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Studebaker car in woods

1951 Studebaker car in woods

We all see the world differently.  It’s a fact.  If you invite twenty people into a room and ask them to describe it, every story will be unique. 

If you take twenty folks into the forest with cameras and ask them to take pictures, the variety will be astounding.  Someone will focus on tree bark.  Another might catch a hungry mosquito in the act of sucking blood.  Another snaps only wildflowers.  Another notices the sheen on the new spring leaves and captures their beauty. Someone might photograph the people photographing nature!  The possibilities are endless.

Close up leaf near forest floor

Close up leaf near forest floor

Some people like to concentrate their seeing close up.  Others like the wide expanses, the distances, the far-away vistas.  At different times, we ourselves vary our attention.  One day we  prefer the tiny up-close world.  The next day all we want to do is stare across the water to the distant shore.  Sometimes this all shifts within the course of a single hour.  Or minute. 

Leaf-world in the sky

Leaf-world in the sky

We look up; we look down.  Perhaps sometimes we can remember to stretch our seeing.  As we notice the ways in which we’re accustomed to viewing the world, perhaps we might look in new ways.  If we’re always looking eye-level, let’s get on our hands and knees and see the world from the ground.  If we’re always looking at similar objects, find five new and interesting different things to examine.

On the ground to capture this photo.  Yep, still picking off wood ticks...

On the ground to capture this photo. Yep, still picking off wood ticks...

Not only do we see the world differently, we tell ourselves different stories about what we’ve seen.  Try to find two people who see the same things in life and tell themselves an identical story!  It even becomes more challenging when the viewers/interpreters come from different cultures.  No wonder we often have trouble getting along in this world.  Everyone sees the world differently; everyone interprets that seeing into a different story.

What do you see?  A face in a tree?  Rotting circles?  Woodpecker holes?
What do you see? A face in a tree? Rotting circles? Woodpecker holes?

I have trouble noticing some things.  Like haircuts.  Clothes.  Cars people drive.  My friend said today, “I could paint my house purple and you wouldn’t notice it!  But the things you notice, I never even see.”  (Well, I’m pretty sure I would notice her purple house.  Not 100% sure, but pretty sure…) 

Our attention is limited; we can’t perceive everything that exists.  You see things in different ways than I could ever imagine.  One of the special gifts we bring the world is our particular unique way of seeing.  And then how we share our sight with others.

Thank goodness for all of us.  How much we have to teach each other about our individual ways of seeing the world!  I am so grateful today for different eyes, different ways of seeing, the different gifts of all of us.

Dinner

Dinner

Some people might view that lake trout as beautiful.  Others might be disgusted.  Some might notice the dirty old cookie sheet (used solely for grilling).  Another might wonder where the picture was taken. Someone might ponder about hardwood floors.  Another imagines the waves on Lake Superior.  Another wonders who caught the fish.  (Barry did, today.)  Anyone wonder if it was a fat or lean lake trout, or how deep it was caught? Or how it smells in the kitchen? Anyone wonder what day we’re eating it for dinner?  Tomorrow night!

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Climbing up Bald Mountain

Climbing up Bald Mountain

Today’s outdoor adventure:  Climb a mountain.  Yes, I know we live in Michigan.  No, we don’t have the Rocky or Smoky Mountains nearby.  But we do have…the Huron Mountains!  And today was the perfect day to gather with seventeen friends and scale the rocks for a panoramic view of our beautiful landscape of Lake Superior and the forests of Baraga and Marquette counties.

The mountain of choice for this last weekend in May:  Bald Mountain.  The real Bald Mountain.  Locals have been climbing a smaller nearby hill for years and calling it Bald Mountain.  Who knows how the two peaks got confused.  But they did.  Whenever someone says, “We’re climbing Baldy” it usually means the closer shorter hill nearest to one of the logging roads after Big Erick’s Bridge. 

You simply can’t give directions to anyone about how to get there.  You can direct someone to Big Erick’s Bridge, but beyond that you need a local guide.  You follow two-tracks and then turn off onto grassy side roads and wander up among rocks until you reach the top.  Then you stare breathless and amazed and congratulate yourself on living in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  That’s what happens.

Beautiful lake at the bottom of the mountain

Beautiful pond at the bottom of the mountain

About five vehicles caravaned out to the base of the mountain after meeting at our friends’ house.  After several of us tucked pants in socks and sprayed with lethal tick spray, we ventured upwards.  First, we passed a tranquil mountain beaver pond.  Beautiful, don’t you think?

Gorgeous wild Columbine

Gorgeous wild Columbine

Then we admired the columbines growing trail-side.  The stones jutting up along our path, over which we walked carefully, attempting not to trip. (OK, we tripped!)  The hardy blueberry plants with their bell-like white flowers.  The bright blue sky overhead.  What a wonderful afternoon to be out in nature, perhaps panting a bit as we aimed our steps higher toward the summit.

Can you see the Huron and Keweenaw Bays in the distance?

Can you see the Huron and Keweenaw Bays in the distance?

The highest point in Michigan, Mount Arvon, measures between 1,979 and 1,981 feet(depending on which on-line source you believe) and the mountains in the nearby Huron range have a few feet less altitude, but grander views.  Nonetheless, these hills are mountains in Michigan!  They are the oldest rock (granite) outcroppings in North America. Small ones, perhaps, but still towering crags over our rather flat state.

Years ago, four of us camped up in a nearby mountain with our six month baby boy and three dogs.  (One of the dogs was ours.)  My husband carried our baby in a front pack and we kept him safe zippered in our little tent.  What I remember most about the hike was that he lost his pacifier during this little adventure and discovered his thumb.  And didn’t lose the taste for that thumb for a couple years after that.  The adventures young folks have in their twenties…

Cairn at the summit

Cairn at the summit

Little rock cairns dot the mountain.  You can utilize them in your climb, keeping you moving in the right direction.  One of our friends even placed another rock atop this cairn before we left.  Just to prove we were there, I guess.

A bag of cherries

A bag of cherries

For the triumphant hikers there were treats:  cherries, green grapes, walnuts and almonds, trail mix, sausage and cheese.  Assorted beverages.  We munched, sipped and admired the view.  The wind blew a little chillier on top of the mountain than in the valley, but no one seemed to mind.

All too soon it was time to descend.  A potluck awaited us at our friends’ house.  It was one of those afternoons when you lament, “Why don’t we do this more often?”  I am feeling grateful for the opportunity to climb a mountain today…

Going back down

Going back down

After 10-20 inches of snow, it's looking like spring already!

After 10-20 inches of snow, it's looking like spring already!

Earth Day, 2009.  It’s here.  Did we all celebrate?  Did we all give gifts to the earth?  Did we all feel deep appreciation and love for our gently spinning planet?

As I mentioned yesterday, my “official” annual gift has been postponed.  The side of our road will be de-littered as soon as the snow melts.  The blue garbage bag awaits in anticipation. 

Instead, I spent an hour or so down by the Silver River this afternoon, admiring the river-waters.  My, is the water cresting after the latest deluge of snow!  As you sit very quietly along the riverbank, your pants getting soaked by the damp earth, the sound of snow clumps falling into the river resounds everywhere.  Ker-plop!  Down flies another wad from the cedar branches, from the hemlock arms, from the maple twigs.

Fallen trees drip snow into the river

Fallen trees drip snow into the river

It’s a hushed world in the swamp next to the river.  Dried orange and green cedar lies beneath the trees where the snow has melted away.  Birds sing and call, and ducks float away, just beyond the camera’s range.  The base of the trees often look strange and stunted, full of holes and odd angles.  Look at the tree legs below.  You can almost imagine that the tree walks around at night.

A tree with "legs" resting beside the river

A tree with "legs" resting beside the river

It looks so placid.  So tame.  Even with the water levels high and swirling by, it’s usually not a fierce river.  As it lazily winds out into the Huron Bay, at times it’s so shallow in the summertime you sometimes need to poke and prod along the sandy bottom to keep the craft moving. 

Placid waters?

Placid waters?

Last weekend a professor from Michigan Technological University lost his life while kayaking upstream on the Silver River.  The white-waters up higher grabbed his kayak and pinned him under a tree sideways.  He died.  The river can be dangerous as well as calm.  It’s a lesson we all need to remember when exploring on, around and in nature’s waters.  I thought of him and his grieving family, and gently touched the river.

I found the remains of a dead crow or raven under the cedar trees.  Only the feathers remained.

As for giving the Earth another gift today, I couldn’t decide what else to do. We live fairly simply.  We conserve, we try not to spend excessively, we try to fit in with nature.  Every day is Earth Day, in many ways. 

In the end, I decided perhaps my love and gratitude might be enough.  Maybe our combined love and and joy and thankfulness for the Earth is being heard deeply today.  Bless the earth and bless all of us, everyone.

The sun returns:  here comes the sun!

The sun returns: here comes the sun!

One last driveway plow?

One last driveway plow?

Did everyone receive his or her party invitation?  I’m hoping everyone is prepared for the Big Event tomorrow.  We all know whose birthday it is, right?  We all know what we’re celebrating tomorrow on April 22nd, right?

In case you haven’t opened your party invitation…it’s EARTH DAY!  (That translates as the Earth’s birthday, for those of you who didn’t know.)  That means it’s party-time. 

Has everyone planned a gift?  If you’re reading this blog consider yourself tagged that the Earth needs a present tomorrow.  Something small perhaps…or something large.  Anything that says “Thank You” to the planet which so lovingly supports us, clothes us, feeds us, delights us, nourishes us in a thousand ways.

Look at the wet sloppy snow piled up around my car.  Not going anywhere today!

Look at the wet sloppy snow piled up around my car. Not going anywhere today!

I have a problem concerning Mother Earth’s gift.  Every year for dozens of years, since the kids were two feet tall, we’ve picked up litter along the road.  Unfortunately, the sides of the road are covered with snow this year.  Litter pick-up will have to wait until perhaps Thursday, Friday or Saturday.  (You can come along one of those days and watch the fun.)

So what ideas have you pondered to honor the earth?  Turning off lights for a while?  Taking a shorter shower or bath?  Turning down the thermostat?  I would be delighted to hear ideas, as we’ll need to do something sweet tomorrow.  The nitty-gritty picking up will come later.

Snowflakes falling every day since Sunday (that's three days now)

Snowflakes falling every day since Sunday (that's three days now) against the garage

So we were snowed in again today. Barry made it to work with the 4 wheel drive Studebaker, but I wasn’t going anywhere.  The snow continued to swirl endlessly as the low pressure system stalled out over the Great Lakes.  Points south are getting rain, but we’ve been blasted with between five inches and two feet of the white stuff.  Here in the lakefront belt, I’m guessing we received a foot of snow.  But since it’s melting and warm (32-34 degrees) it’s all compressed to a heavy damp wet mass.

Try to imagine how difficult it was to walk to the mailbox at mid-day. Every step felt weighted, like maneuvering through cement-like snow.

The view near the mailbox, down the road

The view near the mailbox, down the road

Of course the local schools were cancelled.  Of course the roads were…challenging.  Of course we’re looking longingly toward later this week when the temperatures are scheduled to rebound into the 50’s.  Barry even suggested I shovel the deck so we can lounge outside later in the week.

This would be our chaise lounge on the deck

This would be our chaise lounge on the deck

One final note, now that the snow is letting up.  Do you know what one of the top searches on this blog is?  People randomly type in “vegetable scraps” and guess whose blog comes up?  This one!  All because I tossed in a photo of vegetable scraps we feed the deer during the winter.  Therefore, to appease all the folks searching the Internet for “vegetable scraps” I am about to offer another tasty arrangement for the deer, thrown under the oak tree at noon today.

By mid-afternoon, a lone doe made her way to the scraps and munched every last tidbit.  Except for one celery stalk. 

Sequel:  Vegetable Scraps II

Sequel: Vegetable Scraps II

Joe Bollech captures a photo of a tiny yellow crocus.  How many of these are there in the U.P.?

Joe Bollech captures a photo of a tiny yellow crocus. How many of these are there in the U.P.?

This day contained miracles.  I suppose every day comes filled to the brim with miracles, but today they announced themselves loudly.  Everywhere I walked outside the Miracles announced themselves.

The first picture isn’t even mine.  Chatting with my friend Sue earlier in the day, she admitted the spotting of daffodil near her house.  Really?  A daffodil??  I said the hunt was on for crocuses, as a certain friend (yes, Margo, it’s you) had suggested the crocuses should be blooming.  I was beginning to think Margo might be dreaming, as she now lives down in Arizona.  But, sure enough, Sue decided to go look on the hill behind her house.

You see the results!  Her husband received the job of conducting the photo shoot and emailing Spring’s delightful crocus peeking up from the earth.  He sent a white flower bulb, as well.  Now isn’t that a miracle?

Sap popsicle

Sap popsicle

The second miracle occurred immediately after leaving the house.  A sap icicle dripped from a tree branch, maybe six inches long.  I tasted the sweet icicle (better than any popsicle let me tell you!) before it dropped to the ground.  Believe me, I was on my hands and knees looking for it.  Only a small piece the size of a nickel remained.  Oh how sweet it was!

Doesn't that look like a bird, maybe an eagle, etched in stone?

Doesn't that look like a bird, maybe an eagle, etched in stone?

Walking slowly down the road toward the Eagle Pond. The above rock suddenly announced its very own Miracle.  Wow, who etched that bird on its face shining for us all to see?  Probably a road grader or bulldozer, as it rested on the edge of the road.  My heart smiled, wanting to show it to all of you.

The Eagle Pond is my name for a lovely little pond down at the end of the road.  An elderly neighbor recently shared that she calls it Timmy’s pond because her grandson used to fish there when he was a kid.  They would wonder “Where’s Timmy?” and it turned out he was always fishing at the pond. I’ve decided the eagle’s own rights to the pond’s name it, as they spend the most time there these days.

Eagle fluff just blowin' in the wind

Eagle fluff just blowin' in the wind

You see from the photo above that the eagle left a bit of his (or her) fluff as a tiny Miracle.  In later summer, they’ll drop long black feathers or majestic white tail feathers to the ground.  Each one is a gift to the Universe.  I like to sit next to the sacred feathers and express gratitude, or pray, or admire the quill and tiny network of feathers.  What gorgeous clothes the eagles wear.

Ice-encased branches over rushing stream

Ice-encased branches over rushing stream

Twenty steps away from the eagle fluff, heading toward the running stream, already plotting how to cross it without falling in, another gasp rose involuntarily.  What beautiful ice formations!  The photos refused to capture the shimmering icy look of it.  I’ve rarely seen such thick branch-icicles. 

How many more Miracles can fit in a single blog?  How about two more? 

Language of pine needles and bits of cone on snow

Language of pine needles and bits of cone on snow

OK, maybe you won’t count this pine needle photo as a Miracle.  But I do!  It felt like calligraphy in some weird way.  Of course, I was thinking about calligraphy all day since visiting Salah’s blog and seeing how she’d captured a calligraphy shot out of simple aluminum shards.  Hers looks like real calligraphy, but this photo felt strangely like it was telling a story.  And if you stared at all the needles and cones long enough, you’d know.  (Look around Salah’s blog; she has lots of great nature shots!  I’m sure she won’t mind if you linger.)

And finally, our Grand Finale!  How about a leaf etched in mud?  It’s almost like art.  I love it, how ’bout you?

Leaf etched in mud.  OK, is anyone else excited about this?

Leaf etched in mud. OK, is anyone else excited about this?

Hidden beauty behind the condo

Hidden beauty behind the condo

Good evening.  I’m tempted to start counting days that remain here in southern Florida before the big silver & red plane rises through the clouds and soars toward the Midwest.  Tomorrow, Tuesday and then…heading back to snow country on Wednesday. 

But we won’t dwell in the future for more than a second.  Let’s stay here in the present.  I’ll show you some more random photos tonight, probably not embedded in any coherent tale.  The above photo shows the view you’ll see peeking through a curtain of leaves overlooking a backwater channel.  I love tiptoeing back there and peering in the underbrush. 

A wise person looks around for alligators and snakes.  Mom says there’s a small alligator sunning away over on the golf course, about a mile away.  Otherwise, you never see any of the scaly exotic beasts.  If I see one, I want an escape route, especially if it starts slinking this-away.

Close up leaf veins

Close up leaf veins

So, what was today’s outdoor adventure?  Let’s pick two.  The first really fun time happened this morning around the pool.  After looking for a manatee or dolphin for you for ten minutes (sigh…) I gathered a notebook and began writing down by the pool.  Oh can you imagine the joy to write outside?  No freezing fingers!  Oh luxury! 

I probably shouldn’t tell you about what I wrote.  You will scurry away from this blog and never return, convinced you’re dealing with a mentally-suspect person.  But it was such fun!  Since it was Sunday, I was praising life, the Universe, God and the swimming pool with gusto in the white notebook pages.  Trying to put it all on paper, you know. 

But then I got a little carried away and started imagining if inanimate objects could talk…what they might say.  When I started writing about the beach towel on the nearby reclining beach chair, and what it might say…it was probably time to close the notebook and take a hike.   We creative folks tend to get carried away sometimes. (This is an exercise in the book “The Artist’s Way” called “Morning Pages” where you write whatever stray thoughts wander through your mind…a fascinating and fun process.)

Tropical blossom

Tropical blossom

Later in the evening my mom, dad and I took cold drinks out to the boat, along with our books and magazines, and read.  The folks own a deck boat, which resembles a pontoon.  We’re hoping to go out on it tomorrow or Tuesday. It’s been so windy we’ve not ventured out on the Back Bay yet. 

As we were reading, a few boats motored by in the channel.  My mom uttered, “I wonder if there would be an interesting picture…” and just as she spoke a manatee surfaced!  I grabbed the camera, turned it on and focused.  The manatee disappeared.  Never to re-appear.  It’s going to be a gift of the Universe if we photograph one of these elusive fellows in the next few days. 

I bought three books today at Borders, using a Christmas gift card.  No lack of reading material now! 

Finally, one of the best parts of being in Florida:  enjoying the tropical fruit.  Oh look at this papaya cut open!  Are your taste buds salivating?  Leaving you all now and heading to the frig for a juicy morsel…

Yummy papaya (before seeds scooped out)

Yummy papaya (before seeds scooped out)

North Fort Myers Beach:  can you find a place to lie in the sun?

North Fort Myers Beach: can you find a place to lie in the sun?

Think of all the ways to have fun on vacation in southern Florida in March.  Here’s a handful to choose from:  para-sailing, boating, kayaking, sunning, jet skiing, walking, shopping, eating out, snorkeling, scuba diving, shelling…oh there’s probably a hundred more possibilities.

Look at all those folks sunning on North Fort Myers Beach!  I can’t quite imagine stepping over sunscreen-slathered sun and beach worshipers (“excuse me, excuse me”) looking for a place to lay the beach towels or perhaps prop the umbrella.  Way too many people for me! 

It is fun to eat lunch outside at Plaka’s Restaurant on Times Square, though.  Hundreds of people pass you by as you spear your Greek salad and sip a tall glass of ice tea.  A trio of Mexican or South American musicians serenade the passerbys.  On the weekends, street magicians mesmerize the crowds.  Once, while I was ordering a Blizzard in the nearby Dairy Queen, my husband lost $5 to a crafty magician.  But that’s his story to tell you.

Little girl driving a ...what would you call this thing?

Little girl driving a ...what would you call this thing?

The fellow driving that motorized vehicle (above) sweet-talked that pretty little girl into a ride.  The little girl sat with her mama and daddy and grandma and grandpa at the table next to ours.  Her eyes lit up like saucers when he placed her hands on the handlebars.  Although he wasn’t more than a step away, ready to grab her in two seconds flat.

Rainbow over the Back Bay last night, just before dinner at the Bayfront Bistro

Rainbow over the Back Bay last night, just before dinner at the Bayfront Bistro

I must say, eating out is one of my favorite vacation activities.  Last night we dined late (LATE, let me tell you, almost 8:30 p.m.!) with a passel of family members.  Mom, Dad, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, nephew’s friend.  What fun! 

Besides eating out, I am not a person for crowds or shopping.  I like to explore in nature, keeping an eye alert for a leaping dolphin or surfacing manatee.  You guys don’t know how diligently I am looking for them…just for you.  This morning, strolling along the boardwalk, I glimpsed a ten-inch circle of a manatee’s head rising above the water.  It was gone faster than you could breathe, “Manatee!”

Besides walking along the beach or Bird Sanctuary, I love to take off solo and explore the wild native underbrush.  I am fascinated with geckos or skinks, those fast little creatures darting to and fro.  The mangrove tree roots are incredible.  I have SO many pictures I could share.  Look at that camouflaged skink-fellow below. 

If you can find the skink...you win!

If you can find the skink...you win!

This evening Mom and Dad left for a party and I hiked out to the Gulf.  Instead of mingling with the beach-walkers, I veered inland back towards the lagoons and peered into nature’s nooks and crannies.  It’s Spring Equinox today, you know. (Which means it’s been three full months since starting this outdoor blog…one quarter of the year.)

Oh the interesting things one can discover in nature.  Look at these:

Mysterious prickly-pods hatching egg-like seeds

Mysterious prickly-pods hatching egg-like seeds

In honor of the Equinox I sat cross-legged for a long time hidden from the beach-walkers on a sandy circle.  Peeking through the vegetation one could see the Gulf waves rushing in to the shore, and receding out.  I thanked the Universe for this life, these gifts of nature, this earth.  And for you, dear reader, who mean so much to me.  The gift of your reading, your presence, brightens my days so much.  Thank you.  This is so much fun.

Valentine to the earth

Valentine to the earth

If we send a Valentine’s Day card to the earth, what do we say? 

“Dear Earth, I love you, will you be mine?” 

“Dear Earth, You give us so much.  You feed us, you clothe us, you give us everything.  How can we repay you?”

“Dear Earth, the love I feel for you knows no bounds.  We are not separate, you and I.  In every breath and every step I feel your heart.  Will you marry me?”

Just a few ideas.  If anyone wants to offer some Valentine’s Day wishes to the earth please put them in the comments under this blog.  I’ll print them off and put them outside under a tree, or perhaps under a rock somewhere in the woods.  It just seems that perhaps too few of us are thinking about sending a Valentine’s Day wish to this planet….and I think it’s time we considered this.

I’ve heard that as we mature our ability to love keeps expanding.  The first love is self-love.  Then we learn to love our families.  From the nest of our families, we branch out and open our hearts to friends.  From friends, we expand further to acquaintances.  We keep opening our hearts further and soon we’re loving our country. 

Further?  Now our love expands to include other countries, other people, strangers, different ways of life.  Further?  Our heart opens to nature, to the blue and green spinning planet Earth.  Further?  Maybe to the Milky Way and beyond into distant galaxies.  You still want to love further?  Maybe that’s what they call the Love of God, or the Love of the Universe, or the Love of All.  Our love knows no bounds.  We’ve opened our heart to include so much….

I’m contemplating why it’s sometimes been difficult for me to love the earth as much as perhaps it deserves.  So often it just seems too big, too abstract.  I take it for granted.  I forget the gifts it gives everyday.  Perhaps I’m too busy, too distracted, too involved with self or other people. 

Going outside for these 56 days of this outdoors commitment has brought my attention squarely around to the earth.  She’s omnipresent.  Without her, we’d die.  No food, no sunlight, no evening, no February, no jobs, no computer, no blog.

I pondered today what the earth might want for a Valentine’s Day present.  Chocolate and roses?  Probably not (unless they are fair trade…..just kidding!)  I think what the Earth would love in exchange for all her gifts is the present of our consideration.  To take it into account when we choose our actions.  Not to keep our love limited to ourselves, our family, our nation…..but to expand out to consider the good of the planet when we make our decisions.

What if we all did this?  What if we all expanded our love a tiny bit to include this blue and green spinning planet, this beautiful earth?  I surely want to do this more during the upcoming year. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear Earth.  Teach us how to love and care for you even more….  Love, Kathy

Seven hearts for the earth on snow

Seven hearts for the earth on snow

My friend Bertha leads us on a snowshoe hike

My friend Bertha leads us on a snowshoe hike

After my morning at work, I headed over to a friend’s house for a snowshoe hike.  Temperature:  5 degrees.  Blue and sunny skies.  No fierce and biting wind.  On an ordinary winter I might have called to cancel with excuses about the frigid temperature, but today that didn’t even seem an option.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t cold at all!  Surprisingly, I was too hot.  You don’t believe this, do you?  But it’s the truth.  I had dressed in too many layers of clothes.  The better to get a good work-out, perhaps.

We hiked for a good hour.  It’s much easier to do a “real” snowshoe that stretches for awhile if one hikes with friends.  When you’re alone, you meander more.  You stop.  You look up.  You look down.  You peer around corners, looking for photo opportunities.  If you’re a certain person I know (no names shall be mentioned here) you even sometimes find a place where a deer has bedded down.  You settle in the deer-resting place and then you look upwards and take pictures of the view the deer enjoyed.  (I may steal this idea for a later blog, if I run out of other subjects to talk about….)

Today, we talked.  We got caught up on our busy lives.  We covered friends, family, health and at least twenty five other topics.  We admired the woods.  We expressed thanks that we lived in such a beautiful place.  We pitied those who couldn’t be on a snowshoe hike like this in the lovely north woods.  (I did not mention blog readers who so often express disbelief and pity that we live in such a cold clime, preferring instead their warm and toasty southern sun….)

Bertha and I have been friends for a long time.  How many years now?  Maybe 26 or 27.  Years ago we hiked up in the Huron Mountains with husbands and our six month baby.  We set up tents and enjoyed a beautiful night in the high hills overlooking Lake Superior.  We were babes then, in our twenties and thought nothing of going on grand adventures.  What I remember about that night is our son lost his pacifier from his position in the front pack where he was carried, and found his trusty thumb instead.  He never wanted the pacifier again.  Years of orthodontist bills probably related directly to this hike….

But I digress into the land of memory.  Let’s stay in the present, shall we?  It was a beautiful early February hike.  Fortunately, Bertha had snowshoed the trails yesterday after our foot of new fluffy snow.  If not, we would have worked much harder.  I am grateful for her diligence in keeping up all those trails around her house.

I’ll close with this quirky little picture of a fence post from many years ago.  And hope that many of you get an opportunity to snowshoe with a good friend sometime this winter!

Quirky old fence pole

Quirky old fence pole

Crescent moon before dawn

Crescent moon before dawn

No, no.  Everyone keep his or her hat on.  It’s far too cold to toss away our chooks (the Yooper word for wintertime “hats”).  Didn’t your mother teach you?  Be sure to keep your head covered in cold weather

We lose 75 percent of our body heat through our uncovered noggins, right?  Wrong!  Check out this wilderness medicine website for the scoop:  http://wildernessmedicinenewsletter.wordpress.com/2007/02/14/heat-loss-through-the-head-and-hypothermia/   (If anyone believes differently than this researcher, let us know!)

But let’s leave our hats on anyway, after we’ve bowed deeply to Frida Waara.  Anyone who hasn’t read, please scroll down to yesterday’s blog entitled, “Who’s a wimp?”  Skip all the parts pertaining to me and my alleged wimpdom, and instead read about polar adventurer and inspirational speaker, Frida Waara.

I won’t repeat too much, except to say she’s a person I greatly admire(although have only met once, last January, when she visited our small community and spoke about her adventures to the North Pole in April, 2001.)  She and eleven other women were the first all-female unsupported team to reach the North Pole from Russian ice to the top of the world.

How cool is that?  (let’s not go there….we know how COLD that was….)

Well, this morning I woke up and there’s a comment from dear Frida Waara herself on this outdoors blog.  Go read!  How in the world did she discover this?  Who told?  Someone had to email her.  Jennifer? Kim? 

I was flying so high with energy imagining hiking to the North Pole that I flew out the door before dawn this morning at 5 below zero, raring to go.  If Frida could make the North Pole….I could make the end of the road and back.  No more whimpering and complaining!  This was the needed motivation.  The past week’s lethargy and wuss-behavior lifted.  I sailed down the road in Grandma’s old snowmobile suit, everything covered up except eyes and nose, humming cheerfully.

You know the sound the birds make in the early pre-dawn light?  There’s a certain bird, a certain call, that ignites your soul.  The little bird announces the advent of another day.  His two or three syllable hymn hauntingly awakens us here in the northwoods.   Anyone know the name of the little fellow?  I thought, at first, it might be a chickadee.  But now am not so certain.

The sun pushed its way above the horizon with surprising zeal, staining the skies pink and purple.  The deep blues lightened.  The crescent moon, already waning after last week’s full moon splendor, twinkled down from the frozen sky. 

I love how each of us can inspire and re-inspire one another.  I love how we can cheer each other on in our adventures, how we can provide words of encouragement when the going gets tough.  We’re a team here in this world.  We need each other in so many ways. 

Let’s all remember to offer words of encouragement to others this week, even small baby words of love and caring.  Let’s keep an eye out for our struggling brother or sister on this earth. 

Although this probably sounds undeniably corny:  it’s not cold where it counts….in the warmth of our hearts.  🙂

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