Today has been another perfect day outside — about 72℉, with a nice cool breeze, and until the last hour or so, not a cloud in the sky. The sun is still relatively high in the sky, considering the time of day — it won’t set until 8PM or after — and that yellow-y light it gives off when it is low in the sky is now bathing the red maple outside my living room window.
Sitting here at the desk, seeing the pretty light on the trees, I am reminded of a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend I spent when I first went back to Colorado. I’d only been back for a week, but H.’s friends and family always threw a three-day bash in the Pikes Peak National Forest. They had staked out a spot about 10 years earlier, and camped there every year. I would say, over the course of the weekend, that we had 30 campers and 10 or so day visitors. A blast for all.
One of the features of the campsite was a pretty little trout stream, where if you were smart and patient, brookies could be caught. These little trout were so easily scared, we couldn’t let a shadow fall on the water, or they’d be gone. This was my first-ever experience with sneak-up fishing, and I was not good at it. But I learned to stay quiet and not stand up, and by Monday I had caught a few fish. Ordinarily, we’d have cleaned them and cooked them within 10 minutes of catching them, but we had so much food, we just caught, and then released them.
Another feature, and the source of a lot of our daytime fun, were a couple of sets of horseshoe pits. As with freshwater fishing, I was new to horseshoes, but I only needed a couple of hours of practice to be about as good as any of the drunk players.
Yes, we drank beer; we drank a whole lot of beer. The brothers always went in for a couple of kegs, and campfire time was an exercise in care, not to fall in, and not to trip over each other on the way to and from the keg. This weekend, I saw my first-ever man with a cup duct-taped to his hand, so he could find it when he wanted more beer.
The music was terrific, as well — we had a couple of very good guitar players, and a couple of singers. I spent most of the night watching the guitarists, trying to pick up techniques. Of course, I wouldn’t have had any problem if I’d asked to be taught, but I felt shy. I can hold my own, playing and singing at a campfire, as long as I’m the only guitar there, but when other, more talented players are present, I tuck mine away and just pay attention.
One of H.’s friends had a collie who came with us for the weekend, the first I ever heard who could talk. I’ve seen dozens since, usually on America’s Funniest Home Videos, but Arrow was the first. He could say his name, Arrow; hello, which sounded just like his name; and thank you, which also sounded just like his name. Still, I was terribly impressed.
One thing I loved about this camping party was the friendly way people included me — fishing, cooking, singing, tossing a frisbee, (hard to do in the woods!) Although I was feeling a little shy, no one let me retire to a corner; they each went out of their way to keep me in the group. This was a lovely bunch of people, and I felt welcomed to Colorado.
I don’t go on crazy three-day weekend camping trips any more, though if someone wanted to invite me, I’d certainly consider it! But I will never forget that first weekend on Pikes Peak, when I learned that Colorado was a place I was truly going to love.