Tag Archives: Capitol Reef

Happy New Year, 2022

When I first considered writing this article, I briefly thought about calling it just “New Year, 2022.” This would be my snarky comment about the state of the continuing pandemic, our national politics, climate disasters, and just about everything else. My terse title would say: nope, not expecting happy things this year either. Almost immediately, though, I remembered that snarky and cynical don’t look well on me. More importantly, I see that all jumbled up with my weariness and anxiety are bits of happiness (or contentment or, at least, acceptance).*

January 31 As it is, I have put off finishing this post until the last day of the month. Luckily, Lunar New Year is beginning, so I am coming in just under the wire. Here is a list of things that make me feel better about going into a new year. I need this list to remind myself of all the good parts of my life.

The people abide. I walk by playgrounds and I see children playing as they always do. Parents are keeping an eye on the kids as parents do. Every time we go to the National Mall, Tom and I see people enjoying the museums, gardens, the ice rink, and food trucks. Despite the continual dose of disturbing news–let alone the wars and rumors of wars–I see helpers and kind people around me every day. I see the workers at my condo and my local grocery store, and those who seek out and help all the lost and lonely ones.

Mosaic Park, Arlington, Virginia

My county still has heart. Tom and I first moved to Arlington County, Virginia in June 1978 and have lived here on an off since. Our children went to school here. In the 1980s we lived a couple blocks from Arlington CentraI Library where I worked part-time. Later I taught immigrants and refugees in Arlington. We were here on September 11, 2001 and saw the Pentagon burning. Again, three decades later, we live a couple blocks from Central Library. Now, in Covid times, Central Library has free WiFi for all in the parking lot, a food pantry, a vegetable patch, and is surrounded by a native plant garden. Most importantly, perhaps, is the library’s strong stand as a safe place for everyone in the community.

Arlington Central Library, Arlington, Virginia

Nature comforts me. I find both wonder and solace in the plants, animals, rocks, and sky that I encounter.

sycamore, Theodore Roosevelt Island
oak tree, Arlington, VA
frog at Long Branch Nature Center
Shenandoah National Park, 2021

Dawn comes. Every day we see the morning light. We follow that light through the day until it is evening. All the light warms us.

dawn comes

We have family, friends, music, and food. I remember the many good parts of my life. I also remember those who have gone. I have listened to Tom play Mozart sonatas almost every day of the pandemic and I feel lucky. It’s the time of year when I remember “Auld Lang Syne.” I shiver or cry or both when I hear the song. I want and need that cup.

For old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot
In the days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

Hope is still around here somewhere. So many words from the wise ones exhort people to live for the day, be in the present, etc. I am on board with that-not that I can do it all that much. I still spend plenty of emotional time in the past and the future, and I am not sure that is all bad. Just a couple of weeks ago, I made camping reservations for early June in Arizona and Utah. Tom and I don’t know how we will feel or how things will be shaping up with the pandemic. We don’t know much of anything. However, we remember the places and people we love from the old days. Maybe we can get to the North Rim another time. Maybe we can visit Capitol Reef and camp on the Aquarius Plateau. Maybe we can go back to Fishlake National Forest and be near Pando (a clonal colony of quaking aspen considered by some to be the largest single living organism on earth) one more time. Maybe we will drink a cup of kindness again with the friends of our youth (now of our age). I am hoping.

I recently bought a new head lamp. I am hoping it will lead me through dark nights to bright dawns.

my new headlamp

*If I were grading this essay, I would comment on the need for more specific language than “happiness” or “contentment.” I hope the examples and the photos add some heft to the words. Happy New Year! (Added 1/31/2022: Chúc mừng năm mới).

The Wedding Quilt

To me, the title of this post sounds like these words should be in an anthology of sentimental pioneer stories written in the late 1800s.  This is the title I want, however, so I am wondering where these words will lead me.

Looking Backward: Forty years ago next June, my sister-in-law, Betsy, made my husband, Tom, and me a quilt as our wedding gift.  It took many months for the whole project to come together.  Tom drew Hopi designs (or at least what Frank Waters thought were Hopi designs) on squares of cloth and Betsy embroidered them. She patched these squares together with squares of cloth she had taken from old shirts, skirts, and jeans.  The skeleton around the patches was dark blue broadcloth (I think that’s what you call it). The quilt warmed our beds in our dumpy Salt Lake City apartments. The quilt was bright, bold, and strong, just as we all felt back then.

quilt detail: turtle

quilt detail: turtle

I gather now that I wasn’t supposed to wash the quilt as much as I did. However, there were  the two of us and two babies (mewling and puking), and I  like things clean. Please keep this in mind for a few paragraphs.

quilt detail: Hopi figure

quilt detail: Hopi figure

Way Back: I never could sew and I can’t sew now. I mean, I can sew on buttons and fix little rips and that is  it.  Because I wanted to make Christmas gifts by hand for my kids and because I was poor, I did piece together a few  flannel nightgowns, some stuffed animals, and, I believe, a Superman cape for Robert, and sleeping bags for Martha the doll and Railroad Dog the stuffed animal.  Way Way Back: I’m so old, I was required to take Home Ec when I was in 7th grade.  I made the worst, the ugliest, the craziest-pleated kilt in Milford (MI)  Junior High  history.  I kept it for years, although I do not know why.  Please keep this mind, too.

quilt detail: sun figure

quilt detail: sun figure

Fifteen Years Ago: Some of the patches on the wedding quilt were falling apart. Maybe I had washed it too much.   A few patches almost disappeared along with some of the embroidery. We bought bright—but not as bright—quilts and coverlets at L.L. Bean and  packed the wedding quilt away.

Not Too Many Years Ago: Tom and I started thinking about what we might do when we retired.  We planned to travel back to Utah and explore the places we’d missed, like Capitol Reef and Escalante.  We told Betsy we’d pick her up from her little Utah town and go adventuring together again.

Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef

Five Years Ago: Betsy just up and died and we miss her.

2013: A) Tom and I went adventuring on the Colorado Plateau. We saw Black Dragon Canyon with Blaine and Bonnie, but Betsy, their dear friend, wasn’t there.  We camped in Capitol Reef and it was even better than we had imagined. B) We got back to our house in Charlottesville, Virginia. We took some paintings out of storage.  The wedding quilt was protecting one of the paintings.  We lay the quilt on the lawn and saw that, really, only a handful of patches needed to be repaired.

quilt on lawn

quilt on lawn

Two Weeks Ago: I can’t sew worth anything, but I finished repairing the wedding quilt.  It lies now on our bed and we will put it in the camper to go back to Utah when the new year comes. Although the quilt, and we ourselves, are not as bright, bold, and strong as when we were young, it’s alright, and, this time, Betsy will come along with us.

quilt repaired

quilt, repaired

Here’s the song that always reminded us of Betsy:

Oh, had I a golden thread
And a needle so fine
I’ve weave a magic strand
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design.

In it I’d weave the bravery
Of women giving birth,
In it I would weave the innocence
Of children over all the earth,
Children of all earth.

Show my brothers and sisters
My rainbow design,
Bind up this sorry world
With hand and heart and mind,
Hand and heart and mind.

(The Judy Collins version (from Whales and Nightingales, 1970)  of “Oh, Had I a Golden Thread” by Pete Seeger, 1959)