Purple Mountain Majesties

On the 4th of July, I’m thinking of our beautiful country. We’re smack-dab in the middle of some gorgeous countryside here at Little House in the Rockies. Just off the western edge of Pike National Forest in Colorado, Little House in the Rockies is surrounded by mountains.

83688074c1b24bcbe84345d53f7a7c81It brings to mind America the Beautiful. The song. The poem.

Originally titled “Pike’s Peak,” Katherine Lee Bates wrote the poem in 1893 during a visit to Colorado. She was inspired by the beauty of the country, having traveled by train from the northeast across the plains to Colorado Springs. It was published a couple of years later to commemorate the 4th of July, and later set to music by Samuel A. Ward. I love the first stanza:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

More than a century later, this is still inspiring country. I took this photo on Monday during a picnic in Pike National Forest. I didn’t realize until I looked at it on the computer later that there is a tinge of purple in the mountain range. Purple mountain majesties.

Purple Mountains Majesty

There’s a recent poll that says Americans are less patriotic than we used to be. Maybe so, maybe not. It depends on how you define patriotism (in my humble opinion). My patriotism today is focused on our beautiful country, the way that it was portrayed in that famous poem from so long ago.

Are we doing enough to take care of it?

I don’t think so.

Fires and pollution and global warming are taking their toll.

Will it be America the Beautiful in 50 years?

It depends. On us.

We need to do more.

I need to do more.

I will do more. In my own little way. Here in Glover Gardens with my words and conversations with all of you, and by joining the Palmer Land Trust. And by reducing my carbon footprint and the waste I produce. And most importantly, by voting for candidates who will make choices that preserve our environment rather than pillaging it.

I want it to be America the Beautiful forever. For my kids, and yours.

Flagpole

Happy Independence Day.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

Haiku: The Road to…

Some sights inspire, and must be captured. With the camera and the pen.  On Elkhorn Road headed North toward Como, CO and headed straight for a mountain range, the tired and weather-beaten old asphalt is framed in spring by spunky yellow wildflowers. It’s breathtaking.

The Grill-Meister went out of his way to help me get this photo, waiting patiently until there were no cars, giving me advice on the angle, etc. It’s an imperfect representation of what we saw, but…can you feel yourself being pulled toward a bright and unexpected future, on this road lined with bright yellow wildflowers?

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Anything could be possible up ahead. Anything.

Haiku: The Road to…

the yellow road to
endless possibilities –
what lies ahead?

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Memorial Day, Andy Rooney, the Thankful Foreigner, and Blowin’ in the Wind

11263025_10206545505667097_3146148380970970297_nIt’s Memorial Day here in the U.S. The day we remember those who served in our military and did not live to come home.

Andy Rooney Rethinks Memorial Day

I saw a thoughtful piece by the late commentator Andy Rooney that’s worth sharing, Rooney Rethinks Memorial Day. He said:

Remembering doesn’t do the remembered any good, of course. It’s for ourselves, the living. I wish we could dedicate Memorial Day, not to the memory of those who have died at war, but to the idea of saving the lives of the young people who are going to die in the future if we don’t find some new way – some new religion maybe – that takes war out of our lives.

That would be a Memorial Day worth celebrating.”

I wholeheartedly agree. It makes me want to sing: “the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind”. The whole clip is worth watching.

A Hummingbird’s Salute

For a Memorial Day photo, here’s a hummingbird and our flag. Just because. The hummingbirds have been happy with our feeder over this Memorial Day weekend here at Little House in the Rockies. Perhaps that tiny bird is saluting our fallen men and women by posing for me in front of the flag.

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The Thankful Foreigner

Another remembrance is this post from the Glover Gardens archive about a young French man who grew up near Normandy and appreciated the D-Day sacrifice: by the Allies: The Thankful Foreigner: An Award-Winning Essay from a Millennial. It’s a bit of a read, but a sweet little story and quite apropos on Memorial Day.

Blowin’ in the Wind

I’ll leave you with these lyrics from Bob Dylan, so very much in line with the theme from Andy Rooney’s commentary.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before they can call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
How many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
How many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Blowin’ in the Wind lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Audiam, Inc
© 2018 Glover Gardens

Rabbit, Run!

Nature is all the entertainment we need here at Little House in the Rockies, our little cabin in Central Colorado. It’s a wonderful getaway from the busyness and frenetic pace of everyday life, an oasis of mindfulness.

This morning, our entertainment was a rabbit, a cute little Peter Cottontail who hopped up to enjoy the seeds the careless birds were strewing from the feeder.

He was a shy little thing.

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He hopped away when I approached with my camera, but I caught him mid-jump.

Bunny Rabbit, Mid-Hop

Rabbit, run! (No reference to the John Updike novel intended; well, not much, anyway.)

It’s the little things.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

 

Haiku: Simple Pleasures in the Mountain Air

the simple pleasures
of mountains and hummingbirds
feed my hungry soul

The haiku above sprung into being because the Grill-Meister and I are back at Little House in the Rockies for the Memorial Day weekend, where absolute peace and tranquility abound. The aspen trees dance in the gentle breeze with their young, bright green leaves, and birds of all kinds sing their unique odes to spring. The mountains we can see from the back porch still glisten with snow on their stately and imposing peaks. It is impossible to be grumpy here. Nature is a restorative and sustaining force. (This is a common theme here in the Glover Gardens blog.)

Life is good.

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The hummingbirds are visiting early this year
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These pretty little trees are everywhere
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The zoomed in view of the mountains from the back porch; “purple mountains’ majesty,” indeed

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

Magnificent Mountains: Same View, Different Weather, Life is Good

I love, love, love being in the mountains; there is so much variety in the weather. Here are two versions of the view from the back porch of Little House in the Rockies, close-ups of the mountain range behind us. What a difference a day made!

A winter storm dominated the view in the first photo, and only Palmer Peak is visible. The snow-filled sky cloaks the higher summits of Mount Silverheels behind it.

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The brooding storm approaches

The next afternoon, the broad expanse of this part of the Front Range is exposed, with Palmer Peak dominated by the higher mountaintops behind it.

Palmer Peak in Sun
The calm and beautiful aftermath; more snow atop the peaks in the distance

A snowstorm came and went between these two photos, and we were snug and warm in our little cabin, watching.

Watching the storm roll in, watching the snow hide the mountains, watching the birds take a few last seeds from the feeder.

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Life is good.

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

 

Dorothy Was Right: It Was In Our Own Back Yard (fall colors)

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I love Colorado.

I love it in the spring, summer, fall and winter. Although I haven’t noticed that much difference between the spring, summer and fall – it can snow like crazy in any of those seasons. A sage local once told me that he’s seen snow in every month in Colorado, multiple times.

I’ve had the distinct privilege of being in Colorado many times each year since 2013, because we have a tiny little cabin in Jefferson. But I’ve never been here during the prime viewing season for aspens changing color.

We planned our trip this fall with military precision. Web sites told us that peak fall color would take place the last week in September, and we were on it.

  • Plane reservations? Check.
  • Tickets for the fall color train ride? Check.

fullsizeoutput_171aWe were all set. And then we had our Blizzard on a Train adventure on the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad, while in search of our blazing fall colors. We definitely had an adventure, an experience that we’ll remember for a lifetime, but not the fall color experience we were looking for. We missed it by a week, because these things happen in Colorado. Mother Nature decides to get a bit colder than usual in the Collegiate Peaks area, and the aspens dutifully shed their leaves.

fullsizeoutput_1734Undeterred, we set out today for a trek around Jefferson Lake. It was lovely. You can enjoy it with us here: Hiking Around Jefferson Lake in Autumn. But it was not the fall color mecca, either.

On the way home to Little House in the Rockies from Jefferson Lake, the closer we got, the more the landscape lit up with aspens strutting their stuff. The Girl Who’s Always Hungry said, “My eyes are happy!” She nailed it.

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Enjoy it with us, this bounty of beauty we found, right in our own backyard in Indian Mountain, our Little House in the Rockies “neighborhood”.

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This very last photo (above) is, quite literally, our “front yard” here at Little House in the Rockies. Our aspens are a little slow to turn golden, but the overall effect is quite nice. And our “back 40” is below, with the impending storm rolling in.

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There’s no place like home, like Dorothy said.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

 

Hiking Around Jefferson Lake in Autumn

When we are at Little House in the Rockies, we try to take in as much of the wonderful central Colorado environment around us as possible.

Today we visited Jefferson Lake, our first time in the fall weather. It is a beautiful, calm body of water nestled high among 12K+ mountains in the South Park National Heritage Area. We’ve been there before, in the cold, cold summer (we saw snow on the ground during 4th of July week in 2014), but hadn’t done the full hike or seen the fall colors.

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Jefferson Lake in the summer of 2014…brrrr!

This is a worthwhile trip! The 1.5 mile trail that circles the lake might be called an “easy hike” by experienced hikers, but I think “moderate” is a better term. There’s an easy part, but about half of the trail requires a little more endurance and careful footing – and hiking boots, definitely.

If you decide to do the whole circle of the trail, start on the more challenging side by going to the left and traversing the trail clockwise. When you get to the furthest point from the start, you’ll be able to walk along the “beach”, and it is all downhill from there (figuratively; it’s actually pretty flat for the second half).  The whole trail hike took us about 2 hours, which included many, many photo-op stops, as you can see.

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The verdict: Jefferson Lake is gorgeous in autumn.  Can you hear it calling your name? Find out more here: Jefferson Lake Recreation Area.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Blizzard on a Train!

Well, maybe not a blizzard, but pretty close! As our Girl Who is Always Hungry said:

We started out in fall and ended up in winter!

I recently blogged about our upcoming trip on the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad for its Fall Photo Weekend Special. Today was the day! We anticipated an adventure made perfect by gorgeous autumn weather and Crayola-colored aspen trees lighting the way along the special 3-hour version of this storied train ride above the Arkansas River Valley, starting in the quaint old town of Leadville, Co.

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Looking down the street from the depot; the sky is indicating some bad stuff might be coming down
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The depot

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It was an adventure, all right.  But we lost autumn in the first ten minutes of the trip. It was a winter adventure. In fact, we were joking that we got the Winter Photo Weekend Special for the same price as the Fall one.

fullsizeoutput_170aI was wearing jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, a vest, a heavy Eddie Bauer leather jacket, a scarf and a hat with ear flaps, and even with all that, I would be hard-pressed to think of another time I’ve been so cold. The aspen trees have been cold, too, and many of them dropped their leaves early in protest.

It started snowing about 45 minutes into the 3-hour journey, and never stopped.  It is September 30! And these weren’t just gentle little flurries; there were great big, wet snowflakes landing on our faces. The sky wasn’t just gray, it was umpteen shades of gray. (but not 50 – don’t go there).

Our next-gen millennial newlyweds took a video to document the snow situation.

But it was so much fun. There was hot chocolate. There were families, and dogs, and a tour guide with lame jokes that were funny simply because they were so lame.

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The tour guide was also the ticket-taker, a charming and self-deprecating 20-year old with a bright future
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A very nice Burnese Mountain Dog, perfectly “suited” for the weather (I’m no stranger to lame jokes, myself)
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The Best Eater, the Girl Who’s Always Hungry, yours truly, and the Grill-Meister (see how cold we look!!!???)

Even though the skies were gray, we took home some nice photo memories of the trip.

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Check out the gray clouds coming in over the top of the mountain

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Our next-gen millennial newlyweds, the Best Eater and the Girl Who’s Always Hungry; that’s the Grill-Meister waaaay behind them on the track

Would we do this trip again? Heck, yeah! Would we maybe wait to buy our tickets until we checked the forecast? Maybe. The bottom line is that life is an adventure, and you can’t schedule it perfectly every time. Sometimes, it’s ok to get cold, and wet, and miserable, then come home to a big, hot, toasty fire at Little House in the Rockies and make inside-the-cabin s’mores.

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Watch this space for more adventures, and a post about our spring excursion on the train.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

 

 

 

What’s for Breakfast? Roasted Tomato, Mozzarella, and Spinach Quiche

21740764_10213908123838331_4284786164392939414_oI shared the story of our next-gen newlyweds yesterday and how they chose  aliases for this blog, with a teaser about the breakfast they made here at Little House in the Rockies (see Our Next-Gen Couple (Now Married!) and Their Glover Gardens Aliases).

Now it’s time to talk about the breakfast they prepared. It was seriously good.

Here’s how it came down.

We were taking separate flights from our respective home airports and meeting in Denver to drive a couple of hours to our little cabin. Our flight arrived a couple of hours before theirs. The Grill-Meister texted them before we took off: “We are going to grocery shop while waiting for your plane. Any meal requests? And/or food preferences?”

The text response from our new daughter-in-law, to be known here as “The Girl Who is Always Hungry (or just Hungry Girl): “I will make a breakfast quiche if you get the ingredients!”, with the photo below.

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We were all over that idea!

And so, yesterday morning, here’s how our marvelous brunch was produced.

The Girl Who is Always Hungry was the boss in the kitchen, and her husband, The Best Eater, was her sous chef. They followed this recipe she found on Pinterest: Roasted Tomato, Mozzarella and Spinach Quiche.

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Roast the tomatoes first
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Layer spinach and mozzarella in the pie crust
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The roasted tomatoes look – and smell – wonderful
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Layer the tomatoes over the spinach (check out his shiny new wedding ring!)
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It’s beautiful already
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A little more mozzarella
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The cream and egg filling comes next
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Voila! The finished product
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Al fresco breakfast on the back porch
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The next-gen newlyweds can cook!

The finished product was wonderful – rich, creamy, filling and yet healthy-tasting with the tomatoes, herbs and spinach. It is a recipe that could be tweaked easily, with additions or substitutions like artichoke hearts, grilled vegetables, roasted corn or breakfast meats.

If we’re lucky, we’ll get a repeat performance during this long weekend at Little House in the Rockies. Check out the recipe yourself at  Roasted Tomato, Mozzarella and Spinach Quiche.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook