A Glance

The pocket-sized community in Marin County became home twenty years ago. This town of deep-rooted cottages and newly modernized homes is tucked away nicely among the rolling hills. A variety of trees dot the neighborhood streets and as I look out my living room window, deer saunter by. This infers in me comfort, knowing nature and people can coexist in harmony.

Anywhere I go, whether it be to the local shopping center or to downtown for delicious dining, I am likely to run into a familiar face. But even in this cozy community, the streets can turn into a cluster of blinking lights. Regardless of its charm, this town succumbs to crowds and traffic jams.

When respite is needed, my husband and I take advantage of the beautiful outdoors in “our backyard.” This means a journey into West Marin – a favorite place on our map for day trips. In only a ten-minute drive west, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard takes us over White’s Hill where we exhale into relaxation. We pass what once was the shimmering emerald green lawn of San Geronimo Golf Club and cruise towards one of our favorite stops, the Lagunitas Deli, for a mouth-watering sandwich. This little market provides a few outdoor umbrellaed tables where patrons can sit, chat, and watch cars go by. Occasionally, we order our sandwiches to go, setting out for another favorite destination, Samuel P. Taylor Park.

After making a left turn into the park, we drive to the ranger station to check in, handing over a few bills for the day-use fee. Then we continue further into a magnificent redwood forest as though entering into a magical paradise. After parking the car, we unfold our legs and stretch, tipping our heads up to match the awe-inspiring Redwoods’ height. We stand in a world where breathing is easier.  Our eyes search for a picnic table by the Papermill Creek so we can be soothed by the sound of gentle flowing water – perfect music for unwinding. After the last bite of our sandwiches, we stroll around hand in hand, delighting in the laughter of children playing and the mesquite aroma of the barbecues. The group picnic site evokes special memories as we approach: birthday celebrations and college graduations with barbecued meats, bean bag tossing, cake, and camaraderie.

But the deli and park aren’t exclusive to pulling us out of the stop and go traffic back in town. We detour off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard by turning right on a side street, driving at the posted fifteen-miles-per-hour speed limit through the blink-of-an-eye town of Nicasio. This town is where the Rancho Nicasio restaurant and concert venue resides. The “barbecues on the lawn” find their way onto our summer to-do list each year: great food, a margarita or two, the tree-lined scenery, and band of the day. But when the sun sets, the atmosphere takes on a new alchemy – enchanting strings of lights and stars in the night sky twinkle to create an unforgettable evening.

Passing Nicasio and nearing Bear Valley Visitor Center where we’ve hiked and picnicked, our eyes notice the cows grazing in the pastures. They often lift their heads to see who’s passing by. We arrive at the center and wander through, reading displays on all types of wildlife: deer, coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, gopher snakes, and great blue herons – education at our fingertips. I always manage to find something appealing in the gift shop: another t-shirt or bandanna to add to my collection, or one more book to keep others company in my bookcase, waiting to have their pages turned.

If we don’t plan to hike or picnic at the center, we head less than ten minutes away to the delightful town of Point Reyes Station. First stop, I spoil myself with a latte from Toby’s Coffee Bar. Toby’s is our favorite store in town. From chocolate, nuts, and jams, to shirts, jewelry, greeting cards, and books, this inviting store has everything! We mosey around, never walking out empty handed.

After finishing up at Toby’s with bags in hand, we enjoy one more spree and it’s for cheese! Stepping into Cowgirl Creamery, we hesitate, unsure of what delectable variety our palates crave: an Aged Sharp Cheddar or Gouda, a crumbly Goat cheese, or a Soft Brie or Camembert. When minds are made up, we add to the shuffling of bags with cheese in hand, and look for a table to savor it. If we didn’t lunch already, we may head to the Palace Market’s deli for a sandwich, saving the cheese for later. A bench suffices while we satisfy our hunger and watch regulars and visitors amble by. We then immerse ourselves into perusing each little shop with gusto. Point Reyes Station offers enjoyment for all. It’s a quaint town for a shopping expedition, to simply wander and window shop, or to satisfy appetites. It is the texture of Bay Area country living – a leisurely embrace of life.

Marin County brims with cozy and tranquil destinations where life is unhurried. These lovely locations offer reprieve from idling on crowded streets with frustrated drivers. We pause, crossing the threshold into a simpler time. Choosing whatever journey’s-end we prefer, Marin County is full of magic. We transport to where the air is refreshing, birds delightfully sing, trees welcome our company, and since the pace is easy-going, we actually have time to “smell the roses.”

This was written pre-Covid, but I’m optimistic that we’ll have the chance to repeat this adventure when life enters into a another new normal – one without masks and social distancing, when hugs and handshakes are welcomed, and smiles are seen again.

I hope you enjoyed! Lauren 💗
Photo credit: Google images for Samuel P Taylor picnic ground
& Pt. Reyes. All other photos are mine.

           

Room 506A

As sudden as an earthquake, I ended up in the emergency room several years ago because of severe abdominal pain. It turned out to be pancreatitis. I didn’t know anything about this condition but later learned it could be life-threatening. Pancreatitis is often caused by excessive alcohol consumption, but since I rarely drink alcohol, this wasn’t possible. The culprit turned out to be a gallstone found in the bile duct and the pain felt like a million knives doing the twist. Since my gallbladder was removed decades ago, gallstones never again entered my mind. Apparently though, if the gallbladder is gone, the gallstones have nowhere else to go.

It was an autumn Friday morning and I had just enjoyed a good cup of coffee with my husband when those knives started dancing. My husband comforted me as I laid down, but he felt helpless unable to take away the pain. After a couple of hours, I knew I wouldn’t be going into work. Maybe stubbornness played a role in my decision to ride it out. I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I wanted to enjoy my morning routine and have a productive day at work. Later I’d celebrate that it was Friday and the weekend was just around the corner.

However, things don’t always work out like we plan. That afternoon, I took in the sight of the emergency room where an IV was started, blood was drawn, and questions asked such as, “Are you allergic to any medications?” and “How would you rate your pain?” In full agony, I barely whispered, “It’s a ten.” The nurse gave me medication through the IV; soon the dancing knives ended their performance, although I wondered why it began in the first place.

While I waited for results, I couldn’t help think about the auto-immune liver disease my daughter was diagnosed with several years back – Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). So far, my symptoms were parallel to hers. Could it be that I’ve had PSC all these years? As hard as I resisted, tears welled up. I kept thinking I had passed this horrible disease on to my daughter which made my heart ache. I was letting my darkest thoughts grab the reins and spiral me into a deep emotional funk. I fought back though, sliding these thoughts under the hospital bed. I had to remain calm and continue to breathe deeply, otherwise, I’d turn into a big mess.

If anyone has ever spent the night in a hospital, they’re aware of the constant nightly interruptions. Just when I fell into a soothing sleep, the nurse would come in and cheerily say, “Hi Lauren, time for labs,” or, “Hi Lauren, I need to check your vitals.” I know they’re only doing their jobs, but when I’ve fallen into a wonderful, deep sleep and woken up abruptly, it’s like entering an alternate universe. I’d roll over, hold out my arm with eyes closed while they poked and prodded. Then I’d fall back into my much-needed slumber.

By Sunday, I was raring to go home. The noise had taken its toll; a headache was coming on like a tidal wave from the high-pitched beeping. That deep longing for my own bed would not vanish. I woke up early and walked a few laps around the hospital floor. I had to prove to the doctor I was in good enough shape to be discharged, so I took each step slowly in a forward fashion. I was decked out in my blue hospital gown, tied securely so as not to put on a show. The red, traction hospital socks were the final touch to the classy ensemble. The venture was successful.

When I returned to my room, the nurse came in to share some bad news – that I was slightly jaundiced. This fed my anxiety because I thought jaundice was an end-of-liver-disease symptom. I’m right; it is, but it’s also a common indicator for other causes. Regardless, I was still well enough to go home, but since we still had no answers, I had to endure more tests. The most logical was an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography (ERCP). This procedure is risky since I’ve had pancreatitis, but it was the only method that could detect different causes, including cancer. Even though I was hesitant because of the risks, I agreed to the ERCP. On a stormy day in October, I walked through the hospital doors for the 1:00 pm procedure.

One memory that remains vivid from this procedure was the seconds of sedation consciousness. One of the medications slowed down my heart rate which concerned my doctor enough to halt what he was doing. It was during this time that I felt something down my throat, thought I was going to choke, and tried to get my doctor’s attention. In my mind, I tried to lift my hand but it wouldn’t budge. Just when panic was setting in…so did the sedation. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery. I was happy to see my husband, who was relieved the procedure was over, and then my doctor walked in to share the results.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the camera all the way down, Lauren…your bile duct was heavily scarred…I’m so sorry,” he said.

What? I felt my shoulders drop. The bottom line was to repeat this procedure, but I had to wait until the end of November, a six-week wait. I wasn’t about to tempt fate, so I dealt with the anticipation as best I could. The nameless cause morphed into an elephant in the room. Everywhere I looked, there it was. I had to maneuver around it in order to live life.

The clocks on the hand seemed to move at a slower speed, but the day of the procedure finally arrived. I felt relieved, but as I sat in the cold hospital room, surrounded by machines and medical staff, nervousness overpowered my relief. To calm myself, I said a silent prayer – that the doctors would have steady hands and sharp eyes to bring solid answers, for strength on my part, and for a “third time’s a charm” not to be necessary.

Once again, my thoughts returned to the days of numerous tests my daughter underwent when the doctors remained dumbfounded as they were unable to come up with a diagnosis for her. It took three years for one doctor, who was head of the Gastroenterology department, to finally give it a name. During those years, my husband and I lived in a cloud of disbelief that our daughter could be very sick; everyone has that invincible thought at some time “it won’t happen to us.” And while sitting in the office listening to the doctor speak, I felt time stop on the spot. The world may have kept spinning, but our family’s world became suspended.

When I waited for my diagnosis, was I afraid I could have cancer? Was I scared of having PSC? Sure, but mainly, I wasn’t concerned about myself. I simply didn’t want to be a burden; I wanted to be healthy so when my daughter needs me in the future, I’ll be able to comfort her. That has been my primary wish – that nothing happens to my husband, my son, or to me, so that when her disease progresses and becomes life-threatening, she knows her family is right beside her. Although bile duct gallstones can be serious, this is the primary reason I was grateful that neither cancer or PSC weren’t found.

Because of this painful experience, I’m reminded of just how fragile life is and that no day is guaranteed. I was fully aware before, but this fact became even clearer. It’s so easy to take even the simplest of tasks for granted. I even had moments when I could’ve easily lost sight of optimism and hope if it weren’t for the support circle of family and friends. I admit to still getting annoyed at little things, but my moments of annoyance don’t linger as long. My perspective is changed because I’ve tiptoed on the other side. Moving forward, I am grateful for the blessing of these positive results and hope for many tomorrows ahead.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

A Silver Spoon and So Much More…

Matt and I pull into the parking stall of our camp sight, and our first task is to unload the car and dump our gear onto the picnic table. A slight breeze floats through the pine trees cooling us from the sun’s burning touch and the blue lake water invites us in for a swim. The invitation is tempting, but first the labor of setting up camp. I dig into the big green tub looking for kitchen stuff and my breath catches when my eyes focus on the old set of silverware. When I was a little girl, we had a cabin in Big Bear, California, which is where Mom used the silverware. After both of my parents had passed, the set came to me. It’s black and silver, service for six, a little faded, but I couldn’t believe how sturdy it was to have lasted over fifty years. At the time, I didn’t give it much thought, so I added it to our camping paraphernalia.

As Matt and I enjoy the stir fry dinner he prepares on the first night, the old silverware evokes fond memories. An image of our cabin on the corner lot enfolded by sugar pines comes to mind. I remind Matt of the time when our little brave dog, Duffy, climbed up the snow bank, standing on the roof as if to say, “I am King!” That cozy mountain retreat also held many kitchen-table conversations full of laughter. Although Matt never had the chance to see the cabin, he remembers Mom’s delicious cooking. We especially savored her lasagna that was contest-winner-worthy. I recall the aroma swirling around, enticing Dad, my sisters, and me as we were eager to capture it and dig into the mouth-watering dish. I line up evenly in my mind each nuance of those childhood memories with my parents – days of playing badminton under a cloudless sky and a blazing sun, and then tobogganing when the ground was blanketed in snow and the temperature was bitter cold.

I am wrapped in a sentimental blanket on this trip, thinking of Mom and Dad, wishing I could feel their hugs, hear their laughter, and listen to their advice one more time. But would one more time still be enough? I don’t wallow in sadness; instead, I revel in the good times letting the memories advance like pictures on a camera roll. Before Matt and I realize, the campfires, swimming, hiking, and reminiscing have catapulted time into lightning speed. Our trip has ended and in the blink of an eye, we’re home doing clean-up. It dawns on me that I don’t want this set stashed away again, hidden beneath pots and pans and forgotten until the next trip. These forks, knives, and spoons have their own stories to tell. I combine them with our sets and I’m not bothered that they don’t match our decor. Years ago, the difference would’ve mattered. Now, life is a far cry from when mom and dad were still with us, so as we sit at our table using this shiny silverware, the family tales continue. We smile, we laugh, and now and then, tears that we thought had dried up, slowly find their way down our cheeks again.

Maybe I didn’t see the true value when this set was given to me. Perhaps I was blinded by tears, existing in my world of grief where a dark cloud was parked above my head. It could be that I hadn’t processed the finality of their death. I would see them again, wouldn’t I? The phone will ring and I’ll listen to Mom’s, “I just wanted to hear your voice.” Or, they’ll be over for lunch next week. When enough time had passed, reality sank in: I acknowledged their passing for what it was and accepted the truth. So, the timing and how I stumbled upon this treasure was relevant. My grieving had ended, widening the gap for remembering all the good things that keep us moving forward when we lose a loved one. Even in this set’s simplicity, its silver clean lines prove to be a nostalgic gem never to be buried again.

The painting of our cabin was done by a friend in Big Bear and my sister has it in her house – a treasure to keep forever.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020


The Way it Was

Is there someone in your life who made a strong, positive impact? Someone who motivated you to step out of your comfort zone? My answer is yes, and this is my story:

The year is 1970…and tonight’s special performance takes place in my home where the center of the living room is my stage and an antique mahogany chair is my podium. A small cassette tape recorder rests on the floral cushioned seat. I wear a powder blue dress and my shoulder-length brown hair usually worn down is swept up into pigtails. I press play on the recorder and sing my heart out. My parents and aunt and uncle cheer me on from their seats, and following my curtsy when the last melody is sung, they tell me the show was phenomenal. That night remains as glowing as yesterday’s sunrise. I was nine years old but already knew I wanted to be a singer. Barbra Streisand became my vocal idol. Her voice wowed me the first time I heard it, and regardless of how often I listened to her, my arms would get goosebumps. During those years, I fell asleep each night with one of Barbra’s albums spinning on my record player, lulling me to sleep. Unbeknownst to the amazing singer, many a night we would perform a duet using my special hairbrush-microphone. I had a wild imagination and wanted to be just like her.

Whenever I had the chance, I held concerts in my room, imagining sold-out crowds. As a teenager, I joined school choirs, but it was not until my junior year of high school that I truly found the self-confidence to pursue my dream. That year, the music department welcomed a new teacher, Ron Perry. He was in his mid-twenties and became more of a friend to his students than a teacher. He treated us as equals, and over time, it was natural for us to call him Ron. During his first week, he focused on listening to us individually to determine what part we would sing. I was nervous when he called my name, but I managed to echo the notes he played on the piano, and was surprised when he praised my singing ability. I knew I could carry a tune, but to hear these encouraging words from the new teacher boosted my self-esteem. 

I became part of the alto section and the choir soon began working on a Christmas repertoire for the December concert. The solo offered was a jazzy version of “Silent Night” and I was one of several students who auditioned. I was thrilled to be chosen – this was my first solo. The concert took place in the school’s historic Louis E. Plummer Auditorium; with the plush red seats and bold red curtain, I felt privileged to perform a solo in this iconic building. Little did I know then that another big solo opportunity was on the horizon.

Ron continued his teaching outside of school as the director of his church choir. In the upcoming summer of 1978, the choir was going on tour to the east coast. He was generous to invite the high school choir to tryout if they wished to join the road trip adventure. I auditioned for the rock gospel solo but had not planned to, believing I only had a voice for ballads; the song was “Hallelujah” by the group, Seawind. Ron wanted me to tryout; he felt my voice would be good for the solo. My feelings were opposite. I told him that I couldn’t sing a rock song! I probably couldn’t even reach that high note! Despite my can’t-do attitude, I auditioned, executing that high note! I was one of three contenders, though – not a shoo-in, but the solo was mine. I was ecstatic and thanked Ron for nudging me. 

With auditions complete and summer approaching, the choir prepared for tour. Excitement bounced off the walls. Mostly teenagers, we traveled in a classic yellow school bus, leaving Southern California and heading across country. What a crazy, fun time that bus ride was, laughing and singing and getting to know each other while blazing through state lines. We had several performances on the calendar and we stayed in the various churches where the concerts were held. I performed “Hallelujah” in each concert and was exhilarated by the positive reactions.

When the tour ended, that rock solo led me to perform for a convention with an audience of more than 2000, and what an experience singing for so many people. Before I walked on stage, Ron told me that if I get nervous, to look above the heads and don’t make eye contact. He said that a smile makes you feel good, but a negative look can affect your singing. I must say, the far wall of the concert hall needed a paint job! Afterwards, the event planner praised my performance, and I held onto her words for what seemed like eternity. 

“Hallelujah” also paved the path to winning 2nd place in the senior talent show the following year. I have tucked vivid memories of that exciting evening into a corner of my mind. I opened up the second act singing the rock song. My pianist, Kathryn, started playing the introduction as the red velvet curtain rose. In spite of the butterflies in my stomach, I walked on stage into the limelight and began belting out the lyrics. Hearing the audience clap after I sang the last note whirled me into euphoria. I closed the act by singing Barbra’s “The Way We Were,” and the audience’s reaction was even more passionate than the first. So this is what it feels like, I thought. 

Lauren talent show 1979

Even though singing was my ultimate passion, my priorities shifted after graduation. I lived with my parents at the time but was ready for a taste of independence; however, the only way to make this happen was to quit college and begin earning a steady paycheck. I made the choice. I put this plan into action, placing my dream of a singing career on the back burner. Several years passed when I met the man who soon became my husband, and in the years to follow, our family grew when our daughter and son were born. But this life trajectory did not stop me from singing. My husband and children stayed entertained with my serenading around the house. I even joined local choirs. Eventually though, my time was devoted to family and less and less to singing. But I was proud when my daughter developed the same passion, adding harmony to those years.

Memories of listening to Barbra – becoming mesmerized by her beautiful voice and even her quirky, yet classy Brooklyn personality – remain a dynamic part of my youth. She inspired me to pursue something I truly loved and my high school experience was better for it. I was also fortunate to see her in concert at The Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim. When she strolled on stage in an elegant black gown, opening the concert with the song “As If We Never Said Good-Bye,” my eyes welled up. It was an evening of pure magic.

I believe most of us have a favorite teacher who made a great impact on our lives. Ron was that teacher for me. To say that he was influential sounds minimal. His way of encouraging me to try for those seemingly unreachable solos, jolted me into stepping out of my insecurities. Because of his faith in me, I danced into a world where if we try new things, pushing fear aside, there is a good chance for positive outcomes.

I had my moments in the spotlight. I felt the excitement and anticipation of walking onto that stage, listening to the inspiring buzz from the audience when I sang those first few words. I am grateful for this time in my life and I will always offer the sincerest appreciation to Barbra and Ron. If it were not for them, my passion would have fallen by the wayside without the chance to crescendo into such a memorable musical past.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane, and if you answered yes to my question and feel like sharing even a snippet of your story, I’d love to read about it. ❤

 

 

 

 

Letters in the Sky

A loving marriage lasting over six decades is as awe-inspiring as a star-filled night sky. I never grew tired of hearing my parents talk about how they met. Each detail was infused with love that put a twinkle in their eyes as they grew older.

It was springtime in Milwaukee when the city began to thaw and patio furniture came out of hibernation. Locals, excited for warmer temperatures, bid their parkas farewell and reached for shorts and sandals. It did not matter if the weather was only in the fifties; it was still much warmer than living through winter’s aggression. World War II had already begun. The atmosphere was unsettling.

The writing of my parents’ story would not have transpired without Dad’s friend, George. Dad was in the U.S. Army Air Force at the time but home on a 3-day pass. He happened to visit George at work one day at the bank, and walking into the bank’s entry, he noticed a beautiful gal with gorgeous legs sitting behind a desk. He was captivated.

mom

George managed to talk Mom into a blind date with Dad, but the condition was for George and his girlfriend to join in. And so, a double date was set. The beautiful young woman with the nice legs was nineteen and the handsome young gentleman was twenty-one when they met on June 29, 1941. The two couples enjoyed good conversation, laughter, dinner at Wegerman’s Resort at Pewaukee Lake, and dancing to the tunes of Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller. This evening proved to be the spark that ignited my parent’s love for each other.

Do you believe in love at first sight? They did. Early the following year, Dad was informed that his squadron was to be dispatched to the European Theater. This news and the fact that he was in love with Mom complicated matters. He did not want to lose her, so he proposed, hoping with all his heart her answer would be yes. Her feelings matched his, but she declined Dad’s proposal because of the imminent uncertainty. Mom had never been impulsive, so had she left the decision up to her heart, she would have married him immediately. Dad was disappointed but respected her wishes. However, I should tell you that persistence turned into his new middle name.

Some time passed and while they were out for dinner one night, Dad asked Mom to marry him again. He felt a second try was worthwhile because she was the only woman who held his heart. In the restaurant, they sat on red velvet chairs and their table was dressed in a silky white tablecloth. Twinkle lights glistened above as Dad proposed in the glow of the soft-lit candle on their table. Restaurant patrons nearby witnessed this occasion, clapping when they heard her say, “Yes!” Mom offered her left hand as Dad slipped the solitaire on her ring finger. Its sparkle matched the tears of joy in her eyes. She loved him without a doubt and realized life will always be full of unknowns.

Dad was then stationed overseas for three years – a long time for them to be apart. They stayed in touch by old-fashioned letter writing, which enabled them to learn more about each other and grow closer while separated by an ocean and war. I imagine them holding the precious envelope to their cheek as though it was the cheek of their beloved. They professed their love as their letters flew back and forth among the cotton ball clouds in the sky, befitting as the glue in their long-distance relationship.

The year was 1945 and the weather was frosty in early February. Dad was fortunate to return to America on a “rotation plan,” meaning thirty days at home then returning to Italy. After taking a quick two weeks to plan their wedding, the aisle of the church sanctuary gracefully carried Mom towards her future husband on February 24th as he waited at the altar. She wore an ivory satin wedding gown that cost $39.95 and she looked as elegant and classy as Rita Hayworth. Dad looked handsome as ever in his Air Force Uniform. Following their honeymoon in Chicago at The Edgewater Beach Hotel on Lake Michigan, he returned to Europe and the ink on the stationery kept the fires burning until he was honorably discharged in September.

Mom and Dad wedding 1945

Over the years, their faces lit up when they told of those early memories. Their romance, love, and excitement danced in every sentence. Now that they have both passed, I miss the story-telling. I miss the animation in Dad’s voice and facial expressions, how Mom filled in the gaps where Dad left blank spaces, or how she fine-tuned his recollections. Their marriage was not devoid of struggles, but it was one of commitment and everlasting love. They were “attached at the hip.” He was her best friend and she was his.

As Dad once said, “That blind date blossomed into sixty-seven years of marriage, three lovely daughters, seven grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren. So, I am very grateful to my friend, George!” To fall in love on a blind date, to hug good-bye in distressing war times, to stay in touch through handwritten letters, and to share seventy years is my parents’ story. Dad is not around to tell their tale anymore, nor is Mom to chime in when she should, but the memories stay vivid and their story is ageless. What a journey they traveled together through rainbows and rainstorms.

 

mom and baby lauren

Mom and guess who?

family

My family…
I have older sisters who are almost two years apart.
Then I came ten years later. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed my parent’s love story. ❤

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

 

Grieving with a Backpack On

The inevitable is happening – turning sixty is only a few years away, so what better time to experience a new adventure? When my children were young, my husband, Matt, often took them backpacking, teaching them about his lifelong passion. I, on the other hand, had no interest whatsoever to carry a pack on my back. But since birthdays seemingly arrive faster and getting older is a sure thing, I was inspired to try something new. When the summer of 2017 came around, I told him I was ready to wear that pack and leave my footprints on the trail. I had enjoyed listening to my family’s tales of their past trips, but now I longed to be the narrator of my own stories.

Their trips were weekend get-a-ways, and although Matt had gone on two 50-milers in the past, these short outings were a subtle way of introducing backpacking to his family and much more manageable for his family. And so, my first trip was on a weekend in July, backpacking in Point Reyes not far from home. After pulling into the parking lot on a Friday afternoon, we “suited up” and I almost toppled over, feeling a bit like Lucille Ball in one of her slapstick scenes – although I managed to find balance eventually. 

When we found the trailhead, I had to document this new beginning with some photos, then we were on our way. The trail was fairly easy with a few minor inclines and dips. I tried to enjoy the scenery, but I was fixated on each step in my what-felt-like “moon” boots. The bulkiness took some getting used to, but it was humbling to carry everything I needed on my back. After just over an hour, we arrived at Coast Camp, sweaty and slightly dirty. Our site was nothing fancy, but it came with a picnic table which proved to be convenient. We set up the tent and made our wilderness bedroom as comfortable as possible. The trip was off to a great start…

We hiked around local trails, reveling in the beauty of the wildflowers – shades of yellows, reds, pinks, and purples – while the bees serenaded. We trekked down to the beach a few times where the temperature had dropped and the wind lost its temper. The ocean inhaled then exhaled, greeting us with a palpable roughness as if to say, “Don’t you dare come in.” We wouldn’t dare, but the sight was beautiful just the same. After trekking back to our campsite, we had a reaffirmed respect for the ocean.

Our dinners were convenient consisting of freeze-dried backpacking food such as beef stroganoff and chicken and dumplings. Occasionally, we indulged in our favorite desserts – raspberry crumble or apple crisp. All we had to do for hot meal preparation was heat water, pour, stir, wait a few minutes, and dinner was ready. In the morning when the sun rose, we had oatmeal and that cup of coffee, which hit the spot. Fruit, cheese, nuts, and sometimes, a little salami and crackers served as lunch. We definitely did not lack in nutrition or hunger.

We appreciated moments of sitting together in silence, reading, enjoying nature’s entertainment, or watching other hikers pass by. Everyone offered a familiar wave as though we were all members of the same backpacking club out for a weekend. Other than an unexpected allergy attack, the trip was a success. When Sunday morning arrived, knowing it was time to pack up and leave, I was sad that this amazing experience was coming to an end, yet I was eager for a hot shower. The drive home was picturesque on the quiet country roads with only the cows lifting their heads to see us as we drove by. We drifted into silence, absorbing the wonderful adventure we had together. A few days later, we jumped into the planning stages for our next adventure to Shealor Lakes in the Sierra for the following month.

Sometimes though, plans do not always work out. Soon after our July trip, my dad’s health suddenly weakened. He began having heart trouble, which initiated a much-needed hospital visit. Dad was ninety-seven years old, but surprisingly, he had never suffered through any major health issues. My family had no reason to believe he would not get the chance to blow out ninety-eight candles in two months. The only pain we knew he felt was missing Mom – his wife of sixty-seven years who had passed away five years prior. Dad was poked, prodded, and x-rayed, and after only three days in the hospital, he peacefully passed away.

It was all so strange – losing my dad, and at the same time having planned the trip. After talking to my sisters, they encouraged us to stick with our original plans. “It’s what Dad would want,” they said. I was unsure, but after much thought, we took my sisters’ advice. Yet, the slight guilt of going while it was all so fresh could not be ignored. If Dad was still in the hospital, I would have stayed, but he was at peace now, no longer suffering. In some otherworldly way, I felt his approval.

We began our four-hour drive a few days after Dad’s passing. After arriving, we unloaded our stuff and “suited up” just like on our first trip. While we prepared and packed, as well as on the drive, Matt repeated to me, “It’s only a mile and a half to the lake!” What he failed to mention was that the hike entailed an ascent over a huge granite dome. I stared at the dome that I was about to embark on and became anxious because I did not feel physically prepared. But Matt’s confidence in my ability was apparent, so we began the uphill hike. What was I going to do, back out now?

After hiking for forty-five minutes, we reached the top, and when I looked down that sleek granite dome, I was amazed at what I had achieved. Never underestimate our abilities. On the other side, Shealor Lake was in full view. We gave our legs a short rest, quenched our thirst and souls with water that tasted better than ever, then headed downhill with the enticing pull of the lake’s beauty. As we neared the bottom, my emotions ran wild. I felt relieved that we finally made it, but a sudden wave of grief washed over me. We removed our packs and rested on a nearby log. I was so overwhelmed that I did not fight the tears. I let them roll down my cheeks with purpose. I cried for the loss of Dad and I cried for having completed this hike that I did not think I was capable of. I would have wiggled out graciously had I known the details much earlier.

Once the last tear had fallen, I composed myself and looked to the lake. The water was a jeweled phenomenon. It sparkled, inviting us for a swim. While we set up our back-country camp, the orange-hot sun blazed down on us as if we had drastically turned up the thermostat, so the cool lake water soothed our sun-kissed skin. The fact that we were all alone in this canyon full of forest and smooth granite was beyond welcoming. The tranquility offered me the chance to reminisce about Dad and my parents together. The solitude afforded a perfect destination to grieve, think, remember, and cry. Mourning the loss of one parent was difficult enough, but losing both felt surreal – a new stage of life had begun.

This Sierra adventure provided a chance for hiking and granite-rock hopping. The sun was our alarm clock, bidding us good morning and night as it rose and faded behind the hills. In the evenings, we sat mesmerized by the campfire’s dancing flames and were enchanted by the dark, star-sprinkled sky. No matter where we explored, magic wrapped us in its warm embrace. This trip challenged my mind, body, and soul. I gained insight into my deepest being, learning not to limit myself. This amazing destination and experience proved to be the best medicine.

I approached that summer with enthusiasm for a new adventure to backpack and I am proud of my ascent over the granite dome. I often wonder if my grieving process would have been more difficult had I not agreed to go on the second trip. I will never know, but I believe I made the right choice at a time when my life unfortunately shifted in a hard-to-process direction. I thanked my sisters for encouraging us to go; their intuition knew it would be the right thing to do. Now, I can honestly say that my footprints are embedded in Point Reyes and the Sierra, and I am grateful to finally be my own narrator. I know Dad would be proud and I can not wait for a new story to emerge on the horizon.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

Fair Day

My daughter and I had to carve out time for a day at the county fair since she is busy adulting these days. We stand in the line that snakes around endlessly for the Ferris Wheel, but our chance finally arrives. I step into the slightly swinging bucket, gripping the middle pole as a lifeline before sitting down. She relaxes across from me holding onto nothing. I want to be in her comfort zone. 

The ride begins to carry us higher and higher and knowing I’m wrestling with jittery nerves, she says, “Mom, you’ll be fine, just breathe.” Heeding her advice, I slowly inhale, and then look down; surprisingly, my stomach doesn’t flip. My eyes take in the scene unfolding below: fair patrons waiting for their turn in the sky resemble an ant colony. A summer breeze gently caresses my face; it soothes me as much as this moment does with my daughter.

daylight ferris wheel

“Hanging out with your grown-up kids is like visiting the best parts of yourself.” ~Anonymous

My husband and I had planned to visit our daughter this spring who lives across country. But now with sheltering-in-place, that’s not happening. So, it’s special memories like this one about the county fair day that keep us company until the powers-that-be lift the orders. And of course, there’s phone calls, Facetime, texting, and emailing. My husband still wonders what in the world mom and daughter manage to talk about for two hours. All I can say is when we chat, there is never a moment of silence!

Lauren Scott (c) 2020 💗

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty Beneath the Sky ~ Five Photos/Five Stories 3

1999 Golden Gate park picassa 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My family is pretty outdoorsy; we enjoy hiking, biking, camping, swimming, etc. What better way to clear the mind than to be one with nature. The flora and fauna, the big blue sky, the mountains in the distance, the smells, the sounds of the ocean…these are all gifts to us. We have beauty in our backyard to be cared for and to be appreciated. Not to mention the necessity of scooting back the chair, turning off the computer, stepping outside to get some exercise, and inhaling some fresh air.

This photo was taken years ago at a favorite destination, Samuel P. Taylor State Park. It’s spread out among beautiful redwood groves and is truly magical. Our children were much younger then. Some of you know our daughter graduated from college this year and our son has three years to go. They’re now young adults, however, there is no age limit for this beautiful place. From young to elderly, many enjoy camping here, spending a day of play in the creek after picnicking, or simply enjoying some quiet walks while contemplating life.

In closing, I’ll repeat this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which becomes more profound each day as lives become busier in this progressive world of technology:
“Adopt the pace of Nature; Her secret is Patience.”

I would like to thank Jean at https://socialbridge.wordpress.com/ for tagging me in this fun photo challenge.

Here are the rules for the “Five Photos Five Stories” challenge: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.
(Sporadic posting is alright if you’re unable to post each day.)

My third nomination for this challenge is Kim over at https://silentlyheardonce.wordpress.com/.

Love Connection ~ Five Photos/Five Stories 1

frig

I would like to thank Jean at https://socialbridge.wordpress.com/ for tagging me in this challenge.

Have you ever wondered how you’d meet your soul mate? In sixth grade I actually believed that I’d be a wife and a mom with two children at the age of twenty-four.  I had it all planned out. However, I didn’t meet my husband until I was twenty-six and my second child wasn’t born until I was thirty-four so clearly my plan was overdue!

We met while working for the same company. During that time I decided to move and I needed to sell my refrigerator. I placed an ad in the break room and later that night he called me to buy it.  I suggested he look at it first so he came over to my apartment the next night, checked it out and bought it! The plan was for him to pick it up the following Saturday.

On Saturday he drove to my place using a friend’s truck, loaded the frig and we chatted for a bit before he left. Through our conversation I discovered the apartment complex I was moving to was only ten minutes away from where he lived.  It was almost too perfect…

After the frig was all bought and sold, the next weekend he called me while visiting his family for Thanksgiving  and as a nice gesture he sent me flowers. Upon his return home he asked me out and I didn’t have to think about it! I felt something I had never felt before, obviously something was happening! The rest is history! We dated for six months, he popped the question and we were married six months later.

I don’t have a photo of that magical frig and we later sold it but after almost twenty-seven years of marriage, that appliance brought us together. Funny how things happen. This is one example of how accidental meetings sometimes work out better than looking for love “in all the wrong places.” And that, my friends, is a brief summary of how a simple appliance can become a “love connection!” 🙂

(Photo: Google images)

Here are the rules for the “Five Photos Five Stories” challenge: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

My first nomination for the challenge is Irene over at http://positiveboomer.net/.