Love Flowers Best in Openness and Freedom

Have you ever been to a place where your entire body exhales? Where you wouldn’t necessarily want to live year-round because you need a place to go and reset?

IMG_0021We were talking the other day about investing vacation homes instead of renting for a week and the discussion turned to finding a place that is incredible enough to return to again and again. Because, to invest in a vacation home means to invest time that could be spent exploring a new location.

There is one place I have gone, both when I was single and with my family, where my soul breathes. Where, upon arrival, I know that I can reset and reenergize.

Moab, Utah is about a six hour drive from Denver. It’s close enough to do in a day but as we drive from the city, over the mountains, into the canyons, and finally emerge in the red rock desert, it feels light years from our normal view.

I can’t put my finger on the exact reason I love this part of Utah so much. Maybe it’s the incredible red rock sculptures, so unique and different. Maybe it’s the dry desert air and the brilliant blue sky. Maybe it’s the fact that when we arrive, family time starts and we leave chores and “real life” behind.

Last year, we rented a condo for the week after tax season. We hiked in the mornings and swam in the afternoons. Bea scampered up the sandstone to Delicate Arch, pretending to be a mountain lion and only taking brief breaks to ride on Frank’s shoulders. We watched movies and grilled. The girls napped in the car after hiking Dead Horse Point and we spent that time slowly driving through the red canyons, dreaming about the future.

I’m reminded of what Edward Abbey says in Desert Solitaire,

“The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”

Perhaps I’ve seen love flower best among those red rock canyons. When we dream about the future and of our family story, I can’t imagine it without repeated visits to Moab. I think I have found the one place I would visit again and again.

As we wound through those roads, girls asleep we added another goal to our ever-growing list: Save for a vacation home one day.

Do you have a place that you return to, where your soul breathes? Do you like the tradition of one place or the adventure of going somewhere new?

This post was inspired by Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, At Home in the World. It releases today and, while I haven’t yet read it, I am looking forward to her perspective on travel as a family and finding a place to put down roots. She provided this prompt in honor of her book’s birth-day: Share about a place you feel at home in the world.

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6 thoughts on “Love Flowers Best in Openness and Freedom

  1. Annie, have you read Ed Abbey’s “Beyond The Wall”, a collection of his best essays? It always inspired me, and gave me the dream of returning to the SOuthwest even when I was far, far away.

    I think it’s better than “Desert Solitaire”!

    As for places, I was thinking last night that I’d love to see the Grand Canyon again, because, yeah, my soul could breathe there. One more time.

    But with that came the realization that I would thereby miss at least one day here, in the life I have, and these days are glaringly finite. It wouldn’t be an even trade.

    I guess it’s true, that if your Bucket List doesn’t look like your daily life, you’ve got problems that neither time nor money can solve.

    1. I’m putting Beyond the Wall on hold at the library right now. Frank’s favorite is The Monkey Wrench Gang. I’ve got some catching up to do, as Abbey is a favorite. I love that perspective – that our daily lives do so much need to mirror our bucket lists. Thanks for this reminder!

  2. Our family has enjoyed many places together. With my family living out west, we took more than one cross-country vacation with them and have great memories as a result. But there is one place where more of us have gathered over the years. When our kids were younger more of us completed the gathering but now, not so much. Still, our son will make a way to be there part of the week. I think it’s combination place, the Smoky Mountains of NC, and part family tradition. He’s our kid that is steeped in tradition! But he likes new places too. Not enough time or money to do it all!

    1. The Smoky Mountains are on my list of places to visit – they sound majestic! I love the idea of family traditions… for now. There’s something so foundational about having memories at a place, isn’t there?

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