Archive for September, 2012
“The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s–he takes the lead
In summer luxury,–he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.”
—John Keats, On the Grasshopper and the Cricket
As I drive down the road during my lunch hour, heading home or back to work, the light is just right currently, and the pine trees and sandy soils around the area remind me a lot of Florida. It makes me think a lot about the pine sandhills and geocaching, though we haven’t geocached in ages. Of course then I think about the Florida Trail which results into the Appalachian Trail…and that is a vicious little cycle which leads to a rabbit hole of wishful thinking.
Our two year summit of Katahdin came and went (August 12th). I had planned on writing something before we left for WA but I sat at the computer several times unable to come up with words. As all of my fellow AT friends post their yearly summit anniversary photos on Facebook I get nostalgic and reminisce every time.
To be honest, I can’t believe it has been two years since we were out there hiking our way to Maine. It feels like yesterday and yet a lifetime ago. It doesn’t take much for me to think about one tiny instance on the trail—it could be the moment that we hit 500 miles, just north of the Grayson Highlands, a non-descript spot in the middle of the trail as we were descending a mountain mid-morning—or it could be evening at any one of the shelters, making meals, reading shelter-logs, and talking with the rest of our thru-hiker comrades.
One of the things that I loved about our trip to Washington was the eau de hiker that comes with a few days without a shower. Yes, I know, this is the weirdest thing ever, but it smelled of enjoyment and happiness if that makes any sense. A backpacking trip quickly brings back the appreciation for the smallest things during the hike and after when you are back in civilization—time to lounge and read a book (during), glorious sunsets (during), water you don’t have to treat (oh, public water treatment systems…!), hot water in the shower….
I’m envious of every single person out there hiking and being adventurous. And at the same time I’m thankful and happy that we’ve bought a house and I get to finally grow my own garden and call a place ‘mine’. Every month or so when the A.T. Journeys magazine comes I wish we lived somewhere within driving distance of the A.T. so we could hike on weekends or volunteer. I’m definitely envious of Deal and Steadee who get to walk less than a quarter of a mile, and could turn right or left and walk to Georgia or Maine if they wanted. (They run Bears Den hostel now.)
About a week ago someone posted a link to this photo gallery of A.T. hikers requesting anyone to identify themselves or others they knew. I thought I recognized one person from 2010 but wasn’t sure and the rest I didn’t think I knew. Not to say that I hadn’t run across them at one point, but what made me think a little bit more was that while we were in Maine, or whatever state, there was a group of people several days or a week, even weeks, behind or ahead of us that I didn’t know. I wondered about their trail experiences—did they have good days going over exciting mountains like we did or did they go through it in bad weather? How they experienced the trail in one part of Virginia might have been completely different for us—spring was just beginning there when we started through Virginia, maybe it was nearly summer when they walked through or perhaps it was fall if they were walking south.
Yes, strange thoughts, but it piques my interest—seeing the trail in many aspects and varying time frames. How different it all would be. Maybe that’s my problem…I know the A.T., but I don’t get to know it in ways that people who live near it get to know it if they wanted.
Right now I’m thinking…about the dreadfully long 24 mile day where we crossed from New Jersey to New York. The day started out rather pleasant but with twelve miles done by lunch and another twelve to go after, the afternoon tarried too long as we heard the sounds of boats on the lake below the ridge we were on. Instead of playing in the water, washing away the piles of sweat and grime, we were baking under the mid-day sun as it reflected off the rocks on the ridge. Thankfully we made it to a road crossing where we detoured to an ice cream shop for a pre-dinner snack before heading to the next shelter where we caught up with Merf, Snack Attack, Speaker, Spark and Caboose, and a group of AMC hikers. There was instant pudding for dessert thanks to the AMC group leaders…yeah the simple things that make you happy, things like instant pudding.
And so I will keep trying to remember the little bits of memories that fly into my brain in the middle of the day and be thankful that we had such an grand adventure.
We arrived to Hoh Rainforest unit of the Olympic National Park right before dinnertime and since the campground is first-come-first-serve we made a beeline for the camping area to find a spot. We found a nice spot tucked in the forest with enough cover not to really see too many people other than the folks directly across the road from us. The self registration was near the bathrooms (no showers in the bathrooms if you are inclined for cleanliness, but there is running water for a rag bath if you are desperate) and after registering we headed for the Hall of Mosses Trail.
Evening was setting in which made the light even better as it filtered through the canopy. Everywhere we turned there was magic. It reminded us a lot of Florida—the ferns, the mosses, dampness….it was swamp without swamp. There was quite a bit of activity on this trail as it is less than a mile and quite scenic. Sometimes I wished there weren’t people there in order to savor the quiet—I’d be engrossed in something and then kids would bound by—but I should be happy kids are out enjoying nature. Not enough kids are!
I took a lot of photos, too many for one post, so the rest of the Hall of Mosses will have to wait for another day…
For various reasons we decided to leave the community garden we were gardening at earlier than expected. We still have a plot of sweet potatoes there that we will harvest in a month or so and then we will be done. So, that has forced us to find a place to throw some seeds down for the Fall or purchase some of our produce instead.
This area is the south side of our house where eventually it will be a flower garden with a nice pathway. It had tomato and peppers plants when we moved in, and I found a rosemary plant that will survive with some pruning and care. I ripped the tomatoes out but the peppers are still doing well so I will leave them for awhile. It will take a bit more work to rip up the weeds and then I’ll start some Fall veggies! That is until we get everything together for the real veggie garden which will not be until later this winter and when we can clear the rest of the downed pine trees.
As you can also see we ripped up a fence that was dividing this area.
I also started some seeds, not as many as I would like but most of them were seeds I couldn’t pass up at the dollar store—I mean, 10 cents for a package of seeds…yeah I couldn’t resist. Plus a lot of unknown seeds that were not labeled in our previous seed saving packages. Should be interesting to see what sprouts.
And the cats…they cats act just like my indoor cats except they are more skittish. They follow you around the yard but if you get too close they freak out and run. Sometimes I can pet them while they are eating, well at least the kittens. The adults aren’t having that.
Love the five little cats that have hung around—they’ve been entertaining! I miss my calicoes but I’m glad they are hanging out elsewhere for now!
+ One of my complaints about living a ‘normal’ life is that time speeds up too fast. While backpacking time slows down and it feels like life is mellow and enjoyable. You can stop and relish the way the light lands on different things throughout the day. The rhythm of hiking is simple: wake, eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, walk, eat, relax, sleep. And while I don’t really have a very complicated life (let’s keep it that way!) life sure does speed up through getting up and working, coming home doing chores and somehow finding time to relax and wind down.
+ While we still have a long way to go in getting the house organized and furnished, it feels like we are getting closer. Particularly with the yard. Having cut down or having a company cut down somewhere around 10 dead trees, mostly pines, we’ve been trying to clean up the mess associated with that. Not only that the yard was quite unkempt as the previous owners weren’t keen on yard work. Finally though we are seeing a vision and making things look better. We still have a lot of work cut out for us, but I am looking forward to getting things in the ground and growing.
+ After being tipped off by our neighbor that she thought some of the feral cats had moved on to her other neighbor, I went down to visit them last Friday. Yep, they were all there, including the really mean male that was in one of the first rounds of trapping, neutering and releasing. I was glad to see they were being taken care of and also to meet the neighbors who were very friendly as well. I trapped the remaining calico kitten, she was fixed over the weekend, and then I released her this morning.
+ After all of that we finally decided to name the cats that have hung around. For now there are five that have stayed as regulars. A black cat is around as well, but I haven’t seen him since I broke up a fight between him and the grey cat, and then sometimes Momma is transient and comes over from the neighbors two doors down. I’ll have to do a little photo series with their new names but we settled on Tom for the grey male, Fred for the male red tabby, Mr. Stripey for the regular tabby (I was going to go with Happy Cat after a cat I had in my childhood but decided Mr. Stripey just sounded funnier and more accurate), Ruby for the female red tabby kitten, and finally Isis for the muted tortoiseshell female.
And now for some things I’ve recently enjoyed:
+ Pastured Broiler Chickens on Butcher Day at Provenance Farm via Wayward Spark. If you are squeamish don’t read….but it isn’t that grotesque. Thinking about reading up again on chicken raising, though I probably won’t be butchering the ones I raise, but still interesting to know about all aspects of chicken farming.
+ How Kid Culture Tells Our Children Lies and Destroys the Future of Science via The Last Word On Nothing…ok, so probably only picky science/nerdy types would ever get upset about these things, but I will say I do find myself correcting things I hear on t.v. or read.
+ Stop Throwing Away Free Tomato Sauce via NW Edible Life. If I ever feel like delving into more tomato sauce madness after the first round of tomato sauce madness, I may just attempt this.
+ The Travel Bug via The Familiar Wilderness…no this doesn’t relate to geocaching or to traveling, of humans at least, but let’s just say monarch butterflies—-this is a must click to see! Visiting the mountains of Mexico is on my list of places to visit to see them.
Planning to return to writing about our trip to Washington soon….
Behold! The Studio! It is kind of daunting to look at. I managed to throw a few dried up pens and bent paint brushes out, but not much else.
These maidenhair fern photos were taken at Westcave Preserve back in March. I still haven’t finished out the photos from that day, but slowly I want to work back to doing that. I find myself feeling like I am on top of the pile again, not suffocating below it, but then I find something else thrown on top and there I am again trying to get up to breathe.
While going through my old ‘writing desk’ (which turned into an art desk at one point) I found a journal, one that was surprisingly not tattered and beaten up, but still rigid and pretty with its seashell adorned cover. Inside was all the writings I’d done for my morning pages at one point. Inside I found a list of things that I loved to do or make time for—-and number 1 was working out. This has become very apparent to me lately as I look at my shoulders—nevermind my flabby midsection—but I used to love my shoulders and flexing my biceps to feel the muscle. I haven’t lifted weights since before we left for the Appalachian Trail, mind you I did do some other body weight type exercises but I miss my weights. My weights are back and now it is time for me to start that up again.
I think morning pages should be a ritual too.
Maybe Fall will be a reawakening for me, to find the things I used to do and get back into some good habits.
And perhaps I should meditate some on that second photo, because it has me all gooey with happiness.
According to the rangers in the park office, this herd often visits this area just down the river from the campground. We spotted them after finishing a short hike and planning a quick drive up the road to ‘see what we can see’. We saw the elk! First we saw the cars—and a ‘herd’ of cars is a good sign something is nearby, so we peered over the edge into the river and then pulled over so we could get a closer look.