Eighteen months ago, I was placed on a shelf and watched as humans picked up those around me to take home to their loved ones. I didn’t think anyone was ever going to pick me. Three months later, Irene came along and took me home.
Most of my life is spent either sitting on Irene’s dresser where the cats can’t get to me and carry me off or tucked in next to her in bed as I am there to soothe the bad days when she has flashbacks. I get to travel with her on vacations as well. Last week, I made my first trip to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Every day, we saw a new animal and experienced the silence and beauty of nature. Although it doesn’t work for everyone, for Irene hiking and watching animals in their natural habitats has a soothing effect on her soul. We watched moose, elk, butterflies, coyotes, chipmunks, goslings, and big horn sheep for hours at a time.
On one occasion, as Irene was partly photographing a moose, but mostly watching it eat and drink, she noticed a worm on the sidewalk. It was covered in small pebbles. The sun was shining and she knew the little worm would dry up on the cement or possibly be stepped on, so she picked up the worm and placed it back into the grass. Then, she watched it as it turned itself over, shedding the bits of gravel as it slithered away in the grass.
Irene took me everywhere and I had my picture taken of some of my adventures. At Sprague Lake, we hiked the trails and avoided people. The only sounds we heard was the occasional downy woodpecker. Eventually, we were so deep into the trail the wind rustling through the tree leaves was the only melody to pass through my ears.
One day, when we were in town, Irene saw a McLaren. It was merging onto the road in front of her. She almost drove off the road as she stared at its beauty. She tried to keep up with it, traveling 100 miles per hour to keep up with it and take its picture. I wanted to help, but since I am not a live monkey, I do not have opposable thumbs and could not hold her camera. She got as close as she could and snapped a few pictures.
Old Fall River Road is a one-way dirt road. It was closed to vehicles until Memorial Day, but you could walk or cycle on the road. Irene walked three miles, uphill the entire way, to Chasm Falls. As we walked, I peeked out of the back of her backpack and wondered why anyone would ever try to drive a car up this road. The road is too narrow and unforgiving. There are too many places where you could accidentally drive your car off the road, which isn’t wide at all, and fall off a sheer drop to your death. Fortunately, I convinced her to take my picture on the road.
I was glad Irene walked this road. She went early in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day, but to also avoid people. They tend to talk too much when they are hiking instead of listening to the harmonic vibrations of the world. It was a long, steady climb, but provided time to think while listening to the gentle wind as it cooled me on my journey.
At the end of each day, Irene settled in and we watched Schitt’s Creek together. It was always a good way to end our six to nine mile hikes. Sleep was easy to come by and not just because we had expended our resources on hiking. The trails provided a respite from the world and the unique challenges Irene faces when dealing with her PTSD.
I would be there for Irene, as always, when the flashbacks returned. On this night, however, there was nothing but silence and the rustling of leaves.
Note: In case you want to know about the sticker on the laptop.