Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's up to me, Part Ungh:
High River

Meet Melissa and Ryan. You can tell they are outdoorsy because of the yellow backpack and Ryan's climbing pick.

This lovely lovely couple was introduced to me by James. James loves me and I love James and James thought I would also love Melissa and Ryan and he was right! (And it is said they love me (and Aaron) too.)

Here is James working his way up the mountain we climbed that weekend in High River.

It was slow going, what with Ryan being the only one among us in satisfactory shape. He'd be charging along, leading the herd, when he'd notice people falling behind, and, like a border collie, would fly back down the mountain and gather up the stragglers. It was actually quite amusing to watch when I wasn't gasping for my next breath. He looked Elven, hopping from craggy rock to craggy rock. But with a backpack and carbon fibre poles.

Here, he scans the horizon for predators and coming snowstorms (on an earlier night out we saw a cougar on the road) .

Here we are about three-quarters of the way up the mountain. The expression on my face isn't the usual casual insouciance. It's fatigue. There's James in the lower left. Soon hereafter, Ryan and Melissa nourished our weary bodies with chocolate and pecorino. A couple after my heart!

OH, but it was all worth it.

The view! From where we stood at the top of the minimountain, you could see almost 270 degrees around. (The other 90 degrees being a higher peak that we didn't have enough time to climb that day.) Ryan told us that on a sunnier day, we'd be able to see another mountain ridge instead of that cloud in the upper left.

And the fauna...you may have noticed I get weak in the knees for brightly coloured lichens and mosses. Aaron took these beautiful photos while I rested and ate chocolate.

What I loved most, though, was that other than the wind and the occasional (hopefully cute) animal, the only sounds we could hear were our own voices. The quiet makes a person hyper-aware of what their mind is doing and thinking. It's really centering.

I noticed, for example what a difference it made in how my body felt when I realised climbing the mountain wasn't pushing my body up against gravity, but more like my intention to reach the top drawing me up. It was as if the universe had connected a rope to my belly button and was pulling me up with each step. I felt lighter! And faster!

And the food! Melissa made some sort of English muffin, egg and bacon thing called Scott's sex for breakfast(?) that an unknown young man invented to help him get laid. Their cooking reminds me of how Aaron and I cook for ourselves: healthy, fairly light, fresh and delicious. With several of my friends (particularly the ones who cook and host dinners) moving to other cities, it's nice to meet another couple that enjoys cooking and having people over. The mittens too! They are also thoughtful hosts, continually making sure we were comfortable and, especially on the mountain, warm. "Nobody has to suffer on the mountain!" Ah, and Ryan's vented footed pyjamas!

Notice Ryan buttoning up the back flap. That, my dear readers, is the picture of inevitability.

Poor James. Somehow Ryan and James in the same room always equals Ryan's bare nether flesh in James' face. I have no pictures of the actual exposure. Ryan's glory flashed so blindingly, I had to turn both face and camera way for fear of irreparably burning my biological and technological light sensors.

Ryan and Melissa have a beautiful and inviting home, and in a very short time they have furnished and decorated it with things they enjoy or find beautiful, and that have meaning to them.

Like a cabinet from Ryan's grandmother, an old pink door they unwittingly stole from some Mennonites, and an antique chair (Ryan used to collect them)

Art and vintage wooden spools

A springy-grid they've turned into art (another Mennonite find)

Gathered stones and mementos from their travels

Books, plants and tiny obscenely-posed mannequins

And more art.

Here are Aaron and Melissa having a conversation in the living room.

Aaron and I look forward to attending their wedding on Vancouver Island in September, for which we will be designing the flowers and decor. You may notice I don't generally like to write or talk too much about projects in progress (it messes up my thought process), but I'll be writing about that eventually.

Until then, stay tuned for It's up to me, Part D-I-NY: New York.

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