We stayed in a cabin in the woods with all the amenities perfect for the cool autumn weather. They included, but were not limited to, a fireplace and hot tub on the back deck. Jesse and I floated in the hot tub under the stars and again in the morning with our coffee while the Little One slept soundly in the other room. Elk perused the lawn in the morning as leisurely as neighbor-dogs, to which Opal pointed to with a snowsuit-arm, and exclaimed anmals! (Animals.) She was both dumbfounded by their stature and anxious with glee. We took an a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, which turned out to be much bolder than we planned for—basically consisting of a path that stair-stepped us to the top of the world and back—with Opal in tow in her new backpack. All of it was beyond lovely and nourishing (and went by hauntingly fast) but there were a handful of additional Opal-gem moments that linger strongly in my thoughts from our weekend, like a particular aroma. Moments that inspired such a bottomless, visceral joy in both Jesse and myself, that they require immediate documentation in the hopes to never be forgotten. Like carving all our initials into yet another tree.
As I said, we took Opal for her first real hike in the mountains in the snazzy new hiking backpack she got for her birthday from Grammy. To say she was enchanted would be an understatement. With her head placed directly behind the one of us who carried her and her tiny mouth inches from our ears, we heard a non-stop stream of baby-commentary, high-pitched coos, giggles and practiced words gaining and lessening in volume. Essentially a greatest-hits of happy baby noises. Not a single whine or whimper for over 2 hours. She wound up passing out cold, rag-doll flopping over the steps and bumps, unconcerned with the blazing, high-altitude sun that baked her cheeks from certain angles, sleeping so deeply she snored. There were many moments where the landscape of sound consisted of nothing more than the crunch of our steps, the paper-whistling of breeze through the leaves and our child's snoring.
The next moment involved wadoo (water) in a spectacular indoor pool on the premises of the cabins we rented. It was heated like an mammoth bathtub with jets to create froth and a constant current. The three of us splashed, kicked and pollywogged to and fro. At one point Opal nestled her little wet head on my shoulder and stayed there for minutes and minutes and minutes, creating a small suction between skin and skin. Hardly an astounding visual for the average passer-by, perhaps, but Jesse and I passed a stream of expressions back and forth of wow! and can you believe this? like gulps from a warming jug of wine. This kind of cuddling is not average fare and the moment was appropriately intoxicating to fit the metaphor.
In fact, Opal hasn't been a very snugly little Doodle during her wee lifetime. Affectionate, totally. Warm and loving, absolutely. But beyond her sleep-routine of reading books and drinking milk from her sippy cup while being cradled in our laps, or the times of being carried in the sling, she's a lady on the move. A big fan of hugs and kisses, but no lingering. Try and hug her for too long and she'll squirm away and whimper. Even the before-sleep lullaby I sing to her with her in my arms nearly always ends abruptly when she reaches and launches herself at the crib.
During our second and final night in Estes Park, none of us slept much at all. Opal was in the same room as Jesse and I in a Pack-N-Play, a situation that worked well over the summer but not so well last weekend, at least during the night when we were in there, too. Although she couldn't visibly see us from where she was lying, she knew we were there. At home, in her own separate room, she occasionally moments of fussing and then puts herself right back to sleep. (And for the rare occasions of real crying, we definitely go in to comfort her, but are able to leave again which is what she seems to require to fall asleep. Comfort then Space.) But those moments of light-sleep, adjusting herself and mumbling, were met with the confusion of where the hell am I and why are mom and dad in here? should I be awake? Thus, she was awake off and on from about 1am on, as were the rest of us.
It was a little after 5am when I finally got her up and drug our weary bodies into the living room. Got her into a clean diaper, slid her into her cozy facing-me wrap and clicked on the gas-powered fire in the fireplace. (Small sign reading above: This fireplace is NOT for roasting marshmallows or popcorn. Thank you. Management.) Suddenly the moment went from slightly taxing to perfectly serene. She was resting her head on my shoulder and breathing deep, slow, meandering breathes so I piled some throw pillows into a heap behind my back and sat down with her, rocking side-to-side within the nest of fluff I'd assembled. Within moments she was snoring face-first into her bunny that was rested between my neck and chest. I wrapped my arms around her, stopped swaying and closed my own eyes, wishing there was someone—Jesse—there to witness the slight smile on my face in the middle of this outrageously cozy and uncommon scene. We slept like that for over an hour—my sleep packaged in brief, dreamy chunks, perforated with waking to the pre-sunrise dark, the fire and the weight of my beloved girl's body limp with visceral comfort against my own. Her sleep was deep and seamless, motoring and efficient. A situation, like so many, that I hadn't felt a longing for before it happened. In a moment, all questions were answered, all holes had been filled, all worries inconsequential.
The noiselessness that resides inside of rare, unpredictable and unabridged moments like this is—a word I've knowingly used before—medicinal.
Before long, the world outside began to glow with morning and I was awake and mentally deconstructing the music of Opal's snores. A sudden and forceful snort came out of her face and woke her right up, to which she responded to by sitting straight up, gazing across the room to the fireplace and announcing all done.