Mike Fitzgerald

I miss the bird tree singing every morning as the first hint of gold sliced down to touch the jagged red peaks.

Birds of all shapes, sizes and colors filled the old branches, outlined like a pencil drawing, creating a stunning symphony of sound and beauty to welcome the hope and promise of a new day.

Sometimes the drumming echo of thunder and the crackles of lightning would roll through the morning wake-up call. Often a family of deer would appear in the back yard of the Desert Rose Apartments where I lived with my girlfriend Barbara.

Moab is such a wonderful place and I am so fortunate to have called it home. Beyond the physical attractions at every angle, the people were just as impressive to me.

My neighbors were a peaceful and hard-working mix of middle-class America. Two precious newborn babies moved in, below me and next door. How courageous are parents to bring children into the world?

They should receive flowers, a trophy and a standing ovation every day. Kids were everywhere in the old but brightly renovated units and they were a joy to watch. Older folks like me always waved back and there was a sense of security.

The young adults were also colorful, friendly and respectful as they hurried through their fast-paced daily schedules.

One steamy evening, Barb and I went to the most beautiful ballpark in the middle of town. Volunteers, a signature of Moab, were everywhere as boys and girls played T-ball and softball. Coaches and umpires, blue-collar men and women, pitched and swung and taught everything that is right.

Cheer for your teammates and the opposing team members. Wear your helmet. Be sure to have fun and someday you will be in the big leagues of life.

My dad coached youth baseball, football (his favorite) and basketball, long after my brother and I had grown past his teams. That was after a long day at the steel mills or factory as a pipe coverer. My mom would drive the station wagon to the games and root from the bleachers, just as important as the coach on the sidelines.

Our favorite in one of the games in Moab was 8-year-old Beanie, the daughter and granddaughter of our friends Randy and Terryl.

“They told her that she can keep running all the way around the bases on every hit,” her dad said with a smile.

Beanie crossed home plate with a wave to us and her young face was lit up like a thousand candles. High fives all around.

The entire scene was a reminder that the true heroes of our society are not politicians, actors or highly paid athletes.

They are you and you and you. Please stop in the middle of your hectic acts of kindness and caring to take a bow. Hooray for all of you.

Now I live in another favorite place, Pinedale, Wyoming, that is so scenic it is hard to describe in words. Smaller in population and higher in elevation, it still reminds me of Moab. The true heroes are here as well.

Instead of the bird tree, the silhouetted peaks of the Wind River Mountains, in dawn’s first and faint glow, welcome the new day.

The majestic gray Rockies, the Continental Divide, looking down on the greenest pine trees and the turquoise, fish-filled lakes. The Green River starts up here and meets with the Colorado River down near Moab.

And Highway 191 is the main street of both towns. A connection of map dots and my life journey.

I’m getting old now and something hurts every morning. I don’t sleep much and am often haunted by the night. What went right and what went wrong. What struggles lie ahead. Yet another friend just died.

But then there is the bird tree and the Wind River Mountains to begin the newest day. More nice people to meet. Beanie crossing home plate.

Life goes on in two of the most beautiful places on Earth. I’m blessed and thankful.

Mike Fitzgerald is a 32-year newspaper veteran and a freelance writer. He can be reached at revfitz22@aol.com