By MARILYN SHAPIRO
As we have done every year since our granddaughter, affectionately nicknamed Mountain Girl, was born in 2015, Larry, my husband, and I have successfully escaped Florida’s oppressive summer heat and rented a place close to our daughter Julie, her husband Sam, and our granddaughter.
Mucho Moose Meet-Ups
Along with mountain views and beautiful weather at 9100 feet in Summit County, Colo., Larry and I enjoy wildlife sightings—marmots, picas, and an assortment of birds. After several years of never spotting a moose, we got “lucky” last year. We had one in our rental condo’s parking lot; another one on the trail. This year, we have had mucho moose meet-ups, making our mountain moments even more — well —moovelous.
Moose love salt, and one place they can get their fill is the residue left over the winter on wooden surfaces. On a recent beautiful Colorado morning, Larry started down the stairs to get the Summit News. News had to wait: a huge bull moose was furiously licking salt off the wooden bannisters on the ground floor. I got several great pictures from my safe haven looking down from the second floor.
Adam, Sarah, and our two California grandchildren arrived on July 4. I was in Gammy heaven to have the entire Shapiro family together for even a few days. Our eight-year-old Mountain Girl immediately took responsibility for her two cousins, showing the three-year-old San Francisco Kid all the toys that had been taken out of storage. She enjoyed carrying around one-year-old Little Miss Sunshine. Each morning, she woke us with progress reports. My favorite: “Things are quiet now, but I will call you if things get out of control!”
A typical three-year-old, the San Francisco Kid’s favorite word is No. The only time I got him to answer in the affirmative was when I asked him if his favorite word was No. “Yes,” he said firmly. He made up for all the negatives by his overall adorableness and his second favorite word, “Why?” Everything triggered his curiosity: tumbling streams, wood chippers, our granddog Neva’s insistence on chasing squirrels. He also decided he was a kitty cat and meowed his way through the next few days.
Meanwhile, Little Miss Sunshine smiled her way through the visit during the day. She often eschewed the Farmer and the Dell truck and all the stuffed animals for door jams that go “Boing.” Unfortunately for her parents, the altitude affected her night sleep, resulting in exhausted parents. They bravely soldiered through, demonstrating patience and calm far above what I remembered during my years with young children.
On a recent Wednesday, Larry and I took the San Francisco Kid over to a small pond in the neighborhood. He had me fetch sticks, which he pushed through a fence and watched them drop into the water. All of a sudden, a bull moose entered the pond from the woods and slowly made his way to the other side, thankfully far enough away to provide entertainment but not eminent danger.
The Town of Frisco holds a concert in its community park every Thursday night. While Sarah stayed home with Little Miss Sunshine, the rest of us found seats on a huge rock. The San Francisco Kid sat quietly; Mountain Girl played with friends; the adults sipped beer and seltzer. On the way home, Julie and Sam saw a block from their house a basketball hoop with a “Free!” sign on it. Sam rolled it into his yard and retrieved a basketball from the garage. For the next hour, Sam, Adam, the Mountain Girl, and the San Francisco Kid (with willing lifts from his father and uncle) shot baskets.
Then, on Friday night, sans challah (I didn’t have time, and I couldn’t find one in the supermarket), we celebrated Shabbat with a Sarah family tradition. We went around the table, and each of us said what was the best thing that had happened since last Friday. Everyone talked about being together as a family. When it was the San Francisco Kid’s turn, I expected him to say seeing a moose. Nope. His favorite moment of the past week was “basketball.”
At the visit’s end the next day, after a neighbor took a photo of all of us, the California crew headed down the mountain for the airport. That night Sarah texted us that the San Francisco Kid decided he was Neva and barked his way home.
Now the attention turned to the Mountain Girl’s birthday party in nearby Walter Byron Park. She, Julie, and Sam had decided, that along with pizza and cupcakes and fruit, there would be a scavenger hunt. They spent Sunday afternoon writing out the clues and, once they arrived at the park, putting all but the initial clue in hiding places throughout the park.
After pizza, Sam explained that the search would be done as a group, with prizes for everyone at the end. All the girls joined Sam and Julie, running together to find the clues in knots of trees, under rocks, and behind benches. In the midst of the hunt, a bull moose climbed out of the nearby creek and started walking across the middle of the park. Julie yelled, “Moose alert!” As experienced mountain girls, everyone moved away from the moose and found safety behind trees. Fortunately, the moose did not come close to any of the partygoers. I asked Julie if she had contracted with Moose on the Loose to arrange for the party crasher. She, like her nephew, gave me an emphatic “No!”
R And R
In between family get-togethers, moose sightings, swimming in the community pool, and one-one-one basketball games, Larry and I have been taking advantage of beautiful weather and near-by trails to do almost-daily hikes. Summit County is spectacular in the summer: cooler temperatures, quiet trails, and abundant displays of columbines, wild roses, and lupines.
We have yet to see a moose on the trail, but we have a few more weeks. I’ll keep you posted.
Marilyn Shapiro, formerly of Clifton Park, is now a resident of Kissimmee, Fla. A second compilation of her articles printed in The Jewish World has been published. Tikkun Olam now joins There Goes My Heart. She has also published Fradel’s Story, a compilation of stories by her mother that she edited. Shapiro’s blog is theregoesmyheart.me.