Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ernesto in the Rockies

Once the offspring are out of your house, you can look forward to visits. Ernesto traveled West last week to pay a call on us in our e-partment, and to see his brother Heinz. Ernesto's girlfriend Ruby came too, her first trip to Colorado.

Ernesto, Ruby and I went hiking in the Rockies.
Above timberline it was windy but a fine day for hiking. When we stopped for lunch in the shelter of some rocks we tried to attract the curious pikas with tortilla chips - but they were too skittish.

Though our trail ran mostly through National
Forest Land, we did cross briefly into Rocky
Mountain National Park
- whether by design or
chance, that short portion of our hike offered the best views of the high peaks. Here you can see the south side of Long's Peak - not Colorado's highest peak by any means, but one of the most spectacular - Long's has the large flat summit.

Its false summit Mt. Meeker stands to its right (southeast). From this vantage we're right at timberline where the vegetation changes from limber and bristlecone pines to alpine tundra and lots of rocks.

On our hike down, we paused by a stream to
admire the wildflowers, including Indian paintbrush - in this picture the eight-inch-high flowers dwarf a baby blue spruce tree.

We also saw tiny birds, a hunting hawk and a great many other wildflowers - it's been a wet late spring (snow through the end of May in the mountains) which has kept the high country green unusually late into the summer. We saw a couple of snowbanks but most have melted by now, feeding the small streams.

No Ernesto visit would be complete without Scrabble -

here's our aesthetic point for the post:

Ernesto played his final tray with DROLLER, making 3 additional words in the process and coming from behind to win.

He didn't like my triple word score bingo REARGUES so I suppose his word was revenge.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Fred and I like Low Pressure Zones, so we spent Independence Day weekend unplugged and off the grid in a friend's mountain cabin. Car full of provisions and gear, we headed west on the sunny Saturday, our first stop to fill water bottles (cabin though well-appointed lacks plumbing, electricity, gas) - but our approach to the spring coincided with the Allenspark parade. We hadn't planned to attend any festivities but there it was, so we did.
Highlights for us were the pack llamas, horses with flags and stars painted on their flanks, and fire trucks spraying water on the audience. A band on a wagon played Stars and Stripes Forever, a teenager balanced his bike on its rear wheel as he pedaled slowly down the road, and a front-end loader saluted the crowd, raising and lowering its scoop as it went.

At the cabin we rigged and went fishing in the nearby creek's occasional small fishing holes where a rock or log-jam would create a backwater no more than two feet across.
My nine foot fly-rod was perfect for reaching through brush and trees, to hover a fly in an eddy.
I caught two brookies for dinner. Fresh wild trout are incomparable - we had a sundown feast, gazing west on the cabin's deck.

And there we were treated to a sunbow - a rainbow of ice crystals in a thin cloud, lighting up with a spectrum of colors: our Aesthetic Point to cap off a fine day.

The next day was misty - I caught and threw back a small pair, further refutation to the neighbor who informed us there were no fish in that creek.

Walking back to the cabin, we saw a western tanager, a spectacular mid-sized bird with yellow breast and back, orange head and black wings. He's actually the Cover Bird of Roger Tory Peterson's Field Guide to Western Birds.

On Monday we drove to a nearby lake for a short hike, then into town to dine. At the bar we had front-row seats for a boiling dispute between waitri, one accusing the other of poaching tables. Fred offered a joke, the waitress countered with another, and she concluded it wasn't necessary to kill her co-worker, proving once again:
Levity is the highest form of gravity.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In which we Launch


For a long time, Fred and I have awarded one another an extra point for an outstanding play in Cribbage or Scrabble.

This Aesthetic Point showcases the game's finest possibilities.

In Cribbage, a good hand which is also just plain gorgeous (a straight that's also a flush, for example), earns one more point an "aesthetic point" along with the count determined by the rules.

In Scrabble, a particularly fine word fitting perfectly amid the ranks and files of letters already placed, deserves an aesthetic point.

It's the opponent's decision to award one, not based on scoring but because the play reveals the game at its best.

Aesthetic points occur in daily life too when the fish are biting, the editor likes your story, the pun just floats to the tongue...

At my nephew's recent outdoor wedding the forecast was for mid-nineties, but clouds and a breeze softened the afternoon. After guests had migrated to the open-air pavilion for the reception, sun and shade alternated until rain fell. The rainbow that followed was an aesthetic point a finishing touch courtesy of the cosmos.

Fred and I have reached an aesthetic point in our union after raising Heinz and Ernesto and sending them on their way, we emptied the big house and moved to Denver to a one-bedroom e-partment where life is simplified.