journal . stories . life

5 ~ June 2023

One of the happiest times of my life was when I was first employed by the Bureau of Land Management. I had landed a permanent job as a botanist, covering the whole southwest part of Colorado. I had a pretty young wife, who was my best friend. It was a consequential period, when I was establishing a place in this world. Every few years when there has been a wet winter, I head out there again, to reacquaint myself with all the plant species I learned by heart then, and spent so much time identifying and studying. I also wander again in the same desert and canyon landscapes I explored 45 years ago.

The trip this spring was not a disappointment. Some areas were more green than others, but the area around the Dolores River, near Big Gypsum and Little Gypsum Valleys and Silvey’s Pocket was the best I remember seeing. It is important to know genus and species of the plants, in order to learn more about them, but what has come with age that I did not have in my twenties, is to not take it too seriously. The plants have been here for a long time, and will be here after I am gone. They exist in spite of our classification schemes.

When we were walking down towards the truck in the evening a couple of nights ago, the Abronia sand verbena was releasing its night time fragrance. The air was still and this unique pleasant fragrance covered a wide area. I noticed Jess walk by one, stop, smell it, and I detected a border collie smile as she walked on. She was enjoying the moment and the rare good smell of the Abronia.

The last time I encountered the fragrance of the Abronia in the canyons was around twenty years ago, when my border collies Ben and Maggie and I backpacked down into Bull Canyon, a few miles north of where I was on this trip. That was also a lush spring, and the memory of the good experience has stayed with me.

In all honesty I think I have recaptured that pure happiness I had when I was young. Life is good in retirement, I have kindred hearted border collies to travel with me, and we spend much of our time exploring the wild. All those trips out makes me more ready to do some dancing at the Rose on the weekends, or at the swing dances.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"