On June 13, while Lisa was running out into the Peninsula’s freak 65-mph windstorm barefooted, I was sitting in the Newport News Williamsburg Airport watching the sky blacken and hoping our flight would not be leaving within minutes, as they said it would. I was managing assorted carry-ons, a cat crying in a carrier, and a two-year-old bent on breaking into the lollipops and chewing gum meant for ascent and descent, while my daughter had taken the four-year-old into the restroom. At that crucial moment, the electricity went off throughout the airport and random alarms began to blare.
I entertained myself with watching the accordion-style end of the jet-way collapse and blow away—the one we had been about to board through. I watched branches fly high through the air far from any visible trees, and all the orange cones on the airfield tumble over.
The storm was vicious but, luckily, short-lived. Our Frontier jet taxied to a new jet-way at a different gate, and we eventually got on our way to Denver, only to find “dynamic” weather there as well, in the words of the pilot. Circling at midnight over a stormy city with the aforementioned kids and cat in addition to my own personal airsickness was not one of my happier moments, but eventually we were safely down. Aside from the outrage Nina experienced being buckled into a seat belt for landing instead of snuggling on her mommy’s lap, the kids were real troopers and fun traveling companions, even late at night.
And in the morning, there was Colorado to explore. After such a peril-filled journey, it came as no surprise that there were more perils to be faced at the hiking trail on Bald Mountain where we took the children.
Apparently we needed to be on the lookout for mountain lions, a caution a bit outside of our comfort zone. The rugged path, slippery gravel, and the threat of isolated thunderstorms kept our attention as we took to the trail. Looking around warily for chance mountain lions, we saw instead snow-capped mountains and a rainbow variety of dry-ground wildflowers.
Along the way, little Simon pointed out first a silvery green lady bug and then a red ladybug. His mama tracked the noisy sound of cicadas to two of the insects on a low branch that the children could see before they flew off. I wished for my butterfly book as lovely unfamiliar winged creatures fluttered around me.
When the hike was over, we had seen nothing more fearsome than ladybugs, cicadas, and butterflies.
And as for the mountain lion, it wasn’t until the next evening that we met up with his beautiful pelt at a Boulder City event for children. While the little ones sang and danced in a lush meadow and their families picnicked, a naturalist offered everyone the chance to feel the softness of a mountain lion skin.
There are probably more “tree-huggers” in Boulder than in any other U.S. City. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Simon suddenly walked away from the mountain lion’s skin, apparently under the spell of a beautiful shade tree. Without saying a word to anyone, he just went over and reached around it with a big hug.
But Nina was all about the mountain lion. We could hardly tear her away when it was time to go home. She had the big cat by the tail, and she never wanted to let him go.