The thin autumnal light weakly illuminates our sandstone, as if its power has been usurped, its strength stolen. Leaves relinquish their chlorophyll, glittering bright yellow in the sun, contrasting with bluest blue skies. Temperature extremes are behind us. Snowdust caresses the heights of the La Sal Mountains. October is the month that all the locals wait for, long for, yearn for — best month in the calendar. What a gift.
And, once more, it is the month in which I find myself homeward bound. House is cleaned, recycling sorted, canned goods given away, borrowed items returned, laundry done, suitcases packed, boxes filled, thrift store donations accomplished. The annual ritual of seasonal park rangers replays itself with little variation.
I use superlatives sparingly, but hear this: it’s been the best twelve months of my life. In all my decades, no interval has been as consistently fulfilling and satisfying as this one. I woke up every day in one of the most beautiful national parks in the country, put on a uniform I love, gave interpretive talks I’m passionate about, shared with visitors my joy. Watched breathtaking sunsets nightly, slept under a Milky Way blanket, listened often to the silence, hiked hundreds of miles, climbed my first desert tower, explored remotest ruins, and fell in love with an extraordinary man. (I tell you, it would still have been the best even without that last bit.) I’m blessed beyond measure.
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” *
Beautifully, beautifully, this has been a year with many answers.
~~ May be continued ~~
* Opening line of Chapter 3 of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.