Dixie Darr

Up, Up, and Away

In Colorado, solitude, spirituality on September 20, 2017 at 4:32 pm








Heading west on I70 from Arvada, it doesn’t take long to get out of the city and into the mountains. In a few short minutes, I pass Denver West and voila! Foothills.

Today, I’m heading south to Morrison and then west through Bear Creek Canyon to O’Fallon Park in Kittredge.

One of Denver’s 22 mountain parks, O’Fallon appears on the left just before the town of Kittredge. Bear Creek loops through it, and the park features fishing, plus picnic tables, restrooms, and hiking trails. It’s my favorite Denver mountain park with the possible exception of Red Rocks.

Nah, Red Rocks is beautiful but it has too many people.

At 6,900 feet, Kittredge isn’t high enough for fall colors this early in the season, but I didn’t come here to see aspen. I came for peace. Highway 74 winds through the canyon with craggy rock faces rising on either side. Occasionally, the valley widens for a small creekside meadow. Dark green pines cover the opposite hillside. I feel my stress level easing.

I turn into the entrance and park near the picnic tables. First, I walk along the creek, listening to the water rolling over the rocks and breathing in the pine-scented air. A highway sign at Morrison had warned of “bear activity in the area,” so I try keeping an eye on my surroundings. At the fork in the trail, a woman searches in vain for earwigs for her daughter’s biology class. Her dog, Zoey, greets me. I learn that I am the only one there without a dog. I see half a dozen other people, five women and one man, each walking a dog.

The weather is sunny but not hot, and I need my jacket to eat my lunch and read at a shady picnic table, the creek burbling at my back. I write in my journal and notice that foot and dog traffic is picking up. Too many people. Time to head home.

It only took three hours to clear my head and renew my spirit. I forget sometimes that the mountains are more than a pretty backdrop for the city and a way to tell which way is west.

I need to do this more often.


Fall Back

In Colorado, spirituality on September 19, 2017 at 11:01 am

Contrary to popular opinion, seasons don’t change because of a change in the earth’s distance from the sun. Rather, it’s because of the tilt of the earth’s axis. Whatever its cause, I don’t know anybody who doesn’t’ like fall. They may grouse about the coming of winter, which to me is a good thing, but the biggest complaint about fall is that it doesn’t last long enough.

Although it isn’t my favorite season—that would be spring—I always look forward to fall. Here are some of the best things about this time of year.

The weather, of course. The end of 90-degree temperatures and the great-for-sleeping cool nights.

Changing leaves. All news outlets have daily updates about the best places to see the changing aspen leaves in the mountains. We have to be quick because any day a snowstorm may obliterate the pretty vistas. In the city, we have both a longer season and more variety of trees and colors.

Jackets and sweaters. I don’t know why I love jackets and sweaters so much, maybe because they feel so cozy.

Socks. Fall signals the return of socks and we have a great sock store in Olde Town Arvada. They opened just before summer when just the thought of socks made my feet sweat. Now my feet and I are both (all?) ready.

School supply sales. I graduated high school 51years ago, and yet I still buy a few school supplies every year when they go on sale. Who doesn’t need glue sticks and composition books?

Jonathan apples. Like mountain aspens, they don’t last long, so I have to be quick. Young’s Market on West 44th is my supplier.

Scented candles. Time to stock up on cinnamon spice and vanilla candles so I’ll have them ready when I have to close the windows. Note to self: don’t forget matches.

Figure skating. My favorite sport returns in the fall and I’ll get to watch all the new young skaters and the still-hanging-in-there older ones.

Christmas music. My pastor starts listening to Christmas music in October because he’s too busy to enjoy it later in the year. If he can do it, so can I.

The end of daylight savings time. I hate it. Every year I hope the legislators will come to their senses and ban this semiannual scourge on the nation. Arizona has the right idea about this.

You won’t find me swooning over football or pumpkin spice everything or Halloween but to each his/her own.

Now I’m going to go listen to the all-time best song about fall, Neil Young’s Harvest Moon and drink a cup of hot apple cider.

Anyone want to join me?

White People Clapping

In Church, creativity, Learning, music, spirituality on September 18, 2017 at 6:26 am

My favorite thing about church other than seeing my friends is singing. A friend who was a music director for a couple of churches said it’s also one of the things people complain about the most. They want more contemporary songs, they prefer the traditional hymns, the pianist plays too slowly, they want a band, they don’t want a band. It’s always something.

Pastor Brad avoids African American spirituals because he thinks we do them badly. “If you’re going to engage in cultural appropriation, you need to do it well.” Apparently, we don’t.

I have heard visitors from other churches say they’re impressed that we actually sing as some Methodists are too reserved to make noises loud enough to be heard. We try to clap, but I guess we do that badly, too. “There’s nothing worse than white people clapping,” some people (you know who you are) say. We clap on beats one and three in 4/4 time when we’re supposed to clap on two and four.

How do we know which beat is which? I’m asking for a friend.

Who makes these rules? I looked it up and this is what I found. “Most contemporary 4/4 music emphasizes the first and third beat. This is why clapping on 2 and 4 creates syncopation and sounds good.”

In 4/4, the drummer almost always hits the snare drum on 2 and 4. That is what the rest of the band is listening for. When a bad audience is clapping on 1 and 3….or 1.25 and 3.67…it is disorienting.”

Traditionally, rock rhythm is based on the upbeats (2 and 4). Clapping on 1 and 3 will sound off for that kind of music.”

That’s fine for you musicians out there, but what about the rest of us? Give us some credit for reading the words AND the music while holding a hymnal and trying to clap. Whaddaya say we take a few minutes in our next service for a lesson in clapping?

Two musically inclined friends told the story of Harry Connick, Jr. who simply adds a beat to dupe audiences into clapping on the right notes, showing both leadership and creativity.

Luckily for me, I usually sit near a professional music director, so I just try to follow her lead. Friends don’t let friends clap incorrectly. When she’s not there, I’m a lost cause.