Last year at this time I was getting ready for a trip to Colorado. The main purpose of the trip was to help my mom clean out my Grandparent’s house in Clifton, but it was about more than that. My grandmother had recently died and Marla and I wanted to be near family.
We rented a car in Denver early on a Thursday morning and drove to Durango so Marla could check out the college there. We were tired after flying all night, but coming from a town with only one road out we were fairly giddy at the opportunity for a road trip. I haven’t spent much time in southern Colorado, so even though the drive was long, the scenery was new and having so much open road in front of us felt liberating. We made it to Durango, spent one night and then headed over to Pagosa Springs the next day. There we attended the Four Corners Folk Festival which was great fun. The sky was that stereotypical Colorado blue all weekend and being beneath the ponderosa pines for a few days with no responsibilities gave me a chance to fill up some of those empty spaces that come from a scheduled life. We played old time music with new friends, had some high quality sister bonding time and then headed north to see the rest of our family. On the way to Craig from Pagosa Springs we stopped in Palisade for peaches and tomatoes. If you’ve never had peaches and tomatoes from Palisade, Colorado you’re missing out, and since those flavors were a part of all of my summers as a child, every single bite seems to unleash a memory.
The trip last summer was especially nice. I got to spend a lot of time with my Granddad Acree who is no longer with us. He was frail and still shaken about losing his wife of 75 years. When he wasn’t sleeping he repeated himself a lot but the words out of his mouth were always full of gratitude and sometimes even wonder. He appreciated the tree in my mom’s back yard. He commented often on the beautiful paint job of my step-dad’s pick-up truck. He enjoyed the banjo and fiddle music Marla and I played for him, even joining in a few times with some singing. He liked nothing more than sitting in the sun on my mom’s deck and at age 93 he still had an amazing appetite for those peaches and tomatoes we brought from Palisade.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and it’s sometimes hard to separate out what I miss for real and what I miss in my imagination. I know that each time I go back to Colorado there are aspects that I love and others that disappoint. It’s changed a lot since I lived there. But it’s the most familiar place I know.
Three times this week I’ve dreamt of peaches and tomatoes. It’s harvest time and I’m missing the flavors of home.