A Return to the Tetons

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature

may heal and give strength to body and soul.” — John Muir

I think John Muir nailed it on the head and I am pleased to report that Bryce and I enjoyed an exceptionally generous helping of beauty in Grand Teton National Park. The leaves had just passed their golden peak, but the park was still a visual feast, and gloriously empty of other visitors. September is officially our new favorite time of year for National Parks in this part of the country. We saw a black bear, lots of moose, bull elk (who were bugling like mad throughout the park), deer, as well as a coyote, porcupine, and a host of different birds including geese, egrets, and blue heron. The aspens and cottonwoods were still ablaze and the air was perfectly crisp, but not cold. And it was, of course, fun to reminisce about our last weekend in the Tetons, when we got engaged. It was a perfect fall weekend in every way.

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An Autumn Fire

In the last verse of his poem  Autumn Fires, Robert Louis Stevenson proclaims:

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

It was that description of the turning leaves that kept coming to mind as Bryce and I went for a canyon drive on Sunday. The valley trees are still a bright green, but the mountains are burning bright with color.

Lucky for you, I managed to snap a few photos before my camera died.

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Emigration Canyon

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Emigration Canyon

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Park City

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Brilliant Aspens

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Our zippy ride for the afternoon blended well with the scenery.

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Up close and personal

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It got dark and started to rain shortly before I snapped this, but a break in the clouds let the sun ignite the leaves once again, while the rain continued to fall. It was pretty incredible in person.

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Happy nature lovers.

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May We Never Forget.

Last September 11th, I blogged (here) about my memories, and feelings of the events of that terrible day. This year I’ve been more reflective on the individuals who died, in part, I believe, because of our recent trip to New York City and to the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center.

Our hotel was near the Stock Exchange, so early Saturday morning we made our way through the streets to the Memorial in a gentle rain, and I recalled the photos of the those very streets being covered with ash as people fled.  The tears began to flow long before we made it through the long security lines to enter.  I was overwhelmed by the very palpable feeling of profound loss, sacrifice, and selflessness that took place where we stood. It was an incredibly somber and moving experience, one that I’m not adept at putting into words.

The two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools that have been constructed at the site of the two towers that fell are are perfect memorials.  Walking the perimeter and reading each of the names (so many names!) of those lost was powerful, as was watching the water fall down and disappear into the ground where so many lives were ended prematurely.  It was a lot to take in, but I was so glad that Bryce and I got to have that very raw experience together. Bryce was in the MTC when 9/11 happened, and for reasons that I do not comprehend, there was effectively an information ban. As such, they would only get snippets of information from distraught teachers, letters from home, the occasional newspaper clipping, etc. Because of this, Bryce was effectively prevented from experiencing this collective defining moment. I think our experience at the memorial helped him feel a part of what the rest of us felt that day, and for that I am grateful.

I hope that as individuals and as a nation we can recall that in the face of hatred and evil, we came together and defiantly asserted that United We Stand.  We looked for the good in one another, found common ground and common purpose. It was a beautiful, if brief, moment in our country’s history, and one that gives me hope that we can in fact move forward to a future of love, compassion, and understanding,  and away from our divisive, raging, rhetoric-fueled present.

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August.

I have a love/hate relationship with August.  Watching the calendar change from July to August, marks the beginning of the end of summer, for me.  The days are still wonderfully hot, but the nights start to have a chill in them.  The leaves by Bryce’s mom’s house are already beginning to change.  My email lists are full of the hot new trends for fall, while my Facebook feed is replete with posts by friends chronicling sending their kids back to school.

I think summer is the greatest thing ever, and watching it begin to fade is always hard, but Bryce and I are packing a whole lot of summer into these August days.  Already this month there have been picnics, parties, weddings, tennis, outings with the nephews and niece, and lots of Olympics watching. There are more summer dinners, hikes, shows, and excursions on the horizon, as well as time in Boston, New York City, and Jackson Hole.  Here’s to hoping all of that fun tempers my end of summer blues!

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Beasts of the Southern Wild.

I started writing this post in February after I saw the movie, but since no trailer was available to show, it never got published.  The film is unlike any I’ve ever seen, which is why I felt like a trailer would be a helpful supplement to whatever I could manage to write.  But not only is there a trailer now, but this fine little film is also in theaters, and you should go see it.

Thanks to Alison, I got to see Beasts of the Southern Wild during this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  The gritty, mythological story follows (and is narrated by) six year-old Hushpuppy.  Hushpuppy and her father, Wink, live in “the Bathtub,” a shantytown of sorts at the edge of a coastal Louisiana levee. Life in the Bathtub is both severe and idyllic. Living in the Bathtub, Hushpuppy is free and constantly engaged with her surroundings, unlike the people on the mainland, where “they got fish stuck in plastic wrappers… [and] they got babies stuck in carriages…,” and where children are taught to fear the water. A storm bears down on the Bathtub, and the vulnerability of the community is laid bare, even as the stubborn and independent Wink refuses to back down.

The film works because Quvenzhané Wallis, who plays Hushpuppy, is perfection in front of the camera.  Her performance is so natural, it’s unnerving.

Do yourself a favor and go see it.


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Glacier NP.

As John Muir once said ” I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and crystal waters of the mountains.”

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Uinta Magic.

Last weekend we headed to the mountains for a couple of nights of nature time with friends.  The scenery was stunning, the company was superb, and the rain, when it came, was spectacular and seemingly never-ending. Though the trip was a lot wetter than expected, it was as relaxing, invigorating, and pleasant a camping experience as ever there was. There was time for napping, reading, card playing, exploring, fly-fishing, snacking, and thoughtful and funny conversation.  Backpacking success!

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