Oh Be Joyful Valley

Summer (Oh Be) Joyful

This strange summer has unfolded much differently than I imagined it six months ago, both in the world and in my life.

The numbers of those who are sick continue to grow.

As do the number of protestors.

Some days all I can see is that the sick are forgotten and the protestors are gassed.

It seems insignificant to say this amidst so much turmoil, but I cancelled another trip this week.

And I finished packing up our house for another move.

These short sentences do not even scratch the surface of the sadness of this summer.

But they also do not reflect the hope.

Or the light.

When the darkness in the world feels newly oppressive, and it reaches further than I previously realized,

I take a deep breath, I lament.

And then I let my eyes light onto joy.

I have found myself wondering what we will remember when we look back on the summer of 2020.

So for my own heart, I want to make a small record of the things I don’t want to forget.

The light, the hope and the joy.

Here’s what I have so far:


Picture book puffy clouds in a bright blue sky.

Riding with the windows down to Arkansas and back again >>> Sun-burned arm and wind-blown hair.

Sunrises while driving. The one that was pink and sprawling, covering every direction I looked. And the one was gray and yellow and blue, breaking through a hazy fog that covered the road for the better part of an early morning drive.

Fields and highway shoulders full of yellow flowers.

Little Rock Former Site of Confederate Monument

Seeing the (long overdue) removal of a Confederate monument in Little Rock

Juneteenth in Little Rock

Protesting on Juneteenth with my brother in my hometown

George Floyd Memorial in Little Rock

Seeing the George Floyd Memorial in Little Rock

Hiking with Tai

Getting a weekend of hiking in with Taido while Simon was away.

Ferns in the MS Palisades

Giant ferns covering the trails.

Mississippi Palisades State Park

Hiking up to sweeping views of the Mississippi River.

Mississippi Palisades Hiking

And back down through every possible shade of green.

Rice Bowl

Eating many, MANY rice bowls with hummus, vegetables and beet kraut or kimchi. Our most regular + simple quarantine meal.

Oh Be Joyful Valley

Returning to the Oh-Be-Joyful Recreation Area in Colorado.

Being flooded with memories and making new ones.

Aspen Grove near Crested Butte

Hiking in Aspen groves with dear friends.


Spotting Columbines (the Colorado State flower) in the woods, usually hiding, but always a delight to find.

Visiting a longtime favorite bookstore.

Camp 4 Coffee.

Teocali Burritos.

Playing games around the campfire.

On top of Mt Crested Butte

Climbing to the top of Mt. Crested Butte and then riding the lift down.

Celebrating with pizza or burritos and drinks after long days of hiking.

Soaking sore feet in the cold river water.

How much better food tastes when you’ve been outside all day.

Remembering that I love to sleep outside, with rushing water nearby.


The star-filled night sky.

Watching Simon climb mountains all day and read by the fire at night.


Taido waking us up in the dark to climb.

Hot coffee in a familiar blue enamel cup.

Watching the moon and the sunrise while driving to a trailhead.

Long last day of climbing.

The slow, methodic meditation of one step after the other.

Counting out 100 steps. Then 75. Then 50.

Remembering to just breathe.

Slowly reaching the shoulder.

Coming down Mount Shavano

And then getting to the top of Mt. Shavano.

On Top of Mount Shavano

Being above 14,000 feet, on top of the world.

Feeling shaky and scared looking down.

Remembering other climbs in younger days (on younger knees).

Packing up camp and heading home with sore legs, tired feet and new Colorado memories.

Listening to Simon talk about climbing mountains while driving long stretches of highway.


Receiving the beautiful book Braiding Sweetgrass in the mail from a friend and fellow hiker/nature lover, and soaking it up as a perfect follow up to my weeks in the woods.

So. Many. Gifts.

This week, I started walking together with a group of ladies through the body practices from My Grandmother’s Hands via Zoom.

Next week we move to a new duplex across town, and then the next week Simon returns to online schooling.

So even though the heat is hanging on, I will release summer for now, and look ahead to what comes next.

Whatever comes, I will not forget that each day (and each season) holds a kind of secret gift, but kind of like a Colorado Columbine, it seems I have to be looking for them.

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