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Flying away

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.

Immature bald eagle on our road yesterday

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!

Little waterfall near the Eagle Pond

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 Huron Bay through leaves

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!

Underwater green in December!

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.

Single dried wildflower over icy bay

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.) 

Yep, caught a fish.

 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. 

The robin that made US crazy!

 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.) 

Sad Panda in Manhattan (didn't we love this Sad Panda, Kiah?)

 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! 

Beautiful little girls in pink at the Pow Wow

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. 

The skin of white birch

Upon uploading this photo, I was amazed to discover the silhouette of a woman in this stone...

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…

Bear and Cub in the woods

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. 

The mysterious inside of an oak gall

#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. 

 
Raven’s claw

 

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. 

The first sucker I ever caught

#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. 

Birch bark on snow

#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.  

Fisher near pond

(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…

Hint: This is NOT the Upper Peninsula, I can guarantee it.

 

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”?? 

Look at that palm tree blow!

 

(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.) 

My husband with our lovely wood splitter (back in April)

 

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…) 

Sand movement on Lake Superior. In and out, and out and in...

 

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: 

Bald eagle tail feather in the sand

 

#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. 

The infamous vegetable scraps

 

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: 

Sorry I missed 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…

Snow on white pine branch

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?

Snowy path in woods

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.)

Scary snow creature!

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? 

Sleeping snow dragon. Shhh....

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…)

Slithering snow snake up there

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. 

A snow dragon of a different sort. Or perhaps you know what it is?

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.

Snow on the apple trees

So which Christmas song would you use to describe today?  I’m voting for “Baby It’s Cold Outside”.  That is, if we even consider that song a Christmas song.  Seems like they have been putting it on Christmas CDs lately, so it probably applies, even though some might think it really doesn’t have much to do with the holidays…but it DOES have lots to do about the cold.

It seems to be freezing all around the United States.  I’ve heard complaints from New York City and Nebraska and Georgia and even California (although that western complaint came last week, so they’re probably back to mild and sunny already…)

Red apple balls on white trees

I didn’t didn’t didn’t want to go outside this afternoon.  And, once outside, didn’t didn’t didn’t want to stay outside.  It felt too cold at 10 degrees.  Even though I was dressed very warmly.  I counted the remaining days of the outdoor adventure on both hands.  After today, only nine more days to go.

Would you like a little snow with your apples?

Today’s outdoor adventure involved a) taking pics of apple trees, b) taking lots and lots of snow pics which you’ll have to see later, c) walking around L’Anse and photographing decorated Christmas trees (I know you’ll be holding your breath waiting to see those!), d) walking down and up the road for maybe ten minutes and e) shoveling more snow off the back deck.

Camera goes berserk! Oh NO!!

A slight emergency ensued during the snowy-tree photography session.  OH NO!  The edges of camera suddenly seemed to go…black…and I got quite confused.  What was happening?  The camera wouldn’t dare break now would it?  Please, Camera, I need you to work for ten more days, I begged.  Do not die now.  You’re too new to die.  What in the heck is wrong with you?

Fortunately, upon arrival home, with some closer inspection, I discovered that the shutter had somehow become stuck.  Ahhh… a simple matter to gently touch it and the shutter quietly closed its gaping mouth.  That was what created the black side walls of the photos.  Phew…  Now let’s just hope it was a random event and not a precursor of anything more serious.  (Barry’s assessment after reading this blog:  the camera was frozen!)

Look closely. What do you see in that ball of sunlight?

On the way to town, I saw something really cool.  Two really cool things.  Here is your “Where’s Waldo” question of the Day.  Or rather your “What’s Waldo” question.  Can you spot two interesting things in the above photo?  And what might they be?

Now, if you would like to listen to It’s Beginning to Look a LOT like Christmas with our dear Bing Crosby, here’s your link.  If you prefer Baby It’s Cold Outside with Willie Nelson and Norah Jones click here.  I guarantee you will sing this second song all day.  Once you’ve heard it, it never goes away…

Yep, that's our house in the blizzard

 
Whipping blowing wild snow and wind

Welcome to our little blizzard.  Yep, parts of the Midwest of this United States of America have been hit hard.  We have…how many inches?  I brought the yardstick outside to try and gauge the exact amount.  Twelve inches?  Fourteen inches?  And the storm has not stopped yet. 

Through the window at dawn

 I awoke at 5:45 a.m. and blearily logged onto the Internet to see if school/work had been cancelled.  No announcements.  But I was pretty sure that we would not be having school.  The wind rushed and screamed outside the window at maybe 40 miles per hour.  The snow blew sideways.  I predicted:  no school.  But settled down beneath blankets on the couch to wait.  I admired the way our little ceramic Christmas tree reflected in the window as dawn approached. 

Looking out the living room window

The call came at 6:30.  Our principal announced “No School”.  Hurray!  A day off work. 

Brrrr.....

Most of my day was spent inside with the front door securely latched.  But, never fear!, I remembered the outdoor commitment.  Divided it into three mini-portions.  The first involved a meandering to the mailbox.  One truly must meander very slowly during a blizzard.  The foot goes up in the air, sinks down in the heavy snow.  Slowly one makes her way through the leaden snow drifts.  The wind blows snow sideways in your face.  You persevere. You get the mail.  You head back to the house. 

Car buried

The second trip outdoors…what did I do?  I don’t remember.  Maybe I just stood around hoping to catch the wind whipping up blizzard-like snow.  My eyelashes turned snowy.  It didn’t feel too cold, though.  

Looking up the road

The third trip outside, after dark, involved digging out buried cars.  This was truly a job.  A snow scraper isn’t enough.  One must find a push broom in the garage, and then broom off the foot or more of snow.  It helps to blare Christmas music from the car’s speakers.  It helps to have one’s husband atop his tractor, fitted with a snowplow, beaming light around the driveway.  

Looking into the woods

On the bright side, I accomplished much indoors today.  (Shhh…this is suppose to be an outdoor blog.  I’m not suppose to tell you about indoor activities.)  I finished the novel that I’ve been writing for NaNoWriMo since November 1st.  It’s somewhere between 60,000-63,000 words.  It all ended rather well.  The heroine did not die, although she almost did.  She married the hero and we hope they are going to live happily ever after.  The novel combined a true historical setting from around our area…and some of my favorite things, spirituality and dreaming.  I am happy.  The characters in the novel are happy.  Now, with a little editing, it might someday be possible to actually SHOW the novel to someone!  Excuse me.  I mean a LOT of editing. 

Trees and sky

Several times this year I wondered what would happen with the outdoor commitment if I got sick.  Here was the rough plan:  Barry would pull out the reclining lawn chair and I would snuggle on it for at least a half hour beneath dozens of blankets.  Or in Grandma’s 1970′s snowmobile suit if it was winter. 

Today I didn’t feel well.  Don’t worry.  It’s not a serious sickness.  You don’t need to hear all the details, but it involved intestinal disfortitude followed by chills followed by a headache which still exists twelve hours later.  Of course, the headache may be caused by caffeine withdrawal.  Because of the intestinal challenges, I am not drinking coffee or black tea…and that almost always results in a headache.

I lay on the couch almost all day,mostly napping and staring into space, except for a work-related trip into town.  Finally the Outdoor Adventure could be postponed no longer.  Barry was at work, so the reclining lawn chair was not a possibility without a lot of fuss. So I put on Grandma’s snowmobile suit and boots, hat, scarf and mittens and carried a small cushion out under the spruce tree (where I camped last winter.  Click here and here  if you want to read about that excitement.)

And then I looked at the sky.

Beautiful sky

It felt a little chilly.  It also felt invigorating in a good sort of way.  I closed my eyes and listened to the chickadees with the whhhhirrrr of their wings and the sounds of them cracking open the sunflower seeds with their beaks.  Little bits of sunflower shells fell on me.  The neighbor’s dog or rooster kept hollering.  (It’s quite pathetic when one cannot determine the difference between a dog and a rooster.  But sometimes you can’t…even when you ARE feeling well.)

For the last five minutes of the outdoor time, I sneaked inside, grabbed the phone and returned to lie on the front porch. Called my mama.  It’s always good to talk with your mother when you’re feeling a little under-the-weather.  You remember the times when she gently tended to you as a child.  (And probably also said, “And you can’t go outside until you’re feeling better!”)

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?

Dawn at Golden Hill Park, San Diego

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.

Sun shines on the tall skyscrapers of the city

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.

Downtown bridge in the distance

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…

Interplay of light and flowers

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…”

Birds, prepare your engines. Time to fly skyward.

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