By Julie Hart
Special to the Herald Times
MEEKER | I didn’t plan that last Friday would be the day I opened my front door, put Cookie girl on her leash and head west down my block. I just knew I had to get out of the house.
I arrived in Meeker two-plus months ago and truth be told, I have been hibernating a bit. Moving is changing, and changing is challenging even for those of us who create change to stay interested. So I’ve been feeling a bit tender of underbelly and not wanting to go out and meet and be met. But when the Spirit moves you, as my mother says, you go.
So go I went and one step turned into the next and then another and next thing I knew I was at the end of my block facing a huge open field with gates and cow patties and—score!—a huge whitened-by-weather animal bone. I unleashed Cookie and we danced (me) and pranced (her) our way mindfully through the landmine of cow patties until we found ourselves at the base of the hill and faced with barbed wire. I cowgirled up and over the gate and as I looked back, calling “C’mon, come on,” to her for encouragement, Cookie slipped through the barbs. (Why did this make me so proud?)
And there was the trail—singletrack, buff, as I would have called it in my mountain bike racing days. But now I’m a momma bear of an almost-8-year-old-boy and this hike looked just my size.
And here is where the falling in love began: Indian paintbrush. Succulent deep orange pops of color on a stem that rises above warm-smelling green sage from a dry desert canvas. I have always loved Indian paintbrush. And then all I could see was color—yellow daisy-looking faces eager toward the sun and delicate bunches of a deep lilac shade.
I walked and walked, hiked and hiked, being careful to close my mouth to conserve moisture. Even in spring, the dry heat of a high desert clime (I had to call Scott at the Town Of Meeker to confirm that that is our ecosystem. He extrapolated on that and called Meeker a transitional zone that lies conveniently between a big timber, high alpine zone to our east and a high arid zone to our west, meaning, I took it, go one way out of Meeker and experience beauty and head the other way and experience beauty… yes, folks, this is love!).
Anyway, during my climb in the high desert clime, with no water, I took it slow and reveled in the unfolding of this beautiful landscape, my new home. When I reached the sign that told me I was on the China Wall trail, I was jubilant! I had been told weeks ago of the trail and not having done it, by name only it seemed significant. So here I was on it, doing it, and loving it. When I got to the top and looked out over town and saw all the different neighborhoods and the river running through town and all the colorful roofs, I felt connected.
And I realized that since coming here a bit over two months ago, I have been uprooted, unsure this is my spot, that these (you!) are my people. It took a haphazard hike and a remembering of who I am through something I love to do (China Wall reminded me of my two favorite hikes: Red Rocks Trail in Morrison from my years in Denver and Red Hill Trail in Carbondale from my years in the Roaring Fork Valley) to remind me from that first vision of Indian paintbrush that from the fallow time comes new growth, new color, new inspiration.
Now that I’ve stood above it, I long to be a part of this small town and I hope to stand in it, rooted, beside my new neighbors… and see what we can grow!