your story.

May Your fullness reigns in us,

bearing through us some new fruit;

May You deeply speak to us,

sharing with us Your whole truth.

Though the mountains may now stand,

they will fall when waves have finished

telling of Your ceaseless mercy and

glory no more diminished.

 

Hay Fever.

The lonely flowers roar between the trees,

as snowfall graces withered golden leaves.

Some clouds of white in royal sky do yawn

upon the song of dusk’s dear friend, the dawn.

The blades bend forth with every silent breath;

from green to grey – a gradual passing death.

A wind, a gust, a gale, a squall, a storm

does rob the land of all that might feel warm.

So, small pebbles arise with time to show

that nature guards itself against its foes.

And mountains gaze into the forest land,

content to know that they shall always stand.

The sun awakes from linear slumber now

to shine upon the ocean’s wavy brow.

The swell and fall of endless love between

the ocean and its heart, the shore, is seen.

As stars guffaw beyond the atmosphere,

the planets rotate freely without fear.

But comets fly around and try to feel

the gravity of their lifelong ordeal.

 

Metamorphosis.

It is again the time to change,

to fly and leave this humble plane.

This lumpy body’s soft comfort

shall be exchanged for winged fame.

Attached below a branch’s shade,

the merry fellow curls halfway.

His head and limbs are useless now

and his old skin he does betray.

Once free of skin, he winds up tight,

he holds in close his inmost thoughts.

A shell around him slowly forms

that will bestow some polka dots.

And so he waits, and waits, and waits.

A pair of wings instead of feet!

But soon he finds, within that shell,

his metamorphosis complete.

Lightness of Being.

To walk among the meadows

and not break out in hives.

To smell the trampled flower

and hope that it survives.

A wisp of cloud beyond the view,

grassy feathers specked with dew –

its name is just a life that thrives.

As sunbeams pour onto the Earth

and springtime has just given birth,

the heart is cheered by time.

Though clouds float on in silent mirth,

they shine with joy’s peerless worth

with wisdom just sublime.

A feather falls as if it flies –

the pull of gravity it flees.

The wind bears it upon its sighs

as the sun smiles on all it sees.

Roads Traveled.

I’ve walked a shadow’s dance,

a letter’s prance, a mountain’s trance.

Lances, shattered spiral twirls,

fallen stars that sunshine hurls,

poppy meadows deign to bellow

melodies of churches yellow.

A song of sorrow for tomorrow,

dancing sprite a heart did borrow.

Pardon me, the ride’s at three,

I have not paid the rainbow fee!

Time to eat a panda’s meat,

filled with fury, tasty heat –

in a hurry, speak the worry

as I run to seek the meek.

World 1.

Anywhere the eye glanced, unyielding trees stood sentinel, unspeaking but all-seeing.  Only one clearing existed, and a small stack of firewood was centered amidst the open space, prepared to burn at a moment.  Around the acres of forest, an entire range of mountains, known as the Shifting Mountains, engulfed the malleable land, the stone guardians to the secluded land of Gyr.  The only opening to Gyr was frozen once a year, a large river that cut a small opening in the rocky impasse.  If not by this river, which the indigenous people called the Silent Pathway, the only method to gain access to Gyr was by traversing the chaotic terrain.  Legends say that the mountains are called the Shifting Mountains because those who have attempted to scale them have found themselves further off mark than they thought, closer to their start than conceivable, and a long way from making any kind of progress.  The few who made it over the mountains and down into the land learned from the natives that the easiest course of action was to wait a season for the Silent Pathway to bubble with vigor before proceeding. As for the winged creatures, however, passage was no easier – the howling winds atop the peaks denied any course of nature, blowing in a manner that would most inconvenience the sojourner.  These winds they called the Calm Harm – so named because of how silent but forceful the winds were, like an invisible hand of discipline.

Within the mountains, one found an abundance of arboreal greenery.  If trees were not chief, then the vines that outgrew the patience of boulders reigned.  Although the rocky formation encircling the forest within was breathtakingly massive, the amount of overgrowth utterly overwhelmed all of Gyr’s visitors. Each tree, though all of one species, had different lines in its bark.  Some trees had holes to house the wandering critters that moved about during the day, while others remained unscathed for years, accumulating a thick natural armor.  Within the boughs of the trees lay many a nest, happily filled with eggs or meticulously prepared to uphold the weight of the future.  The gloom of a winter sky loomed near, and escaping birds flitted across the darkened sky as rain cascaded down from above, looking for these same boughs to find shelter under. The thick, tall trees began to glisten under the moonlight, illuminated with the sweat of the sky.  As the low rumble began to amble across the lands, the mountains sighed in the background underneath the thunderous roar.