St. Mary’s Glacier

If you are in Colorado and you are not taking yourself on outdoorsy expeditions right now, then you are not doing yourself any favors. Get outside! Breathe in the coming autumn. Go now. Do it.

I’ll wait.

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Good work, friends! How did it go? Let’s get together and exchange stories over coffee, hot cider and cake.

Here, I’ll start: At the end of last week, my sister and mother — and trusty philosopher dog, Bailey — went on an adventure to St. Mary’s Glacier.

st mary's glacier

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On never forgetting

When I was 14 years old, the world changed forever. Not only my personal world, as our family structure began to shift to two households, but the entire, wide world beyond my narrow and self-involved vantage point. It was 2001.

In September 2001, I was still very much an uncertain young gal, uncomfortable in my own skin, and completely unconvinced that I fit in a setting beyond the Colorado neighborhood I grew up in with my three siblings. I had been homeschooled for my entire life up until that point, and had only just begun to wade into the chaotic, loud and terrifying environment that is a public high school. The world seemed too big for my adolescent self to ever grow into. It was like gazing at an ancient world map that depicted the world as flat and largely unexplored, land and ocean borders dropping off into darkness beyond the scope of that generation’s knowledge. It was simply vacant past a particular point. There were maybe dragons.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, my older sister and I got up early to get ready for school. To begin our trek into public school life, we had joined the choir at one of our local high schools. Two or three times a week, we would begin our days in a large, high-ceilinged classroom designed for music education with dozens of other teenagers. That day, the school year was still new, and we were still in the process of figuring out our place among all those other students. We were in the habit of listening to a morning radio show every morning. The kind of show that featured a couple of hosts bantering about celebrity gossip, local news, and that day’s trivia question, interspersed with the musical hits of the day. (Think Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC.) As we listened, the radio hosts broke from their usual carefree topics and cautiously began referencing a plane crash in New York City. Though they remained calm, there was a note of urgency and fear in their voices. We turned on the news. The second plane hit the World Trade Center.

No one knew what was happening, but it was painfully clear that something earth-shaking and catastrophic had occurred. My mother got us into the car to drive to school.

When Emily and I walked into the choir room, the usual loud, unconfined chaos of teenagers starting their school days was absent. It was eerie, quiet, clouded. We were all still too young, children born in the 1980s, with very little personal experience with war and death and terror. Our choir teacher had turned on a boxy and outdated classroom television, and told us we would be quietly watching the news during the course of that period. Thirty minutes later, we watched as the south tower collapsed. In what felt like an entire lifetime and somehow at the same time, just a single moment, the north tower also fell. Just after 9 a.m. MT, we were dismissed from class and told to go quietly to our next period. I don’t think anyone made much noise.

It is now 2017. Sixteen years later. Everything has changed. And yet, inexplicably, some things continued on their course. Those kids who sat silently in the choir room, we still grew up, went to college and started our careers. We continued our lives’ journeys. Some of us got married. Others had children. We became adults. We are now in our 30s.

We vowed to remember, to never ever forget. We hope still to somehow honor those who were lost, whose lives were cut short without their consent. We hope always to dedicate ourselves to hope, fortitude. Love. Compassion. To devoted care of our fellow men and women.

Much was lost that Tuesday in September, 2001. But today I reaffirm my hope that our fundamental characters remain intact, and that we will continue to strive for a better, wide world every day, regardless of how narrow a viewpoint we sometimes allow ourselves to wallow within.

brooklyn bridge

manhattan skyline

brooklyn bridge

brooklyn bridge

empire state building

one world trade center

Our world — our huge, collective worldview — was forever altered on 9/11/01, but the world in and of itself was left standing. Let’s not let it down.

 

With all my love forever:

anya elise

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The Great American Eclipse

It took two-and-a-half hours, but we finally escaped Glendo State Park.

We had driven along these same roads not 12 hours earlier, at 4:30 a.m., heading in the opposite direction. Surrounded by many other enterprising souls, we had crawled along the unfamiliar dirt road, the deep darkness of the pre-sunrise night enveloping us all, making the journey eerie. Somehow even forbidden. If I hadn’t myself just handed over our paltry park entrance fee to the booth attendant, and didn’t at that moment still clutch the park-issued map in hand, I would think we were trespassing into territory uncharted. With all of our ghostly headlights reflecting back on us in the dust-ridden air, a continuous line of family vehicles tentatively picking their ways along, I could almost be convinced that we had wandered into an adventure movie. Perhaps it was the apocalypse.

park-map

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A bouquet of orange roses

Sometimes a bouquet of orange roses is just a bouquet of orange roses. And sometimes, if you look a little closer, I think you might find a bouquet of orange roses is actually a magical little land all its own.

orange roses

orange roses

orange roses

orange roses

orange roses

I love investigating the world with my trusty camera in hand. With such a companion you can transform a (slightly) cluttered corner of your living room into a little floral studio. Just add a truly unassuming rose bouquet to the mix and you’re good to go. Happy exploring, friends.

 

SIGNED, anya elise

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July 4th: What’s the State of our Nation?

Statue of Liberty

I spent some time last night wandering the wild lands of the internet, searching for inspiration, answers, clues, guides, insight into this nation of the United States of America. It is July 4th, our Independence Day. This year, it feels perhaps more poignant than ever to stop and consider what indeed makes up the character and fabric of our country. What do we stand for? What do we live for? What do we hope for?

In my fall down the Google rabbit hole, I found these quotes; some from the USA’s Founding Fathers, others from the wise and enduring women who accompanied them, or arrived later in our nation’s history.

  • “Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” — Thomas Paine
  • “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson
  • “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.” — Abigail Adams
  • “I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.” — George Washington
  • “If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind whom should we serve?” — Abigail Adams

We have largely mythologized the men and women who laid the foundation for the United States, and it’s easy to grab your favorite quote, post it to your preferred social media account, and uphold it as gospel when considering what it means to be an American citizen. But in the course of my research last night, I found too many instances to note here when the Founding Fathers warned that liberty, freedom, and a healthy republic were not alone guaranteed by the founding documents and principles upon which a nation is built. Rather, it requires the resilience and fortitude and ceaseless education of that nation’s people, to work every day toward its continued survival.

I love this country and I am proud to be called a citizen of this country. But, as ever, we the people reflect the state of our nation. So, on this 241st anniversary of the United States’ founding, I believe it is important to rededicate ourselves — each and every one of us — to the mission of carrying on. Let us not succumb to fatigue or weariness of spirit. There is beauty and strength and so much goodness to find in these united states, but we must all bear witness to that beauty, and hone in on that strength, and contribute as much goodness as we can, to maintain the essential character of our beloved nation.

Happy Fourth of July.

 

SIGNED, anya elise

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