Life at 9,000 Feet

 

 

With so much gratitude we have been enjoying a cool, rainy summer. For us, living in the mountains can be like mostly being on vacation because living in nature provides a feeling a sense of calm. It’s a natural paradise. Most everyone comes here to take in the natural beauty and to get closer to nature. Then most everyone goes back home which is good for all of us.  The peacefulness of the mountains, especially the autumn and winter mountains, after the summer crowds have left, are good for my mental health.  For me, quiet, cold winters, enjoying walking in the snow and tasty, hot coffee with a good book in front of the fireplace are pleasures. Most of our winter days have the famous Colorado sapphire blue sky. Walking, cross country skiing and even snow shoveling feel so good as we use our healthy bodies.

 

My husband and I just received the results of the health fair we attended a few weeks ago. We are fortunate to have many test available to us at a fraction of their usual cost and our health insurance reimburses us. For us it is so easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We walk our blessed nature trail several times everyday and when time allows we walk higher and farther up in the mountains. Walking offers so many benefits and is some of the best exercise for heart health. It can improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure and energy levels, plus it can fight weight gain to improve heart health overall, so says the American Heart Association.

 

The combination of image-boosting endorphins and positive thinking that exercise produces does indeed improve my mental health. Spending time in natural environments reduces depression. I feel so good in nature and at home in our mountains! Our bodies compensate by boosting the quantity of red blood cells. It is the same effect which is created artificially when athletes use performance-enhancing drugs. In this way, the mountain air gives our bodies a natural “boost,” without any risks to our health.

 

Our daughter and her family recently visited. Our son and his family will soon visit. It makes me so proud that our kids took the tool we gave them and created their own lives. It was a pleasure to watch them enjoying the grandparents as they were growing up and then give back as their grandparents aged. Those grandparents had the wisdom and ability to invest in this cabin. My husband and I had the wisdom and ability to continue that investment. It is mind-boggling  for us to watch our grandchildren sail boats in the river where their parents did. It is so fun just to be here together. Playing in the river, walking the nature trail, making homemade ice cream, grandpa’s rock machine, Juju’s arts and crafts provides endless fun at the cabin.  We don’t have to get in the car and drive to some place for entertainment.

 

A lot of people want a big house. Our cozy cabin is just the right size for the two of us and our two dogs. Our view is amazing. Our growing season is short but our garden flourishes.  It makes me so happy to see hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, hummingbird moths – a little ecosystem, enjoying our garden.

 

 

Last night in bed we held hands and listened to the river that flows below our home and then the blessed rain fell. The chilly, fresh scent filled our room. Contentment.

 

                                                                                                                        

My beloved grew up with family vacations in these mountains and couldn’t wait to share them with me. That first happened on our honeymoon – August 1977, soon to be 45 years ago…

 

 

In the summer I work in a friend’s store when he’s on vacation. It is arguably the best gift shop up here. For many people coming to Slumgullion Gift Gallery is part of their vacation experience up here. On our honeymoon we bought a batik of a hummingbird at this store.

 

 

It’s fun to talk with customers who are pretty chill being here on vacation and loving the respite from the intense heat back home. I must be somewhat like the proverbial bartender, in that after we ‘break the ice’ they often open up about their lives or what’s on their minds. Maybe talking to a stranger is almost as therapeutic as spilling their guts to a therapist or priest. Today a woman told me that her husband of 38 years died unexpectedly on their anniversary a few years ago. A group of young people were on a sweet quest to purchase a small gift for their grandmother however it was not as I expected. “We’re going to bury this on top the mountain in Grandma’s honor.” I heard a young woman call her companion Meme. Having confirmed the name I shared that Meme was the name of my grandma. Everyone expected my grandma name to be ‘Meme’ but that just didn’t sound right to me. Meme called me Juju. My grandma name is juju. That’s just right. I love hearing those little voices say: “juju”

When the internet works we keep music playing in the store. Today Julie Andrews sang:

 

The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears

My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
That rise from the lake to the trees
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
From a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
Stones on its way
To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I’ll sing once more

 

I completely understand. This is how I feel about living in these mountains my husband and I are blessed to call home.  Customers often ask if I live up here and when I reply yes, they ask if it’s fulltime. I respond yes, that fulltime is what living up here means. Their reaction is like having found a celebrity and then of course they ask incredulously: “What do you DO up here all winter?”

We live. We work and play. We volunteer in our community and do home improvements. We read and we walk a lot. My engineer husband never ceases to amaze me with his talents and hard work. Life is good. We are passionate about our lives up here and each other.

What’s your favorite place in nature? How do you like to spend time in nature?

“The most precious gift we can give one another is letting them know they matter.”  Julie A R Stephens
julie@handsbestrong.com

Living in the Mountains

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