Now that I’m officially retired, people ask me what I’m doing with my time. I wish I could say that I’m writing an in-depth article on aging. Or that I’ve managed to clean up all the piles in my office that have gone untouched for years while I worked. Or that I’ve finally managed to scan all the slides I’ve taken for the past 40 years and they are all now digitally cataloged. Or that I’ve been able to finally prune all the trees around the house so they don’t look so messy. Or that I’m volunteering now—visiting a lonely senior every week or signing up with the Sierra Club.
But the truth is that I’m sitting outside at the cabin listening to the chirping of a chipmunk while it flicks its tail with every chirp. I’m watching the hummingbirds chase each other through the yard. I’m admiring the way the tall grasses that have grown over the septic system soften in the wind and the ever-changing brocade of flowers in the yard. I’m noticing the mushrooms sprouting everywhere after a week of rain.
I’m watching the newly hatched painted lady butterflies feast on the last of the purple thistles. In the afternoon I’m watching the clouds gather for the occasional thunderstorm and then listening to the rain pelting the roof and the chairs on the porch. In the evening I’m catching the last rays on Mount Meeker, getting earlier every day.
I’m hiking to the top of Coyote Hill Road, where I can see Mount Meeker and Longs Peak conjoined and the tops of the peaks around Wild Basin. I’m taking long hikes in the park, up to the alpine lakes or the meadows brimming with wildflowers all summer. Last week, I bathed in the delicious golden light of the aspens.
It wasn’t easy at first—doing nothing. But I was determined, and when the flowers first started blooming, the hummingbirds came back from their winter spots, the creeks started running again and the aspens leafed out, it got a lot easier.
But now that the calendar has flipped over to fall, the hummingbirds and ground squirrels are gone, as are most of the wildflowers, and snow is forecast for this week. I can see that my relaxed, slowed-down lifestyle is coming to an abrupt end. I guess it’s time to get the house cleaned and start scanning those slides. It's time to return to the real world. Time to do something.