These are the words I uttered aloud when I came down the hill, past the cottonwoods, and looked up to the west. There they were. Right where I left them. Why exactly I would assume the gender of three giant slabs of granite is probably a worthwhile discussion, but that will have to wait for another time. The gratitude I felt when looking up at the geological wonders of The Flatirons was almost overwhelming. I can say "almost" because each new view of these monoliths is treated as new even though I can picture every notch and cranny when I close my eyes. Hundreds of miles away. I have pictures of them on my walls at home in Oakland. Why should I ever forget?
Maybe it is the abruptness with which they rush up out of the earth. This was the stop sign for plenty of settlers who made it as far as the Rocky Mountains. They looked at these Foothills as some kind of insurmountable obstacle. So here they put down roots and made a city. And a university. And a whole bunch of other schools and stores and restaurants and houses and parks and all of them were just a westward glance away from the Flatirons.
I keep trying to explain the magic of this group of foothills, as if I need to convince someone. Myself, perhaps? Chief Niwot who cursed me with the burden of returning here whenever possible to stand and gawk. This time, I decided to consider the sound that those slabs of rock made when they came jutting up through the surface of a previously tranquil plane. Where once there was horizontal, suddenly there was vertical, and if I had been around then I couldn't be anymore impressed than I am right now.
Yes. I know: If I was so impressed, why did I bother leaving in the first place? It was a difficult choice. My wife appreciates the fact that I chose her over a pile of rocks. A really substantial and legendary pile of rocks. Still. A pile of rocks.
So I remind myself once again of just how much things change, but The Flatirons still meet the morning sun just as they have for millions of years. The KMart is now a Safeway, but they remain. Tom's Tavern is closed, and they look down in bemusement. They are so awesome that I can ascribe bemusement to them. And now we can discuss their gender. We've got time.