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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…

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. 

Upside-down icicles in the sky

 Everyone around here is waiting for that blizzard. First it was a winter storm watch.  Then it morphed into a winter storm warning.  Now it’s a blizzard warning

 In the meantime, the weather has been rather mild.  Although this morning it was snowing cats and dogs.  You had to drive very slowly.  You thought the blizzard had arrived early.  But no.  It was simply a precursor to the actual blizzard which is reputedly supposed to start…in twenty five minutes.  Somewhere around 7 p.m. Tuesday night. 

Ravens calling in the sky

 They say we’re going to get lots of snow.  The question is:  do we believe them?  The National Weather Service gravely warns:  up to twelve inches of snow will befall us.  The way the radar loop is turning a swirl of blue from Iowa north, it may be true.  We’ll see. 

My mother just called.  “What’s the weather like up there?” she wondered.  They have a winter storm watch down in Michigan’s Thumb.  They are hoping to get snow, rather than treacherous ice.  I think I would agree that would be preferable.  

A cattail which looks rather like a bird

People usually go to town the day before a blizzard.  They try to stock up on supplies.  Get groceries for tomorrow night.  Maybe some hot chocolate or a bottle of wine or maybe some popcorn.  They fill up the car with gas.  Perhaps they buy an extra jug of water in case the electricity goes out.  If they remember they buy batteries for the flashlight.  They try to think of what they might need if the blizzard keeps them home-bound for a while.  The stores always seem busier when the National Weather Service puts out a Blizzard Warning.  

What our woods looked like prior to the blizzard

I walked in the woods this afternoon.  It is a pleasure to walk in the woods in the beginning of December before the snow gets too deep.  After this blizzard, if we get a foot or more, it will be impossible to walk without snowshoes.  Then it can be harder work to navigate amongst the trees.  So are we all ready for blizzard?  Ready to cuddle up on the couch tomorrow and read a book?  Ready to snuggle in the warm house as the snow comes down outside the window?  And in my case…ready to open the door, walk outside into the great and snowy white blizzard?  Anyone experiencing a blizzard want to join me?  Yep…it’s that time of year again!

Full moon dances with clouds last night

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

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

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

A small spirit: perhaps a coneflower or wild bergamot

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

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

The sheen of new ice

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

It is a very interesting experience.

Can you see the ghostly images of trees?

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

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

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

Goodnight, Little Spirit Moon.

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

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

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

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

Almost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trees sweeping upward into the sky

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

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

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

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

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

The lake! The horizon!

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

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

Sometimes we just need to adjust our view

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

I understood what she meant.

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

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

Peering down at a birch tree

Pardon me, Mr. Tree.

Are you up for a discussion?

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

Peering up at a birch tree

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

Close up bark

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

The language bark speaks

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

Lean a little closer to read this message...

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

What is it? 

Bear claws?

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

That is your message to us tonight.

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

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

Thank you, Mr. Tree.

 

Clear cut

It’s a delicate subject around here.  Toss a coin up in the air and decide.  Should the land ever be clear-cut?  Should the trees be sliced off like a razor cutting whiskers on a stubbly chin? 

Foresters often say that in certain areas a clear-cut is advisable.  Many tracts are not good hardwood sites; they refuse to grow beautiful hardwoods like maple and yellow birch which have high-quality value.  If  foresters selectively harvest on these sites they never see much improvement.  If they want to have productive tracts, they will sometimes choose to clear-cut.  The result will be thick aspen (poplar) stands.  In 40-50 years these will be big harvestable trees.  The mills need these stands to mix with their hardwood.

There.  I have just given you forestry-speak.

Keep turning around in a circle

I could share the perspective of someone who loves trees; someone who doesn’t much like the labels of which trees are “valuable” and which trees are “junk”.  I could share old Native American stories about the trees being our brothers and sisters, the lungs of the planet earth.

But no.

I want to talk about the clear-cuts of our soul.

When God calls a Time Out

What times in our own lives have we felt like we’ve been clear-cut?  When everything has been torn away?  When things safe and familiar and loving have been ripped asunder?

Have we all had clear-cuts?  Some clear-cuts come on the heels of endings of relationships.  The endings of friendship, of love, of romance, of marriage.  Some come with the tears of loss:  the death of a child, a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a friend.  Others have lost their home, their money, their job.  A clear-cut is a place in life where our beloved past meets destructive saws.  The dear trees fall.  So often don’t we weep?  We weep from the loss, the pain, the absence of the loved one.

Stump and dried flower

Afterward the brush lies all over the ground of ourselves.  We wipe our tears and stand straight.  We have to walk with faith, then, through the clear-cut of the soul.  The seeds are growing beneath the tangled brush, but we don’t know it yet.

In a few days or months or years the new trees will be growing.  We will persevere. 

The horizon

I have known many forests who have been heavily logged.  In my lifetime, I have not intimately known many forest tracts completely clear-cut.  Yes, we see clear-cuts everywhere.  But they usually aren’t on land that I have walked, loved, whispered to, dreamed upon.

Once, a long time ago, while crying in some beloved logged forest, an inner thought arose,  “Just sit here until you can feel the sacred beauty of the place.”  I sat for a long time surrounded by impenetrable brush and jagged logs and wild disarray.  I sat with the memory of the tall hemlock, the sturdy maple, the feel of the forest.  I was not going to move until it felt sacred once again, until the invisible seeds of hope and new life showed themselves.

And finally, I saw it.  A flower.  Blossoming.  And over there a precious sweep of branches.  And over there a bent cedar. 

Slowly the logged forest started revealing its promise.

We will grow again, the trees said.  We won’t be the same trees.  But we will grow again. 

Hope

I think of a dear friend who lost her husband three or four years ago.  The first year of her clear-cut was agonizing.  She wondered if she would survive.  I wondered if she would survive.  The second year was filled with many tears, but slowly the young sprouts grew.  She still grieves, but she’s stronger now.  Her new roots are growing into the earth.  It wasn’t something she wanted, but  she’s learned to see the sacred beauty in what remains.

Blessings for all of us in times of the clear-cuts of our soul.

Pine cone

Pine cone

I am definitely not outside right now.  However, it’s questionable if I’m really inside either.  Airports are a nether-world, a strange world.  And so are airplanes.  We’re half-way between indoors and outdoors when we’re flying in those planes, high in the sky, the birds far below us.

Someone–maybe my son (whom I will soon be hugging in San Diego at about 12:30 Eastern time, although a spry 9:30 p.m. California time)–first introduced me to the concept of airports being a world in themselves.  Another reality, almost.  I am sitting now in a Chili’s restaurant, having just joined Boingo.  I suppose all you travelers already know about Boingo.  It’s a wireless network for which you pay $7.99 (I think.  I’ve already forgotten what I just charged to the credit card.)  And supposedly you get 24 hours of free Internet wireless at tons of airports world-wide.  But because this is a strange airport-world and not the woods, I really don’t know.  Anything could happen.

Red berries, blue sky

Red berries, blue sky

The photos were pre-loaded yesterday because I didn’t want the stress of trying to figure out Boingo and navigate this strange world of carrying laptop computers in your backpack…PLUS attempting to upload photos.  Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to upload photos while traveling.  We’ll see. 

So.  Here’s the scoop.  I was the LAST passenger to board the plane in Marquette.  You kids, do you hear that? Your mama, who is always two hours early for the flight, almost missed this one.  Not because I wasn’t in the airport.  No.  But somehow I was so busy trying to figure out how to get connected to free wireless, plus talking to a local family picking up another family member for hunting season, plus chattering away to my daughter in Manhattan that I somehow missed the announcement for boarding.  Can you imagine?  This has never happened.

When I finally heard the low voice over the intercom, I noticed the waiting area was empty.  “Am I late or early?” I asked the friendly security folk who scolded me for including the mouse in the laptop screening.  Apparently the mouse and the cord must remain forever separate on the screening table.

“You are the last one on the plane,” the lady severely told me.

YIKES!!! 

 
Sweeping stalk of wild grass

Sweeping stalk of wild grass

OK, I just deleted a soothing bark photo, sorry guys.  And the battery keeps discharging and there is no electrical outlet in sight.  There are a million people around.  Sixteen of them are crowded around my computer at Chili’s, no kidding.  I have ordered something to drink and will wait for dinner until this darn blog gets published. 

To the heavens...

To the heavens...

So the flight was great.  I can’t believe how many lakes we have in Michigan.  Every time you look out the airplane window, attempting to peer around the wing, which is always in your way, you see yet another lake.  To get out of the Upper Peninsula you usually have to take a prop plane.  One of those propeller-planes with maybe twenty seats.  In the old days I remember being on bumpy tiny planes with maybe ten seats.  We’ve entered the modern ages, we have.

Very soon I will get on a plane bound for San Diego and travel five hours to the west.  Plans:  to sleep.  (You want to know a secret I haven’t told many people?  I take a Dramamine pill before flying.  Always have since that day in 1980 when the plane bounced up and down and the lady next to me kept sharing her secret chili recipe and…well you don’t need to know the details, do you?)

OK,  time to see if this will post in this strange airport-Boingo world.  And then to eat dinner. What shall I have? 

Oh P.S. I forgot to tell you about the Outdoor Adventure.  Excuse me.  Too much has happened today.  I walked freezing cold, having forgotten hat and mittens and warm coat with my thoughts completely absorbed in plans of San Diego, through the city of Marquette.  It was invigorating.  I am ready to be not quite so invigorated.

All you non-hunters get out of the woods now!

All you non-hunters get out of the woods now!

Every year come November 15th, I’m outa the woods.  Goodbye forest!  You won’t catch me wandering lazily through the poplar and maple trees, shooting with my trusty camera.  No.  Not even with a bright orange vest and hunting garb and orange cap could you convince me to hike in these beloved forests. 

I’m outa here.

Although, it seems, at least a few thousand extra visitors do fearlessly enter our north woods, ready to bag their seasonal deer. That’s not counting the local guys and gals who have been excitedly planning and plotting and checking their guns and preparing their bait piles for the last few weeks.  They are all dreaming of venison stew.

Everywhere you go signs appear:  Deer apples.  $2.00 a bag.  $5.00 a bag.  $7.00 a bag. (Makes one wonder if the sizes of the apple bags are all different. One sign, I noticed this weekend, showed a picture of actual bag with the words “Actual Size” penned beside it.  Just to avoid confusion, I suppose.)

Our little house in the big woods--from the back, through the woods

Our little house in the big woods--from the back, through the woods

Nope, I’ve been properly scared over the years.  Stories of people getting shot by stray bullets.  (Not that it’s ever happened to innocent hikers…I don’t know.)  Dire warnings by loving grandmother-type neighbors, “You stay out of those woods now, Kathy!”  Sounds of gunshots at dawn:  bang, bang, bang!!!

Usually this is the time of year I say Goodbye Outdoors.  Forget you.  I am staying in my nice warm cozy house and hibernating until spring, thank you.  You can’t make me go outdoors.  Just try.

Although some years I stay inside for the first week of deer hunting season and somewhere around Thanksgiving emerge and start cautiously traipsing up and down the road.  There aren’t a lot of hunters in our rather populated woods, after all.  Most of the out-of-towners who don’t know any better than to shoot indiscriminately on private property have left to return home to turkey dinners downstate or in Illinois.  Then it’s safe.  Or so I think.

The bark face knows.  It really knows.  Everything.

The bark face knows. It really knows. Everything.

Today I wandered in the woods, “Goodbye trees.  Goodbye birch-bark face, aren’t you precious?  Goodbye pine cones.  Goodbye old fort that the kids built.  Au revoir.  Enjoy your time with the hunters.  Show them some of your beauty, eh?  Let them see your magnificence.”  And then I saw IT.  Litter.  Right there on the forest floor, behind our house.  How dare someone litter back here?  What were they thinking?

How disgusting!  Litter in the wood!

How disgusting! Litter in the wood!

And then, with utter clarity, I realized that We were the Litterers.  This was our missing grill cover!  It had flown off in a whipping wind sometime earlier in the summer and we could not find it again.  So we traveled to Marquette and brought a brand new cover, to better prevent rust and exposure to the elements.

And here was the original cover!  A few sprays of hose water and surely it would be ready to do its duty once again.  When the new one flies off on a windy day, that is.  We’ll keep this one handy somewhere.  What a lucky find!

An ancient bridge across the ravine stream

An ancient bridge across the ravine stream

What a lovely afternoon it has been.  Temperatures in the 50’s.  No sounds of bullets, yet.  The forest floor littered with leaves. 

I paused beside the old bridge which once led across the ravine.  Our son nailed it together, all those years ago, back when he was still a youth building forts all over the woods.  I looked at the bridge and smiled.

Because I am really OUTA HERE!  I am going to San Diego tomorrow to visit this beloved son!  Have not once visited him on his turf since he moved to southern California three years ago.

Would you guys like to come too?  Let’s leave the woods together.  Meet you tomorrow (or the next day) in San Diego, OK?

Hellooooo down there!

Hellooooo down there!

You guys remember that post last winter, right?  The one where Barry made me…I mean convinced me…to banish my fears and come up on the roof on roof-shoveling day.  Remember the shaking in the boots?  The utter fear?  The palpitating heart?

But I did it.  Stepped off the ladderand gingerly inched across the slippery roof to the chimney.  It was a day to remember. 

I did it for the Blog.  And later did it one more time for chimney cleaning. To overcome fear.  To reach for the skies, as they say.  And to have something to write about it for the blog.

Something happened on Saturday that brought those memories immediately to the forefront.

Barry is building an addition onto the garage to house his new 1976 twenty-four foot Sea Ray boat.  I shouldn’t call it “new” any more.  He’s had it for almost a year and a half.  It’s his baby.  Right now the boat is still at the fiberglass “doctor” up in Chassell getting medical attention.  (It’s been up there a lot this year.)

The boat wouldn’t fit in the garage, so guess what?  Several months ago the husband gets the smart idea he needs to build on to the garage.  So he can work on the boat during the winter months.  (Heaven knows how much this boat is going to cost us by the time it gets in the water…and then we don’t even want to think about what it will cost us then…)

So he’s been steadfastly building the little addition despite all the weather challenges this autumn.

The whole enchilada

The whole enchilada

The other day he comes in the house looking rather sheepish.  Oh no, Trouble.  You can just tell.

“Honey, can you come out and lend me a hand on the addition?”

“Oh sure,” I agree breezily, not really thinking what this means.

Out we go.

We reach the garage.  He gestures toward the ladder with his hammer. 

“Can you climb up there and hold the end of a board while I pound it in?”  he asks.

(Here’s where all my maturity, spiritual or otherwise, completely deserts me.  Here is where whining sets in.  It is terrible.)  I am back to quivering knees, a pit in the stomach, absolute fear.  At first I tell him “No way, absolutely no way, am I going to climb that ladder, what are you thinking about, I can’t do it, where are your friends?  No, no, no!” 

But then, sucker that I am for attempting to overcome fear, I climb slowly slowly up the darn ladder, almost to the top….and then scurry down to the bottom almost in tears.

“NO I CAN’T DO IT!”  I cry. 

“Yes, you can,” the carpenter says.  “Come on, Kathy, I really need you to help.”

Noooooooooooooooooooooo!”

But once again I climb up the terrible ladder, and with shaking sweating palms thrust the feet onto the scaffold.  Yep, I’m up there.  OK.  It’s been done.

Carpenter-husband starts to work, pounding.  I obediently hold my end of the board.  Pound, pound.  I start peeking around, wishing for the camera.  Where is the camera when you need it?  How could you go anywhere without it?

The Man with the Rafters

The Man with the Rafters

Then it’s time to descend the ladder.  Almost as scary.  It’s  a long long way down there.  OK, breathe deep.  Don’t think.  Just step down, one foot at a time.  (Excuse the crappy-looking shoes.  They are the garden/work shoes, not the dressy sneaker variety.)

Long...way...down

Long...way...down

So fast-forward to yesterday.  I kid you not, this is what happened.  Before we decided to drive to Silver Mountain (or in the middle of deciding) I realized I had no blog.  And remembered the scaffold incident.  And said to Barry, “Hey, give me the camera, I’m going up and taking pics for the blog.”

And proceeded to climb up the ladder, all nine and a half feet onto the scaffold, without even thinking. Without a moment of fuss.  With no fear.  Stood around and snapped photos and effortlessly walked down the ladder.

Looking down on our little house in the big woods

Looking down on our little house in the big woods

Which goes to show you.  When you need photos or material for a blog, you’ll do just about anything.

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