27 October 2010

Playtime in a Palette

My sister celebrated her 30th birthday recently.  While party planning, she determined her wish to pass this particular milestone in her favorite place- the mountains- doing << one of >> her favorite thing << s >> - playing outside.  In the form of backpacking.

I won't lie.  I haven't been backpacking in over 2 years.  After the last trip, I dealt with the worst case of poison ivy in my personal history with the plant from Hades.  << Poison ivy and mosquitoes should be banished back to hell >> I digress.

Prior to that trip, it had been 8 years since I'd gone backpacking.  

In approaching The Big Pack, I deliberately looked for a <<good>> excuse not to go.  Sadly, none of my preggo friends were set to go into labor that weekend.  I hadn't been asked to be a matron of honor in anyone's wedding. No one needed me to attend an all-day workshop on Saturday.  Not a soul in the world was in dire need of my goods or services.  My skills were unsolicited.

So I gathered my gear, gave myself a pep talk, and we were off.

Jules was thrilled I was there.  And I was, in fact, thrilled to be there.  We only turned a few shades of green coming down the Dragon.  Then we were on our way up to Gregory's Bald.  And the colors... oh my... the colors were all shades of stunning.
East Tennessee - Fall Colors

It just so happens that the hubs and I had the exciting opportunity to drive all the way to Memphis and back in the span of 24 hours the week before.  Trees from west to middle Tennessee had about 3 shades of brown, with some grays sprinkled in for good measure.  D-R-A-B. 

Middle to east Tennessee was greenish/ brownish, with not a lot of pizazz.  << no JAZZ HANDS here >> 

Now east Tennessee, that's my girl! Er, um... That's my man! Hmm... not that either?  Well, you get my drift.  You're picking up what I'm throwin' down.  You're sniffin' what I'm steppin' in.  

<< High Five >>

Back to the Pack.  Beautiful colors.  All around.  I won't bore you with the internal dialogue I had going with the trail << that was 7 miles straight up >> or with my body << where my heart rate stayed at 170 >> or with my sister << why oh why are you such a punisher?!?  7 miles straight up?!? gah!!!  >>or with her exceedingly tall boyfriend << why and how do you make it look so easy, you energetic, long-legged youngin?!? >> Remember that pep talk?  It was still in effect.

I'll share the sunnier side of the hike.  Amidst all the brilliant foliage, I was feeling nostalgic for high school art class.  I thought it was a fine opportunity to produce my mental color wheel and systematically check off each color that I could see around me.  Not one color from the wheel was left un-checked.  Purple on the trail was a bit of a hold-out, but I sought her out.  I didn't give up, and sure enough she was hiding in there too.

How CUTE is the birthday girl?!?
Being so small << read: short >> next to the Tall Tall Trees << yes, think Alan Jackson- go on, go there >> in the woods, I had this idea that we were swimming through an over-sized painter's palette.  Think French artist, curly cue mustache, red beret, and a long nose.  Easel to the left.  He's, of course, holding a palette with paint in one hand, a paintbrush in the other, and a cigarette << the long, skinny kind >> hanging out of the side of his mouth.

Or if you prefer, think of God.  The artist.

So there we were.  In the middle of it all.  Buried deep in the artist's paint palette, painfully << c'mon, my legs were jacked up on lactic acid >> aware of the beauty that we were braiding our path through. We were like kids racing towards the next huge pile of leaves to leap into.

Eventually we arrived to the top of the bald.  And we leaped with joy!
Thanks, Gregory, for being so Bald.
My sister has never looked younger or more radiant.  This was by far, hands down, slap your momma, the best birthday I've ever celebrated with her.

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