A half-mile above Fort Collins
and just a bit below Horsetooth Mountain,
we climb our way up these bulging boulders
that shoulder their way out from the pines
and lichen-covered stones that line the trail.
After an initial hesitation at the first ledge,
the dog takes to the climbing as if born for it,
a series of jumps and pulls up and over each edge,
picking her way up the granite knobs and ripples.
From the tippling flat at the southern side
we stand and look out across the wide view:
the platinum shine of lakes cuts through the haze
of the eastern plains,
a series of slopes and trails tilt into the canyons,
and succeeding layers of higher mountains
recede to the west,
each ridge a fainter gray.
A good breeze lifts the scents of pine and cedar,
filters through the layers of days of doing
what must be done
and nights of rest that pass too quickly.
Even the dog seems to know
that this is something special:
she sits in the sun,
black hair gleaming and tongue hanging out
from the heat of late summer and the climbing,
taking in the view of this fine vastness,
looking one way and then another.
Randa stands, one hand shielding her eyes
from the glare of a thin-aired sun,
and the other propped on her side,
elbow angled toward a distant ridge.
I wish that I had more than a camera,
something greater than memory,
something more worthy of such moments as this,
something that could carry an enduring awareness
that the hand of God can polish granite
and yet not bruise
the most tender shoot of columbine
wilted in a browning meadow.