But leave we did traveling the familiar route to the high country of Colorado. We settled in a little mountain town, (where my parents bought a rustic cabin in the early 50’s) along with a collection of kids and grandkids. The cabin is in a deep valley carved by the Crystal River with mountains rising up on each side. I’m in awe of the majestic scene as well as the wildflowers native to this part of the world. But I can’t help pulling out my laptop for a peak at the flowers I have left behind. I know that by the time we return to Michigan, the landscape will have a different contour and hew. Because of the accelerated blooming of everything this year, I may see the stiff goldenrod and New England asters in full bloom.
My biggest decision for vacation is always the choice of books. This year I want to reread Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountainand Summer: A Spiritual Biography of the Season, one of the seasonal anthologies edited by Susan Felch and Gary Schmidt. Although quiet time for reading or writing comes at a premium among this lively crowd, I have already found some gems among the pages that remind me of home and pilgrimage. In Richard Jeffries’ essay, “Meadow Thoughts”, he confesses that “summer” is impossible to write: “The delicacy and beauty of thought or feeling is so extreme that it cannot be inked in; it is like the green and blue of field and sky, of veronica flower and grass blade, which in their own existence throw light and beauty on each other…never have I been able to write what I felt about the sunlight only…It has been ten years since I last reclined on that grass plot, and yet I have been writing of it as if it was yesterday…” And from Merton about his decision to enter the monastery: “If what most people take for granted were really true—if all you needed to be happy was to grab everything and see everything and investigate every experience and then talk about it, I should have been a very happy person, a spiritual millionaire, from the cradle even until now.”
So I am content, renewing my love for the sights and scents of summer in this mountain place, not in solitary reflection but among those I love. I’ll savor the memories of kids and flowers and mountain peaks in summer until cold days return and I am once again at my desk, alone.