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Of Mountains, Lakes and a Few Great Humans

    How time flies! Just looked at the blog and realized that I haven’t posted anything in over a month. I have been away too long. I have been busy. Like a busy little bee.

    My work is as bad as ever, I moved to a new place, setting it up and settling down. Plus I took a mini vacation to a cosy little town in the foothills of a snowy mountain.

    Truth is, it was exhilarating. While the rest of the world was busy in the live commentary of their lives on social media, it was liberating to live in an exile. Away from all prying, cyber stalking; un-glued from my couch, with a larger and more vivid palette of blues, greens and browns than my 15” laptop – the whole thing was refreshing.   

  But now that I am back and firmly settled cross-legged on my couch with my laptop, I’ll tell you about my wonderful vacation.


    During a long weekend we took off to Colorado to meet a dear friend and see the scenic Rocky Mountains. We’d been planning it long, too long in fact. And then it was almost not happening. We had even tried to cancel the flight tickets. But then everything eventually fell in place and we found ourselves in our car heading toward the airport.

    “Huh!” we exclaimed! We were finally going. We almost didn’t care when we remembered that we forgot our coats at home. You see, even though its summer here, mountains are cold, always. “We will buy or borrow”, we said and happily drove on. But by the time we reached the airport, our list of forgotten-at-home was long enough to cover our car. Yet we were indomitable, like starched stiff cotton.

    We found the airport unusually crowded. Families in all shapes and sizes with fat luggage trotted in every direction. The moving walkways could hardly move with so many on them. Food stores resembled bee hives (thank god we ate at home). The waiting area was clearly divided between two groups of people. One had people with noses buried deep into their phones and the other didn’t.

    On the flight a small girl sat beside me. She told me that she was going to visit her grandma because she made world’s best coconut cookies and I could come too if I liked! Tempting though it was to tag along with her to taste world’s best coconut cookies, I preferred to stick to our original plan to unravel ourselves in the mountains. But she won my heart. Inviting strangers to your home – only children are capable of such generosity. 

    When she bade me goodbye at the Denver airport, I had already started smelling the mountains.

***

    The next three days were about mountains. Icy trails more slippery that wet algae. Lakes as clear as the sky above. Or as stormy as the wind. 

    During the three days of my vacation, I saw a lot of things, new and old alike. Heard those numerous sounds nature presents us with. We drove hundreds of miles with a fierce stream on our left and vertical walls of rocks on our right. Lakes, trails, hikes, woods, animals and mountains aplenty – the serenity only nature makes possible. I soaked them all in. I spread my arms wide and let the wind spray me with water it carried from the river. I clutched the rock to climb and let its warmth spread through my body. And then I re-discovered that there were still plenty humans who lived with the nature as one, literally.

   One of them was Amanda. An artist. She collects uprooted or fallen trees from rockslides and makes sculptures from them. That’s her living too. For every collected fallen tree she made sure to plant a new one.

    I first saw her when I was walking on the trail around the Lily Lake set in the valley between two mountains. She was standing on a paddleboard in the middle of the lake. How was she balancing herself erect on that thin a board? I was impressed. As I watched, she took the paddle board in the center of the lake and started doing yoga. If I was impressed earlier, I could only gape now.

    An hour later when she came down, she smiled at me. She had noticed me watching. “What would be a better place to bow to the sun? With water under your feet and wind in your face, with the mountains standing tall as your guards, where else could you thank the sun better for such great tutelage?” She said.

    Then there was Cato. I met him at the valley above the Horse Tooth Lake. Losing both his legs in a rock slide didn’t stop him from loving the mountains. He came there often just to sit and to take pictures. During the day he taught seventh graders. Even after that, he treated wounded birds at his home. Sitting on his wheel chair, he told me, “Watching the hues of orange and reds when the sun sets behind the mountains while sitting by this lake is the best thing that can happen to a human. I will not give up this privilege for anything in the world. Not even expensive prosthetic.”

    The trip was awesome. But meeting Amanda and Cato was the highlight of this trip. Their humility was a direct consequence of living so close to the nature. Or so they told me. “When you live with the mighty mountains – so vast, capable of so much destruction, yet so calm, protecting – it reflects on you. You learn to recognize your smallness and that automatically makes you humble.”

Love,

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Riot of Random

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