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A Mountain Hike

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This past week I found the time to drive to Cloudcroft for a hike in the Lincoln National Forest.  I’ve been meaning to do this for years – since I moved to Las Cruces, in fact, and this was the first time I did it.  The air temperature in Cloudcroft, at over 8,000 feet, runs about 20 degrees cooler than the temperature here at 4,000 feet, where it has been up in the high 90s for many days.  The weather was beautiful; it only rained while I was in the car.  The beginner hike of two miles round trip was just my speed.

Osha Trail

Osha Trail

I hoped to see more wildflowers.  Those I did see are not known to me by name, but pleasing all the same, especially the one that pokes out of other plants’ leaves to give itself a green background.

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The forest is primarily pines and maples.  At one spot, the baby maple trees were so thick they looked like ground cover.

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I promised myself I would come back again soon.  It’s an hour and a half drive away, which in New Mexico, is not considered far at all.  I have no excuse.

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A February Recollection

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A small almond tree grew in the front yard of my childhood home in California. It was grown not for its nuts but for the white flowers of February, for its elegance in the center of the lawn.  I learned to climb on that tree, but it did not satisfy me for long.

Our house was built on property that was originally part of my grandfather’s lot. His walnut orchard extended behind our house.  He produced a good crop.  The sturdiest trees had a horizontal limb so high off the ground it required jungle gym strength to pull oneself up.  I don’t know if I was really too weak or just too timid; I left those trees to my brothers.

One tree in the middle of the orchard was just my size.  I could climb up and look out, through branches that had not yet leafed out, at the brown plowed ground and the brown bark of the larger trees.  I was a climber, I was a traveler, a champion, as I sat there, safe in the crotch of the runt of the orchard.