In August I will celebrate my 86th birthday, and we will have a big family reunion to celebrate Otto’s 90th. People usually estimate Otto’s age as a very healthy 65. None-the-less, though active in our respective fields and joint endeavors, we can feel the physical changes that restrict our activities.
This morning we were remembering things that we would probably never experience again.
In recent years both of us have suffered when at high altitudes. What are the signs of altitude sickness? Breathlessness, wheezing, more than usual fatigue. It means that we will probably not again visit Stan and Dianne in mile-high Denver, a city where Otto and I briefly lived in 1942, and where we rode our bikes for miles of happy sight-seeing.
But what we recalled this morning had to do with our beloved California high Sierras: the euphoria that we experienced as we rose in altitude and breathed in the mingled scents of ozone and coniferous trees; the establishment of our own little wilderness home, as we pitched a tent, laid out sleeping bags, started a smokey piney fire of fallen branches, watched the steam rise from our blackened kettle, and sang campfire songs with one, two, three, or lastly four children chiming in as our family grew.
The watercolor above is one that I sat on a snowbank to paint, while Otto kept the children occupied looking for specimens of anything interesting - lizards preferred!.