This is a little recap of some of the memorable moments from this weekend.
Friday night I headed to the mountains for the first camping of the season. I arrived at Red Feather Lakes by 4:30pm and began the tent set-up. A friend would be joining me later, so I was on my own.
Blustery wind whipped the tent footprint all around, until finally I could secure it to the ground with heavy rocks. I got the tent laid out after several tries and started the arduous process of putting together the poles, fighting the air currents the entire time. After about 30 minutes the tent was upright and immediately tried to take flight; it wasn’t staked yet. Oops.
I messed with the rain fly for another 20 minutes, and would have given up in frustration except that I wasn’t really frustrated. I was hungry and cold, and my fingers were red and stiff, but I just didn’t have enough energy to get mad.
Later that night, several hours after I fell asleep, the noise started. A party was in full swing at the campsite 25 yards away, and the 15 drunk, happy men were thrilled to be together. My friend and I talked as we lay awake, until I admitted that they weren’t getting any quieter. My phone announced the time as 12:15am. I strolled my little self over to their campsite and called “Hey guys!” in a friendly, loud voice, to make myself heard over their laughter. A quick conversation between us, and they promised to keep their noise down. They excused their noise because of the status of their gathering (a bachelor party) and the fact that some of them hadn’t seen each other for years.
Two hours later, we were still awake. My friend walked over and had a conversation with the loud, happy men. The same result; empty promises of a lower noise level, only this time we learned that they were just blowing off steam after a hard week of “employment and dealing with government issues”. We drifted in and out of sleep, trying to ignore them. Finally, at 4am, I pulled on my shoes, hat and coat and set out again, this time in search of the camp host. As I walked away I heard them shout “goodnight” to each other, and suddenly I hoped that they had talked and drank themselves out. A stroll around the campground and breathing in the still night air soothed me, and I returned to a quiet campsite. Snuggling into my warm sleeping bag, I slept until 10am.
After a late breakfast we drove a few miles to the Shambala Mountain Center and visited the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. I’ve never been to the Stupa on a weekend day, and was amazed at the number of people arriving to pay homage and meditate.
Upon entering the Stupa a feeling of serenity entered my body. The giant golden Buddha smiled his benevolent smile on all who sat at his feet. I folded my body onto the meditation mat, closed my eyes, and allowed the gentle energy of the many years of Buddhist compassion to fill my soul. My mind became quiet. At last, the words “I love you” started repeating themselves over and over in my head. The color and warmth of the words filled my heart until finally, I breathed in a deeply and opened my eyes.
That afternoon, as we started gathering firewood, my friend spotted a bald eagle in the tree just north of us. As we watched a smaller, black bird darted in and out, trying to dive bomb the white-headed eagle. After several minutes of this abuse the bald eagle took flight and we watched in awe as his giant wingspan rode the currents of the air as he disappeared from our view.
That night we made a fire and huddled close with our soup bowls. A gentle mist had started but it wasn’t enough to chase us into the tent. The reddish hued flames reminded me of the warmth that the Buddha’s words had created in my heart, and my body soaked in the heat.
Memorial Day I woke early and played on my computer until the first hint of light tinged the horizon. By 5am my shoes were laced and I headed out the door. The sky was gray and mist hung down onto the valley. The cool air tingled my bare arms, reminding me that every day is a fresh start.
As I worked my way into the second mile my breath was even and my feet were light, even though I’m carrying an extra five pounds that has filled out my frame. A coyote appeared and trotted just fast enough to stay 50 yards in front of me. He looked back from time to time; with every glance his tempo increased slightly. I paced him until finally the pressure of being followed became too much, and he broke into a run, disappearing into the field just as I turned onto the same bike path.
I ran with my iPod and no Garmin, so this was only a slightly naked run. My legs were strong and I decided to run long. I had started early enough that I would be home in plenty of time to make coffee and shower before anyone missed me. As I crested the hill to Davidson Mesa I scanned the parking lot; empty. On this Memorial Day morning, the majority of the runners and athletes in the area would be converging on the Bolder Boulder race that was set to start at 6:30.
My footsteps crunched on the dirt trail and I startled a handful of large bunnies that tried to will themselves into invisibility upon my approach. As I circled the mesa the clouds to the east were backlit, but they quickly lost their luminosity as thicker waves of dreariness rolled in.
After 7.5 miles I was at the base of the bike path and turning onto the same street that I saw the coyote when I noticed a second coyote trotting down the same sidewalk as me. He wasn’t scared and neither was I. As we passed within 2 feet of each other I admired his grey-spotted coat. He barely glanced at me; I clearly wasn’t a threat.
Back at home the sudden warmth of the house made my chilly skin prickle into goosebumps, and I felt the sweat that was gathered at my hairline start to work its way south.
I filled the coffee maker, removed my shoes and drank a huge glass of water as I waited for the first cup of black gold to be ready for my mug, then walked upstairs to christen my body with water.