By Hal Walter
Spring break is always an odd time around here and always seems to catch me by surprise.
While Harrison gets a week off from school, and Mary has a real job with paid vacation, my professional life – such as it is – makes it virtually impossible to take off 10 straight days between writing and editing assignments, my daily chores at the small ranch I caretake, and care of my own animals.
Nevertheless, I’m typically able to work around my schedule and fit some fun into the mix. We don’t really have the wherewithal for a trip to Hawaii or Mexico, but it’s not like we live somewhere we really need a vacation to escape, and the “Staycation” is now in vogue.
Regardless, 10 days straight managing an almost-teenage autistic boy is not exactly a “break” and certainly is no picnic.
The first day I had made plans for dinner in Salida with my friend Peter from Crestone. On the way there I decided upon a side trip up the Hayden Pass Road. I was curious about different visual angles on the Hayden Pass Fire burn area, and also about the snow line up the road. We found the road impassable just below the Hayden Creek Campground and got out to walk around. I immediately noticed the green of snake weed along the creek. I also noted the Rainbow Trail at this altitude was dry. Then I saw the aspens.
A small grove of them was in full blossom stage, as more commonly seen in late April or May. As I inspected and photographed these trees, I also noticed two different species of butterflies floating by. It was almost as if I’d found a hidden microecosystem or had been transported several weeks ahead in time.
We arrived in Salida early so stopped by friends Tom and Melissa’s house. Harrison’s latest neurodiversity obsession is time and clocks. In their house he zeroed in on a couple of timepieces, including an Audubon clock with birds marking the hours. He asked Melissa if he could have the clock. I intervened saying that this has become a pattern, telling Harrison that this was their clock, and them that I was trying to get these inappropriate requests under control.
We left there and went to Amicas for dinner. Peter related that he had several experiences that day of seeing someone who looked like a person he knows, then seeing the actual person later. He’d also apparently encountered people twice in different locations. It reminded me of my friend Dan who used to live in Westcliffe but now lives in Salida. He called these experiences “Double-Time,” but I’ve also heard them called “Synchronicity.”
I went to pay the bill at the bar and when I walked around the corner, there was Dan sitting there at the bar with another friend, Barb, from Westcliffe. I said hello to them and they said, “Wow, we were just talking about you!”
The next day we’d been invited over for dinner by a couple, Charley and Sarah, who recently moved to Westcliffe from the Denver Clusterplex. They were introduced to us by longtime friends, one of whom Mary has known since childhood who married one of my college roommates. During the dinner they mentioned a name that sounded familiar. I asked if by chance they might know another friend of mine, Patrick. Sarah looked like she’d just seen a ghost. It turned out they were old friends from way back!
Small world or synchronicity?
Harrison, meanwhile, was sizing up Charley and Sarah’s clocks. Having recently moved, their belongings were not quite unpacked. Harrison asked if he could have the fancy LaCrosse Technology clock on their wall. Charley said he could not have that clock, but he had another that he was just going to throw away.
From the boxes he produced an Audubon bird clock, exactly like the one at Tom and Melissa’s. What was I to say? There seemed to be a higher power at work here.
We did have one overnight getaway planned to the Hooper Pool, more properly known at the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool. Even though it was just one night, it always seems hectic to escape, between clothes, gear and food, and getting things settled with animal care. Plus, I often get a slurry of requests and reminders for various work tasks whenever I am trying to follow through with other plans. One of these reminders was from Mike, publisher of this fine magazine, inquiring about my column which was due soon. I emailed back explaining that we were headed over to the Hooper Pool but that I would get it together as soon as we returned.
Finally, we got the cat packed and drove away. After a couple of stops in Westcliffe, we decided to get lunch in Salida, once again at Amicas. When we walked through the door there was Mike sitting at the bar. More double time! Mike joined us for lunch and we talked about the magazine and other things before we headed out for the San Luis Valley.
At last we arrived at the Hooper Pool, which I discovered last spring following Harrison’s track meet in Alamosa. In the water Harrison was talking to an older woman in a swim cap swimming laps along the deep end rope. I realized right away that I’d talked to her last year under similar circumstances after Harrison had asked her about her cap.
That evening in the Therapy Pool I struck up conversation with a couple, Christie and Ryan, from Alamosa. It turned out Christie is a track coach at Alamosa and recognized us from meets. She also works in special education at the schools there. We had quite the talk about the benefits of participation in sports for students like Harrison, and the conversation was quite encouraging.
Spring Break had by now taken on overtones of Carl Jung, who explained the concept of synchronicity as events that occur with no causal relationship but seem to be meaningfully related. Jung actually wrote a book on this subject called Synchronicity in 1952.
The next day was sunny and warm, and after a quick swim I sat and watched Harrison bob around on a pool toy in his life vest while I soaked up the early spring sunshine. For this moment, I was about 150 miles away from my computer or any four-legged animal needing my attention. I contemplated the relative merits of heading back home by way of Crestone for lunch with Peter, and decided to do so. There are no coincidences. Tomorrow I would write this column.