Sunday, September 18, 2005

another well-spent week

the end
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
a lot has happened since i returned from playing with meese.

this week i was on clinics, covering a sister service so the facultyperson who runs it could get a needed break. although similar to my specialty, things are different enough from both medical and logistical viewpoints that it was a bit disorienting. Thursday, though, things drifted into a field that is much more familiar.

the hospital director received a call from a nearby humane society shelter requesting aid. they had taken in a substantial number of Katrina evacuee dogs that needed evaluations for development of treatment plans. given my previous work in disaster response, it seemed an excellent opportunity to give back. so i collected a number of students and another doctor, and we all trundled off in a large van to do what we could. as this information was received rather late and we had appointments to reschedule, we were unable to be there until 4:30pm. even working solid, we only made it halfway through the dogs before needing to return to the fort. given i had started at the hospital at 7am, getting home at 9:15pm made for a rather long day! we discussed the matter Friday morning and arranged to return earlier in the day to finish the evaluations. it was long work but rewarding in the end as we identified a number of problems that could be corrected with treatment.

it was only 8ish when i got in Friday night, early comparatively but not considering i had to rise at 4am Saturday to embark on my seed collection trip! all of my packing had yet to be completed as i had not anticipated the disaster work. additionally, i received an email requesting aid for another shelter for the coming week. it was a harried night of packing and recruitment emails and general housekeeping but somehow the work all got done.

Saturday morning, i awoke regretting the impending trip. originally the trip was to be a weekend project with camping but, in the midst of the disaster commute, i received word that it was to be truncated to one day. had i not been driving an extralong van and responsible for so many lives, i probably would have thought it through and cancelled-3 hours each way is a bit much for 8 hours volunteer work! but i hadn't time to think until it was too late so there i was, up and already exhausted, loading my gear into the car for a long drive before sunrise.

the drive was quite soothing as there were few people about and the sunrise was glorious. by the time i passed the Frank Lloyd Wright house, i was in a much better mood. by the time i made the trailhead for Quandary Peak, i was quite chipper as Esther had performed so favorably in spite of her advanced mileage and the elevation. [Go Esther!]

everyone in the group was nice and interesting, diverse and yet united by purpose. in addition, although we were primarily working in seed collection, there was plenty of opportunity to work with my new best friend from previous trail work, the McLeod.

also learned a new joke: What's the difference between McJagger and a Scotsman?

--McJagger says, "Hey, you, get off of my cloud."
--the Scotsman says, "Hey, McCloud, get off of my ewe."

the day was glorious and the mountain stunning. near the end of the day, the trip upgraded to 'successful hike' status, as defined by close encounter with local wildlife. while collecting seed on a sunny knoll, i was stumbled upon by roughly seven head of deer. there were about five does and two calves. the closest doe was a mere 20 feet away when she round a curve coming down the slope and spotted me. it was simultaneously humbling and humorous to watch all that majesty clatter about on the rocks.

after a beer in town with the group, i settled into Esther for the drive back. my eyes were scratchy from dust and my face too warm from the sun. i anticipated the trip would be hideous and was trying not to think about it. i had only made it a little way beyond Eisenhower Pass when i realized my concerns were completely unfounded.

sure i was 'walking dead' tired from the work and the week and the sun and the dust. but i was also deliriously happy in a quietly content way, as i get after soaking up 'nature'. the air was clear, the traffic relatively sparse. i rounded a bend to find the fat, indolent full moon hefting its pneumatic curves to rest on the ridge before me. all the drive down the mountain, the moon and i played a lazy game of tag.

'it could not get any better,' i thought with big spacious joy as i rolled out from the foothills into the last half of my trip. then, from quite a distance as the plain are so very very flat, i was surprised by a spectacular and ongoing fireworks show to the north and east of the highway. the show continued 30 minutes as i approached and finally passed it.

home i rolled and into bed, exhausted but grateful for this precious gift of a day. how luxurious it is to just stop. stop worrying about all the petty little nothings that fill a day. stop rushing and gnashing and trying. stopping to just watch and do and breathe.

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