Feels Like Spring

4-14-2018

Although I came home two days early because I didn’t want to face an ice storm in the Adirondacks in a tent, it feels like Spring here in the Catskills. The sun finally came out around noon, after the snow squalls dusted the mountain and blew themselves out. The temperature rose to above 50 degrees and I decided to spring clean my car. This is an annual event I participate in before the first raft trip of the year, so that my car starts the season off clean. I pull everything out, vacuum it, shake out the floor mats, clean the inside of the windows, wipe down all the hard surfaces, and spot clean the upholstery where needed. Then I pack the car for rafting season, which means I stuff camping, hiking, and rafting gear into my trunk and back seat. Then everything I might need is wherever I am. This year, I didn’t have the energy to clean the car out before my first trip up north to set up camp, so I had a lot of gear to move around. The weather canceled the raft trips the last two weekends, so technically I did the car cleaned out before the season started. If feels good, a satisfying accomplishment to watch all the dirt, dust, sand, and junk get sucked up into the shop-vac. It’s like sweeping away all the old, worn out, and now useless junk and cobwebs to make room for all the new adventures waiting on the horizon. There was some nostalgia as the I said good-by to the copious amounts of the South Carolina Santee River Solar Eclipse sand that was still occupying the back seat, floor, and trunk areas. This year, I have road trips to Florida and Texas planned, so I am sure I will pick up more sand as the year plays out!

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Black Vulture!

2-9-2018

Black Vultures are very similar to Turkey Vultures in many aspects: size, shape, habitat, flight patterns, migration habits, and food preferences. Their main differences being Black Vultures have black heads (Turkey Vultures have red heads), and Black Vultures don’t come as far north as Turkey Vultures do. They are not supposed to be in New York. About 7 years ago I thought I had seen one while headed to work. It flew directly in front of my car. I felt I had gotten a good look at it as I was braking and swerving trying to hit it. But can one really be sure of the color of the head on a bird in motion you saw for about a second? I had forgotten about that bird until today! This Black Vulture was standing in a snow filled ditch on the side of the road feasting on a dead deer. It did not fly away as car whizzed by. I watched it as we approached, got a good long look, and turned in my seat as we passed by. No doubt, its head was black. Black Vultures have ventures as far north as Albany, New York! Function of global climate change? Or are they just expanding their territory? Don’t know, but it is pretty neat to see them again. When I was raft guiding in West Virginia 20 years ago, we would see Black Vultures regularly, sometimes with Turkey Vultures hanging out on the rocks in the Potomac River near Harper’s Ferry eating dead fish. Amazing memories of crazy fun times!

 

Cardinals On The Feeder

1-27-2018

Another grey snowy cold day. I fill the bird feeders; the Chick-a-Dees are on it before I finish and walk away. The always appreciate fresh bird seed! Later inside, I glance out the window while coming down the stairs as see a magnificent bright red male Cardinal swinging on the feeder, eating his fill. I love watching the Cardinals, their color a joyful contrast to all the grey. I try to take some pictures through the window, but they don’t come out they way I want so I give up and just stand in the window petting a cat and watching the bird show with delight. The female eventually shows herself as well, the Chick-a-Dees, and Juncos swarm around, flitting and twittering. I stand and watch until something spooks them and all the birds fly away, scattering in a zillion directions, disappearing into the bare tree branches. My paternal grandmother loved the Cardinals too, and I think I understand, my heart reaching through time, space, and memory.

Snow On The Mountaintop

1-6-2018

Driving over the crest of a tall hill, the road drops steeply down and out of sight around a curve, a vista opens out across the valley, winter sunlight streams from a crystal blue sky, bare trees look black against the snow covered ground, their long thin grey shadows slanting across the forest floor. The horizon is dominated by a mountain ridge across the way, half way up there is a snow line, it reminds me of seeing snow line up high on summer trips through the Rockies in Colorado and of how snow line would oscillate up and down the distant peaks the winter I spent in Portland, Oregon all those years ago. Reminiscing startles to a halt when science kicks in, how can I see a snow line when there is snow at my present elevation? I take a more scrutinizing look at the mountain ridge and realize that I am looking at probably a frost line or frozen precipitation line of some sort. Although there is snow cover all the way down in the valley floor, the trees up top are covered in a frozen layer that is gleaming white in the slanting winter sunshine. The trees below that elevation do not have a coating of ice or frost, so they are dark and black against the ground. Above there, all the branches are coated in a frosty icing, blending into the snow covered ground giving the illusion of a snow line. A visual representation of the temperature gradient as elevation changes! Mother Nature is freaking awesome!

Year In Review!

12-31-2017

2017 was generally a good year. Last December I decided my New Year’s Resolution for 2017 would be to have more adventures. I believe I have lived up to that resolution. When making it I knew that not all the adventures would be grand ones. I wanted to have small adventuress, ones that happen in every day life that make it interesting, fun, and stimulating. Of course when one is purposely trying to find new experiences, looking for Hobbit Adventures, one runs into misadventures as well, and there have been some of those too.

The adventures stared last December when I cut my hair, yes it was an adventure for me (my hair was waist length and had not been cut since 1994), and that set the tone for the year! I now have a shaggy pixie bob which I still love a year later.

Next I started Flippin’ Gypsy on Etsy. I make colorful, whimsical, scarves, hats, jewelry, and decorations. I have only sold one thing so far, but I’m having fun with it. I have a ton of ideas too, so I’ll keep it going this year.

Other small adventures include: this daily blog, becoming a snowshoe guide for Windham Mountain, raft guiding for Beaver Brook Outfitters, and moving my summer base camp to their property. As a Beaver Brook guide I did several overnight trips in the Hudson Gorge, staying at campsites I had never camped at before, guided a paddle trip across Lake George, one across Sacandaga Lake then hiking to Fawn Lake, one from Blue Mountain Lake to Raquette Lake and hiking into Sargent Pond from Tioga Point, working at the Thurman Canoe Center and guiding several paddle trips down the Hudson from there, guiding a high water trip down the “Lower Gorge” of the Hudson (a section I had never seen before), and guiding a raft trip down the Sacandaga River. I made some wonderful new friends and rekindled some old friendships working there as well.

Other small adventures include, in no particular order: all the solo walks, hikes, and paddles, seeing the middle of Kaaterskill Falls, seeing North South Lake frozen, hiking to Westkill Falls with my husband, paddling Brown’s Tract with my friend, paddling Lake Durant, checking out several state parks I had never been in for paddling potential, bike riding with my mother, jumping off the big rock into the creek, breaking trail in 3 feet of fresh snow with snowshoes, riding the chairlift, buying my own snow pants, playing in the waterfall at the end of South Inlet on Raquette Lake, jumping off the big rock on Blue Mountain Lake, knitting everybody’s holiday gifts, snuggling with the cats, lounging in the hammock in the sun with absolutely nothing to do, hammock camping (the best!), planting and harvesting the garden, walking across the trestle at Railroad Rapid (no trains on this track), participating in a protest march in New York City, practicing yoga on the porch every morning before rafting, seeing a moose at my tent twice, inheriting a raft and two duckies and using them, doing flips off jump rock on the Hudson trip, and many many more!

The three grand adventures were the whirlwind trip south for July 4th to run the Shenandoah with friends I hadn’t seen in over 10 years, the raft guide reunion on Blue Mountain Lake, and the epic trip to South Carolina to see the total solar eclipse with my sister which included kayaking from the swamp out to the ocean.

Misadventures, preventable: twisting my ankle while rafting back in June (still not back to normal yet), scraping my foot on a rock while swimming in July which didn’t heal until September when I quit getting my feet wet (left a cool scar), burning my foot with boiling water while camping in September (also scarred), getting eaten alive by insects in SC (I broke down and bought some actual Deet repellent), receiving several tic bites and having to go get the Lyme prevention antibiotic, all the times I froze my tush off in the rain because I wasn’t dressed warm enough, getting slightly lost in the woods on top of Windham Mountain while solo snowshoeing in a snow storm as night was falling, almost flipping my raft in a hydraulic in high water and having half my guests swim.

Misadventures, beyond control: having the well water go red and silty all spring and summer (I carted water from the Adirondacks home every week for us to drink), loosing my grandfather last August at 96 years old, I love him and miss him, being diagnosed with breast cancer and then lumpectomy surgery to remove it (early detection saved my life!), and getting bronchitis 3 times in 3 months.

So now that 2018 is here, I think I will keep a good thing going, my resolution for 2018 is to keep having adventures, take the back roads, try new things, take a walk on the wild side, keep life stirring, lively, provocative, intoxicating, groovy, and full of zest. Even the little things in life are worth enjoying!

Barefoot In The Snow

12-10-2017 Magic Moment:

I have a (what some people might think is a bit crazy) tradition of going (ever so briefly) barefoot in the snow. When the mood strikes me, usually only once a season and usually early on in the season before the ground is frozen solid. When there is the right amount of snow; more than a dusting but not more that a few inches deep, I like to plant my bare feet into the freezing fluffy white stuff. Sometimes I run around the yard, or sometimes just stand still until the aching cold becomes too painful to endure. I then run back inside and warm my feet up by the fire

I think this tradition originated in college. I was a little Florida girl going to school in the mountains of West Virginia. On the first snow fall of the first winter, I woke in my dorm room at dawn, through the window saw the fresh snow on the ground, excitedly jumped out of bed and ran outside into the commons wearing nothing but my night gown. I ran through the grass in my bare feet joyfully shouting “It’s Snowing!”. Groggy angry yells from other dorm rooms of “Shut up!” greeted my jubilation. I ran to the neighboring dorm to tell my best friend. She, having grown up in a suburb of DC was less than enthusiastic when I cam bustling into her room full of exuberance over the snow. Her reply was had words like messy, sloppy, slippery, cold, wet, and go back to sleep in it. Undaunted, I ran back outside and frolicked, quietly this time, in the snow until my brain finally realized that snow was indeed, wet, cold, and slippery. My bare feet were numb and walking was difficult up the stairs back to my room where I took a long hot shower to thaw out.

This morning, the mood struck, and I stepped out onto the snow dusted porch in my bare feet. They screamed at the cold abuse. Knowing I would not be satisfied with just the snow on the porch I walk down the stair to the yard. Standing there, the burning cold penetrating the very core of my feet, gazing up into the low grey sky, snow flakes landing on my face, I could smell the living smell of cold wet earth, the smell of earthy cold wet snow falling onto dead leaves, and bare branches. Birds are chattering in the trees along the road, the creek is burbling down the hill, and a snow plow is rumbling in the distance. The intense coldness numbing my feet brought on a memory so strong, it felt like it was actually happening. I was standing on the put in ramp for the first rafting trip of the season, knee deep in snow, neoprene covered feet already frozen numb before we even get to the water, early spring rapids roaring in the distance through the still leafless forest. I breath deeply, wet cold air energizing my lungs and snap back to here and now. Got to get these frigid tootsies back inside!

Smell Of Earl Grey Tea

10-20-1017 Magic Moment:

Warm cozy fire burning low in the wood stove, smallest cat and oldest cat curled nose to tail asleep on the sofa next to me, rainy cold fall day drizzling outside the window. The tea kettle starts burbling merrily atop the stove, so I drag myself from couch, pull sleeve over fingers to grab the handle and pour the boiling water into a mug. Gently sitting down again so as to not disturb the snoozing cats, carefully pick up the mug, enclose both hands around its warmth, inhale deeply. Breathe the bergamot scented steam, exhale slowly and breath deeply again, mouth watering, vivid memories of other times and places with other steaming cups of tea warming my hands floods my smiling mind. Inhale again that amazing satisfying smell of Earl Grey tea.