The Pike’s Peak Promise

June 5, 2007 at 3:17 pm | Posted in 4th of July, blogging, charity knitting, country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, flowers, free knitting patterns, gardening, Habitat for Humanity, health, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, volunteerism | 45 Comments

Fireflys Geraniums planted in Farmhouse CrocksWe have had a busy couple of weeks here, beginning with Memorial Day weekend. The lawns have needed mowing two or three times, my husband designed and engineered a pergola for some gourds my sister-in-law and her husband wanted to grow up at our place, we had that to build, the gourds to plant, and some geraniums to put out in pots around the place as well. Then, of course, we have quite a few other routine responsibilities to take care of: earning a living, Blu to love and care for, duties at Church, chipping in at Habitat for Humanity, Gracious Parcels blankets to piece together, paintings to create, knitting projects to work on, a house to keep somewhat straightened and organized … well, you know the story. You have a similar story of your own.

An interesting thing about getting out on the tractor and mowing the lawn is that while it is a considerable, time-consuming chore, it is also a relaxing bit of time alone to contemplate life, love, the sky, whatever comes to mind. There you are, out in the wide open world with birds and insects dashing here and there right in front of your face, flowers peaking out above grasses and chopped off corn stalks, blue skies stretching out in a great big dome above you, and clean clear air sometimes hot, sometimes cold, most times moist pressing against your face and filling your lungs.

Firefly Drives a Tractor AgainOh beautiful, for spacious skies …

I can’t help but think of the “America the Beautiful” lyrics when I am out on the tractor.

For amber waves of grain …

The waves of grain and grasses surrounding us this time of year are sweet and wild, whispering of many things yet to grow.

For purple mountain magesty …

We don’t have mountains around here, but I have crisp memories of Rocky Mountains from the times I’ve spent in Denver with my family there and the beautiful mountains of Southern California which I will be seeing again in a few days (I am going to LA to dispose of some of my belongings and retrieve the rest).

Fireflys Point of View from the TractorFrom sea to shining sea …

And that’s where you come in.

One month from now it will be July 4th, and we will be celebrating our Independence here in America. America the Beautiful, from sea to shining sea.

If you recall, a while back I wrote about my oldest brother (He Wanted a Nose Warmer posted August 15, 2006) who passed away a couple of years ago. If you recall from that post, “America the Beautiful” was his favorite song and we sang it along with him in the hospital on a day when it seemed he was hours away from passing. Dan loved America, he loved the sights and the nature and the geology and the people and the concept of what America is. He lived in Denver for about fourteen years before he died, and had been to the top of Pike’s Peak.

If you don’t know the history of “America the Beautiful”, the original lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1893 following a pilgrimage she made with other women to the top of Pike’s Peak.

“One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.” ~ Katharine Lee Bates

Another Point of View Shot from Fireflys TractorFor Dan, the words to America the Beautiful expressed fully his own emotions of both the view from Pike’s Peak and the country he loved deep within his heart.

Dan was a very good man, with a sweet nature he tried to disguise at times behind a seemingly gruff exterior. He was beloved by a large circle of family, friends, neighbors, store personnel, doctors, nurses, and business associates.

I spent the last two weeks of his life with him much of the time in his hospital room and then at the hospice where he died. The last time I was with him and the last time we spoke, was less than a day before he passed. We spoke of Pike’s Peak. I told him I intended to make my way to the top of the Peak someday so that I could see what he saw when he was there. It was a promise I made to him as well as to myself.

The day after he died, my parents and I took off in my Explorer and drove down to Colorado Springs to at least have a view of the Peak from a not-too-great distance. That was a beautiful day; clear and crisp blue skies, sunshine, big fluffy clouds above. A day Dan would have cherished. We also stopped for coffee along the way, because he loved coffee. And on the way home we called my second oldest brother and asked him and his family to join us at an IHOP to have pancakes for dinner, just for the fun of it. We wanted to be out in the world he loved so much, tasting a bit of life rather than sitting sadly inside all day in mourning.

That’s what Dan wanted. He said many times in the last days he lived that life was for living and that’s what he expected all of us to do … live. He said very sternly that no one was to get mired down in sadness over him.

I made that promise to him as well, and I have lived up to my promise.

Fireflys Geraniums on the porch at the farmThe other day, as I was driving the tractor I thought about Dan and Pike’s Peak and how I still need to make it there sometime. I also want to make an oil painting of it, and I will. While I was thinking of these things, I had an idea of a project that I would like to ask you to participate in. I am calling it the Pike’s Peak “From Sea to Shining Sea” Project.

My idea is that at least one blogger from each of the 50 states would write an essay about what it is that makes their little place on Earth and in America beautiful. Of course, I would love it if far more than 50 bloggers would participate.

We can form a blogging chain all around the country and share the beauty of this land with photographs or words or a mixture of both … on the 4th of July.

Each blogger would post a bit of code along with their essay that would give links to four other bloggers who are participating — one north, one south, one east, and one west. Participating bloggers can inform me they will do so, I will publish a master list by state of any blogs participating.

Anyone who is participating will be able to grab whichever links they want to post with their essay, and I will provide the code and instructions on how to insert the links you choose into the code and put it in your blog (for anyone who needs that help).

I will also screen the participating blogs to make sure none are purely advertising sites. If you have advertising on your site, that’s okay but the focus of your blog must be an actual blog that communicates to others rather than just words posted to give an excuse for advertising.

The deadline for participating link submissions will be Wednesday June 27th (you don’t have to have your essay written by then, just tell me your intention of post and provide me with the link to your site). I will post the page of participants’ links by Saturday June 30th.

Your essay should be posted and published by the end of the day on July 3rd, so that it will be available first thing on the 4th for viewing and reading. Your post title should be “From Sea to Shining Sea: [fill in your state name here]” so visitors will know you are participating in the Pike’s Peak Project.

This could be very cool, fun, and informative. With the North, South, East and West navigation links from essay to essay, we will each able to quickly “travel” all around the country and “see” from sea to shining sea. We can simulate through our connected blogs the view from Pike’s Peak and the vision it inspires.

No corporate money is involved, no media, no commercial gain, no politics or politicians, no hitches, fixes, or self-serving interests. Just every day Joe’s and everyday Jane’s coming together to celebrate the beauty we have to be grateful for on a day with special meaning to us all.

Sweet Bird at Fireflys FarmI’m doing this for my brother, in his memory. He was a great guy and worthy of a beautiful project like this.

Even if you have never written a blog before, maybe you would consider writing one just that one day. You can get a free blog account at or at,, etc. There are many free blogging services around and some are even user friendly.

This will also give you an opportunity to take a good look in your own backyard, so to speak, and contemplate what is fine and beautiful from your particular vantage point.

Would you like to play this game with me? If so, please email me at editor101 [insert at sign here] or leave a comment to this post. And, spread the word if you would. I’d like to get as many bloggers participating as possible.

Meanwhile, enjoy your beautiful day. I am enjoying mine.


Copyright © 2007 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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  1. Beautiful, as always, and a kind reminder that we should treasure life and what it has given us. Thank you for adding so much beauty to my life.

  2. I would love to be a representative for the State of Oklahoma. What a neat project in memory of your brother. Thanks.

  3. I think this is a wonderful tribute to your brother. I will write about my little corner of the world and look forward to reading what others write.

  4. What a great idea! I wish I could participate…but even though I have relatives in the States-my mothers parents moved from Norway to the US in the early 20s in order to get a job and a better life- I’m not American. But I will read what you all come up with! Have a nice day!

  5. Firefly, please, I would be honored to represent my home state, California. Your recollections have me teary and even before I knew what you were asking, I was saying “yes.” I need to read your instructions again, and I am glad you will figure out links and codes (not my strong suit.) Just know that I love this country too, and the promise of what it can be, and I will gladly contribute to your brother’s tribute. I await further instructions.
    Thank you.

  6. Oh! And I love your Kubota… have I mentioned this before? We had one and we called her Chica Roja… or Little Red Hen… she puttered around digging up the earth. It was fun and strangely meditative operating a tractor.

  7. That’s a lovely idea – from sea to shining sea. I’ll think about this. I’d want to do it justice. I’ll drop you a line if I find it feasible.

  8. Count me in! Wonderful story about Dan. And as luck would have it, I lived in Colorado Springs for a few months while following my wanderlust many moons ago. I look forward to an excuse to write about my corner of the USA — in southern New Hampshire.

  9. I’d be honored to write about why New Jersey is beautiful! (No… I am not kidding)


  10. What a great idea! Love it! I would love to represent my beautiful state Pennsylvania.

  11. And I thought I had a lot of grass to mow with Johnny! wow …
    But it’s a great time to think as you ride along, isn’t it?

    Emily, I live in New Jersey too, and yes, it is beautiful!

    Watch out for firefly season, firefly. We have them now in New Jersey!

  12. Sounds like a wonderful idea! As a non-American I’m looking forward to reading the blog posts and learning more about your country.

  13. This is a really wonderful idea in these years of our young men fighting a war. Why are they fighting for us… because like my son who has served 3 tours in Iraq.. they love this country and find it worth the effort. I would love to represent Texas in this blogging chain.

  14. Hello, I would be honored to write an essay about my homestate of Kentucky in honor of your brother. You are a wonderful sister. God bless you.

  15. Hi Firefly,
    So good to hear from you! I understand about life being crazy busy. That is exactly where we have been. I’ll have to set up a blog but I would love to represent Indiana. Talk with you soon!

  16. I don’t have a blog – I look forward to all the responses on 7/4.

    I look forward to reading your site. You write beautifully.

    Mary in WI

  17. I would love to represent my home state of Indiana. It is beautiful by Lake Michigan especially. The story was very nice to read. I just lost my wonderful brother in law from Colorado. His log cabin he built had a great view of Pikes Peak from the kitchen. He loved his home very much.

  18. Good morning Firefly. I don’t get much ‘traffic’ at my blog, but I did post about the Pike’s Peak Project. I am hoping to bring out more participants. Here is a link: I am looking forward to July 4th.

  19. What a beautiful tribute 🙂 What an idea! Consider Florida in!

  20. i watch there.
    i breath.
    i like.

    be happy all the time.

    turkish banu

  21. I came over here from the Chicken Blog and loved your post. I would love to represent my home state of Texas in your project.

  22. […] Cool Stuff) I stumbled upon this blog today and love the idea of the author’s project.  Go here for more information about it.  She hopes to encourage bloggers from all 50 states to write a […]

  23. I see there are a few girls already wanting to represent our beautiful state of NJ. I’m at the coast, I’d be one of the “from sea… posters cuz I live at the shore. This is a wonderful idea for a tribute.
    I’d like to join.

  24. Such an inspirational story about your brother. . . thanks! I now live on what used to be a farm but only have 3.5 acres. HOWEVER, I do have a Kubota tractor, not nearly as large as yours but my pride and joy nonetheless.

  25. I would love to write for the state of Texas. Your website is lovely, a friend from Missouri led me to it.

  26. Oh, I just saw that someone else is writing for Texas. Why don’t I write for my native home state of Georgia? Count me in.

  27. Firefly, I just read that someone else is writing for Texas. Why don’t I write for my native home state of Georgia? Count me in.

  28. I will be looking forward to a tour around your country.

    I have been fortunate in my life to have been on both the eastern most point of Canada (Cape Spear) and the west coast of Victoria Island. I have also been as far south as the locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway (I’ve been to Tennessee, but that isn’t Canada) and the only direction I have left to travel is north to the Territories.

  29. Yes, I would like to do this from the very beautiful spot in which I reside – California.

  30. […] We need more states represented in the Pike’s Peak Project. I don’t have the spreadsheet here where I am keeping track of the participants, but I know […]

  31. Has anyone mentioned North Carolina? I don’t think so. Anyway, I would love to join in your beautiful tribute to your brother. I’m a little new to the “blogging scene” though–I may need a tip “here or there…”

    You know, I was just telling my husband today how I’ve always wanted to be able to travel all over, and that visiting different blogs from various places has been a way for me to… I really do look forward to seeing the finished product–what a fabulous idea!

  32. P.S. I have lots of relatives from Virginia. I will mention it to them also…

  33. I will represent the Commonwealth of Virginia from the land of Thomas Jefferson. It’s a very meaningful holiday around here thanks to the influence of one of our founding fathers. Best, Bobbi

  34. I stumbled on your blog today. Your post brought tears to my eyes and really seems like such a sweet thing to do. I didn’t see anyone from utah yet. My blog is still pretty new but i would love to do my part from my little corner of our country.

  35. I can definitely share about the interior of Alaska – this is an amazing place!

  36. Firefly,
    I live on a farm, too, in Kentucky. I have a brochure which we put out and on the back we have this poem, which I wrote:

    Working At Dusk
    S. Corlett

    Because big storms aggravate the sky,
    Spring and summer bicker.
    As fireflies begin to fly,
    Evening Headlights flicker.
    And moving slowly in the fields,
    Beauty all around us:
    Planting, tending healthy meals,
    Serenity has found us.

    I thought it sounds as if it applies to your farm, too. I don’t blog right now,or have a web-site, but I’d like to do the temporary option for Kentucky. It’s beautiful here, and I love my home state!

  37. I don’t have a blog, but I am so touched by what you want to do for your brother, I am willing to start one. I live in Washington state, up in the NW corner. I’m not a native Washingtonian, but my heart is here now.
    My father was like your brother…he loved America and all it stands for. He too, is gone from this Earth, but his legacy lives on in me and my brother. We both have a deep love for our country and for all of the blessings we enjoy living here.
    Thank you for sharing your love of your brother and family with everyone.

  38. I no longer live in the states, as my husband and I are currently stationed in Bamberg, Germany. I think it would be fun to write a bit about America from the view of someone who lives in a foreign country. There are so many truly patriotic people stationed overseas that I think they should be included.

    The following is a link to my website for the Pikes Peak Promise. Thanks and have a great day!

  40. […] here is an update on the Pike’s Peak […]

  41. […] Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized […]

  42. […] Read about her story here: The Pike’s Peak Promise […]

  43. […] Independence Day holiday. It’s the Pike’s Peak Promise and you can read all about it here. As a contributing representative for the state of New Hampshire, I’ve put together a special […]

  44. You are a beautiful writer, and what a lovely sentiment … I am a Canadian living in Colorado Springs and Pike’s Peak is in my backyard (so to speak) … if you ever need a fresh picture of the Peak, just let me know … I see it everyday.

  45. Firefly, I’m impressed with your website and personal pilgramage, It reminds me of a recent book I read “The path of least resistance” In that when we hold a “dream” or personal desired outcome in our minds conciousness, and hold it in contrast to our current reality, the cosmic forces (God) align circumstances that guide our steps to meet that desire. Also in a way we could never orchastrate using our own power. I’m honored to have played a small unwitting part in God’s plans that directed you to meet your husband and come to WNY. May your days continue to be blessed as you live out your dream!

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