Red shouts of color are burning, branding themselves into the mountain. The scrub oaks have turned and the air is cooling. This is my favorite time of year. But it comes and goes so quickly.
It was only several weeks ago that I took my daughter up to Albion Basin – an alpine bowl beloved by skiers, carved into the top of one of our local canyons. It was her turn for a date with Mom.
Red shouts of color met us there too, in the form of flower, rather than leaf. Indian paintbrush, bright and brilliant, cropped up at our feet.
Every summer, wildflowers bed this basin in a glorious menagerie of color. Pictures don’t do justice. Words don’t do justice. It’s the kind of thing you have to see for yourself.
I snapped a backpack on, Eliza tucked our lunches inside, and we set off for Cecret Lake.
As we wound our way up the mountain, Eliza noticed the small pines, how they grew out of the ground new and glossy, like tiny Christmas trees waiting for the perfect buyer. How soft their needles were, as we ran the tips of our fingers over the boughs. The smallness of these trees enamored Eliza. She wanted her picture taken by each one. She spoke to them, said goodbye and hello, even hugged them on occasion. (The true definition of a tree-hugger.)
We made it to the lake just as an afternoon thunderstorm rolled over the peaks. A few drops speckled our shirts, but nothing more. The hair on our arms stood up as we prickled at the sound of thunder, stuck our tongues out to catch rain.
The wildflowers were endless. We walked and explored, and Eliza climbed rocks.
I cherish these one-on-one times with my children. They are rare. In the hustle of our busy household, I have to be deliberate about the time I spend with them. Taking them out of the mix on occasion so that I am alone with them is important.
Away from the kitchen chatter, they open up – tell me things I wouldn’t hear at home. I notice the twinkle in their eyes, hold their hand in mine. It is so much easier to see them for who they are as individuals. I have more freedom to slow down – long enough to hear what matters to them and view the world through their eyes.
Eliza’s one request for our outing was to paint while we were in the mountains. So after our hike, we found a hilltop with a view. I pulled the easel out of the car. She donned her pack full of paper, paints, and brushes, and we climbed to the hill.
A family of moose live in this canyon. We didn’t see them this day, but we’ve seen them before. So that is what Eliza wanted to paint. A moose.
Could any setting be more picturesque?
Turn a circle here – pivot 360 degrees – and you realize you are truly standing in the tops of the mountains.
I painted too.
Tried to capture the panorama.
It was a special time for us. Painting in this place together.
I stepped away for a few moments and watched Eliza kick off her shoes so she could air her toes, feel the dirt, draw her brush across paper, free.
Seeing her barefoot against this green backdrop, with wildflowers at every turn, I realized we are all painting something. A life of our own. A life for our children. And what we see makes up the color, the size, the beauty of our work.
It’s all about what we choose to see.
At times I am mired down by the hardness of it all. I have trouble seeing past the mess, the needs, the doing. But this outing made me more determined to see each day, each task, for the relationships being built. Not the job that needs to get done.
I love Peter’s words. “See that ye love one another with a pure heart, fervently” (1 Peter 1:22).
I smiled back at Eliza who glanced over her shoulder to see where I was.
It felt good that day, to see what mattered.
To see her.