When the end of my beloved summer rolls around every year, I feel myself going into a funk. I love the spirit of summer, the lightness of being out of school—even though it’s been 28 years since I’ve been in school. And, of course, the heat. Call me crazy, but 100-plus degrees are my favorite temperatures.
As summer wanes and the cooler temperatures come, I have to face yet another hard truth: the Kansas winter is coming again. But, I have survived 55 winters thus far, and I will survive another one again. The beautiful fall splendor that Mother Nature provides on the trees is always overshadowed in my mind by the hard fact that winter is inevitable.
This was inside my Dove chocolate wrapper today.
Yet, just like Monday mornings that turn out to be better than the Sunday nights I ruin dreading them, winter always is more enjoyable than the fall I ruin dreading them. And, all the while I wasn’t fully appreciating the beauty all around me, the gift nature gives us every year.
As I write on Saturday, October 8th, the trees in Kansas are just beginning to hint at fall. At least, that’s what they were doing four days ago when I left Kansas, and headed west with Gail, her 22-year-old daughter Lydia, and our friend Margaret. Margaret is technically Gail’s friend as she lives in her town, but we have all adopted her as our own. You would too, if you knew her.
She is no replacement for Suzanne; there is no such thing. Again, due to altitude sickness issues, Suzanne was not able to join us on yet another Colorado trip. We miss her dearly, and hopefully we will soon make a trip with all three sisters of The Sister Lode.
Lydia had never traveled to the mountains for enjoyment, only to the foothills near Denver to see her endocrinologist. So, this trip was a treat. As we ascended on the final hour of our drive, she was visibly awed by the Rocky Mountain splendor. She became the photographer extraordinaire, capturing the golden aspens with the glorious sunshine spilling through, and upon them. Our timing was perfect for this visual feast.
And, because we were traveling in Gail’s new space age car, we no longer had a CD player to spin our traditional John Denver tune, Rocky Mountain High. Lydia, however, being the millenial she is, had him ready to sing on her Apple playlist, so this classic song was our music loop for the last half hour. None of us tired of it, not even Lydia. This confirms she is a true mountain girl, just like her mother and aunts.
Our hosts at The Hospitality House welcomed us as they always do. This time, they had an altar prepared, paying homage to “The Kick-Ass Sisters,” as they have come to know us. It was on a table in the hallway between our rooms. We added to it, adorning the picture we took years ago, the same picture we snuck inside a frame that was hanging on the wall in our favorite corner room that houses all three of us when we all go. It took them a while to notice it, but when they did, they gave it a special new home in this place of honor. At least, that’s where it is when we are there.
The donkeys that freely roam the streets of this town were still roaming, not yet penned up safe and warm for the impending winter. They are the direct descendants of the donkeys that helped found this town as a gold-mining boomtown, traversing the underground mines to help the miners haul equipment.
Lydia, being a newbie to this gambling scene, had luck on her side. Apparently, the machines know who the new kids in town are, and give them enough bounty to keep them coming back, which, she likely will.
Because he treated me bad in the past, taking my dignity and my money multiple times after wooing me like bad boyfriends do (and, just to be fair, likely bad girlfriends, too), I walked away from this joint, never to let him cheat me again. However, at Gail’s urging, and because she had just won a small jackpot on a slot machine there, I took one last opportunity to show him who’s boss, and took my money back, walking away with a small jackpot myself, as well as a smug grin.
Nobody puts Kathleen in the corner, at least, not forever. And, to honor my word to the new merchant next door to Johnny’s , “I’ll be back after I win,” I told him, I did return to his store to celebrate my new bounty with a small piece of locally mined turquoise set in the shape of my lucky charm horseshoe, the one that I am certain helped me walk away from Johnny once and for all as the victor in this game.
The moon came up almost full in its glorious splendor. The mountains once again filled us with awe. Saturday afternoon brought a beautiful rain, and as always, we were made to feel right at home at The Hospitality House.
We laughed, we gambled, we ate, we shopped, but most of all, we enjoyed each other’s company. Gail made new friends, and renewed old friendships she has made here in the past. If you know Gail, this shouldn’t surprise you.
By the time you read this, we will likely be back at Gail’s house, as we plan to leave Sunday afternoon. We will have taken in the splendor of the changing aspens once again on our way out of town, yet another opportunity to realize that change is indeed good. It brings us another season, and will eventually bring me back to my beloved summer. And, if we recognize it and ultimately act upon it, we have the opportunity to bring desired changes to our own lives. Getting away clears the mind and cleanses the spirit, clarifying the thoughts and ideas that are begging to be heard.
Sometimes change is inevitable and unwanted, bringing heartbreak and misery. This is a part of life. Loved ones pass away, jobs and fortunes are lost, and sometimes people we love change, forcing us to make unwanted changes in our lives. We cannot change them, only our responses to them, much like I cannot change the seasons, only my responses to them.
Perhaps it could be as simple as cleaning out your closet, changing your routine to include a daily walk, or getting a new hairstyle. Or, maybe it is time to adopt a pet, or give up diet soda.
Maybe it’s time to write that novel that’s been waiting to come to life. Maybe it is time to stop saying ‘yes’ to something that only brings joy to someone else, while draining your soul. Perhaps it is time to take that trip that you said you would someday. There are seven days in a week, and someday is not one of them. I just checked my calendar to see if perhaps it was along the top with the other days, but it wasn’t. I have a few “somedays” of my own that I plan to change to a specific date.
Re-learning how to knit is on my personal change list. My great aunt taught me years ago, and I let that skill fade away. I know it is time to change that, and I plan to take a class right after I get back from auctioneer training (see last post). I am also going to keep clearing unnecessary stuff out of my house. I have been doing it for some time now, and it feels good. That is a good change.
I am excited about the changes in my life. If it is time for some in yours too, take a cue from the leaves. They always seem to know how to do it.