Sassea Sails



March 2018

Dawn to Dusk,,,

There he was. Or, was he a she? When I turned from filling the bird feeders I looked toward the trees behind the shed while imitating the flock of larks who were hungrily waiting for their day’s ration. Then, my eyes drifted downward. A stump about 3 feet high caught my attention. I tried to recall if I had ever noticed it before. Squinting as one would to clearly make out the markings two eyes were staring back at me. As still as the tree I initially thought I was looking at took a more defined shape. With his head erect and body pointing straight at me, I was reminded of Lucas, a four or five month old lion that I was fortunate to play with years ago while in South Africa. The only notable difference was that Lucas was a golden color typical of lions. This cat was wearing grey and his eyes the color of an ordinary house cat. In fact, his whole body resembled a pet many cat lovers enjoy as a companion.

This cat, the one standing about 3 feet from the house and about twenty yards from me, looked like a giant house cat. He/she didn’t meow or  grimace. He/she remained still, save for the wind perking up his/her thick coat. Wanting my mate to see, I stupidly started yelling in the direction of the upstairs loft where I knew he was inside doing his morning exercises. “Ron, Ron, you gotta see this.” Because he didn’t respond to my wailing, I slowly walked up onto the deck and opened the front door. Thankfully, Ron was already on his way outside. “Shush,”  he whispered, “and move slowly.”

Being the coward I am I stayed an inch or two behind Ron stepping into his footsteps as he peered around the west corner of the house. Only ten yards in front of us, the cat continued to stare at us. Then as quietly as he had been, he turned his head and slowly walked away from us and into the woods.

As if this wasn’t enough excitement for a city girl, while the sun was setting later in the day, a hefty, healthy looking  doe strolled into our front yard. For about fifteen minutes she nibbled at the bird seed beneath the juniper tree about 30 yards from our front door.  Her big ears turning in different directions. We were inside and taking pictures. The bird feeder is an actual tea cup, the kind fancy ladies sip from so there isn’t much seed in the cup when I fill it every other morning. Yet, this majestic ruminant mammal   nibbled, and nibbled for about 15 minutes,  yet still leaving enough for two birds to dive into the cup after the she strolled away.

Wow, a deer and a bobcat in our yard; one at dawn and the other at dusk. Quite a day for a city girl…



Blaming Fate

It must be fate that wiles my activities in its effort to hold me accountable. The epifocal of my plans to move to a more remote environment than the overcrowded lifestyle lived for the past 50 years, was designed to lure me into a new career as a writer. Yet, the seemingly tranquil, too cold to go outside, climate here in arid southern Colorado, has not exactly kept me indoors.

Knowing fitness would continue to be a priority, I participated in a “Hike on New Year’s Day” event held at Lathrop State Park about five miles from our home on the range. As the group of hikers, whom I had never seen before, gathered to hear the Rangers’ plan for the start of the year right adventure, I asked to make an announcement. Swallowing hard and grimacing when the ranger waved me toward the center of the room a thundering silence bombarded e my brain. “Will someone want to go hiking with me?” was the voice of a lifetime of  rejections that infiltrated my frontal lobe. Still, I persisted.

Polly, a tall radiant blonde wearing a multi colored knit ski hat with long braided tails raised her hand. Without hesitation she spoke right up.  “I love to hike and have been hoping to find a partner.” We decided to meet after the hike. It was a fairly easy climb to the summit at Lake Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, Colorado (about 5 miles from my house).  Located on the north side of the  park, the trail provided several scenic views of two lakes and several mountain ranges in all four directions. The ranger took time to explain the geological history of the park and describe the features of the varied flora and fauna. None of his words took hold. My focus was on navigating the terrain. From small pebbles to flat topped boulders I was embracing each step.

After the hour long  hike the group reconvened in the visitor center. The park ranger and his staff of one provided healthy snacks, chili, coffee, and bottled water for the participants. Polly and I found each other in the group.  Being excited to be meeting at least one person my confidence encouraging others lifted my spirits. I again announced, “Any ladies interested in future hikes, please join us.”

Donna, a healthy looking gal about my age offered a seat next to her. Her spoken resume of hiking many of Colorado’s 14 ers (mountains with a summit of at least 14,000 feet above sea level), and other adventures as a career firewoman were intriguing. Despite her choosing to not join us on future hikes  (at least not so far),  Polly and I marked our calendars for the following Tuesday. That was the first week in January. Ever since, we have hiked 2 – 4 hours each week; each week on a different trail.  This past week two other gals joined us. Slowly our hiking experience is growing in numbers and terrain.

Hiking provides inspiration for memoiring. Past experiences from childhood up to today my life is filled with bittersweet memories. Some bring so much joy my laugh echoes across the meadows. Others turn on the faucet that like a dam opens to let the tears flow. Still others, the ones that perplex me the most are the irritations like jealousy that infuriate. While these thoughts provide impetus for writing, fate is being blamed for spending my time doing other things than writing.

Learning to play the piano and ukulele are an example. Three years ago I began taking piano lessons. A requisite for buying a house included the purchase of a piano. My battery operated piano keyboard had become a necessary  accouterment when traveling. A real piano has class, it adds to the ambiance of a home filled with music. Still, the portable piano was to be my travel companion. Its bulky maneuvering in the van led to the purchase of a ukulele. What I acquired was three distractors from writing: hiking, and playing the piano and ukulele.

Fate further infiltrated. Moving to SOCO (southern Colorado)  held the promise of a return to another love, skiing. During the first two months it was easy to dismiss slope surfing (my interpretation of downhill skiing. Using the need to get familiar with my new life in rural America, I lied to myself. “I’ll wait until next winter to take up skiing. After all it would be a 3 hour one way drive to the slopes and being as Ron and I are renewing our lives as a couple I did not want to go out of town without him. Skiing would wait, I silently repeated almost once a day.

Unexpectedly on a chilly winter’s day watching freshly fallen snow outside our living room window, a well respected sailing friend from the ’80s and ’90s sent me a compelling text. “Hi Marlene, I’ll be skiing next week. You and Ron can ski then spend the night with me and Kris.” Can you guess how long it took to respond? Well, fate insisted I leave the next morning at 5:30 for Wolf Creek Ski Area. Ron chose to stay home.  At $100 a day for fuel, equipment rental and lift tickets, there goes the budget along with another non writing day. And, there goes the budget…

Lest I forget my agreement to create a flyer for our neighborhood “Best Tasting Chili Contest,” prepare at least one meal a day, update my computer and phone at the local coffee shop where they offer free wi-fi, a weekly trip two hour round trip to Pueblo for groceries, dental appointment, lead the one hour walk around the neighborhood,  join my sweet for our evening  fire side chats, engage in a 45 minute fitness routine, e-mai friends, play a few rounds of Words with Friends, check the mail, organize tax documents, check on investments, listen to the radio for the ubiquitous political drama, and lastly, put another log on the fire.

Whew! just listing these endeavors tires me out. It must be fate. After all, the better part of my life has been spent contriving an escape from boredom. If I believe I can control these urges to do so many different things, than I feel undisciplined. If I blame fate, I more easily accept my failure to follow through. Oh, dear, I ask, “What’s a girl to do?”





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