Mojave in my Heart

From a not-so childlike beginning in New York City to my child inspired world here and now

Leave a comment

our homeschool plan: less is more.

I started mentally planning for our homeschool year in May.

Brainstorming activities continued while driving across the country and back. I managed to sketch a decent outline during the summer- not so arduous of a task since I’m embracing Waldorf pedagogy and there are many curriculum guides and ideas to turn to for help. Plus, I’ve been preparing for THIS for years and taking the advice of those more seasoned: layer slowly, each year. It is hard not to try to do it all immediately because it is just so EXCITING! Im homeschooling my girls, a dream only so long, now coming true! Having patience with this decision, to layer appropriately, not to jump ahead and introduce too much too soon, has been just one of my many edges of my growth. With regards to planning- at times it has been truly agonizing. I’ve gone back and forth on what to cover (what NOT to cover), how much, when, and how to juggle the great variety of recreation (homeschool gatherings, museum outings, art classes, enrichment days through the public school, horseback riding, dance, etc.), then the AFTER school activities, social engagements, Quaker Meeting, and so forth. As a close friend of mine would say “cheekishly”, if we had everything we wanted, where would we put it??! Once again I’ve decided less is more. Furthermore, I’ve been reminded of the importance that there is plenty of time ahead for cerebral pursuits, academic forays and structured activities. They’re SIX years old!  I can say with certainty that the lack of intellectual foundation in my early years fortunately did not hinder its development in the latter years. : ) I’m finding that with the decision to take on less, I have so much more. I’m not the first to have this eureka moment, but nonetheless it has been so invigorating. We’re not doing dance, art classes, nor riding lessons. No enrichment days. Instead we have time for lessons together and PLENTY of time for birthday parties (complete with with cake and candles) for their “babies”, playing with the cat family, yogurt parfait while it rains, early morning drawing and doodles, baking for neighbors, time to play at the creek and leisure walks with “our dogs.”! Time to spend looking at pictures of hummingbirds (and paint them) and reading about the frontier people of Colorado.

DSC00321 DSC00323 DSC00312

DSC00300 DSC00299 image DSC00305 DSC00307imageimage

The present moment, the current year is about continuing with our rhythms — knowing that from the predictability of our daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms we find comfort, peace, confidence, less stress, and increased time to focus on what’s meaningful! We will continue this through our routines, various celebrations (seasonal, birthdays, religious holidays, Saint’s Days,  travel trips, etc.), and our practical “work” such as handwork, hiking and nature, the arts and baking. Yet, also begin to scaffold new skills such as those in reading, mathematics, second language, and  music. All the while I will pay attention to their interests and carry on with my work in mindfulness, compassion, and balance. With home as the center, family as the heart, less is more as the mantra, we’re starting off on the right foot.


The choice to homeschool has been driven by several forces. Some intangible, some black and white. There’s been a force within me, even before the girls were born, that has been leading me to the homeschooling path. Sometimes it is hard to explain when folks ask– especially since I was a high school teacher, part of the “establishment.” How can I explain that sometimes I feel there’s no choice, that it is just what I am meant TO DO right now. There’s also the current state of education -very disappointing to keep it simple– especially in the early, elementary years with excessive emphasis on technology and testing coupled with a lack of practical skills, creative outlets and freedom.


“I found my purpose and it was to become a physician. My intent wasn’t to save the world as much as to heal myself.”

This line is from the novel Stone Cutter which I just started; it resonated immediately. Not about being a physician, but a teacher to my children. There’s a strong undercurrent of self-healing in this journey, which began years before the girls, at a momentous juncture about 10 years ago. The turning point was brought on by a crisis, one that changed me profoundly. This loss, ushered tremendous tumult, question and confusion and I came out of it KNOWING that my life had to change. Now, to be frank, my life was very, very good- stable and full, but it lacked a certain comfort, passion and a personal depth, which only became unearthed by this loss. It was within all the time, but hesitant and scared to surface fully.  I’m not entirely sure. However, I don’t think i would be homeschooling today without the events and change and growth that occurred those years ago.

And time to eat our cake, too.


Leave a comment

dim sum for everyone (around the world night)

We have a food theme for each night of the week.


We’ve used this approach consistently for our meal planning for years now- having tweaked it once, two years ago. It helps to focus the meal planning without being too rigid. Sundays – a dish with beans, Mondays – soup and so on. Saturday is “around the world” where we explore different cuisines from…around the world! Most notably Saturday dinners have been Japanese (eating rice with chopsticks was a hit) and fondu in the spirit of the Swiss. It is an opportunity to learn about a different culture, food preparation and style. This last Saturday we embraced the Chinese cuisine of dim sum. It will go down as one of the more popular Saturday nights!

Dim Sum, eating small savory and sweet dishes first began as “yum cha” going out to drink tea in China. While tea is still a part of dim sum, the small plates of food have become front and center.  The waiters walk around the restaurant pushing carts with little plates of food from which to choose. We don’t have food carts, so we improvised.

Where did the inspiration come from? A book! We have been reading Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin since before the girls were 2 years old!  I think the book was out and about last week and it sparked an idea in my aspiring chef, Arlene. She asked if we could make dim sum for our “around the world night” and of course I was intrigued. Mmmmm. Could be delicious and fun!


Friday afternoon we went food shopping and spent time at the library picking out books on Chinese language, celebrations and food traditions. It has been fun to explain that the Chinese language uses characters that stand for things or ideas, while English “characters” or letters, stand for sounds. I love languages! Dim sum and its corresponding characters translates (as far as I’ve learned) “to touch your heart.” We had a fun talk about what that means. Is your heart pointing out the food? Do these h’orderves touch your heart? Hmmmmmm.

A&A helped prepare some of the food, but they preferred making menus and decorations complete with fiery dragons.

DSC00220 DSC00225 DSC00224

On a side note, we went to an exhibit on mythic creatures last week and the girls noticed that the dragon was a popular mythic creature in general–but especially in Asia where they are in fact important to their mythology.

It was wonderful to break away from the monotony of “making dinner.” We had a party and…it was awesome! We took on this great new challenge together- preparing new foods, enjoying these new foods, and even drinking green tea with our dinner! We listened to Chinese folk music and if know the girls, you know that the night wouldn’t be complete without some dancing after dinner.

DSC00260 DSC00278









The menu was demanding (and mostly gluten-free),  so there were several moments I had to take a step back and remind myself of the pleasure and toss aside the “weight” of the work. Stephen and I had so much fun cooking together–mistakes and all. The girls were thrilled to set things up and serve us, too– from the red wagon since we don’t have a food cart.  Their attention and appreciation to detail and beauty is unbelievable!

DSC00217DSC00227 DSC00226 DSC00228 DSC00231 DSC00229 DSC00232 DSC00233


Ahhhhhh! We forgot the chopsticks!



first day of first grade

The significance of the first day of the first grade didn’t sink in until the night before. Even then, it was just a taste of it. As I was putting the girls to sleep, we talked some about the start of school which was the next day and it HIT me. My girls, age 6, are starting first grade!! Tomorrow! And I’m the teacher! Starting school is as central as the sun around here, with time devoted to planning and organizing, chit-chats and anecdotes, but nonetheless I didn’t know how to absorb the reality that we were here. Still don’t…

The girls naturally asked about my own experiences with first grade. I embraced humor and left a bunch out! First grade with Sister Patricia wasn’t cozy and warm. It was stern and serious, straight back and hands on the desk. It wasn’t colorful and it was indoors. There were scary times and lonely times, but also as the months and years in school went on, a place of refuge. I drummed up the latter- that I loved learning from early on and that school was where I learned new things. I appreciated the order and expectations, the routines and predictability. Naturally I began to think, what will first grade be for the girls?

DSC00162 DSC00160

With homeschooling being an extension of our home life, it is hard NOT to say that I hope they feel loved and supported in their schooling. I hope this year is fun. I expect there will be challenges and I hope they can work through the frustrations AND remember the successes. I recall reading in the first grade- how draining and slow and HARD it was initially, but then I remember reading my first LONG book in the 2nd grade and telling EVERYONE about it. Bunnicula— what a fun read!  I want there to be lots of downtime, to play and just be together, to bike around our neighborhood, spend hours at the library, play at the creek. I hope we can take naps together, too. I imagine there will be moments of inspiration and I can’t wait to follow their lead (like Saturday night’s dinner). I recall fondly hours at the playground and I look forward to giving that to them, too.

DSC00164 DSC00175

So for our first day I planned a small ceremony.  After a small circle time, I took them to a special little park (closed eyes on the way) near our home where the creek runs beautifully and there are grassy lawns.

A small bridge crosses the creek, too. I told them a story about two young children and their mother, embarking on a new journey, together. In the story, the children each crossed a bridge on their own and while alone in their crossing, knew their mother was near and waiting for them.  Before they crossed the bridge at the creek, I whispered to each of the girls a wish I have for them this upcoming year. Upon their return from the bridge, they chose a sunflower out of a vase I brought and we hugged.

DSC00182 DSC00187



It was a stunning day and truly, truly special. Afterward we played hide and seek and just ran around with bare feet. The scent of grass was strong and it stained our feet. It wasn’t that of my first grade stuffy classroom. The sun was warm and the sky right above us.

DSC00177 DSC00176 DSC00180 DSC00194 DSC00195 DSC00198 DSC00212Our first grade class picture:


Leave a comment

all I have

It was an ambitious summer. Momentous, too.  Expansive. Now as the evenings get cooler and we’re back at home, I find myself satiated and ready for the season ahead. Maybe more than ready. Impatient?


Kinsey’s passing at the end of May, the morning after the girls’ inaugural art show; a fun night of levity, art, friends and take-out pizza was auspicious.

IMG_0838IMG_0837  IMG_0831 IMG_0829 IMG_0827 IMG_0824 IMG_0832IMG_0810  IMG_0835 IMG_0836

Kinsey was doing well, we were celebrating A&A’s Kindergarten year of art, and her life was coming to a close. The art show was a way of defining the end of the Kindergarten year and signaling the new summer ahead. It was really touching to see friends come out for our little gathering. I learned a lot about the girls’ budding artistic differences through the art-show-process. Arlene even sold a a piece of art to wonderful Marion.

Beginnings and endings. Kinsey’s death left me feeling lost, untethered, without my rudder. It was up and down, but in the days and weeks following, I slowed down to appreciate the innumerable lessons and her very long life with me- through heartaches and blessings, up and down the east coast, miles of trails, hours of frisbee, early mornings and late nights. Long walks with friends. Day after day. Without fail, she was ready for whatever I offered. I can see her eyes so clearly now- asking, what are we doing? I’m ready! I wasn’t ready for that day, but don’t know if I could have ever thought, OK, I’m ready for her to go. Looking back she entered and left our lives at the exact right time. I brought her home on Friday night in May, 9 weeks old and she left us on a Friday morning in May. I’ll keep with me her presence, not her absence, not only because it seems to drift in here so often, but instead of feeling the loss and the grief, I’m so glad for her spirit and welcome it back.


Weeks later we embarked on a cross country trip to the east coast. This was our first return since moving west a couple years ago. We were extremely excited to see friends and family. It felt surreal as we planned and packed. I was thrilled to hit the road and get into our little road cocoon!

IMG_1444 IMG_1436 IMG_1430 IMG_1435 IMG_1425 IMG_1402 IMG_1404

We would hug family, see friends, visit familiar places, visit new places, feel the humidity, feel the ocean, smell the scents of the piedmont, sink back into a place that we love so much.  We were not disappointed. The drive was adventurous (in only the best way), the smells  and sights were satisfying, the ocean stunning, the hugs and time with those we loved, absolutely fulfilling. It was a joyous time. While I’m not from North Carolina originally, it is the girls’ and Stephen’s first home and thereby a home to me as well.  Ah, but home is home. Full of comfort and complexity. We missed it, we loved it and we were saddened by the reality that still, NC could not continue to be our home. It was a hard matter to grapple with during our visit, but one that permeated our thoughts late at night and ultimately ones that maybe we had to work through- again on this first trip back. Endings and beginnings.


Highlights of North Carolina? A perfect 4th of July ( the first that the girls totally enjoyed fireworks),


sand-fiiled days at the beach (watching the girls play with their cousins), making a pizza dinner at Dawn’s, visiting with Madi on the porch (and learning about her year ahead), walks around the pond (the gaggle of geese and the lone duck were beautiful to watch), playing in the Eno River, watching the girls play with old, but so-not-forgotten friends, hugging June and Joe, garden dinner with Cathy, getting caught in one of the most intense thunderstorms while driving from Durham (wow! I wished for a storm, too), seeing the girls with their grandparents and great-grandmother, girls getting Grandmother’s mail and playing with her high-heels, connecting with Mary, the Fairview Dairy, gospel singing, southern dinners (fried cornbread, dipped in butter, each bite, please), live music at the Depot, church with Stephen’s family, playground get together in Durham, walking 9th Street in Durham, visiting our old hen, Tweedie (who let us hold her for so long!), packing up two dozen fresh eggs to drive back home with, a special tea lunch with Mary, Wendy and the girls, afternoons at the pool, the girls shelling peas with Mary…

IMG_1485 IMG_1483

IMG_1541 IMG_1526 IMG_1528 IMG_1525

IMG_1833 IMG_1885 IMG_1889 IMG_1826

IMG_1828 IMG_1794

IMG_1783 IMG_1767 IMG_1760 IMG_1742 IMG_1737 IMG_1735 IMG_1709 IMG_1715 IMG_1699 IMG_1686 IMG_1679 IMG_1677image IMG_1655  IMG_1650 IMG_1654 IMG_1661 IMG_1647 IMG_1642 IMG_1625

IMG_1607IMG_1584IMG_1582IMG_1576IMG_1580IMG_1568IMG_1595IMG_1596IMG_1612 IMG_1616 IMG_1618 IMG_1610

IMG_1947 IMG_1945 IMG_1943 IMG_1915 IMG_1904imageimageimage


Our travels yielded beautiful family time, quiet walks, early nights, playful afternoons, quality time for the girls with their grandparents, time to soak in the sounds of cicadas and the rich smells of North Carolina.

IMG_1516 IMG_1497 IMG_1467 IMG_1909

I was so impressed with the way the girls handled themselves throughout our travels. Meeting new people and experiences daily – handling it with grace and enthusiasm consistently.

Leaving was very hard and hearts were so, so heavy as we packed the last of our bags, the cooler and looked around for books and items from Colorado.  When will we be back? Hopefully next year.  My heart and mind logged the losses as we packed up that last day- still coming to terms with the fact that we live across the country from our families.  Still absorbing all the change.


Ah, but we didn’t go to sleep with grief. I’m forever grateful for the heartwarming gospel sing we ended with – it brought us together again once more, before we parted for the road. Gospel music, the little I know, touches me so deeply. I find it inspiring and full of promise. I’ve been singing “Higher Ground” to the girls since they were babies and hearing it that night was a dream come true!

The heartache was put on hold- temporarily, as we stopped in Texas to visit friends before returning home. There, we caught up with one of my oldest, dearest friends and her family. The young crew was now composed of three girls (and at the time, one on the way). It was a perfect few days with delicious meals, great company and lots of pool time.



We headed out early from Texas to travel NW and aimed to arrive back in Colorado that evening. We pulled out our maps and looked up the states we’d drive through on this route- not the same one when we travelled east to NC. There was excitement in the car- looking forward to returning  home– all while digesting the experiences and lessons of the last month, the last year, too for that matter. For the last year I’ve come to realize that while I’m a friendly person, I have more introverted tendencies than extroverted. Most of my life I thought I was the latter because I was outgoing, however, it has taken age and wisdom to understand that I require periods of solitude — often in short supply in my life and especially so in the last year where I played with this edge.  I took on committee work at the Quaker Meeting, I taught religious education, volunteered with the homeless,  embraced a leadership role in a homeschooling group, put lots of effort into making friends. The social filled July reminded me once again of the importance of “balance” and frankly put, alone time!  After a particularly busy week or two, in NC,  I said to Stephen late one night, I really can’t see anymore people for awhile!! It was an accomplishment to identify my need so clearly. Aknowledgment seemed to help some, all on its own. Looking back I think I need to plan serious quiet time for myself and ourselves, as a family when travelling for a month. I saw too in my own daughter, that her challenging behavior at some points along the trip were no more than HER expression of too much activity and too little quiet or routine.

I have infinite memories of my high school, college years and years beyond (before children) where I’m just doing “nothing.” Leisure time. Drawing, journaling, reading, listening to music, people watching, walking. Alone. Or with one person. So many of us are overcommitted, stressed, too busy! Truly this is one of the reasons we homeschool! We want to move at our own pace, to shirk off the busyness that is so ubiquitous. Stephen and I decided we’d embrace less this coming year, to have more. While a little challenging to initiate, it has been very liberating.


Now almost two weeks ago, a wonderful friend came to visit us for a long weekend. We had an incredible time during her three-day stay.


We hiked, we talked, we ate great food, we shared tea, we soaked (in hot springs!), we did yoga, we shared books and stories…I haven’t had a visit with a friend like this–ever! I’d say maybe since before the girls, but the meaning behind it NOW with children, with a family, makes it a first. She has a wonderful presence and a truly uplifting spirit- it filled me up!


After dropping her off at the airport, I was filled with sadness. Leaving a loved one at the airport is always tough. The early morning skies were pastel and soft and seemed to mirror my feelings of loss. When will we see each other again?

It had been two years this time. We are close friends, but we live across the country from one another. There’s a good chance too, that in the next several years she might move to another country. Then, all of a sudden, all of these thoughts and feelings spun around, flipped and reversed. Unexpectedly I was overflowing with thanksgiving for ALL I HAVE. I don’t NOT have a wonderful friend, I do. I don’t NOT have love in my life, I do. It was an immediate grace and all I could think was: ALL I HAVE instead of all the missing pieces and parts.  I just had an incredible summer with Stephen, the girls, family, and friends, I just had a magnificent visit with an amazing friend, I have, I have, I have. Really all I want, I have.



their worlds

I LOVE stumbling upon an Ada and Arlene world.  A still life or in-action world.  For instance, the vet shop open for business before I’ve finished my cup of coffee.  Hearts in the carpet. The elevated crib with the “north star” taped above it. Soaking pinecones and lima beans anyone?  I’ll admit, those are less fun worlds to discover when they’re hidden beneath their beds “baking” they say. Boxes that became boats then tents, then a house. Dressing Kinsey up? All the time. Layering their friends for our chilly bike rides. Not enough hats? Just tie a shirt around their head. Maybe ribbon? Reading to Kinsey is something Ada has done for years now. Frederick, a stuffed elephant, (who was my “baby” and their “patient” most of last week) learn to play the ukulele with Arlene today– even after suffering from memory problems!

The friendship and fun Arlene and Ada have all day long is so amazing and heart-warming. They get along very well- complimenting each other in unexpected ways and learning better each day how to listen, compromise and find space to be alone, when needed. As I write I’m listening to non-stop laughter from the two of them!

When I was pregnant with the girls, I was driving home one afternoon and I started to laugh and giggle. I had this sudden realization that I had the most precious, incredible gifts growing inside of me! It was a whirling, giddy sensation and gifts is the only way to try to express the feeling. The awareness was unexpected, nearly random. I was bestowed with these gifts –like wrapped presents there was anticipation, excitement, fear, and joy!  Their giggles reminded me of that moment over 6 years ago. I love these seemingly unconnected, connections.

IMG_9703 IMG_9707 IMG_9697

IMG_9653 IMG_9646 IMG_9645 IMG_9741 IMG_9740 IMG_9746 IMG_9736 IMG_9739 IMG_9716 IMG_9696 IMG_9699 IMG_9693 IMG_9689


Leave a comment

experiencing inspiration on the solstice

 Nothing, I believe, can really teach us the nature and meaning of inspiration but personal experience of it. That we may all have such experience if we will but attend to the divine influences in our own hearts, is the cardinal doctrine of Quakerism.
~ Caroline Stephen, 1834-1909 (my italics on inspiration)

The winter solstice began beautifully and ended magically. First to the Meetinghouse for worship and lunch. While I craved more silence during the Meeting, I appreciated the words shared by fellow worshippers. Worship ended with the entrance of the children in a Christmas pageant. A & A were the two Marys– again 🙂  There were readings from Luke and singing of songs. The middle and high school children followed with their very own satirical and comical songs. We ended with an acting out /sing-along version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The room was fun and festive– a contrast to what the space usually offers– silent gathering.


The potluck spread was delicious and with the mild temperatures and sunny day, we sat outside.  I was so appreciative to have Stephen and the girls at my side, wonderful friends around, mountains ahead, gorgeous sun above. I really just wanted to go around and hug people! The Quaker Meeting has brought us so much joy, direction and confirmation of what I’ve been looking for–and it just seems to continue to grow and grow…

We putzed around at home for some much needed putzing before heading out for a solstice bonfire with a new friend — whom we met at a Mountain Quaker Meeting through another wonderful friend. His place is about 40 minutes from us, 10 minutes from Lyons. As we drove between enormous boulders it felt as if we were passing towering dinosaurs and their ancient eggs. It was gorgeous. Unlike other canyons, this one stands out, at least to me, geologically – not that I can explain it very well!  The canyon ascent is a gentler climb than the other canyon roads we’re familiar with–wider with what seems like a tranquil, meandering creek, the St. Vrain, flowing beside it. The same creek that flooded and caused massive destruction to Lyons and surrounding areas in 2013. Rather than forests and steep canyons here though, you’re met with sandstone, rock and sky. All together it evokes a silence, an inspiration…

We arrived early at our friend’s place so we could get the tour while there was still light on this, the very shortest day of the year 🙂 He is a minimalist, living with the motto: “use less so you have to earn less” or something close to it.  He works a lot on his property, improving the original cabin, building fences, and a lot of inventing- a self-taught millwright. We spent time with his flock of 30 chickens, feeding them popcorn, talking lots. We eventually headed to the bonfire spot, down a steep hill to a dry creek right up to a beautiful hill. Here you’re surrounded by lodgepole and ponderosa, hills and peace. At the opposite end of our bonfire spot, where the creek (dry now) tightens, a 60ft swing beckoned us. Comfort level with the swing grew with experience – rides were more adventurous by night’s end, like from a chair atop a table! We made friends with another family and their lovely daughters. Our conversations flowed smoothly, without much effort and we were all content there, together in the dark woods with the bright fire on a special solstice night.


We ate, we talked, we played on the swing, watched the kids and warmed ourselves by the fire while fat, beautiful snowflakes fell all around us!  A simple string of lights made for some pretty ambience by the swing and the snowflakes falling perfected it. It was magical.

IMG_9408 IMG_9420

The girls, typically slow to warm to new places, were right at home in these woods. They were confident and ambitious. More than once we had to remind them to stay together (strength in numbers!) and where we could see them. They seemed to want to climb higher and deeper into the woods each time I turned my back. Then they’d return to the swing, which made me nervous too, but a little less so than bears and lions!

I reveled in the new friendships and genuine inspirations from just this single day — all emanating from our precious Quaker world. The decision to explore the Quaker path has presented us with sweet friendships, wonderful opportunities and an inspiring path with direction. At our solstice gathering, I felt no hesitation in opening myself to these friends. I felt honored to listen to others’ stories– full of twists and turns, dreams and inspirations. Sitting, standing, being in the company of kind people, amongst the snow, the trees, the mountains, the fire, I was truly inspired, deep within me to continue to walk firmly toward our dreams.


Leave a comment

a look at how things looked, last week or so

They made decorative banners with beautiful feathers, pine branches and salt dough ornaments. They baked cookies, dog treats and scones. We played and walked around our neighborhood. Saw friends, wrapped gifts, and read lots. As I strayed, the girls brought me back, always offering their joy.

IMG_9306 IMG_9308 IMG_9323 IMG_9329


Stephen and I held back the tears (of pure joy, excitement, pride) as they danced beautiful ballet at the holiday show in Louisville. It is an indescribable feeling watching your children out there in the world, on stage, DOING all on their own. Time completely stood still as I held Stephen’s hand, absorbing those precious moments.



I made up a child-friendly version story of Saint Lucia. We talked about the light within and baked Santa Lucia bread. Regular sized and miniature.


A photo taken by one of the girls. I love finding their world on my camera.


The girls have the sweetest voices and this night was no different!


We returned to the animal shelter bearing gifts for dogs and cats. We also spent time with doggies that needed a little extra love. Roxie is a super cute border collie available for adoption!



Arlene as Mary at the live nativity. It was simple, genuine, magical– standing in the barn together, in the dark, singing, listening, young voices, old voices, llamas, sheep–all of us together.



Girls night out — pizza down the street.



ecosystems – aquatic (day 4)

The balm of nature transformed several gravel pits in eastern Boulder into a thriving wetlands ecosystem, home to a variety of birds, small mammals, wildflowers and other plants. We decided to visit the ponds on our 4th and final day of ecosystems. It was an absolutely stunning day– classic blue skies and the omnipresent, warming sun. With only containers of fresh popcorn packed, we headed out and met some friends at the trail.


Decades ago this area was mined for gravel.  In 1974, residents of the area wished to transform the open pits and puddles into a wildlife habitat- they had a vision. Rocks were added to the pits, creating several ponds. Trees and shrubs were planted, the ponds filled with groundwater and then stocked with fish. It was named Walden Ponds, not as I thought as a nod to Henry David Thoreau’s,, but in reference to the Boulder County Commissioner who helped launch the plan to convert the gravel pits to a wildlife habitat. His name was Walden “Wally” Toevs. While active pits do remain around the open space, you can get lost in the tall grasses and cattails, winding trails and various ponds. That is just what the girls (and friends) did when we visited the ponds on Friday. They completely immersed themselves in the work of building fishing rods, diverting water this way and that, digging holes, digging holes and digging some more.



Even after 5 hours, their work was not done.  I knew they were hungry and tired.  We had an early dinner at 4:30 and slept deeply.

The contrasts between the environments of the week and that little bit of structure (parts of an ecosystem) really meant a lot to the girls. This was the easiest of the four ecosystems to discuss the soil (maybe because they played in for several hours). They felt its moisture and its pliability. Arlene mentioned on the way home that the dirt was much easier to dig in than at Mud Lake. They also talked about how the grasses were fun to play with although there weren’t many trees. I appreciated their awareness and was so grateful for the inspiration and time to have this week together– exploring and loving Colorado even more.


Leave a comment

ecosystems – montane (day 3)

Thursdays take us up to Nederland, a town 18 miles west of Boulder at about 8300 feet. We had a great morning at Wild Bear, an ecology center conveniently located  beside the wonderful Carousel of Happiness. Add to all that fun, a hike in the mountains. We love Caribou Ranch but because of time, we did an easier loop at Mud Lake. They enjoyed talking about all the places water comes from in this ecosystem, which paved the way for a good chat about the importance of snow at this altitude and why it is better suited to the land than rain.

I’m getting better at identifying the different conifers, too, so that’s helpful. It gets old saying I just don’t know, but I do know it is a conifer! All my life I called them pine trees, but not all conifers are pine trees! We saw Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and the beautiful ponderosa. We’ve seen areas where the conifers are more spaced out and that has to do with soil moisture and the direction of the slope. Here at Mud Lake, the forest trees grew closer together. The competition for sunlight yields long, slender trees.

IMG_9224Hiking around the lake. It was quiet and cool. We had all hoped for snow. My southern ladies do LOVE snow.



A beautiful scene, clouds and all.



IMG_9245Playing at the end of our walk and building fairy houses.