We bend time and escape every Autumn, chasing the leaves.  The first year was too late, aspens already wintered, but we’ve learned to listen.  Our mountains call a little bit earlier, rewarding more color each season.  Colorado is a show off.

I had forgotten the calm of setting your feet on trail.  I move fast here.  I breathe deep.  No dust or sound, only wind and exhale.

Add in kids though and I move slowly, searching.  Who needs handholding or has run ahead only to cry ‘I’m tired’?

We chose a hike above tree line, the route more off-road than footpath.  Half a dozen water bottles, cheese sticks, and apples, four children, my camera and too many jackets.  Gentle breeze became gusts and I gripped my pair of little hands tightly—feeling they could blow away.  With cold ears and not much laughter, everyone kept going and we made it back in two hours.  That’s a 40 minute mph pace.

I question myself as a mother often, still healing wounds of broken attachment.  Failure I can smell a mile away, but what’s normal is not something I’ve got a nose to bless.  It’s actually more painful; because when I do take that breath, those healed scars resonate in what’s good and beautiful.

My partner loves to remind me, with such moments, that each individual in my care embodies wholeness where there was loss.  They follow in no specific order: power, desire, drama, and yes, snark. 

It’s a deep trail-breath remembering this.

So when the smallest of all roared that she would carry the backpack of four, I listened, waited, and witnessed a feisty toddler reach twelve thousand feet in her own tiny steps.
Determination and delight alive on her face, a strong and deep knowing, isn’t it good?

This is the way I love to discover my family, just as it is.  Because all good writers, I’ve learned, simply tell the truth with the life they’ve been given.

For context, a lousy mattress at the Airbnb left us sleep deprived and our craving for brick oven pizza with craft beer post-hike remained unsatisfied when tempers and appetites would walk no further.  Things were disappointing, but it wasn’t that this didn’t matter, it’s that we know loss and hope and broken hearts (no sleep or pizza can be real struggles) are children too.  They hike alongside us with plans of their own and we’re there with a listening ear, if need be. 

This is us, our mountains, the present, and my people.  I think the trees keep color like candles.  They know it is our time of endings and beginnings.

Three years here in Colorado and look at my boy smiling, those tiny rascals holding hands, this confident girl.  Unstaged, real, accepted.

Happy birthday to a life, house, and hearts we freaking literally rebuilt.

I call it, ‘the beautiful’.