Sunday, January 26, 2020
When I came into Bob's life I was new to Colorado...well, not totally new. Back in 1955, just a couple of years after Doyle Russell moved his family from hail alley in Weld County over to his new farm in Larimer County, my dad moved our family from a trailer court in Tuscola, Illinois, to an Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, and we drove through Colorado enroute. Dad was a miner.
Just like my father, I pulled up stakes in Illinois and headed west. I was married and had a two-year-old son when I arrived in Colorado the summer of 1970. An attempt to resuscitate our failing marriage is what brought us to Colorado but six months later it was over. Our son, Patrick, and I stayed in Fort Collins while my husband returned to Illinois. Bob Russell and I met at our place of employment, Union Manufacturing and Supply Company. After we started dating he introduced me to his friends, and he had a lot of friends. Among them was Bill Hartwig, which brings us back to The Big Hole.
I was having some trouble with my feet at that time, nothing major, painful areas between toes, mostly. I should have bought myself a good pair of hiking boots and thick socks but instead I chose cheap sneakers a couple of sizes too big, thinking the extra space in the shoes would be more comfortable for me. Oh, my, what a mistake! So, off we went, five adventurers and a guide, headed for the parking area at the trailhead, wearing layers, carrying bottled water, and me with my sloppy shoes.
I cherish the memory of this hike with Bill and Linda. Like so many experiences with friends, most only happen once, especially in our later years. Bill passed away in May of 2015. I can no longer hike and climb. But I am holding out hope that if an entrance to the Big Hole is created on the northern border I might still get into that magical place, pushing a walker or using two walking sticks, anything that works. But if not me, then maybe you. You won't be disappointed...and wear good shoes.
Saturday, January 25, 2020
As I reflect on the fun times we've shared I've most enjoyed the outdoor adventures. Like the time we went to an abandoned farm outside Cheyenne, Wyoming, for a guided tour of the trees and shrubs that have survived decades of neglect. Not exactly a trip to Disneyland, but not as boring as it sounds. Marilyn and I both live out in the country where we grow trees and shrubs. We know the challenge of planting species that will grow in our dense clay soil, ever present wind, and scant rainfall.
My lifelong friend Cathy Safiran introduced me to a new author, through his writings, of course, not in person. Months later she told me he was coming to Denver, to the Tattered Cover Bookstore, one of my favorites, and that I would have the opportunity to meet Luis Urrea in person, March 24, 2018! How exciting was that!
Friday, January 17, 2020
And there is more to this story, like most stories. Rainer's mother, Doris, confided this to me over coffee and kuchen, that when Josef was gone off to war she, like many of her friends and neighbors, struggled to survive and feed her family. Near their home in Hallstadt was an American Army encampment, probably a supply camp of African American soldiers. (I came to that conclusion after some research years later). They had flour, sugar, and other provisions so badly needed by the mothers like Doris in war torn Bavaria. So she traded what she had for groceries and found herself pregnant. When her son was born she planned to place him in an orphanage but before that took place Doris was told that Rainer was born deaf. She didn't think that anyone would adopt a deaf, black child so she kept him, and when Josef returned home she told him the truth. Josef accepted Rainer as his own and did not blame Doris for her survival decision. When I read today that Rainer stayed in Hallstadt, worked for the town, married and raised a family, probably inherited Josef's home and business, and died there, my heart swelled with love for the Horcher family, every one of them. And I remembered how good they were to me and my family, encouraged me to call them Opa and Oma, tried to teach me their ways. God bless you, Rainer, and those four children you brought into this world. And thank you Josef and Doris for a beautiful lesson about life and love.