Category Archives: Nature

the heavens declare the glory of God

Rocky Mountain Fall Splendor

 

 

Bruce and I got away for a couple of days to revisit some of our favorite hiking spots in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Having lived in Estes Park (gateway to the national park) we knew to expect crowds in town and on the trails. But, due to Covid, the park has instituted a policy where visitors have to register beforehand in order to get into the park. So, hiking the trails above Sprague Lake was a wonderfully private experience for us. I love fall in the Rockies. Just look at those colors.

 

What a joy to walk these trails, to feel the hint of the bracing winds that will soon descend on the mountain valleys and cloak it in deep snows. We surprised a deer grazing just off the trail. And a squirrel examined  us cautiously, scurrying amid the rocks and tree roots to get a better look at us giant humans.

At our campground, we sat by the river and listened to the bull elk bugle nearby.

We enjoyed an early dinner at the Stanley hotel.

Little excursions like this are such a gift from a loving God. He seems to say, “Stop working. Get outside and play for awhile. Breathe the mountain air, savor the fall colors, sniff the aroma of pine and spruce, delight in watching the elk, stretch out your legs and travel my terrain. I made all of this for you to enjoy.”

 

Covid and Workouts and The Grand Tetons

 

Oh my gosh, it’s been months since I’ve posted on my website. It’s not that I’ve been completely silent. I’m still out there on other forums.

I have no excuse. I’m guilty. But I do have sort of an explanation.

First, don’t let anyone tell you Long Covid does not exist. It absolutely does because I’m one of those unfortunates who was struck by this frustrating syndrome.

I had a very mild case of Covid way back in April of 2020. About the time I felt that I’d recovered from the body aches and mild nausea, an annoying cough started. Then my heart rate climbed to the level that leaves one breathless, weak and tired.

I toughed it out for six months. But then the symptoms increased in severity. Just walking from one room to another in my house felt like a marathon.

Finally, in February of 2021, I ended up in the ER, so breathless I feared my heart was failing.

The docs did all the usual things. Turns out my heart’s perfect. The pulmonologist said I had 20 percent greater lung capacity than the average woman—probably from all those years singing.

They send me to a cardiologist for meds to slow my heart rate, but with the admission that they couldn’t determine a cause for my complaints.

As the months passed, I started to see more and more articles about long Covid. The shoe fit.

Still, the condition is so new and bewildering that no one could tell me how to find relief.

So I charted my own course. I resumed singing even though I felt like I was drowning. (If you’ve listened to my scripture songs, that’s me in really bad vocal shape in the midst of long Covid.)  I did tons of breathing exercises. Got on the treadmill and worked up to seven miles a day. This took a few months. I added strength training.

I gotta say, I’ve never felt better. I used to roll my eyes when athletes would tell me how great it felt to push themselves hard during exercise. But I’ve experienced it now.

I wouldn’t advise everyone to do what I’ve done. I don’t have any knee,  hip, foot or joint problems. My sister is trying to get back in shape after shoulder surgery by swimming at her health club.

So, when Bruce and I drove to the Tetons a couple of weeks ago, my goal was to do as many of the trails at the foot of those mountains as we could—if we could find a place to park among all the skads of other visitors to the park!

We did about seven or eight miles a day–nothing huge, but the nice dry mountain air, the sunshine, the scent of pine all felt amazing.

Friends, if you haven’t visited the Grand Tetons, please put this on your bucket list. God didn’t skimp when he pushed those magnificent mountains into the air and chiseled its peaks.

 

Snowy Range and Home on the Range

Bruce and I and Sitka drove to Snowy Range. If you don’t know about this gorgeous place, it’s located  on the southern border of Wyoming. You take I-80 west from Cheyenne and then exit south onto Hwy 130 at Laramie. The drive from there is scenic in a kind of old west way.  Some rather ancient log buildings, but mixed with modern ranches. A few miles in, horsey and cattle ranges. Deer and antelope roam—yes, just like the song—sometimes grazing along the cattle fences, giving us a close-up view of these beautiful creatures.

We come to the town of Centennial (pop. 270) which has some fun touristy shops and places to grab a meal or snack. Then, the climb to the range. At about nine thousand feet, we encounter places to camp, spots to pull over for a photo, and lots of trail heads.

I got all geared up with a rain jacket—just in case—my cell, my lip balm, car keys, and my trusty hiking poles.

This is a pretty moderate 2-mile hike. At first, I think it’s an easy hike, but around the corner, the trail turns up and down, and the downs can be treacherous if you’re not watching where you put your boot. Sitka loves this. Her nose is getting a work-out. I always feel that a dog’s sniffing is comparable to us humans reading a really interesting magazine or newspaper article.

But at one point near the end, my confidence took a nose-dive when we encountered a very, very steep descent to get to the last quarter mile of the hike. At the top, I saw a sign that said, “Alternate Route.”

I wish it had said, “Please strongly consider taking this alternate route.”

But I  thought, Hah, I can handle this little steep part. I’ve got my hiking poles. Well, even with my poles, I nearly fell several times.

By the end of the trail, Sitka is taking frequent breaks, sitting and panting, her eyes searching ours as if to ask, “are we almost there?”

Poor girl! She’s so young she hasn’t learned how to pace herself. When we get back to the car, she jumps inside and practically passes out. We don’t see or hear her until we pull into our driveway, an hour later.

A couple of reminders for me about the ‘hike.’

Approach the  ‘hike’ with enthusiasm.

Come prepared for the looked-for and unlooked-for demands of the trail.

The first danger of the trail: getting off the trail. Whoa! Don’t do that.

Second danger: growing complacent. You stop being alert, you stop considering carefully where to put your feet, you stop listening and looking. This is when accidents happen. Don’t be complacent.

Before I close this post, I just wanted y’all to know Elk Lake Publishing and I have just finished edits for my adventure/suspense novel, The Girl everyone Wants. My editor tells me the novel could be out as early as this coming fall! Yay.

Now I have to get to work, searching for my tribe of Advance Reader Copy (ARC) readers and shout-out people. Is this something you might find interesting? Would you be willing to shout out about my upcoming book release on your social media and to your friends and family?

If so, you can reply on Facebook or contact me on my website or comment on this post or email me at dena,.netherton@gmail.com

Also, if you find music helpful for memorizing scripture, I’ve started a new page: Scripture Songs. The Lord is helping me write music to accompany scripture verses. If you would like to listen to my scripture songs, you can scroll up to the top of my home page and click  my new page. So far, I have three mp3s ready to listen to. More are coming.

God bless,

Dena

 

A New Baby!

Remember when your kids were toddlers. How curious, how destructive, how maddening, but how cute they were?

Well, we’ve gone back in time. This time, with the canine variety.

This little four-month cutie-pie is our puppy, Sitka. She’s half Husky and half Heeler.

Sitka loves her crate and likes to nap in this position.

She is endlessly curious, endlessly mischievous. Smart but stubborn.

Look at the next photo. See the look in her eyes? She’s asking me, “Am I allowed to chew on this?” (Yes)

“Please don’t take this chew toy away. Please don’t scold me.”

The potty training is coming along … mostly. When Bruce takes her out to do her business, I sometimes watch from the window to assure myself I won’t have to clean up after her when she comes inside again.

Sometimes I ask Bruce, “Did she potty?”

“Yes, she did.”

“But, was is just the pee-pee?

“No,” Bruce answers. “She also did the poo-poo!”

“Yay!”

And then we both laugh because it sounds exactly like the way we talked when our kids were potty training.

I regularly buy her toys and chew objects to keep her occupied.

But some things are forbidden.

She’s not allowed into the master bath because there are so many items she won’t leave alone.

She especially loves the master bath trash.

And beyond the master bath is the walk-in closet where all sorts of delectable and smelly items of clothing rest in the hamper. Sitka thinks, “Aw, smelly socks are the best. Underwear? Almost as good.”

“But the absolute most funnest, bestest, tastiest ever,” she thinks, “are books. Yes, books. Those bits of paper are like dessert. They almost melt in my mouth. And ripping them into little pieces, chewing them into pulpy pieces to decorate the carpet is so satisfying. It’s almost worth destroying my lady’s books even though when she discovers me and the book she screams like a cat. Yeow! I don’t like that loud sound. And she gives me a swat and a ‘No, no, no, no! Bad dog!’”

 

Sitka chases and terrorizes Link, the cat.

She steals the kitchen towels, any socks left on the floor, wires, the tv remote, tags on towels and blankets, anything not tied down, etc.

And she’s a digger. There are bunnies and ground squirrels in abundance on our eight acres. And, by golly, she’s gonna dig one up!

She hasn’t learned to come. Well, I take that back. She comes when I have a treat to offer her. Otherwise, she comes when she feels like it.

She jumps on us. We’re working on that. She doesn’t jump on me too much ‘cause I thrust out my knee. But Bruce is so nice, she keeps it up with him.

Oh, but this sweet puppy is so adorable. When I praise her, she gazes up at me with liquid dark chocolate eyes that seem to say, “I’d do anything for you.”

And so, we hold on. Because the reward of our consistent training and praise and patience will be a loving, loyal, civilized adult dog who will bark to warn us of prowlers, protect us from all dangers, and lie at our feet when we sit by the fire, dreaming contented doggie dreams.

And, unlike raising humans, we don’t have to wait for twenty years to finally see the fruit of our labors.

I’d forgotten how much patience it takes to raise a young one. It’s all coming back.

Embrace Your Elements

We’re in the process of making a transition from the wet, but beautiful northwest  to cold and windy southeast Wyoming.

Each year, in the state of Washington, I geared up (literally) for the onslaught of constant rain and dark during the fall and winter and spring days. It seemed as if as soon as October arrived, so did the gloomy weather.

Now, before the covid lockdowns this wasn’t much of a problem. I’d just load up my backpack with writing supplies and my laptop and head on over to my favorite coffee places. I’d sit by the fire, with my laptop, enjoying its warmth as I occasionally gazed outside to watch the boats glide by in the harbor. 

I found ways to enjoy the rain. And sometimes there’s something kind of romantic and mysterious about the cloudy weather that lends itself to imagining all kinds of potential stories to be stored away for future writing days.

But in Wyoming, dark clouds are rare (yay!) and sunshine is plentiful (big yay), but wind is an almost daily occurrence.

And I don’t mean whimpy wind. I mean WIND. The kind of wind that knocks semis off the interstate, and makes  walking a challenge of strength just to maneuver in a straight line. The kind of wind that screams around building corners and sends clouds of dust powerful and gritty-sharp enough to scalp a hatless man or woman.

I woke up this morning to another windy onslaught and gritted my teeth. Another day of wind? Oh no, God. Please make it stop.

But the wind is not going to stop. This is the way of Wyoming. The high altitude and treeless prairies invite the wind to fill the empty spaces. And the wind obliges, with gusto.

I saw some pronghorn antelope recently. I’m amazed how these creatures survive out in the open range during the cold and wind.

We’re building a nice, big house on acreage where we intend to plant fruit trees and berry bushes and anything else that is able to stay grounded. Everyone around here with land plants wind barriers of bushes and evergreen trees on the north and west of their property to shield their home. Good idea!

So, what’s good about the wind?

  • It cleanses. Not too much air pollution around here!
  • It brings good things like much needed precipitation from the west.
  • It gets my imagination rolling because the wind sounds like music, and music is the brain’s  great motor.
  • It makes me strong. Otherwise I’d blow away!
  • It reminds me of the power of God, and calls me to pray.