Today, I am thankful for three things.
1. M's safe return to Colorado Springs.
Our Air Force Academy cadet friend, M, returned safe and sound from his trip home. He now begins his final summer adventure during which he'll learn to parachute jump. He was in high spirits, looking forward to seeing his AFA friends and ready to settle into a regular routine. The academic year begins in three weeks.
2. Our return to climbing.
S, T and I climbed in Red Rock Canyon on Sunday. It was our first outing after a long hiatus during which S rehabilitated an injured shoulder. Surprisingly, we did not lose much fitness or form (although we didn't climb difficult routes). I am thrilled to be climbing again.
3. T's determination and courage.
T is one determined Labrador retriever. At age 11.5, he desperately wants to join us on every outing no matter the season. Summer is particularly brutal for him. Even as a puppy, he did not tolerate the heat very well. Now that he is an old guy, his intolerance grows more apparent. This summer is a tough one for him.
S and I can't imagine going hiking or climbing without T. So, we do whatever we can to keep him cool and comfortable. We douse him frequently with cool water and hike at his leisurely pace. We choose shadier trails and cooler times of day. And, when he lays down in the middle of the trail, too hot to take another step, we give him time to rest. In a few minutes, he musters the strength and energy to keep going. As I praise and encourage him, I can feel my heart break a little more. I can't deny the sad truth - T will be with us for only a few more years.
For these blessings, I am grateful.
Photo: Red Rock Canyon. T chews a conveniently positioned scrub oak branch while resting in a shady spot near today's routes.