awareness, nature

Chasing Sunshine

Some days you just need to take a break and enjoy the sunshine or should I say chase the sunshine. It could be taking a walk. Maybe taking a hike is more your speed. For me today it was just sitting in the sunshine. Not doing anything per se.

It was a cool crisp day but the warmth of the sun took the chill out of the air. The breeze was calming. The leaves just ruffled as they blew side to side. Today is supposed to be the last day of sunshine as the gray skies are moving in. A winter cold front full of snow, ice, sleet or whatever shows up per the weatherman. Today is an odd day to sit outside yet it seemed perfect at the time.

Many I know are struggling for various reasons in life. Some have depression. Some are anxious with the pandemic still lurking around. Others have health issues in their family spiking beyond the pandemic. Many are stressed for one reason or another. Maybe this post will make its way to somebody who just needs a dose of sunshine. A ray of light on a dreary day.

If you are reading this today and needed to hear this message, step outside. Feel the sun on your face. Smile. Reflect. Enjoy what is great in your life right now. Put the worries aside. Focus only on the peace around you. Listen to the sounds. Think about how you could pass some virtual or homemade sunshine to another. Maybe a sweet email or text. Maybe a hand written card to friend. Maybe a cup of coffee for the car behind you at the drive thru.

While outside enjoying the sun, you may hear the panting of a playful dog. You might hear a bird chirping. You may hear the revving of car as it passes by. Whatever sounds are near, let them creep into your soul. These sounds can be beautiful if you listen with intent. Active listening is a skill that needs to be mastered by everyone. Sometimes stepping away from your crazy day or life even for a few minutes will allow time to regroup, breathe more deeply and set your mind at ease.

Chase that sunshine. Today and everyday. When you learn how to capture it, pass it on. One can even find sunshine on a cloudy day. You just might need to look a little harder or listen a little fiercer to feel its warmth.

adventure

Surprise Adventures

Alarm set: 5 am. I did not want to wake up on a Sunday sleep in day at this hour. Quick shower to wake up. Reality hits. Starbucks isn’t open yet. Arrived at the planned meeting spot for 6 am. Party of six women off to adventure the unknown. Two know the plan. Four only know it’s a surprise. A packing list was assigned. Car shuffle occurred. 2 cars head out with random people assigned to each. Off we go. Oh wait I forgot to lock the car. Back we go and the caravan is broken immediately. Are we lost? 

We are not exactly lost but we are a bit behind. Glad we went back to grab my purse as I had left the car unlocked. Potty break in car two. The car that started out behind added to their delay. It’s about an hour into travel,   And we just completed our first car ride activity. Mad libs virtual edition. We each filled in the blanks and did a FaceTime chat to share answers and giggles. One might have been raunchy while the other one family appropriate.

Now the downpour starts. Visibility is low in the car. Our activities are supposed to be outside. Will we survive the weather?  The packing list called for a poncho and change of clothes. Who actually planned to use them? First stop was breakfast and the coffee art was a big hit. The food was good too, but the coffee art won me over.

Off we go to the next stop. Lula Lake, Tennessee was the destination spot. Only open a few days a month to the public and we were on the list for today.

The first view was the mini falls into a nice pooling area. The picture doesn’t really do it justice but it was breathtaking in person. As we left this area the downpour came. It was like buckets and buckets of rain drops. We were drenched but it added to the fun of the day.

The main event was the big water fall. It was beautiful from the top with the mist and the fog but the real amazing view was at the bottom. A little wet from the rain but the mist of the falls sprayed you when you were up close. It was an experience to say the least.

A lot of wet fun was had on the hike but we then ventured off to the park for a cute fall picnic. Thank you to Trader Joe’s, a ton of fall delights that we all grazed on. Some pumpkin spice hummus, a tasty charcuterie tray, everything but the bagel chips, pickles, moist cinnamon bun cookies, pumpkin white chocolate brownies, nuts, pumpkin flavored seeds, green goddess dip, pumpkin granola bark, cranberry chicken salad, spinach and kale yogurt dip, chocolate almond spread, crackers and so many more treats. It was a feast of sorts in the park. I am so ready for my next picnic. Anyone can make the best of a cloudy day. 

Hopefully you are not hungry after reading this but I am in a food coma thus I must end this post right here.

3Splitz Farm

Flowers Don’t Care

The first summer season as a flower farmer. The triumphs. The trials. (I’m looking at you, weeds!) The lessons.

Flowers have their own time. On the back of each seed pack, it tells me about how long I’ll be waiting to see their blooms. For so many, it’s weeks and weeks, even months, before the blooms begin to peek out. Seems like forever I’m just waiting and waiting, thinking they’ll never get here.

Then, driving in through the trees, into the wide valley, I crane my neck and finally see…

color.

Red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, white, and more. Color after color exploding in the middle of the wide green field. The flowers are here!

And from that point on, every time I make that crossing into the valley, I hold my breath. Will they still be here? Are they still coming? And every time, the answer is a bright, explosive YES!

Yes, we are here. Yes, we are growing. Yes, it’s time to cut us so we can make more more more more more.

It’s a lot of work, the whole process of growing and cutting flowers. It may seem simple but it isn’t. So many steps from dream to plan to ground to stem to vase to the recipient’s smile. It’s worth it in the end, but the middle parts can be wearisome.

But, no matter how tired or busy I am, the flowers don’t care.

They are driven. They have a mission. They bloom and bloom and bloom.

If it’s raining? Bloom. Sunny? Bloom. Come wind or any other weather.

If I have a busy social calendar? They don’t care. Bloom. If I’m tired? Bloom. If a family member is sick? Bloom. They must.

It’s kind of a beautiful thing, with all the ugliness in the news, the poison and pandemic and pessimism, they just keep on blooming, totally unaffected by the goings on. Their whole job is to make the farm and faces light up with color. And next year we will have even more of them.

When I don’t feel like making the trip, I remind myself that the day will come when I will crane my neck coming into the valley and the color won’t be there. I’ll miss them when they are gone. So I continue on, enjoying the blooms.

adventure

Damn Near Perfect

I was aiming for a damn near perfect day away. Okay is there such a thing? Probably not but I’m going to make today a priority.

I’m going to see if I focus on the day if I can make it damn near perfect. I’m not sure what I will do yet. But I’ll write about it. I also know if it’s not perfect I’m going try again the next day. I’m on vacation. Why not try to aim for a near perfect day. I have time. I have a break from the chaos. I don’t have any have-tos on my list today.

The funny part about thinking about this is I have nothing to model my perfect day after. It’s what I make of it. It’s what I decide is near perfect. No benchmark for this stats girl. I guess I’ll just throw shit on the wall or the mountains and see what happens. 

I was struggling with altitude adjustments in the Rocky Mountains on this day. Too many quirky “offs” to list them all but I was off in many ways. With such a rough start to how I feel today, could I even aim for perfect? 

I hit the local village coffee shop first thing. I wasn’t expecting much as I had never been nor had I previewed the menu. What I did know is I was starting out local. I got a smile just by the name of my drink. Milky Way was a mix of coffee, chocolate and caramel. A hot treat on a cool and drizzly morning. A little local paper tucked in the corner to read while sipping and enjoying the coffee shop vibe.

I was slowly dusting off my morning crud. The tired eyes. The chilled body. The day’s adventure called for an outdoor activity. Miles away by car. Rain rain go away is all I could say in my mind. We were going to raft the Arkansas River and it was raining. Well I guess it wasn’t going to be perfect but I was going to get wet anyway so I wasn’t going to let the rain sour my outlook for the day.

The ride was amazing. More than I could have expected. From fog to clouds to misty air, the scenery was illuminated. A blink of sunshine. A fierce downpour. A spurt of hail. The mountains are full of mystery. So much beauty right in front of me.

Just before the Continental Divide I spotted a mountain camp or town around a factory. It was spray painted and desolate. I wondered about its history. What once lived there. Why did it shut down? Will it ever be reborn? So much to think about for my curious mind.

A quick pit stop in a quaint town with the oldest saloon I ever did see. The floors creaked. There were many old-time artifacts within. The saloon was bustling with locals and tourists. A cool sight to observe. So much fun to shop in the town stores. From the thrift store to the local homemade good store. The experience was one of a kind. New people. New places. Off the beaten path. My kind of perfect. Leadville, CO was the stop. Home of the Leadville 500 race. Another first experience for me. A race across the sky.

The road was empty yet mystical form of nature. My road to nowhere or somewhere. Just around the bend I would land at my destination. This is where I would meet my guide. His name was Joaquin and he was from Chile. His accent was cool and so was he. Joaquin spends his off seasons working in other countries while his homeland isn’t at peak season. Away from his wife and family. So fun to learn about his adventures. He has worked the rivers in California, Chile, Colorado and Italy to name a few. I felt honored to meet him. I enjoyed my time on the raft drifting and exchanging stories. Oh how we laughed. Oh how we paddled hard. Left forward. Right back. Paddle fast. We even rocked and rolled in the harsh rapids. A few rock jumps. Picnic by the waterside. Views of an abandoned railroad on the river side. So much history. A great experience for all.

My day was unknown at the start. My day could have been altered many times. I had a positive outlook amidst the bad weather and other variables. My attitude reflected my outcome.
The road back was another rainy one but we stopped in the towns along the way to catch a glimpse of local life. I’m pretty sure I was in bed by 8pm. I would say this was a near perfect day for me.

adventure

Staycation

I had a staycation this spring break. It was amazing. I didn’t need an expensive beach trip. I didn’t need the crowds of Disney. I didn’t need to figure out travel restrictions from state to state.

Instead I opted for easy. Simple. No frills. Just a local staycation. I stayed and played. Lunch dates sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and company. Outdoor activities with friends and family. From bike rides to hikes to just playing fetch with the dog in the yard.

A little catch-up on the home to do list. A little planting. A little too much shopping. Some driveway car washing. Home cooked meals some which were good and some not so good. That is funny in itself.

Slept in a few days because I could not that I should. A little mix up in the routine and mundane. Let the laundry sit in the dryer an extra day. Spent some time visiting on the spur of the moment. A little thing I missed during the pandemic.

No rules. No have tos. No timelines. Come and go as I please. Something as simple as camping in your own yard or toasting marshmallows over a fire pit can seem like a vacation. Whether you stay or whether you go is up to you. You can make memories either way.

For me a staycation was just right for me. Now my family may say otherwise but this Chick enjoyed the stay. As simple as it was.