Musing: home on the range

The fact that I only know the words “Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope…” (do something, roam maybe?) from the song didn’t stop me from singing that partial phrase over and over, mostly in my head, during the two weeks that I spent in Colorado Springs, CO.  I was inspired.  In the truest sense of the word: “breathed into” by my surroundings.  Thin mountain air with brittle edges of frost, scraggy aspens rattling golden leaves against blue sky, mountain peaks dressed demurely in nightgowns of snow.  Ah, inhale.

Each morning I awoke, hummed a scrap of “Home on the Range”, and opened my window shades to this view:

Pike's Peak, a morning peek

By afternoon, the mountain stage had shifted some scenery for this act:

Pike's Peak, an afternoon peek

How could I not think of Gerard Manley’s Hopkin’s great poem, “God’s Grandeur”?  (Big Friend groans at my overuse of Hopkins, but he wasn’t there to be inspired by the mountains, so he should just hold his criticisms.)  As Hopkins intones, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; / It gathers to a greatness like the ooze of oil / Crushed.”  Sing it, Hopkins.

For such Home on the Range greatness, I have my friends Matt and Heather to thank.  These dear friends had the audacity to move away from our snug Pittsburgh neighborhood a few years ago, lured by the mountain’s call, but I suppose they made one right choice: they landed in a prime spot for me to call my vacation home.  Little Friend and I packed our bags and headed west when Matt and Heather welcomed a new baby girl into their family.  In exchange for my breath-taking view, I offered up my services as personal chef and babysitter.

Did Little Friend enjoy the mountains?

In a word, Yes.

Little Friend and the Colorado Rockies

She also enjoyed playing with her friend (the new big sister) Sarah.  Or Yar-Yah, if that’s the best you can do.

Lining up for playground fun
Whipping up a batch of pumpkin whoopie pies

The little ones weren’t the only ones having fun.  Despite the sleepless nights, inevitable diaper blowouts, and never ending cycles of laundry, the big people in the house managed to squeeze in some fun as well.  After perusing Matt’s ample wine cellar, I proposed a wine tasting night (or two).

That’s an idea we could all toast to.

The Oenophiles Extraordinaires
The contest
The line-up

Two-thirds of us made wise choices and selected Optimist as our favorite.  I’d tell you that Matt was the only one with such execrable taste as to choose Yellowtail as the top contender, but that would just embarrass him too much.  Suffice it to say, one-third of us chose unwisely.

Between the wine, the delighted shrieks of toddlers, and the warmth of a newborn snoozing in my arms, with Matt, Heather, Sarah, and Baby Rachel around, I would have felt right at home, even without the continual glimpses of mountain ranges.

Turns out, there’s some poetry lurking in “Home on the Range” after all.  Not Hopkins-level poetry, mind you, but something better than my rather inadequate refrain of  “Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope…” (do something, roam maybe?).  My thanks go out to Dr. Brewster M. Higley for penning these lines in 1876:

The air is so pure and the breezes so fine,
The zephyrs so balmy and light,
That I would not exchange my home here to range
Forever in azures so bright.

Cheers! to that, Dr. Higley.

The Meal Plan

The following meal plan covers two weeks and consists of meals perfect for a household with a new baby: hearty, wholesome, comfortable.  This was my Colorado Springs’ game plan: make meals that are easy to prepare (aka, start to finish during toddler naptime) and which have plenty of leftovers to freeze for future use (or pop in the microwave for easy lunches).  What’s a better gift for a new mom than a freezer stocked full of homemade meals?

Monday: Tomato Pesto Salmon, compliments of Kalyn’s Kitchen

Tuesday: Chili and buttermilk corn bread

Wednesday: Rachael Ray’s Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner

Friday: Real Simple’s Steak Fajitas

Saturday: Wegman’s Pasta Fagioli with Spinach

Sunday: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with sweet potato fries

Monday: Rachael Ray’s Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

Tuesday: Fruit, Cheese, and Popcorn buffet

Wednesday: Overnight Caramel French Toast from Taste of Home

Thursday: Shrimp Scampi and roasted acorn squash

Friday: Make Your Own Pizza, Smitten Kitchen style

Saturday: Nourished Kitchen’s Sole Meuniere with steamed broccoli

Sunday: Chicken Parmesan

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8 Comments

  1. Kerri said:

    Gorgeous! They are breathtaking views–never seen the sky look like that! The meal plan looks delicious and inspiring : )

    Kerri
    NewParent.com

    November 1, 2010
    Reply
  2. 6 Minute Neighbor said:

    You are amazing, Beth!

    November 1, 2010
    Reply
  3. Dad said:

    The best pictures are those of Isabelle! She is great. Brings a smile every time. Play is the word you are lookomg for (deer activity).

    November 1, 2010
    Reply
    • Jo said:

      I will be printing off the recipes!

      November 2, 2010
      Reply
  4. Janette said:

    These are amazing pictures. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I like how there was a meal plan setup for two weeks.

    November 3, 2010
    Reply
  5. Larry said:

    Did I see Little Friend wearing Solemate socks on the slide?

    November 4, 2010
    Reply
    • otside said:

      Yes, Eagle Eyes! She’s wearing one of her Solemate sock “pairs” while playing.

      November 9, 2010
      Reply

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