For the past month, Jen and I have been walking together in the mornings with our dogs. I say we walk together, but my daughter walks much faster than I do, and so I am constantly trailing behind, much to the frustration of Duckie, my Chihuahua/terrier mix. Duckie would much rather be up ahead with Hank and Penny, but I make her accompany me on the first half of the walk, and then I trade dogs with Jen on the way back. I hand over Duckie, and Jen gives Hank’s leash to me. He is the the old guy and is usually content to match his stride to mine for the end of our walk.
Most mornings around 7:30, we drive about ten minutes to the south end of Vallecito Lake and walk across the dam, which is restricted to pedestrian traffic. We are usually the only ones there, and that makes it seem such an extravagance to have all this grandeur to ourselves. Sometimes we meet a jogger, another walker or two, or we might see a fisherman on the water, but not this morning. This morning, it is just for us. The grand scale of lake, sky, and mountains is laid out before us offering beauty to feed our souls.
The mountains surrounding the lake are a patchwork of still-green and already-golden aspens, dark evergreens, scrub oak that come in a selection of burgundy, orange, and brown, and the black trunks of burned trees that stand like exclamation points reminding us of the forest fire fifteen years ago.
This fall has been different than we are used to. Mostly, our falls are sunny and warm with undertones of cool, crisp air. This year, fall has been cloudy, cool, and rainy without being soggy. The high peaks are dusted with snow. This morning, the air is soft against my skin and tastes sweet as I see how deeply I can breathe it in.
The clouds hang low, threatening to release the rain they carry heavy in their grey bellies. It is cool this autumn morning, and I have started out wearing layers. Colorado is all about layers because of how quickly the weather can change. I have on a short sleeved t-shirt, a hoody, and a nylon windbreaker which is my insurance against rain. I also wear a fleece beanie as protection from the wind which hits my ears as I walk east across the dam. The beanie is the first thing I shed on my way back. I have generated heat by walking, and the wind is behind me while walking in this direction. I remove my windbreaker and tie it around my waist.
There are new sensations that meet me this morning as I make my way across the dam. The weathervane, atop the shed that houses the dam’s machinery and controls, announces the wind with syllables of metal squeaking against metal. The spot at the beginning of the path, which for two weeks has smelled like skunk, no longer does. I notice a red buoy in the water and the small whirlpool it marks, where the water rushes down through itself and then pours out of the lake. I can hear the water boiling down the length of the flume on its way to irrigation ditches, rivers, other lakes, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.
I pray as I walk. I pray for a friend’s healing, a family member making a hard decision, my husband’s strength, that my children would have joy, and for my grandchildren to develop discernment. And I pray that this walk will begin to slim my thighs.
Morning by morning.