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The Pike's Peak Promise

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Fireflys Geraniums planted in Farmhouse CrocksWe have had a busy couple of weeks here, beginning with Memorial Day weekend. The lawns have needed mowing two or three times, my husband designed and engineered a pergola for some gourds my sister-in-law and her husband wanted to grow up at our place, we had that to build, the gourds to plant, and some geraniums to put out in pots around the place as well. Then, of course, we have quite a few other routine responsibilities to take care of: earning a living, Blu to love and care for, duties at Church, chipping in at Habitat for Humanity, Gracious Parcels blankets to piece together, paintings to create, knitting projects to work on, a house to keep somewhat straightened and organized ... well, you know the story. You have a similar story of your own. An interesting thing about getting out on the tractor and mowing the lawn is that while it is a considerable, time-consuming chore, it is also a relaxing bit of time alone to contemplate life, love, the sky, whatever comes to mind. There you are, out in the wide open world with birds and insects dashing here and there right in front of your face, flowers peaking out above grasses and chopped off corn stalks, blue skies stretching out in a great big dome above you, and clean clear air sometimes hot, sometimes cold, most times moist pressing against your face and filling your lungs. Firefly Drives a Tractor AgainOh beautiful, for spacious skies ... I can't help but think of the "America the Beautiful" lyrics when I am out on the tractor. For amber waves of grain ... The waves of grain and grasses surrounding us this time of year are sweet and wild, whispering of many things yet to grow. For purple mountain magesty ... We don't have mountains around here, but I have crisp memories of Rocky Mountains from the times I've spent in Denver with my family there and the beautiful mountains of Southern California which I will be seeing again in a few days (I am going to LA to dispose of some of my belongings and retrieve the rest). Fireflys Point of View from the TractorFrom sea to shining sea ... And that's where you come in. One month from now it will be July 4th, and we will be celebrating our Independence here in America. America the Beautiful, from sea to shining sea. If you recall, a while back I wrote about my oldest brother (He Wanted a Nose Warmer posted August 15, 2006) who passed away a couple of years ago. If you recall from that post, "America the Beautiful" was his favorite song and we sang it along with him in the hospital on a day when it seemed he was hours away from passing. Dan loved America, he loved the sights and the nature and the geology and the people and the concept of what America is. He lived in Denver for about fourteen years before he died, and had been to the top of Pike's Peak. If you don't know the history of "America the Beautiful", the original lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1893 following a pilgrimage she made with other women to the top of Pike's Peak.
"One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse." ~ Katharine Lee Bates
Another Point of View Shot from Fireflys TractorFor Dan, the words to America the Beautiful expressed fully his own emotions of both the view from Pike's Peak and the country he loved deep within his heart. Dan was a very good man, with a sweet nature he tried to disguise at times behind a seemingly gruff exterior. He was beloved by a large circle of family, friends, neighbors, store personnel, doctors, nurses, and business associates. I spent the last two weeks of his life with him much of the time in his hospital room and then at the hospice where he died. The last time I was with him and the last time we spoke, was less than a day before he passed. We spoke of Pike's Peak. I told him I intended to make my way to the top of the Peak someday so that I could see what he saw when he was there. It was a promise I made to him as well as to myself. The day after he died, my parents and I took off in my Explorer and drove down to Colorado Springs to at least have a view of the Peak from a not-too-great distance. That was a beautiful day; clear and crisp blue skies, sunshine, big fluffy clouds above. A day Dan would have cherished. We also stopped for coffee along the way, because he loved coffee. And on the way home we called my second oldest brother and asked him and his family to join us at an IHOP to have pancakes for dinner, just for the fun of it. We wanted to be out in the world he loved so much, tasting a bit of life rather than sitting sadly inside all day in mourning. That's what Dan wanted. He said many times in the last days he lived that life was for living and that's what he expected all of us to do ... live. He said very sternly that no one was to get mired down in sadness over him. I made that promise to him as well, and I have lived up to my promise. Fireflys Geraniums on the porch at the farmThe other day, as I was driving the tractor I thought about Dan and Pike's Peak and how I still need to make it there sometime. I also want to make an oil painting of it, and I will. While I was thinking of these things, I had an idea of a project that I would like to ask you to participate in. I am calling it the Pike's Peak "From Sea to Shining Sea" Project. My idea is that at least one blogger from each of the 50 states would write an essay about what it is that makes their little place on Earth and in America beautiful. Of course, I would love it if far more than 50 bloggers would participate. We can form a blogging chain all around the country and share the beauty of this land with photographs or words or a mixture of both ... on the 4th of July. Each blogger would post a bit of code along with their essay that would give links to four other bloggers who are participating -- one north, one south, one east, and one west. Participating bloggers can inform me they will do so, I will publish a master list by state of any blogs participating. Anyone who is participating will be able to grab whichever links they want to post with their essay, and I will provide the code and instructions on how to insert the links you choose into the code and put it in your blog (for anyone who needs that help). I will also screen the participating blogs to make sure none are purely advertising sites. If you have advertising on your site, that's okay but the focus of your blog must be an actual blog that communicates to others rather than just words posted to give an excuse for advertising. The deadline for participating link submissions will be Wednesday June 27th (you don't have to have your essay written by then, just tell me your intention of post and provide me with the link to your site). I will post the page of participants' links by Saturday June 30th. Your essay should be posted and published by the end of the day on July 3rd, so that it will be available first thing on the 4th for viewing and reading. Your post title should be "From Sea to Shining Sea: [fill in your state name here]" so visitors will know you are participating in the Pike's Peak Project. This could be very cool, fun, and informative. With the North, South, East and West navigation links from essay to essay, we will each able to quickly "travel" all around the country and "see" from sea to shining sea. We can simulate through our connected blogs the view from Pike's Peak and the vision it inspires. No corporate money is involved, no media, no commercial gain, no politics or politicians, no hitches, fixes, or self-serving interests. Just every day Joe's and everyday Jane's coming together to celebrate the beauty we have to be grateful for on a day with special meaning to us all. Sweet Bird at Fireflys FarmI'm doing this for my brother, in his memory. He was a great guy and worthy of a beautiful project like this. Even if you have never written a blog before, maybe you would consider writing one just that one day. You can get a free blog account at wordpress.com or at blogger.com, livejournal.com, etc. There are many free blogging services around and some are even user friendly. This will also give you an opportunity to take a good look in your own backyard, so to speak, and contemplate what is fine and beautiful from your particular vantage point. Would you like to play this game with me? If so, please email me at editor101 [insert at sign here] iliveonafarm.com or leave a comment to this post. And, spread the word if you would. I'd like to get as many bloggers participating as possible. Meanwhile, enjoy your beautiful day. I am enjoying mine. ~firefly Copyright © 2007 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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