So, what did you do on Labor Day? I hope it was as relaxed and nice as mine was. As you might guess, we went to sit by the river. I will try to take you back there in the hope that some of the joy will rub off on you through my words.
Gene and I each have a camp chair we keep in our car, so we took them out and set them in the shade, right next to the Arkansas River. It afforded us front row seats so we could see, hear, become a part of it.
Just to the right of us was a middle-aged man sitting on a big rock, head band around his long blond ponytail and, in his hand, he held a beautiful guitar. He was playing it and singing, with no thought of anyone hearing him. It seemed like to me he was setting the stage or the tone for all the life humming around us.
Directly across the river was an older woman propped up between two rocks and reading a book. We were there about two hours and she never moved. I wish I could have asked her what it was that was so good that it held her attention so long.
Then there was the endless parade of people and their dogs, or the other way around. I have never seen so many different breeds leashed to their loving humans, both strolling along the river’s edge and in the water to play. One, in particular, caught my heart. It was a puppy — Bernese mountain dog — on his first day with his new forever home people. As they passed by us, I instinctively reached out to touch him.
Since there are five Berneys in the family, I know a good one and what they do, so, when I slid my hand down his back, I knew he would stop and lean into me (a universal trait in the breed).
It gave me the chance to talk to the man with him and he said it was their fourth Berney and was hooked on the breed. He said he wanted to take him into the river but until the man actually took off his shoes and socks and rolled up his pants legs and went in himself did the puppy decide it was ok. He bounded into the cold water and within a few minutes he had already learned to fetch and retrieve a thrown stick, and was obviously one happy pup.
There were big dogs, tiny dogs, curly-haired dogs and long haired dogs. It really feels like everybody in Colorado has a dog and, I tell you, the human attitude towards their pets just soothes my soul.
I think, because of this loving way of treating them, I have never once here seen a dog fight or a person bitten by one. I love this.
I could tell by Gene’s squirming in his chair that we would have to leave soon for home.
I started my “winding down from the river love affair I feel” and was just getting up when a young man sat down on a bench next to us. He sort of wiggled around until he was comfortable and, that done, he immediately turned to us. With a wide grin, he said, “Are you loving this day by the river?” Momentarily forgetting all about leaving, I sat back down and assured him that, indeed, we were loving it and, in fact, try to do this every day. He said he was biking through the West and that Salida had drawn him to stop and rest. I told him that Salida has that effect on everybody. When he asked if we lived here and I said we did, he said we were “blessed” to live in Salida.
I rearranged myself in my red camp seat and mulled a bit. Yes, we are blessed to spend this leg of life’s journey here on the mesa and surrounded by mountains. I told him that no matter how hard life feels sometimes, it is truly hard to be depressed. And furthermore, on the hard days, I simply go to the river. I have learned how to let go of pains and worries by giving them up to the moving, dancing waters. It seems like the water tosses them around, takes them over the rocks, thus stripping them of their power over me. It has shown me how to simply loosen my grip and let that which is making me sad or in pain flow away and down the river. I told the young man that I look at the river as my friend and that is what a friend will do — help carry the load.
He sort of studied my face and then, with another grin, he nodded like he understood.
Finally, we did have to go home but it was OK. We were tired and we were filled up with sweet feelings. As we headed for the car, Gene took my hand like he always does and we slowly made our way home. He drove, I mulled over the day, and accepted the fact that this day is a good picture of our life now and I felt thankful.
The view from the mountains is wondrous.