There was a time, not so many years ago, when the three hour trip was a spectacular drive through trees and snow. I will admit that it is still a trip through trees and snow, but through parts of the forest, the trees are thin with many skeletal remains of once noble pines standing as a reminder of what happens when mother nature is not allowed to take her course.

I scan the new growth of 1-2 foot trees anxious for them to cover the forest floor as they shoot up to the sky. When I can peer into the mystery of the woods and allow my imagination to go wild with strange creatures lurking about, hiding just within the shadows, beckoning me to come forth and walk amongst them in a game of hide and seek. Where they hide and no amount of my seeking finds them; for they hear my loud human footsteps long before my poor human eyesight has a chance to spy them.

I feel solemn in these parts of my forest as I drive through. The lively conversation pauses as we gaze at the not-as-bare-as-two-years-ago, hillsides and sigh.

Another trip to the family down under, where one more join the festivities of the grave yard. Auntie-Bob has gone home, the last child and the last grand-child to return to the ranch where she’ll join the great cattle drives, round-ups, and rodeos with the rest of her family. They smile as they embrace her in their arms while we hug each other with tearful eyes and hearts. They welcome her home while we whisper “Good-bye, we’ll miss you.”

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