A Fortunate Miscalculation

Many months ago when I planned for a long weekend getaway to see the autumn color we miss where we live, I chose Park City, UT as our destination. I miscalculated their fall season by several weeks and forty degrees of temperature. The higher elevations of Utah had already welcomed their first snowfalls, and most leaves were long gone from the trees. We saw lots of color nonetheless, just not what I had imagined. If winter looked and felt like this more consistently, I would happily include much more of it in my life.

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A Miracle

Now I personally know what one looks like. After a nice Sunday evening concert at church, we started for home as light rain began, which within minutes turned to hail and high winds tearing tree limbs and popping street lights, alarming us enough to detour into a shopping center parking lot away from electric lines to wait out the storm. We had no clue a tornado had been developing and was deciding to take its unpredictable path to coincide with ours, or that the shopping center at Preston/Royal where we parked was going to undergo terrible destruction. There was nothing to do as it arrived but hang on and pray. It worked. These photos were taken the next morning by Dallas Morning News and D Magazine staff photographers and Instagrammers at the location where we experienced a few minutes I hope never to do again.

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And yet we were unscathed. The windows of our car held against a battering by flying missiles, and we were actually able to drive home that night, through blocked roads and downed wires. The car was totaled, but I have to credit it (a Lexus GX460) with superior service to us.

Our experience was of little consequence compared to what we’ve since seen in photos of nearby home destruction. And no one lost their life anywhere along the paths of the several tornadoes that touched down in and around Dallas Sunday night. You can’t call that anything but a miracle.

Friends in Far Places

It isn’t easy to get to the Thousand Island area of the Canadian lakes, but happily we were invited by old friends to see their fabulous lake home there, and then enjoy their expertise as tour guides in Montreal and Quebec City. It was a delightful experience with good companions, and we were grateful for the opportunity to see these special places. We found Quebec particularly charming with its riverfront setting, an Old Town on two different elevations connected by a funicular, good cafes and shopping areas, gardens, funky districts with lampshade street lights, wall murals, and shiny tin roofs on old houses. It wasn’t quite fall yet, but chilly rain told us that change was coming, and the city lifestyle would be different soon.

“The Overstory”

 

I am enthralled with Richard Powers’ 2018 book “The Overstory”. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction so I’m not the only one who likes it a lot. I’m not finished with it yet, so can’t guarantee that it won’t let me down in some way before I’m done, but I don’t see how it could. The writing is gorgeous, the characters interesting, and the “overstory” itself is about trees. 

I’ve always loved trees, but Powers has educated me immensely about them and their contribution to our life on earth. I’ve even been driven to look back through some of my photographs to see how frequently I focused on trees, and what miraculous things they are. Their variety, sizes, shapes, textures, and colors are only the visible evidence of their beauty; what they DO is nothing short of mind-bending. The recent news of the number of trees being lost in the Amazon and the devastating environmental effect of that loss to the world makes this book even more timely and important. And besides, it’s an imaginative, descriptive and thought-provoking wonder. It’s been a long time since I felt that way about a book.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

You really have to want to see this place to go to the trouble of getting there; it’s off the beaten path in the southeast corner of Colorado. The drive from Breckinridge offered different topography and more wildflowers than we had seen elsewhere so the time passed quickly, but even when first catching a glimpse of the dunes, there are miles to go before reaching them. They sit against a mountain range with eerie visual impact that only increases as you walk through the grasses, cross the riverbed at its seasonal trickle and stand on the hot sand at their base to gape. It’s an alien world, and those little black dots seen here and there are hikers and sand surfers undertaking moonscape sports. Clouds casting shadows change the landscape and make the dunes look particularly dramatic, and they must be spectacular at dawn and dusk, and when the river runs high and the cottonwoods share their color.BC44552E-4E42-41A7-95F8-1E2851915099B0705AF9-99EB-432C-B700-4186A742DADABE52BDBD-4B1E-41AC-BCB3-0DF121290FE46D3B0143-3986-4116-B740-FADEB50A71A1EAA9509E-2369-4783-809C-8FB9B00A9C6F7FD91719-45BB-409E-B5FF-51120B8BE9F633D4299D-748F-44EB-BAB8-11B6BFC922A44916AF64-6F22-4D23-B0D0-54C6B609578B890D6924-D179-4223-AF30-DE69B0267AF16BA7293D-17AC-4847-AD49-94A4942126567AAC544F-919D-4BAE-A165-D9FD9A41DE6198AED056-3F36-44FF-BC80-9BAACB328A32Rain teased us as we left the park, and we finally aimed our compass towards home.A9422EF2-46FD-4C13-913E-4CDC14AB1A8913743851-7D91-44F7-B406-D6A5CEFB31B8

 

Creativity

Whether by God’s hand or man’s, I am in awe of the visionaries who created the world I am blessed to see. The Colorado countryside from Vail to Beaver Creek to Frisco to Breckinridge is awash with interesting towns, dramatic scenery, summer craft markets and flower combinations worthy of gold medals in any competition for creativity. I’m glad it is only my job to appreciate and not judge a winner among them.

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The Road Less Traveled

And what a difference! We drove this morning from cloudy Aspen to sunny Avon, the long way. When extra miles mean Independence Pass (the highest paved state highway over the Continental Divide in Colorado, at 12,095 ft), one will be challenged not to shout out either from terror or glory. The road is too narrow in some places for two passing cars and hairpin turns without  vision is common. There is evidence of avalanche damage in many places and falling rock is a frequent hazard. But to reach the summit, beyond the tree line, is glorious. Descending to Twin Lakes and back to “normal” scenery isn’t too shabby either.

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