Salina, Kansas (October 2010)

I left Colorado early on a snowy morning, with a heavy sadness about me. I was leaving my new friends and the Rocky Mountains. And I was leaving my best friend of all, Jacki Boatman O’Donnell.

They threw me a surprise going-away party and the snow floated down, gently at first, then blowing sideways. Two perfect things for a perfect evening. The party was lively. There was wine and food. There were gifts and smiles and hugs. And for me, a tear or two.

Unhooking in the snow, ice prevented me from pulling up my blanket I had spread across the picnic table. I tugged and tugged, but it would not budge. Someone got a very nice blanket when the snow melted.

As Serenity rumbled across the Kansas plains, toward Salina, the snow melted and the rain began to stretch down, meeting my mood.

The plains were endless, here a tree, maybe there a tree. Maybe. The storms made it hard to see. I do know there were cattle and some tin-roofed barns. The black of the sky and her clouds engulfed us.

The KOA in Salina was sitting in muddy water that almost reached the tops of my waterproof (thank goodness) hiking boots and no amount of work could get the mud off them (or Serenity) as the rain continued. I hooked up only the electricity, as I was soaked through and very cold.

As I came in, pulling on dry clothes and huddling by the space heater to warm my feet, the kitties came. They rolled and purred by the heat. They bathed by the heat.

I was lonely, despite them.

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