In Remembrance of the Boulder of My Youth

This is Boulder from up in the mountain park. This view is as close as I could find, but it isn’t as beautiful and it definitely needs a hawk. Still…

I have the fondest memories of my brief time spent in Boulder, Colorado in the summer of 1985. I was 20 years old and On The Road. 

I remember seeing the first Ashrams I’d ever come across. Though unusual in my limited experience, their presence gave me a cosmopolitan sense of security and serenity. There were several here with mystically-odd-sounding Eastern names, like Way of the Lotus, or Green Mountain Enlightenment Center. They were perched on street corners like watching sentinels, the way the First Baptists and Third Presbyterians are in towns back on the East Coast where I’m from. 

At almost any time of day, I would notice little knots of 10-12 orange-arrayed buddhist practitioners moving together through the streetscape like bright, humming basketballs rolling through the kaleidoscope of pedestrians. Especially so on the weekends when the normally serene downtown park, usually frequented only by frisbee throwing tie-dyed hippies, became a veritable street fair. From the right vantage point, you could monitor three or four orange balls of slightly different hues; the distinctive robes signifying disciples from different ashrams. They moved along in the crowds like competing characters in a PacMan game, gliding as single entities pausing only to sell flowers to passers-by.

Throngs of happy people crowded in, and the aromas of food trucks, and music on the air, reminded me of the Stumptown Festival of my boyhood in my hometown of Matthews. The park at something and Broadway with idyllic Boulder Creek running through it (every Western town I visited had a downtown park at something and Broadway) became Central Park West. Those scenes of living innocence, peace and safety, and harmony, and happiness, and good vibes, will forever live in my mind.

On my last Sunday in town, I was invited to attend the wedding of a giddy young couple who were friends of friends. Mind you, having been there less than a month, everyone was a ”new friend” to me, but as hippies and DeadHeads, we were instant family in a way I’ve never experienced as part of any other community. 

Early in the morning, maybe twenty of us attended the ceremony high up on the scenic overlook above the town. The Native American who performed the ceremony deemed it a ”good match” and a ”good omen” when a hawk flew out, gliding lazily into view over the backdrop of the sleepy town on the prairie floor, just as he pronounced the lovestruck pair man and wife.

That was a good omen. That was a good day.

That’s the Boulder of my youth. Lovers kissing on a mountain with a hawk circling overhead in approval. That’s the Boulder that I’ll remember, even though the image of peaceful, hippy town was murdered yesterday along with the poor people and policeman who lost their lives to a deranged gunman. 

My God. May the people of Boulder lift their eyes up unto the Mountains, from whence their help comes. There is no help but in You, Maker of Heaven and Earth.

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