Last summer, she lived in high country. My younger daughter worked outside Estes Park, at a bed and breakfast. At the end, it was my task to bring her home. We camped a few days before hitting the road.
Camping on the edge of a vast glacial valley, we set chairs to overlook the braided streams, meandering the gold and greens of the wide space, giving us an opportunity to dream. In the center of grasses and wetlands was a rocky knoll with a stand of pine. This would be our place.
No one traveled there, because of the streams, which we forded with care, keeping clothes and pack dry. With our hike came easy conversation, as it was trusted. And we know each other very well, stepping through course brush and up crushed granite soils to stone and tree, to settle with books and snacks, until my eyes pulled at my forehead, in not so subtle intrusion. So came, in golden late day sun, a peaceful sleep at the base of sentinel trees.
Easing toward evening she suggested we drive to the ridge and watch the stars arrive.
Back, then, to bring dinner to the mountain tops. Have you never been to the Colorado Rockies, you have never seen the spine of North America, raised and running as fingers and arms embracing this western world. To drive the Trail Ridge Road is to work the mettle of the flatlander, with quick switchbacks and thousand foot drops. So I let her drive.
At the end of our day, we found a widening on the roadside to set the Prius, while we watched each moment approach, and appropriate quiet meshed with the peace of the tundra, as warm orange, green and tan textures flooded with shadow.
And with the dusk, came twilight, whose blanket tricks the eye, bringing unseen image designed to unhinge belief and reason. A spark to look at will disappear. But to the peaceful gaze, each point can be counted, as colder spirits ride down peaks, finding gaps in sweatshirts and jackets, adding crispness to the night and clarity to vision. This was a moment.
And so we close the night. I drive down. She picks Pink Floyd as well as Simon and Garfunkel. She makes me laugh with her eclecticism.
Camp felt a bit warmer that night, as we chatted about the friends she made through the summer, and how they would be missed.
The next day, back to the Great Plains.