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November 16 on the Banks of the Cache La Poudre

I live an analog life. I don’t have a bucket list of restaurants that I need to get to. I stopped recording an annual bird list years ago. I talk more than text to a few close friends. When I dream at night, it usually about the same regrets.

I’m alive at seventy-two because I let go of a passion to coach. Or was it a passion to not lose? Either way, it is so far in the past, that it sits in my brain like a set of persimmon golf clubs that stand, covered in spider filament, in the corner of the garage.

Last year we visited the rim of the Grand Canyon. It felt like I had drifted back into the 1950s. I wanted to buy one of those stickers that I use to see on the station wagons of families who lived in our neighborhood, but it meant we would have to make a U-turn and head back to the gift shop. I hate turning back on a road trip.

When I was a boy in Northwest Indiana, there was wilderness everywhere. Not the kind you see on the internet with photographs of a remote river in Russia that holds enormous trout, but smaller stuff, a pasture across the highway with a creek that held crawdads in the bends.

I could head out in any direction on a bicycle and see something I had never seen before: a black bear in a cage at gas station, a root beer stand that sat with no thought about traffic, a backwash off a river, shallow enough to freeze solid before Christmas. Wilderness is not a destination but a place where you haven’t been.

Everything that takes place on the internet is moving too fast for me. Life is spinning faster than the centrifuge at the gym that removes water from my shirt after a workout.

Should I get comfort from knowing there are billions of galaxies beyond the horizon, and the possibility that there may be a civilization that is not marketing Coca Cola, lies, war and famine? Is creating our own departure built into our skin?

These are not rhetorical questions that I consider, as I head out to walk beneath the leafless cottonwoods, whose roots run deep beneath the river.

Terry Pettit –


  1. Paul Carlson Paul Carlson

    Terry – I think about you often when I watch the Husker volleyball team, as I did last night in the win over Purdue. And reading this “discussion” on life you wrote is a lot of how I feel, as I am only a few months older than you. And I now live less than an hour south of you in Erie so we likely have some of the same feelings about missing living in Lincoln. We moved here because Teri, our daughter, who was a very good athlete at East when your daughter (a great athlete) was there, lives close by and we spend a lot of time with our granddaughters. Thanks for listening.

    • Terry Pettit Terry Pettit

      Hello Paul, thanks for your comments. It isn’t just that I miss Lincoln or my hometown in Northwest Indiana, it is that I miss having a President and an administration that addresses the real needs of our country. I am particularly disappointed that Republican members of Congress haven’t had the courage to stand up and speak against the bullying, and lies that happen on a daily basis from our President. I am discouraged by an administration that does not value stewardship and conservation. I’m old enough to recognize that the climate isn’t what is was when I was growing up, and that should be a concern to all Americans. Sorry for the rant . . . but the current situation gives me great sadness and the resolve to speak out against it at every opportunity. Thanks for your comment, Terry

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