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I can’t believe this is the last night.
The last night to sit here at this computer and tell you stories about the day’s outdoor adventures.
How quickly a year passes!
One minute you’re dancing around a bonfire mouthing the words “I’m going to go outside every day for 365 days and write a blog every day about what happens!” and the next minute you’re sitting weepy-eyed at your computer thinking back on the entire year.
I don’t even know how to adequately wrap it up into a nice little package. How to end it. How to thank all of you readers enough. I don’t even know how I’m going to get up tomorrow and not have one to three hours of outdoor commitment and blogging. It’s going to be a new doorway, a new chapter in life. And it’s hard…because this chapter has been so precious.
A friend asked: What did you learn this year? How has your outdoor commitment changed you?
This is a hard question to answer. I will try my best to answer it here.
I learned that succeeding in a commitment involves something stronger than one’s thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts and feelings are like weather. One minute we want to do something; the next minute we don’t. If we want to succeed in a commitment, we must follow something deeper and stronger than our surface thoughts and emotions. In my case, I challenged myself to go outside everyday. Since that wasn’t the easiest or more natural path (although during the warm months I already probably went outside as much or more than most people) I linked it to something I loved–blogging. When you want to change a behavior, connect it to something you love. It will help you. Also, for me, publically announcing this intent proved paramount. There was no way I could go back on my commitment after all you folks knew about it!
I learned how to see better this year through the lens of the camera. To capture the miracles of nature, to see deeper, to view wider vistas. The camera has become a second eye, always sweeping the landscape, always searching for new and interesting sights. Before this year, I belittled the camera. (Oh, shame, Kathy!) Belittled folks who would spend hours hidden behind the camera lens instead of experiencing the world directly. (Beware what you scorn! You, too, may be soon be in the same position.) I am wondering what this next week will bring. Will I drop the camera, forget about it, return to pre-photography days? Or will it stay a second eye, a second skin, another way of viewing the world?
The two biggest challenges proved: 1) going outside and staying outside when I didn’t want to be outside and 2) relaxing enough to be confident that there would be something to write about each evening. My husband writes a weekly column for the local newspaper. He struggles to come up with enough inspiration to write something every week; he said he can’t imagine how one could write something every day for a year. It WAS challenging. But, funny thing, something always presented itself. Something always came forth. So often I would empty my mind and sit at the computer and simply watch something larger than myself writing the story. Even on the one day when nothing came to mind (and no photographs presented themselves) a story came forth about not having anything to write. It was amazing!
The most amazing thing, to me, has been the support and love of friends and family. (Darn, crying again…) You readers have enriched my life so very much. I can’t even begin to thank you enough for stopping by, for commenting, for sending emails, for cheerleading. For the family members with whom we have deepened our love and connection, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have also made friends across the world, special friends who send Christmas cards and books and emails and other gifts. You don’t know how much your simple presence and accompaniment has meant. YOU are all so special and unique and wonderful….thank you from my whole being.
Here’s a quick story (see! I’m having trouble finishing today’s blog) to illustrate something that I’ve learned this year. Today I walked through deep snow down to the bay. On the way back, two choices presented themselves. Either I walk the “easy” way along the established path…or wade down to a little creek, jump across, and view the back of the pond.
Most of me wanted to just continue on the easy path, but it looked like there were new and interesting places to explore on the other side of the creek. So I slid down the snowy hill and leapt across the creek.
That is my wish for all of you: when faced with the easy paths, choose to jump across more creeks. Choose to try something a little difficult, to venture off the beaten path, to risk getting your feet wet. You can do it. And your rewards will be…more than you ever suspected.
If I decide to start another blog, I will link it on this WordPress page. Blessings to all of you as we approach the Winter Solstice tomorrow. May you feel inspired to listen to the Earth’s teachings. Thank you again for everything you have contributed to the outdoor commitment. One person doesn’t make a commitment alone–we are all enriched by the support of our family and friends.
Day 364 of the outdoor commitment.
Question to various relatives: which blogs did you like best?
Various relatives: Oh no! Which ones…? We don’t know. Ummm, let us think. We’ll get back to you.
Tonight’s entry involves reporting to you all the answers thus far received. We’ll start with my husband, Barry. He voted for every single “action” blog. He liked the outdoor adventures where we did things together, where we explored Baraga County and the surrounding area (he loved Duluth back in July!) This commitment has really been precious because we spent so much time together in the Great Outdoors, visiting places we have ignored in the past 20-30 years since we became so “busy” with everyday life.
His votes: The Slate Quarry blog (also known as The blog has had a big day today), Backwoods Adventure to the “Million Dollar railroad” and all the fishing adventures including Hey I caught a fish! (Please click on any of the links to view the old posts.)
Christopher, our son, voted for the crazed robin blogs, the ones where they pecked incessantly at our windows for months, including Crazed robin and stalking the first wildflower and The danger of philandering husbands. He also liked This blog is going to the dogs where those neighborhood dogs hounded in on my walk. And, finally, his sociologist side really enjoyed Horizon Envy, written in late November.
Kiah, our daughter, liked the very first Solstice blog (because she was there when we lit the bonfire and stated our yearly intentions!) She also voted for all the travel blogs, which included trips to New York City (see 5/19-5/22 including Opening the door, going down 15 floors in the elevator, saying goodbye to the doorman and walking outside, Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Duluth, my hometown of Yale, Georgia and San Diego. Did I remember them all? Another favorite of hers: What is nature anyway? (I liked that, too.)
My parents didn’t want to list any particular blogs but my mom wrote this: ” My favorite blogs were all of them that had you with family members across the nation and the related pictures. A snapshot (pun) look back at your blogs in general is a kaleidoscope of exceptionally beautiful pictures which run through my mind all the time!”
My mother-in-law liked the Duluth series (7/12 – 7/14 including “We go Duluth” and Duluth: Take Two. You may not want to swim there quite yet) She also really liked the Pow Wow blogs If you listen to the Pow Wow drums you will never be the same and Farewell Pow Wow. Until next year. She (and Kiah) also voted for the more recent one about the Santas and Snowmen: Dear Kids, The Santas and Snowmen opened the door and walked outside!
And now, you might be wondering which blogs I liked. Oh, that is a dangerous question. A very dangerous question indeed. How can a mother choose one child over another? How can we choose one blog over another? Each was special in its own way. Some caused laughter, some caused tears. Some proved easy to write; others hard. They were all so unique.
Nonetheless, because this blog has forced me to review many of the 365 days…I will offer you a FEW of my favorite ones. (All you other blogs, please do not pout. I love you, too.)
OK, here’s my secret. I have a special fondness for the philosophical/spiritual blogs. The ones that perhaps questioned a little deeper. The ones which prodded below the surface a little bit. Such as Asking nature for advice and What is beautiful and what is not? However, having stated that, the one that made me laugh for days and days was: Let the Vegetables Speak! I laughed so hard about that one that Barry thought I was perhaps a little loco…
And then there was the blog Three gunshots at dawn which stirred my heart with its simplicity, making me want to write simple blogs from that day forward. (Which probably didn’t happen again.) And then there was Skin which seemed to elicit a visceral sense of connection with tree bark. But I think my all-time favorite may have been the sweat lodge blog: Sweat lodge memories: fire, rock, lodge, medicine.
Phew! This was a LOT of work looking for these old blogs, copying, pasting, hyperlinking. I really could keep adding more and more. But now I’m all weepy-eyed and nostalgic and already missing this most incredible year. And it’s not over until tomorrow… Sniff…
I suppose you’ve all figured out I’m crazy about numbers. Stats. Useful information. It’s kind of an obsession, as I explained to a friend this morning.
We’ve covered the top search engine terms people have used to find this blog. Now let’s look at the top blogs during the 365 day outdoor commitment. (Although, it seems to me that these top blog numbers are not really accurate. If someone logs on to a blog and simply scrolls down the page without clicking on the actual title of the blog or the comments, no “hit” is registered in the statistics of a particular blog.)
#1 is Some Like It Funny and Some Like It Serious (1,247 hits) and #3 is Repeating myself like a broken record, record, record (or CD, CD, CD) (393 hits). Those two don’t really “count” as random top blogs because these were the blogs featured on the home page of WordPress.com. The #2 top blog isn’t really a blog at all. It’s the “About” (612 hits) story which explains what this blog is about.
#4 is Fisher, Pine Marten, Bear and Moose (326 hits) which features photographs by Pam Boppel-Nankervis, a local wildlife biologist. The first photo (up above) was captured by a game camera.
#5 is The gall of that oak tree! That was the exciting day when we discovered that oak trees often grow green balls known as “galls”. Very educational…for all of us. Apparently, many, many folks are interested in oak galls. 309 hits for this one.
I am also delighted to tell you that I discovered one of the dead birds hidden within this blog! At least part of a dead bird. The above raven’s claw was featured in a post called Dead raven, deer hide, river and stones back in March. Perhaps all the people searching for “dead bird” end up on this post. It has had 284 hits.
#7 in the greatest hits series (ha ha, Barry made me use this title!) is A sucker for sucker fishing, written in May. I’m sure many fishermen have visited this post, wanting to know the secret for catching suckers. Bet they left not knowing much more than when they started. Here’s what I remember about that day: throw the fishing pole into the water and wait until the sucker bites. Then jerk the pole up and hope that the hook caught the sucker. End of my knowledge of sucker fishing. 237 hits here.
#8 An all-time favorite of blog visitors has been Let’s have a scavenger hunt! (235 hits). The idea for it popped into this brain on the way to the mailbox one day and we had a few eager participants. The rules: find some pussy willows, sumac or wintergreen, birchbark, animal scat and an animal. Photograph all five and email ’em to me. Some folks opted to put them in their own blogs. We had so much fun that Amy over at Flandrumhill decided to feature a follow-up contest. Hers was really classy and educational.
(Photo credit for above goes to Pam Boppel-Nankervis. And this was NOT from a game camera. She actually got this close to the fisher. Can you imagine?)
I hope that you don’t consider this cheating. Putting in all these old photos and doing wrap ups of the year. The statistics just beg to be included, you understand. Besides, I didn’t think you wanted yet another photo of me in that darn snowmobile suit from 1970 filling the wood room. That’s what we did again today.
Almost forgot to tell you! More excitement. The temperature leaped back up into the 20’s. Once again, we’re living in the banana belt…
This blog is dedicated to the many readers who randomly discovered this blog by utilizing a search engine. You know who you are. The reader who types in “close up pictures of puddles” or “never mind what I have posted yesterday” or “cauliflower brocoli salad” and end up on this blog.
WordPress.com gives us all sorts of statistics, and search engine statistics are some of the funniest. You wonder why in the world people would type in “people running in snow filled night”. You sometimes even make up funny stories about it.
I am here to tell you the all-time top searches that resulted in finding this outdoor blog during the 365 day commitment. Are you ready? (Don’t tell me you already can figure it out, based on the title!)
The first and third top searches were status quo. Centria.wordpress.com and Opening the door, Walking Outside were to be expected. But who would have thought that 111 hits have resulted from the search “Palm Trees”??
(For all you new or itinerant visitors, the palm tree photos came from a trip to Fort Myers Beach, Florida, back in late March.)
Search Term #4: wood splitter. Well, this is a perfect Yooper (Upper Peninsula) search engine term. And do we know about wood splitters! We are expert wood splitters. (I can say this with assurance after a whole year of operating the lever. We have not split off any fingers or other accessories and hopefully we never will. Perhaps I should leave out the word “expert”. Let’s substitute “experienced” wood splitters.)
Search engine term #5: Sand movement on Lake Superior. I am curious about that one. Eighty seven hits followed these words. Were they all the same person? Is there a group of sand movement analysts? Did my blog offer them anything concrete for their research? (metaphorically speaking, of course…)
Then we have the feather-searchers. Eighty two feather searchers have landed on this blog. I have posted a few photos of feathers, and we have lots of birds in the Upper Peninsula, that’s for sure. Here is one of my favorites from late June:
#7 search engine term: dead bird. Hmmm…. Sixty two views on this post from searching for “dead bird”. Unfortunately, my own search on this blog did not find a photo of a dead bird. They apparently had more luck. I have a vague memory of photographing a dead–maybe–robin or chickadee in the yard. But neither my memory nor the blog search engine could discover it. It’s hiding somewhere in this year-long blog. Fifty cents to the avid blog reader who can find it! Just kidding!
#8 (and we’ll stop here): the infamous Vegetable Scraps! I have told you before that searchers keep landing on this blog seeking Vegetable Scraps. Maybe they are looking for soup recipes. Maybe they want to make brocoli-cauliflower salad. Instead they arrive at a photo of scraps we throw out for the deer during the winter time. I thought this photo back in January looked almost artistic.
If you have a blog for two or three or more years, the search engine hits can reach into the thousands, so I’m told. It’s odd to think that years down the road people may still be typing in “palm trees” and arriving at this Upper Peninsula of Michigan 365-day outdoor commitment blog.
For any of you who are reading this post (having typed in palm trees, wood splitters, sand movement on Lake Superior, feather, dead bird and vegetable scraps) I have a little note for you:
P.S. very cold today for the outdoor adventure. Eleven freezing degrees. It took three trips in and out the front door to fulfill the commitment. In and out…kind of like sand movement on Lake Superior…
Julie, Julie, Julie! You decided to do what? Write a blog for 365 days making Julia Child’s recipes? And someone thought this worthy of a million dollar movie?
Julie, please share your secret with us. We truly want to know. Because, my dear, YOU had it easy. All you had to do was read a recipe book and follow directions. How challenging could this be?
The rest of us bloggers (well, some of us bloggers) who chose to blog for all those 365 days DON’T HAVE ANY RECIPE BOOKS TO FOLLOW!! We have to make up the blogs out of thin air. We have to pray to blog-god to help us come up with new entertaining material. We have to figure it out, day in and day out, day out and day in.
And what did you have to do? FOLLOW A RECIPE BOOK! If there was a recipe book to follow, a 365 day blog commitment would be a piece of cake. (Get it? A piece of cake? Well, probably in Julia Child’s case it’s something like a bon-bon.)
Truly, Julie, I have not yet watched your blogging movie. It’s in my Netflix queue, truly it is. People (well, two people anyway) have suggested that I watch this movie, thinking that we have something in common with our year-long commitment. And I will probably love it. You and Meryl Streep are in it, right? Of course it will be a lovely movie. I already have some organic popcorn ready for the occasion. We’ll do that girl-thing together. You, me and Julia. We’ll celebrate year-long blogs together. How does that sound?
Interjection: my daughter just called on her way home from work. I told her I was writing a blog sniffing at Julie’s audacity to FOLLOW RECIPES for a year and blog about it Hmmmph! I said. Can you imagine?
She just happened to have watched the movie last weekend. And guess what she does? DEFENDS Julie. May I quote exactly what she said?
“Mom, this was hard stuff. You would have to de-bone a turkey or a duck! She made 524 recipes during that year. You couldn’t even DO the recipes where you live–you couldn’t even get half the ingredients!”
Hmmmpphh! (I am thinking de-boning a turkey would be a cinch! As for finding the ingredients, yep, she’s probably right…)
So, OK, maybe the recipe-following blog adventure was a little teeny-weeny bit challenging. Maybe we’ll give her that. Maybe her souffles fell. Maybe she burned her roast duck. Maybe the Beef Bourguigon didn’t simmer long enough.
I guess I’ll have to wait to see the movie and find out.
But, anyway, if any of the producers happen to Google Julie/Julia and find this blog…I’m open for a movie deal. Just sayin’. Give me a call.
**P.S. oh yes, back to the “real” commitment. Today I walked in the snow and took snow pictures. It’s really all Gerry’s fault over at Torch Lake Views. Gerry wrote a blog called “Imagine” in which we were suppose to spot iguanas, a dancer, bells, cats and ghosts in her snow photos. I couldn’t spot anything (It was probably attention deficit disorder because it was time to go outside, or maybe because I was talking to Julie/Julia in my head.) However, immediately upon entering Snow Country at least ten different snow-shapes presented themselves.
If we were simply following recipes, would we have seen snow creatures? I think not.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
Dear Friends, Black Friday has come and (almost) gone. We’ve all decided to give natural items for the holiday this year, haven’t we? Especially for our virtual friends. Because most of us only know each other in cyber-realms, we shall have to exchange cyber-gifts. This avoids the prohibitive cost of mailing. Please sit down at your computer and prepare to open your gift. I suppose you can have more than one. You don’t even have to wait for the holidays. Please be considerate of the other cyber-recipients, though.
I shopped for gifts for all of you today. Oh my, there are too many of you to name with insulting at least dozens of you. But I am going to throw out some names at the top of my head. (All of the names not mentioned are at the bottom of my head, which doesn’t mean I love you less, it just means that for some reason you were waiting patiently at the bottom of the head and didn’t funnel out first.)
So here are gifts for the Susans, Cindy, Gerry, the Amys, Joanne, Dale, Kiah, Christopher, Craig, the many Jessicas, fountainpen, Gigi, Sybil, Emma, Julia, Pamela, Sandy, Christine, Carla, the Dawns, Deborah, Jen, Karen, Melinda, Catherine, Yellow Bells, Christie, Scot, Tim, Mom, Dad, Georgia Mom, Patty, Sonya, Kim, Janet, Laurie, Raven, H. Forward, Mrs. Uhdd, Reggie, Maunderer, Kath, Bree, Nature Loving Super Mama, Iris, Tina, Doris, Margo, Nancy…AND IF I’VE MISSED ANYONE ELSE WHO WANTS A PRESENT PLEASE GIVE A HOLLER AND YOU CAN CLAIM YOUR VIRTUAL GIFT TOO! (oh and all you unknown blog readers…please…take a gift. I am so thankful for all of you for stopping to read, even though we might never even have “officially” met in this virtual or earthly world.)
Of course this was all Sahlah’s idea. As I posted yesterday, she got the brilliant idea that we should shop for rocks and feathers and twigs and such on Black Friday for all our blog readers.
If we meet face-to-face on the street I will give you a real rock. I swear it. I will carry around that basket of stones in my car until the Solstice. However, I’m afraid that there’s only a handful of you within shouting distance. So the rest of you must be satisfied with virtual gifts. As we’ve only had virtual acquaintance, I’m sure you won’t be dismayed or disappointed.
These are some of my prized possessions and gifts from the woods. But I’m willing to give them away to you in spirit, because I know you will honor them. You readers, I can tell, share a deep love for the earth, for the blessings of the land, for the abundance which surrounds us everywhere.
Rocks, feathers, pieces of woods, antlers, sticks.
As precious as Nintendos, computers (hmmm?), cell phones, iPods?
In the above virtual stone gift you could have one rock or both. It’s up to you. It’s kind of hard to separate them in the virtual world, though.
OK, tomorrow I really do have to hit a few stores for a few small gifts. I’m not a big shopper. (Can you tell? Maybe I could just shop virtually from now on. Tell the relatives, “Just log in on-line and you can see a picture of my gift for you.” Hmmm, wonder how far that one would go?)
Hope all of the rest of you had fun on your Black Friday shopping. Enjoy your gifts! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
The hardest part of an outdoor commitment (besides going outside when it’s too cold, too rainy, too miserable…) is when you really have no time to go outdoors.
Such as the days you spend in airports and airplanes.
On these days you must make an extra effort to fit in your outdoor adventure before 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m. You have to Plan.
This morning Chris and I were out of his apartment by 6:20 a.m. and headed for Golden Hill. He planned to pick up his friend Chrissie at 7 a.m., drop me at the airport, and then proceed to campus for classes.
I said, “OK, we’ll do the outdoor adventure at 6:30 a.m., ok?”
He raised his eyebrows, but he’s a good son.
He complied. We took a nice walk through the early dawn of San Diego.
We walked in silence. The early morning air felt chill. But in San Diego “chill” does not mean the same thing as it does in Upper Michigan. In the U.P. we would be bundled in winter clothes, hats and mittens. In San Diego we wore a light coat or long sleeve shirt.
We said our goodbyes. Goodbye, Christopher. Goodbye, Mom. When will we see each other again? Perhaps next summer? Thank you for coming. Thank you for having me. I love you. I love you, too.
After about 20 minutes he headed back to the car. I slowly walked around the park. It would be a long day. Little did I know then but our flight would be momentarily delayed because both clocks in the cockpit refused to work. Luckily, a maintenance guy fixed them and we took off before impatience set in. Later on the flight the captain announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a delicate situation.” My heart stopped. Here we go, I thought. Delicate situation. Are we ever truly prepared for “delicate” situations? But then his voice continued, “All four lavatories are not flushing well. Please do not put paper toweling down the toilets.”
Ahhh! That kind of “delicate” situation. We can live with that one…
Just before we drove to the airport, a flock of birds settled on the overhead wire. They were all lined up to go. So were we.
“Goodbye!” we said, “Until we meet again…”