Sharon Randall: You deserve a break
Sometimes, for whatever reasons, we all need a break.
Maybe the walls are closing in, and we crave wide-open spaces. Or the world weighs heavy, and we need to rest. Or perhaps the news has taken such an ugly turn we long to shut it off.
It happens. I’ve taken breaks for all those reasons and more. But this time was simple: I was hungry to see fall and my kids.
Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina left its mark on me in many ways, including a lifelong love affair with autumn.
I live in the desert outside Las Vegas. Autumn here is marked by a mild drop in temps, and a change of seasonal displays at the hotels on the Strip.
I wanted a “real” fall. And as always, I wanted to see my kids. My husband and I share five grown children, two married, plus five grandchildren with another on the way. They all live in California, except for my youngest and his wife and their three little ones, who recently moved to Montana.
When my husband spotted my “need a break” look, he came up with a nearly perfect plan: We’d drive to Yellowstone to see fall, then to Montana to see the kids.
I say “nearly perfect” because, due to other commitments, we needed to do all 2,500 miles roundtrip — see Yellowstone and spend three very full days with the kids — in a week.
“You bet,” I said. “Let’s go.”
And so we went.
I wish you could’ve seen it.
Rugged red rock. Rolling green farmland. Snow-covered Tetons (they don’t call them that for nothing.) And dazzling thickets of golden cottonwoods dotting the canyons like neon signs flashing, “Welcome to fall!”
In Jackson, Wyoming, we got just enough snow to make us laugh, with no need for chains.
In Yellowstone, we waited almost an hour for Old Faithful to live up to its name. Which it did. And it was worth it.
That night before dinner at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, we met a couple from Australia. Dinner was good and the conversation was such a pleasure.
The next day we drove north through the Eden-like Hayden Valley, winding along the river, passing tourists snapping selfies with bored looking buffalo — or as my grandson, Henry, would more correctly say, bison.
Then we drove all day across Montana, oohing and ahhing at every scenic turn, to Missoula, the place my youngest and his family now call home.
If there’s a prettier town, I’ve not seen it. As Norman Maclean wrote in his title of one of my all-time favorite novels, a river (the Clark Fork of the Columbia) runs through it.
For three days, we soaked up fall and family, falling leaves and laughing children and long talks about things that matter. Then we said goodbye, a lot of “I love you’s,” and headed home.
Somewhere between Missoula and Las Vegas, I thought about my granddaughter, Eleanor.
Elle is almost 2. If you sing “Pretty Woman,” she will smile her angel smile, raise her arms above her head and twirl about the room, until either you stop singing or she falls down.
I want to see that same smile forever on her face and the faces of her brothers and cousins and all children everywhere. I want to give them a world of autumn leaves and possibilities.
I suspect you might like to give them that, too, and more.
If the walls are closing in on you, if the world is weighing heavy, if the news makes you long to shut it off? Take a break.
You don’t have to drive 2,500 miles. Just go outside for a while, soak up some autumn, watch children at play, spend time with people you love.
Think about the things that truly matter to you, things you are willing to work for.
Take a break, yes, but don’t give up. When you’re rested and ready, roll up your sleeves.
We were born, you and I, to be caretakers of the Earth and all its children. If we don’t take care of them, God help us. Who will?
Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson NV 89077, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.