Dunafon Castle. I'd gotten a new pair of sneakers and a camera especially for the weekend of hiking we'd had planned, and, though I remembered the sneakers and the camera on this first hike, I forgot the battery for the camera, so didn't get any pictures. Doggone it. But, we made an Autumn Leaf Faerie in our ramble through the woods, and took a picture of it when we got home. (See her lying sideways up there. I haven't figured out how to rotate pictures on my new camera yet... We'll make a tutorial on how to construct these later in the week, if anyone's interested.)
wonderful rainy day adventure in Manitou Springs. Then, on Sunday afternoon, Dan and I got to get away together for a little mountain drive. We had time to take a stroll around Genessee Park and then stopped in for some Beau Jo's Mountain Pie (indescribably delicious pizza) in Idaho Springs before the rain and hail came.
4) Tuesday, the little girls took off for California, and those of us left behind consoled ourselves with a mountain hike, heading this time for Devils' Head Peak -- a gorgous hike on trails easy enough for William and Gabe to negotiate. You can make the trip easily from your seat right there where you are. Are you ready for a little hike?
Here we are near the head of the trail. Got some comfy shoes on?
Here we go.
Lots of good finds on this trail. X marks the spot here:
William lasted almost to the half-way point before he started needing piggy-back breaks. He wouldn't take his turn giving us any, though.
Nature's schoolroom: the letter C
Not even half-way there, and look, we're up in the clouds, already.
There was a lot of trail talk about the little boys' favorite guy, Sasquatch, but William made sure we knew that this was the real big foot.
Do you need a breather? We were pooped out at the halfway point. (Not really. Gabe and the girls were fine. Only William and I were really complaining... Or, well... more like William was whining and I was groaning.)
A big letter Y.
Why? Because we like you.
Another little breather. The air is thin up here, isn't it?
And then there was U.
Theresa on the north side of the mountain. (Can you tell I'm still learning my camera?)
And, finally, we made it to the top! Here's the little cabin where the park ranger, fire-lookout guy lives during the summer months.
And waaaay up there is where he goes to work every morning!
This is the stairway that he takes up the rockface to the watchtower. Of course we went up to have a look -- some of us more energetically than others.
And here we are, all the way up at the top. You can just see the park ranger inside the door, a sprightly young man in his 60s.
And here are a couple views from the top. It was stunning. Photos cannot possibly convey the magnificence of the 360 degree view from the top of the world!
On the way down, we found a cross and a heart and remembered that we had stood on the devils' head (Devil's Head Peak) on the Feast of Our Lady's Seven Sorrows. Of course we talked about how the Blessed Mother crushes the head of the devil, and though we couldn't quite figure out a way to explain the connection of all of it with our being there on that feast of Our Lady, we felt like there must be one...
5) So we rested up Wednesday and I caught up on Laundry while the kids caught up on some schoolwork. Then, yesterday, we diddybopped over to the Denver area and poked around the Littleton Historical Museum, where we got to watch a blacksmith making hooks for his tools, and where we saw the most darling little cottage garden we want to use as a model for our garden next year. We fell in love with a circa 1890s cottage -- and I couldn't help but get bit by the "simplicity" bug, as we wandered around in the quiet, enjoying the beauty of the fibers and the wood and the conspicuous absence of anything that buzzed or hummed or spewed forth noise or pictures. I think life really was better in the old days. Here are a few photos from the day. No taglines, necessary, I don't think...
7) So, you can see it's been a busy week. But, instead of the nitty gritty wedding work I probably should have been accomplishing, most of our activities have been satisfying some crazy wanderlust that's bubbled up. And I don't regret a step we've taken or a thing we've done. But, there was one thing we did this week that rises above all the others in importance, something I'm glad we did, even though I dreaded doing it. There was a funeral scheduled at our church on the morning of my birthday. It was for a man named Elmer whom I 'd only met once, but about whom I'd heard only the best things. He lived across the street from our church and had been ill for a long time, but had been the kindest of friends to our parish. He donated roses to the garden and a set of knives for the kitchen; he bought Father a good pair of gloves for the winter; his door was always open to anyone who came to visit. Always thoughtful, ever a good neighbor, Elmer died last Monday and was laid to rest on my birthday.
And I tried to figure out a way to get out of going to his funeral. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I lay in bed early Friday morning plotting out my excuses. I hadn't slept well the night before. Elmer and his family didn't know us from Adam. It's over an hour to Church and I didn't even have Mass clothes out for the children. It was my birthday, for heaven's sake! But, my Guardian Angel (who likely woke me up so early to begin with) must've gotten the better of me, and, I'm not even sure exactly how or why, but we ended up going. Dan, all the Littles and I got up, got dressed, packed the car, and got to Elmer's Requiem Mass before the choir started singing. And I'm glad we made it.
Being reminded of your own mortality on your birthday is sobering, but hope-filled, too. The Requiem Mass, in all its beauty and solemnity is the finest consolation to the living and the dead. It's not just a goodbye, but a send-off, with a trunk full of prayers and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to get you where you're going. It's such a sorrow to lose a good man's presence among us, but what a thing to see in action: the grace of the Holy Sacrifice is swirling between heaven and earth, the Communion of Saints is at work, the cycle of life is turning as God wills it, and all is right with the world. Participating at that Requiem Mass for Elmer allowed me to pray another human soul forward. On my birthday. It seemed somehow right and good when all was said and done. And it was definitely the most important thing I did all week. I'm glad I didn't sleep in.