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The Silver River freezes

 

I’ve been fascinated by the patterns of the freezing rivers lately.  The rivers have been donning their winter garb of ice and snow, settling in for the long freezing days and nights. 

The Silver River with long shadows on the other side of the bridge

 

Yesterday I photographed the Silver River as it passed under Townline Road, but today drove a little distance up Skanee Road to wander along the river through the woods.  How it meanders!  How the river dances around this bend and those rapids, never stopping, always moving.  Until ice renders it deceptively silent and still.  Don’t walk on it yet!  In fact, I have never walked on river ice.  The currents still run beneath the silent frozen surface.

Years ago I dreamed of falling through the ice on the Silver River, sucked down beneath the hard glass surface, unable to find a way to the hole, unable to find a way back up.  It was not a happy dream.

Slurry of brown water, white snow and ice

 

In some places the river looks muddy and brown.  If you walk around the curve, it suddenly struts its beauty in stark white.  Fascinating patterns swirl everywhere.  Rivers of ice exist within rivers of sparkling water.  

Magical swirls, magical rivers of ice

 

The camera uploaded more than fifty photos by the time it finished shooting the patterns and swirls.  It seemed impossible to pick eight photos to show you.  Each one looks so unique, so different.  In the end, I just closed my eyes and picked.  (Well, not really!  But you get the idea…) 

An angel of ice

 

We are surrounded by such beauty that we do not notice.  I have never before thought of wandering by the riverside documenting the freezing of river ice.  Why don’t we think to do such things?  

Patterned curves as the ice forms

 

There are rumors that a big snow storm is headed for the Upper Peninsula.  Maybe tomorrow?  Maybe the next day?  Some areas may get ten to fifteen inches.  Baraga County is part of that warning.  You can read about it here if you like.  Sigh…winter seems to be starting awfully early this year. 

Oh beautiful river!

 

It’s lovely to sit inside when the snow falls.  You feel so cozy and peaceful and snug.  It’s even fun to put on your warm winter clothes and go outside.  What is challenging is when loved ones (or one’s self) need to be on the road.  Driving in a snowstorm is no fun.  The snow loses its appeal very rapidly. 

How ice forms when you're looking up close

 

Back to our discussion of freezing rivers.  It’s interesting to get right up close to the edge of the ice.  Not too close!  You don’t want to fall in.  But close enough to linger at the edge of something brand new.  Something beautiful.  Something we’re going to get to know very intimately during the next four or five months…

Catherine's little sauna

First things first.  How many of you know how to properly pronounce the word “sauna”?  Show of hands!  Looks like a lot of you think you know how, but some of you are unsure.  Let’s practice for a moment.  I hear some of you saying “saw-na”.  No, that is not the way the true Finnish folk in this area pronounce the word.  Let’s try again.  “Sow-na.”  Yes!  Now you’ve got it!

 I was fortunate enough to be invited to a sauna today at my friend Catherine’s house.  Yes, indeed.  It was time to sweat.  Time for a little steam and purification.  Before she crumpled up the newspaper, placed the kindling inside the stove and struck the match, I was fortunate enough to meet her friend, John.  Luckily, they agreed to pose for a photograph for the little Sony Cybershot.

Catherine and John

We said goodbye to John and got serious about our sauna preparations.  (Well, mostly Catherine got serious about our sauna preparations.  I stood around and looked helpful.)  Soon she had a roaring fire going in the tiny sauna stove. 

Loading the sauna stove

While the fire is heating up, let’s talk about some sauna facts. Here is what our good friend Wikipedia has to say about the first saunas:   The oldest known saunas were pits dug in a slope in the ground and primarily used as dwellings in winter. The sauna featured a fireplace where stones were heated to a high temperature. Water was thrown over the hot stones to produce steam and to give a sensation of increased heat. This would raise the apparent temperature so high that people could take off their clothes.

The first Finnish saunas are what nowadays are called savusaunas, or smoke saunas. These differed from present-day saunas in that they were heated by heating a pile of rocks called kiuas by burning large amounts of wood about 6 to 8 hours, and then letting the smoke out before enjoying the löyly, or sauna heat. A properly heated “savusauna” gives heat up to 12 hours. These are still used in present-day Finland by some enthusiasts, but usually only on special occasions such as Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, and juhannus (Midsummer’s Day).

 

Stained glass window in sauna

There will be a quiz at the end, so study hard.  I suppose many of you astute readers will notice the phrase “This would raise the apparent temperature so high that people could take off their clothes.”  So you astute readers are wondering what people wear when they take a sauna together?  My acute observations over the years point to three possibilities: A)  towels B) bathing suits or C) nothing.  It seems to depend on the group with whom you’re choosing to sauna, your modesty and the sex of your fellow sweaters.  Catherine and I chose the first two options. 

Protector of the Sauna

 We enjoyed a rather mild sauna today. Catherine did not even pour icy cold water over the hot rocks resulting in a potent steam bath.  No.  We sat on the top bench and chatted and yes, eventually sweated.  It has been almost FOUR months since we last saw one another in the raspberry patch.  How could so much time pass?  It is amazing that we can be so busy that we don’t take time to visit our closest friends.  

After the sauna...a beautiful sunset

 We also took a short hike down to the beaver pond before our sauna and was it COLD!  Only eighteen freezing degrees.  I was thoroughly icy-frozen for the first time since last winter.  It didn’t help that I had forgotten my warm boots and had to borrow John’s too-big sized boots, even though they were stuffed with nice warm socks.  Tomorrow I will how you some photos of the snow-covered pond and other exciting winter photos. 

After the sauna we lingered over dinner (until I abruptly announced it was time to go home and write the blog) slowly savouring delicious oven-roasted root vegetables over quinoa.  Oh Heaven!  Food and sauna and outdoor adventures are so wondermous when shared with friends.

P.S.  I have decided to forgo the quiz. I’m sure you all memorized all the facts anyway.  Instead I will paste in some more sauna history for those of you who are interested.  The rest of you can go about your day plotting about when you can enjoy your next sauna. 

As a result of the industrial revolution, the sauna evolved to use a metal woodstove, or kiuas [ˈkiu.ɑs], with a chimney. Air temperatures averaged around 70–80 degrees Celsius (160–180 degrees Fahrenheit) but sometimes exceeded 90 °C (200 °F) in a traditional Finnish sauna. Steam vapor, also called löyly [ˈløyly], was created by splashing water on the heated rocks. 

The steam and high heat caused bathers to perspire. The Finns also used a vihta [ˈvihtɑ] (Western dialect, or vasta [ˈvɑstɑ] in Eastern dialect), which is a bundle of birch twigs with fresh leaves, to gently slap the skin and create further stimulation of the pores and cells. 

The Finns also used the sauna as a place to cleanse the mind, rejuvenate and refresh the spirit, and prepare the dead for burial. The sauna was (and still is) an important part of daily life, and families bathed together in the home sauna. Because the sauna was often the cleanest structure and had water readily available, Finnish women also gave birth in the sauna. 

Although the culture of sauna nowadays is more or less related to Finnish culture, it’s important to note that the evolution of sauna has happened around the same time both in Finland and the Baltic countries sharing the same meaning and importance of sauna in daily life. The same sauna culture is shared in both places still to this day. 

When the Finns migrated to other areas of the globe they brought their sauna designs and traditions with them, introducing other cultures to the enjoyment and health benefits of sauna. This led to further evolution of the sauna, including the electric sauna stove, which was introduced in the 1950s and far infrared saunas, which have become popular in the last several decades. 

In Tibetan, there is a word Shokhang,wich means Sauna.

Red apple trees surrounded by birch

How to make the perfect apple crisp:

Find a tree laden with wild apples.  Cultivated apples are OK, too.  If you find a tree the pioneers planted, your crisp will be filled with pioneer spirit.  Try to avoid the grocery store.  Supermarket apples tend to be filled with supermarket spirit.  Not conducive to the best apple crisp.

Laden with apples even in December!

Fill an oiled 8 inch pan three-quarters full of sliced peeled apples.  Peer in at your apples.  Smell them.  Remember what summer felt like.  Remember what autumn felt like.  Take a bite.  Slowly savor the apple-crispin’ flavor of the apple before you even bake it. Crunch.  Chew slowly.  Chew even more slowly so you can taste every single subtle sweet tangy buttery whatever-you-might-call-it flavor.  Think of three words to describe your apple flavor.  Pretend that you’re an apple connoisseur. 

Looking up with apples

After you’ve filled your pan with apples, it’s topping time!  You have two choices.  You can pile a traditional topping over the apples such as the one below:

Traditional:  Mix 3/4 cup quick oats, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup soft margarine or butter.  Mix together well and place over the delectable apples. (Optional:  add nuts and cinnamon, as described below.)

Or you can choose Vegan, also known as non-dairy.  Which is what I would choose at this stage in my life.  But because I don’t write recipe creations down, I’m going to try to remember the last (approximate) apple crisp topping created:

Kathy’s topping:  Mix 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, two tablespoons vegetable oil (OK you guys can use three tablespoons if you still have good gall bladders) and three tablespoons of maple syrup, honey, agave syrup or rice syrup.  Toss in cinnamon!  Not too much, not too little.  Maybe a teaspoon if you’re into needing more exact measurements.  Now go find your nuts.  Grab a handful of pecans, chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews or whatever kind you like.  Just chop ‘em up into a reasonable bite-able size.  Add to the topping mixture.  OK, and if you adore flaked coconut, add some of that, too.  That looks good, doesn’t it?   Ready for the oven.

Yellow Christmas balls of apples adorn limbs

Now put the apple crisp in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  Think about how much you enjoy seeing those apple trees at the sides of roads at this time of year.  The world looks gray and bleak and the trees wave their skeleton arms at you as you pass. 

But in the midst of all that grayness, the Apple Trees still cling to their apple children!  Like red and yellow Christmas balls, they brighten up the landscape.  On a sunshiny-blue-sky day, they look awesome.  On a gray spitting snow day, their decorations look more muted, but you notice how their colors still make you feel…more festive.

Fallen apples sprinkled with sweet snow

I don’t suppose you should gather up the apples pictured above to eat now, though.  Nope, they’ve been frozen more than once and are mushier than baked crisp. They are now reserved for the deer. You should have thought about your apple crisp in the autumn.  (We don’t call this season autumn any more here.  Nope.  Even though they say winter doesn’t start for another two or three weeks, it’s definitely winter here.) 

But now your timer is beeping and the smells coming out of your oven are FABULOUS!  You thank those pioneers.  You thank the farmers.  If you can eat ice cream, go ahead and ladle a little scoop on your plate next to that steaming apple crisp.  Oh look at it melt…

Now it’s time to take a bite.  Ahhh…yessss….yum….apple crisp!

P.S.  If anyone wants to disagree about the wonderful fabulous exceptional part of this heading…your difficulty would probably be that you couldn’t find pioneer or wild apples.  Try to find ‘em next year, OK?

Full moon dances with clouds last night

The Anishinabe People (Ojibway) who live in our area call this December moon the Little Spirit Moon.  Some refer to it the Small Spirits Moon.  January’s moon is called the Great Spirit Moon. 

This month, on December 31st, another moon will rise in our night sky.  Many of us call the second moon in a month with two moons “The Blue Moon”.  Which is why you’ve probably heard the old-time saying, “once in a blue moon” implying something doesn’t happen very often.

I do not know what the Anishinabe call the Blue Moon.  I do not even know why they call this month the “Little Spirit Moon” although I could tell you some possible stories which may or may not be true.  Today it made me think of the small things in life, the little spirits, the precious gifts of life which are sometimes easy to overlook.

A small spirit: perhaps a coneflower or wild bergamot

Perhaps it’s because the sun keeps inching further and further away from our world.  As the darkness descends oh-so-early some people experience a feeling of despair or apathy or depression.  Perhaps “Small Spirits Moon” is meant to imply this is a time of year when our spirits sometimes flag or despair.  I’ve heard it said that our Christmas lights and candles burn in the darkness to help us through the bridge of the Winter Solstice.   That we share the light in this deepening darkness to help each other through these days.

As the earth in this northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun, the snows begin to fall.  The ice begins to freeze on our lakes and rivers.  We saw the first ice forming on a couple small lakes today. 

The sheen of new ice

Most of my outdoor commitment happened after dark today.  When one is planning to write a blog about the moon, one should go outside and look for it.  However, it wasn’t ready to rise in our sky at 7 p.m.  So I ambled in the dark.  How many of you have ambled in the dark in a forest?

It is a very interesting experience.

Can you see the ghostly images of trees?

You can see that it was snowing lightly this evening.  While it was dark, there seemed enough light to avoid falling in ditches, blindly running into trees or tripping over stumps.  I stayed fairly close to the house.  The wind rustled through the trees.  Suddenly–over there!–a great rustling ensued!  (My mind then began to wonder what that rustling might be.  Bears?  Deer?  Chipmunks?)  But the rustling stopped and the forest returned to silence punctuated with dog barks in the distance, perhaps the yip of a coyote, the low hoot of a faraway owl.

Our little house in the dark (with the moon in hiding)

Even though the snow fell gently down from the sky, it almost felt warm.  It’s nice to be bundled up in your warmest clothes when outside in December after dark. 

Goodnight, Little Spirit Moon.

P.S.  I just looked at the last two photos on a different computer and can not even SEE the ghostly images of trees and snow flakes and the soft etchings of our house against the darkness.  On this computer they basically look like two black photos.  Laughing…well I guess SOME of you can see the subtle ghostly images and the rest of you can enjoy the black night.   tee hee…

There She Is

I started for the daily walk.  Today, November 30th, is the last day of Hunting Season.  Tomorrow we woods-lovers can return to tramping through the forest without fear of getting shot.  (Except I think some other kind of hunting season starts December 1st.  But it’s not the kind of hunting season that has lots of visitors from downstate and Wisconsin and Illinois and Ohio.)

Headed to the mailbox, humming a little, pondering all the outdoor suggestions you folks have offered (my poor mother experienced a few minutes when she could not sleep last night worried about what her daughter would write for the remaining days of the outdoor adventure, can you imagine that?  Note to self:  quit complaining!  Something always comes up.  And look at all these good new ideas.)

When suddenly.  Several feet away.  A deer.  A doe.  Staring at me eye to eye.  We considered each other.

Hi Deer

I fumbled with the shutter.  The camera sang its little greeting song, but the deer didn’t move.  Snap, snap, snap!  The camera shot its photos. 

You see, the deer wanted badly to cross the road.  But I stood too near the road.  We waited at an impasse.  The camera kept shooting.  Snap, snap, snap.

“You better be glad this isn’t a gun, dear Deer!” I said.  “I’ll bet you’re glad it’s the last day of hunting season, aren’t you?”

The deer flicked its ears and looked impatiently at the other side of the road, bored with my conversation.

Yet another shot of the very same doe

Let’s take a short commercial break before we see what happens.  Will the doe move?  Will Kathy get another shot?  Will deer season end with a trophy photograph on the wall?

Please look closely at this Stop Sign

Yes, indeed, this is the stop sign I told you about yesterday.  Our neighbor AJ had spotted the bullet hole which threatened the letter “T”.  Someone obviously felt a little frustrated because he or she couldn’t shoot a deer.  So they shot a stop sign instead. 

Back to the exciting final moments with my deer.

And she's off and running toward the other side of the road!

The camera is shooting wildly!  The deer’s white tail is up in the air!  She’s leaping!  She’s crashing through the brush!  She’s running to escape the shutter lens!

And the final photo, in dream-like haziness:

What a beauty!

I proudly returned to the house with my photo-trophies.  The deer happily bounded into the woods to meet its compatriot. 

Hunting season is over!

Finally…

Until, of course, the next deer crosses the path of this camera.  :)

Make that a double stump and add some snow

It finally happened today.  Three hundred forty-four days into the outdoor commitment and the Moment came. 

The Moment I had always feared.

I opened the door, walked outside, aimed the camera at…  Aimed the camera at…  Aimed the camera at…  And there was nothing interesting in front of the camera.  Nothing.  Not a darn thing.

Everything looked too ordinary to even focus the lens.  I peered everywhere.  Up close and far away.  Up close all you can see are the following:  dried reddish leaves, smatterings of snow, dried plants and flowers, leafless bones of trees and…  Well, that’s it. 

I marched down the road in a tizzy.  What to photograph, what to photograph? 

It was getting more desperate by the moment.  How can you write a blog when there are no photographs?  Why oh why have I put in five to seven photos a day recently?  What stupidity!  I should have only posted two a day, and then there would be plenty of leftovers to make it through the November/December stark days of gray and white.

I met our neighbor, AJ, a blog reader, on the road.  He was dressed in his hunter-orange jacket to avoid getting shot by errant guns during hunting season.  I was wearing red plaid.  (Why oh why didn’t I think to photograph AJ?)

“AJ, there’s nothing to photograph, nothing in the world!”  I moaned pathetically. “Everything has already been photographed!”

“Yes, there is,” he replied patiently.  “You could take a picture of the stop sign at the end of the road.”

(The stop sign at the end of the road?  The stop sign at the end of the road?)

But then he explained.

“There’s a gun hole through the stop sign at the end of the road. Somebody shot the stop sign.”

Now I suppose I could have gone up to the end of the road and taken a photo of that stop sign, but I was walking the other way and already planning a blog about how there was nothing to photograph.  We said our goodbyes and I continued my mental fretting, “There’s nothing to photograph.  I have photographed everything in this county for 344 days…how in the world to get through the next three weeks?”

Of course when I got home Barry then had to offer sixteen suggestions during the rest of the afternoon.  How about this?  How about that? 

So now I’m not stumped anymore but because the only available photo was a stump…

P.S.  And since the majority of readers tend to drop in on Monday, all I can suggest is this:  If you want to look at photos, how about review some of the older blogs?  As Barry just said, even Jay Leno has re-runs.

P.S.S.  Anyone else have any ideas?  Any outdoor adventures left undone?  Please?

Dawn in the woods (see the lake? anyone see the lake?)

Tonight I am going to come clean.  Admit a huge psychological problem.   Time to tell you the ugly truth.

And the reason I can share this truth with you tonight is:  I am almost cured.

Almost.

But it’s been a long haul, a long road.

Our road. (Anyone see the lake? Do you see it?)

Imagine yourself moving to your Little House in the Big Woods.  (I am suddenly fascinated with the parallels between this life and the Laura Wilder Ingall’s Little House on the Prairie books that I read to my children before they could toddle.  Well before they started kindergarten anyway.)  Imagine yourself building an idyllic little cabin in the woods and raising children who ran wild and free building forts and playing amidst the trees.

Really imagine what this feels like.  You are surrounded by trees.  Trees everywhere.  Trees to the left, trees to the right, trees behind you, trees in front of you.  You carve out a space for a house and perhaps garage and lawn, but you’re in the forest. 

What does this mean?  It means there is no visible horizon.  You cannot see the sun set or rise, except through the blanket of tree branches.  You are always surrounded.  Your sight can no longer stretch infinitely to the north or west or east or south.  It stops.  It stops when it meets trees.

And you have to learn to live in this forest-world, without the gift of a horizon.

Trees sweeping upward into the sky

So I must tell you the ugly secret.  For much of my life here in the wood I have experienced horizon envy.  Envy of those who have a horizon.  Yes.  It was quite painful.  In the early years I begged my forest-loving husband “Please can we move down by the water?  I must have a view!  I must have a horizon!”  But my pleas fell on deaf ears.  He loved the woods.  He couldn’t imagine what his crazy wife was talking about.  And I certainly couldn’t articulate about horizon envy.

Sunset in a mud puddle (this is as good as it gets!)

The years passed.  I scurried on down to the lake as often as possible.  The kids and I camped on the doorstep of the neighbors for a long stretch.  Well, actually we kept inviting ourselves for coffee.  Because they were such wonderful people and because (this gets really ugly, I know):  they had a horizon.

Until one day I started looking at the Little Things.  The tiny plants.  The texture of bark.  The mosses.  The leaves.  Really looking deeply.  Appreciating what was there under my feet and all around in the forest.  Wow!  Details that had never before been noticed.  Subtle gifts.

The forest came alive and suddenly, one of those days, I realized I was no longer desiring the horizon.  Well, not as much anyway.  There still is a little bit of horizon envy.  It may never go away.  Especially when the best sunset you can sometimes view is a reflection in a mud puddle in your driveway.

The lake! The horizon!

Pa Ingalls moved his family out to the prairie.  They left the Big Woods and moved to a place where the horizon was all they could see.  No more being surrounded with trees.  They were on the big wide expanse of endless view.

Nope, not me.  I’ve decided.  I like this woods just fine.  As long as there is a lake you can walk to a quarter mile away.  There are Michigan mountains in this county, as well.  You can climb ‘em and admire the horizon all you want.  And some of my friends have farms.  Fields stretch in all directions around their house.  You can go and breathe deep and feel like you are an eagle, looking in all directions at once.

Sometimes we just need to adjust our view

My friend Melinda visited from California once in the middle of our green and leafy summer.  She lives atop a mountain.  She couldn’t get over the claustrophobic feeling of being surrounded by trees.

I understood what she meant.

Yet I have learned that sometimes the things we need to see next are given to us in life.  I needed to open my eyes and look at the little details, the little things.  Some people may need the wider view, to live atop a mountain or beside the sea.  Sometimes what we want aren’t the same things we need. 

Yep.  That’s what I’ve learned from this challenging case of Horizon Envy.

Peering down at a birch tree

Pardon me, Mr. Tree.

Are you up for a discussion?

Have any advice for us humans?  Anything you want to share with us?  Any words of wisdom?

Peering up at a birch tree

Should we be looking up at the sky or down at the earth?  Optimistic?  Pessimistic?  Realistic?  Which direction should we look? 

Close up bark

Should we look up close?  Is the answer in the details or in the wider view?  What do you think?  Please don’t just stand there with your branches blowing in the wind.  Whisper some secrets.  Tell us the Secret of Life.  Please.

The language bark speaks

Ahhh,  so that’s the language you speak.  All the swirls and hieroglyphs.  Are we suppose to understand what you’re trying to say in your tree-ness?  What ancient Egyptian-like language are you speaking?  Do we need to get quieter, Mr. Tree?

Lean a little closer to read this message...

You are saying something, aren’t you?  Something deep.  Something profound.  Something miraculous.

What is it? 

Bear claws?

Oh, yes.  I hear you now.  You say to us, “You are barely scratching the surface”.

That is your message to us tonight.

We will go deeper tomorrow.  Look deeper. Look wider.  Keep our eyes wide open. 

Please continue to teach us with your bark and leaves and roots and seeds.  Help us to look beyond the surface.  Help us find our own tree-nature hidden beneath our feeble twig-language.  Help us learn to bend without breaking in strong winds, how to let go of our leaves when the time comes. 

Thank you, Mr. Tree.

 

Hidden lake at dusk

It’s been 336 days now.  Three hundred thirty-six days of opening the door, walking outside.  In rain, in snow, in sunshine, in happiness, in resentment, in indifference, in delight.  The outdoors has opened itself to me, and I have opened myself to it. 

One month from now, on December 21st, the Winter Solstice will occur.  One year ago on the Winter Solstice we built a big bonfire back behind the house in a clearing in the woods.  My daughter, Kiah, was home and we invited a good friend, Catherine, over for the official commitment ceremony.  We each stated what we desired to accomplish during the next year and placed our slips of paper in the fire…which carried our intention to the heavens in the form of smoke and ash.  If you want to read about that first evening by the roaring fire please click here.

And now the year is winding down, as the hours of sunlight decrease each day.  Winter approaches.  We’re moving toward the depths of the year, toward the darkest hours.  Here is the place where we perhaps dream of next year.  Where the seeds of our next movements are born.

The tiniest of tiny green mosses, up close

We contemplate, we give thanks.  We dream perhaps of new directions.  Perhaps we’ve traveled west for a while; now it’s time to travel north.  (Metaphorically speaking, of course.  I am still aiming to travel ALL directions!)  We say goodbye to the green grasses and fallen leaves.  Snow’s sleep will come upon them soon.

Red berries over wooden dock

I spent lots of time outside today.  How shall I count the ways?  Outside helping Barry with his garage-addition project (two or three times).  Outside picking stray wet leaves out of the perennial garden.  And later on in the late afternoon, Barry and I decided to drive over to Keweenaw Bay to Carla’s Restaurant.  I really didn’t need to eat out any more after last week’s eating-out-extravaganza in San Diego.  But poor Barry hasn’t eaten out much lately…so over to Carla’s we drove.

A cornucopia of red berries!

On the way there I asked, “Would you like to see the hidden lake I discovered earlier this year?”  Yes, he would like.  It’s behind the Pow Wow grounds.  You can read about the magical day of discovering the hidden lake here.

We followed the almost-hidden path back to the little lake just as dusk descended.  He liked it.  I was pleased to see the placid waters yet again.  Ducks flew up in a squawking flight of wings as we approached.  It looked like they were running across the lake as they attempted to rise.  The lake was filled with invisible duck tracks that shimmered in the fading light.

Partridge on fence?

We walked back to the car.  “Hey!  Look at that partridge over there on the fence!” I said.  Grabbed the camera, stalked toward it (probably with all the finesse of a large elephant).  Triumphant because the partridge was not moving.  It would be the best partridge photo of the year! A National Geographic up-close wild animal shot.

But wait a minute.  As I got closer it didn’t look like a partridge anymore.  It looked like…

Owl wing

…an owl wing.

An owl wing?  What was an owl wing doing here on the fence?

But then I got the shivers.

The book I am writing for NaNoWriMo is about an Ojibway medicine man named Kookookoo’oo.  (Well it’s partially about an Ojibway medicine man, but he’s a big part of the story.)  And you know what Kookookoo’oo means?  You got it. 

Owl.

I’m not 100% certain it’s an owl wing. It could be some kind of little hawk wing.  (In which case the medicine man might be saying, “Change my name, will you?”)  But I have found many owl and hawk feathers over the years and these looked more like owl. 

OK.  That’s the story of how today’s outdoor and indoor adventures and dreams all merged together.

Afternoon reflections

Rain dripped from the sky most of the day.  It was a drizzly damp afternoon.  Mist descended upon the earth.  Waves of fog rolled in. 

By 3:30 it looked like dusk.  A late autumn afternoon.

Blue fog

Here’s my daily confession.  I went into the woods today.  Shhhh…don’t tell anyone.  You know you’re not suppose to hike in the woods during hunting season.  Especially during the first week.  But I couldn’t help myself.  The woods called.  I said, “No way, woods, I will not go in you.”  The woods called again.  I said,  “OK, but just in a safe place where hunters surely won’t go.  Near the lake.”  The woods smiled.  It knew I wouldn’t refuse.

Along the curve of the lake

Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle.  Camera shutter going snap, snap, snap.  (Christopher, out there in San Diego a few days ago, suggested I turn off the sound.)  Heck no.  I like the sound the camera makes.  It sings a lively four-note tune when you turn it on.  Maybe five notes. 

Deer tracks to water

I thought today about how our favorite places on the earth look different all the time.  They look so different on a foggy day than, say, a bright sunny morning.  They look different in snow, different in the jungle-depths of summer, different in the tentative green of spring, different when the autumn leaves fall.  This may sound obvious.  But isn’t it true of everything?  We think people or things are always the same.  But everything and everyone are constantly changing.  You are brand new in every moment!  And so am I!  Isn’t this a miracle?

Fallen tree on Huron Bay

I have 2,000 more words to write on the NaNoWriMo novel before bed, so had better shut up here right now.  The “novel” now has 32,328 words.  After the first five days of sheer torture and probably terrible writing at the beginning of the month, I have had a great time birthing this story.  We need to have 50,000 by November 30th to get our…I’m not sure what we get…an award?  Praise?  Inner contentment for actually writing a novel?  Whatever! 

Hope you all had sunlight after 3:30 p.m.  If not, hope you enjoyed the early dusk.

P.S.  I am definitely back in slower-Internet land.  After uploading photos in ten seconds in San Diego…it’s back to almost three minutes per photo.  I am trying to figure out what to do during those three minutes.  Meditate?  Read?  Play a computer card game?  You can’t check any other Internet applications because the Internet politely refuses to cooperate.  Alas, the little problems in life, eh?

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