My son and I stood at the summit of Baldy Mountain, on what felt like the top of the world. He wanted me to take his photo sitting on the edge. I have no idea what was going through his mind as he sat there, looking toward the dissipating haze of New Mexico’s eastern horizon, but my spirit brimmed with the emotional memories of the day he was born.
In the months before his birth, I voraciously read every how to be a parent manual out there. I believed that parenting could be treated as an academic enterprise, just another subject to learn, an expertise to be acquired. When challenges arose, I’d just flip to the right page for the answer.
The day we went to the hospital to be induced, I felt confident that we had this thing under control. I’d put myself through Dad 101 and was ready to roll.
Then everything went to hell.
His mom’s vitals started to plummet. Undiagnosed preeclampsia was starting to ravage her internal organs. It was time to get the kid out. The doors to surgery closed in my face as the gurney rolled away. They didn’t cover this in Dad 101. My confidence evaporated, replaced by sheer panic.
Each morning I’m home, I follow the same ritual. I clean the coffee maker, grind the beans, fill the water reservoir, and press BREW. I reach into the cabinet to choose from double stacked memories, from coffee mug mementos that remind me of events, experiences, and eras of my life.
Aside from photos, I don’t keep many physical reminders of my past, but the coffee mugs are an ever-present exception. I wake up my brain and fuel my morning from these vessels, sipping from the emotions and lessons they still hold.
I woke this morning to a fresh coat of snow on my balcony that sculpted the pots from my summer garden into frosted cupcakes. It reminded me of how my former garden would look covered in snow. I could almost feel those virgin steps into a pristine tundra full of serendipity.
For the first time in a while, I missed having a garden whose winter bones called me into the cold to capture its quiet beauty. Someday soon, perhaps I’ll have another plot to call my own. My soul seems to be beckoning nourishment from the soil once again.
When I was apartment hunting in 2014, east and west facing windows were high on the list of requirements. I need to clearly see the crack of dawn and end of light of each day. It’s an important time for me, rejuvenating and restorative. The morning light stirs my mind and spirit as I grind the beans for my morning coffee. These moments are an alignment of sorts where I decide what kind of day it’s going to be. Yes, the events of the day may collude to collide with that decision, but my intention prevails more often than not.
From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. This story takes place on Thursday, July 20, Trail Day 4.
We emerged from our tents before dawn in Copper Park. It was 5:30am, our earliest wake-up of the trek, but it was Baldy Day.
When we’d gathered months earlier to choose from among the 35 Philmont treks, our first order of business was to eliminate any trek that didn’t include the summit of Baldy Mountain. There is majesty throughout Philmont’s 140,000+ acres, but Baldy is the true pinnacle as the highest peak (~12,450 ft.) in the Cimmarron Mountains. Baldy is so famous in scouting circles, when you mention you’ve done a Philmont trek, the question you get is invariably … did you summit Baldy?
We were up early because mid-summer in the New Mexico high mountain desert is monsoon season, when daily and dangerous afternoon thunderstorms frequently dash the hopes of aspiring summit chasers. The ranger who’d been with us for the first 72 hours of our trek warned us: Get up early and make the summit before noon. There’d be no lazy breaking of bread or camp on Baldy Day.
From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. This story takes place on Thursday, July 27, Trail Day 11.
We came to a sudden halt just a few miles from the end of our trek. Why were we stopping?
I was sixth in line, a couple of hundred feet from my son who was in the lead. We’d assumed lightning spacing a mile or so before, remembering the ranger’s advice if we got caught in the middle of one of Philmont’s daily thunderstorms.
“Keep at least 50 feet apart on the trail, so that if one of you gets hit by lightning, it doesn’t jump from one person to the other.”
The sky rumbled and my annoyance grew in concert with the intensity of the rain. We didn’t have time for a break if we were going to beat the storm back to base camp. My son turned to look up the line as I walked toward him, and my frustration became concern as I got close enough to see the fear in his face.