A Big Stretch

4/26/12

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
Sir Edmund Hillary

“What then?” said the ewe, as she considered her next step.

Is it wise to climb higher and edge to the cliff or would it be smarter to abandon the imagined prospects and bed down right here?

“Why not?” said the ewe, as she conquered that which threatened her clear-sighted progress.

Would not the view from above be worth a wobble and a waver or two?

“Of course!” said the ewe, as she stretched her legs further and readied for more of the climb.

And with a look all around to appreciate her accomplishments, the ewe continued on.

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These photos were taken in Waterton Canyon, where the South Platte River flows out the mountains eastward toward the Plains through the foothills southwest of Denver. Colorado is home to the largest population of bighorn sheep anywhere. Rams have massive, coiled horns that can make up as much as 10 percent of their body weight. Ewes have spike-like horns. Bighorn are often seen far above, gazing into the distance from the tops of ridges and from the edges of cliffs. Surely their view is incredible.

On the Road to the Top of the World

2/6/2012

Along the road to the top of the world is a path and a stream and a tree.

Where the three meet lives a wise sage who goes for long periods of time without the pleasure and burden of company. 

In the cold of winter mornings, when the ground outside the window is lit by the lamp and the fire warms the room, the sage is writing a memoir.

Progress is slow as memories are faded and mostly unremarkable and the pace along the road to the top of the world is lackadaisical.

One day the sage decides to break from the task to follow the path further into the forest.   In the stillness of the ponderosa pines, the sage comes upon an elk who is gazing back with a look of great curiosity.  The two lock eyes and assess one another and the sage sees that the elk is unafraid.  Minutes pass before the elk ambles off, leaving the sage to speculate about the things the elk will do that day.

The sage proceeds along the path for a long while and comes upon a clearing at the time when the sun is straight overhead.   There is call for water and a rest so the sage lies with eyes closed on the warmth of a large flat boulder at the edge of the open space.  The sun moves further west before the rustle of wind and the sense of shared space prompts the sage to wake and to spot, off on the other side of the meadow, a moose.  The magnificence and strength of the moose is duly respected before the sage tiptoes backward, downwind and away. 

At the part of the path that climbs higher, where rocks encumber and a steep incline challenges, the sage spies a group of mountain goats who are foraging for food near tree line.  They are hungry and surefooted and move resolutely step by thoughtful step toward nourishment. The sage watches and feels satisfied.

As the sage returns home to where the path and the stream and the tree unite, there is a quail at the feeder who busies itself with gathering what it needs.  Ever circumspect, one of its eyes constantly sees the entire circumference that surrounds the yard, and the quail watches as the sage and the dog who is always there go inside the house.

And there, by the warmth of the fire and the light of the lamp the sage still cannot think of a remarkable memory to add to the memoir.  Instead, the sage manifests the following:

 May you move along your path with the grace and bravery of an elk.

 May you feel as strong and magnificent as a moose.

 May you be as steady and resolute as a mountain goat as you make your journey.

 May you have the vision of a quail so you can see clearly to gather what you need.

 And may you always be surrounded with love and companionship, like that of a good dog.

 

Have a great week!