Where do we go from here?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Heading For The Hills

In order to get away and stay away for lengthy periods of time from the TV, computer, radio (in the car I listen to NPR all the time), and news of postearthquake Haiti, we spent most of the weekend hiking in the Sandia foothills. Ever since last Tuesday (has it already been an entire week?) I have been utterly compelled to stay connected to every bit of news I can find, and just needed some surcease. Unlike the dead, injured, homeless Haitians, I have the enormous good fortune of being able to seek surcease from my merely virtual connection to this catastrophe.

And as an aside I must say here that if this doesn't make us all stop in our tracks and realize our good fortune to live in this affluent, well-equipped country, what ever will? In 1989 San Francisco suffered an earthquake of a similar magnitude, in which sixty some people were killed, and nearly 4000 injured. Compare the numbers coming out of Haiti now (the estimate of the dead now stands at 200,000) with those, and the mind boggles. I could write an unending post on the tragedy that is Haiti, but other people are doing it elsewhere far better than I could. I tend to be a chronic complainer about many petty things, but please God, I will be able to realize that I actually have next to nothing in my life worthy of complaint.

Back to our escape from the media. I'm still on winter break, and Gail is off on Fridays, the weekend weather was gorgeous, and we had nothing beyond a few minor errands to take care of. So, we got out the guidebooks we've been accumulating since we moved out here, made up some (a lot!) trail mix, and plotted three hikes up into the foothills of the mountains that hover over the eastern edge of the city. We have made lesser attempts to hike a few of the many trails up there, but they were really more on the order of long walks. This time we did three day-hikes, each one longer and more ambitious than the preceding, and felt exuberantly proud of ourselves, not to mention how good we felt just from all that exercise, sunshine and fresh air. I have found the mountains to be a source of healing and comfort ever since the first time we traveled out here, which was just after the death of a very dear friend. The enormity of the space out here in the West, like the enormity of the ocean, makes clear how very small we humans really are - lets me know that I really am (as Lily Tomlin says in The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe,) only a Speck.

The summers are so hot here that the fall and winter are the only times we can bear to do this sort of thing. Plenty of other people hike all year round; our neighbors spend every weekend in the mountains hiking and camping. That's not gonna happen for us, but from now until the spring winds begin scouring us, and the heat starts pounding down, we're going to continue exploring the foothill trails that are so close to town; branching out to some of the closer state parks and some overnight camping as we grow braver. This proximity to natural recreation was one of the main reasons we moved here, besides proximity to the grandchildren in Denver, and it's time to start enjoying it. This weekend a friend is coming from Austin for a visit and our weekend nature adventure will be a birding trip south to the Bosque del Apache NWR. But of that, more later.

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