Monday, July 27, 2015

exquisite July moments




There is nothing like a well-timed storm. I love that moment when the lightening and thunder gets worked up, striking and rumbling loud. We were settled and ending the bedtime routine when the summer storm poured a sky's worth of heavy rain. Storms in an aluminum airstream are full of tinny taps and splats. The rain seems so close.



I found this feather when I first stepped out of the Jeep. I want to believe it is a raven feather but crows are more common in this region. I want to make a wood weaving, a dream catcher for my daughter. Her middle name is Raven after all. I would like to help her catch the bad dreams before they disturb her sleep. 



Yet I know we're all going to get good sleep tonight after stretching our muscles while swimming around the boat. The little one decided she'd see what it was like to jump from the boat. My heart stopped for a second then soared when she surfaced. Soared with laughter as I saw the surprise in her eyes. Her Dad and I made a point to laugh as much as possible and soon she joined in with giggles. I know how scary and surprising it can be to feel the water run up my nose and I'm the family's best swimmer. Funny how stuff comes up that I hadn't thought about in a very long time. I used to swim. I used to be on a swim team. I've braved the Mississippi River and made it across with no troubles while my friends struggled. I can swim. Yet my knees reminded me (screamed at me) the next morning reminding me how long it's been since I've done some laps.


These July days have been exquisite. There's no other way to say it. Probably one of the best Midwestern summer I've ever experienced.



I decided this was the year that I would make a serious effort to learn and identify constellations. The Ursas are distinct for me so I've been working from there. To the right of Ursa Minor sits the curved face of the serpent Draco. The interesting connection here is that if I move up I find the foot of Hercules stepping down to crush Draco's head. There's a story that I need to explore. For now I'm content that I know another constellation.


The night is still. There is no wind. No thrashing tree branches, no rustling leaves, even the owls are silent. Still there is a bit of sound. It's the legion of toads that have moved into the area. Small but jumpy and flighty. The hop through the leaves that are low to the ground. At times loud and startling. We saw a deer and her fawn earlier today. I wonder if they've roamed near the airstream. I'm attributing the low leaves rustling too much to the toads. I imagine the fawn still finding her legs and a bit clumsy in the woods. Not unlike my little one.
























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Friday, July 24, 2015

lazy days





We are headed to the 4-Acre Wood this afternoon and while prepping for the trip I realized I hadn't posted anything in days and days. Summer seems to always be an invitation to be lazy, even if the lazy is full of activity.

There are big changes coming to my life in less than a month. The little one starts school soon. I had to buy an academic calendar to track her days off (her school is off on major Christian and Muslim holidays). We'll have to get up in the morning a full two hours earlier than usual. So to say that the mornings are going to change is a big understatement. There are uniforms to buy and other back-to-school shopping to get done.

There has been a lot of Star Wars excitement around here. We've been watching the movies with the little one. I just had to introduce her to my favorite princess. I did some public speaking at a co-op event shortly after we watched the original Star Wars movie and the highest praise that I could never have imagined came from the Lotus Bud. She said that I was like Princess Leia leading the rebel forces! That's a memory I'm going to hold on to forever. So before I leave blogland and head to the woods I'm going to share a link which provides a whole different perspective on the new football stadium being built in Minneapolis. There's been controversy, of course. Which I've paid little attention to but when I saw this, I thought heck yah! I like that view!

May the force be with you.


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Monday, July 13, 2015

city malaise

A heat wave is coming through the area so we decided to stay in the city. We needed to prepare for the lockdown. Likely it won't last more than a week but it is nice to be able to cool down in the house in that one week of hot, humid heat. 

I try to hold off as long as possible but this year it feels preemptive. The land of ten thousand lakes in the center of the continent gets mighty humid in the middle of the summer. By preparing one day in advance we can get ahead of the humidity. At least that's the plan.


Once the window unit is in the city gets shut out. I feel closed in but it's better than feeling oppressed by the heat. We start to drive each other nuts. Or maybe it's just me, all crabby and irritable. 


The malaise is deafening, clouding my emotions. The day is at once overwhelming and full of potential. So much to do, so much that could be done, so far behind on the city house chores and yard work. Re-sloping the landscape rock that is at the base of the chimney, planting the morning glories around the makeshift teepee shaped trellis, scouring the kitchen, clearing out the pantry shelf. I was flabbergasted by all the beans, lentils, dahl, brown rice, sushi rice, wild rice, garbanzo beans to be found in that black hole. I've discovered that I'm an accidental hoarder. I suspect I gathered all those staples when the kid was a toddler. Gathered until the accumulation became its own barrier to consumption. I'm going to store it in this attractive basket now that I've sorted out the good stuff. A basket that was buried in this and a lot of spices that was dumped on me by a family moving out of state. 

   
I got up early on Sunday to get some time outside. With all the central units and window air conditioners my neighborhood block is quiet of people but full of cooling unit sounds. I'm enjoying my time outside until I realize my big knitting mistake. A mistake that I notice at the end of knitting one sleeve, at a time when I start to get excited about the end. The mistake? The needles I used for the sleeves are bigger than the ones I used for the body of the sweater. How did this happen? So I pull out the sleeve and regroup, opting to not frog the whole dang thing.



This sort of thing always happen to me. I tend to be highly distracted while knitting, whether I'm riding in the Jeep or watching a show or drinking shandies. OK so maybe it is just the drinking that gets in the way but I do love to sip beverages while knitting. This mistake is a big one which makes me reconsider the whole sweater. How did I begin with the wrong needles?

 
Moving on...The hostas are in bloom. What sort of noise do they make when the blooms burst open? There must be a sound. I always imagine that sound to be trumpets as they sway to the rhythm and the music of the wind.


Each year we eagerly await these particular clematis blooms: the Niobe. They are my daughter's namesake and it seems to me that they grown taller each year mimicking her own growth. My in-laws are tall and I think she might reach their heights!


Our favorite place for breakfast in the city is packed full and the wait is long. We finally settle for three seats at the counter and the way we are seated does not lend space for a family breakfast conversation. I find some time for my own thoughts right in the middle of a bustling restaurant.

Later I realize that re-knitting the sleeve is not tiresome. It actually feels right in ways that the first go around didn't. The question now is why didn't I listen to my intuition? A lesson that I apparently need to learn again and again. For the knitting and the humid heat, this quote says it all:
Ah, summer, what power you have to make suffer and like it. - Russell Baker











   
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Monday, July 6, 2015

making holiday memories

I busted a log and a colony of ants came pouring out. In an instant there was this flood of teeming little insects........

Let's just pause for a minute and consider that image, the one that takes over my bug phobic mind (not anything I could nor want to capture with my camera).......


Would this have been better at dark? Surely not! I might have unknowingly stacked the split pieces and walked them to the firepit in my arms. The thought of having those crawling ants all over me makes me want to flee to Lotus Bud's bed in the airstream, just to retreat behind the mosquito netting.




We don't usually come to the 4-acre Wood on big summer holidays like the Fourth. But a string of well-timed days off brought us here. The normal 2 1/2 drive was nearly doubled because of single lane traffic 25 miles to the Wisconsin border.

Only to get here to a river full of drinking boaters. Normally it is fisher people, the old guys scattered on the shores, the occasional water skier. Today there are huge groups of people and large pontoons and jet skis. We decided not to join the water traffic.




The Fourth in Wisconsin is not unlike a friendly fire war zone. No kidding. The booms and cracks and explosions are all around us. Some glittery sprays of light explode just above the treetops, down the road and scary close. The neighbor numbers are higher than usual and even higher still due to sharing the holiday with family and friends.

Sometimes the loud noises drive the animals towards our quieter property. Should be an interesting night.



Can you believe this bird? This time we saw that the bird was perched right over the airstream door. Do you think she's sending us a message?

As the thought of returning to the city comes to mind, Big D reminds me that they will all be gone Sunday.



So we busy ourselves with some crafts: framing some butterflies we found at a gas station parking lot and making gemstone ornaments on some dried papal rounds.



I'm in a good place, feeling gratitude for the safety and comfort in my life. The jumping toads and ground squirrels help me adjust to the woodland noises.

The wind is high on the trees. The leaves rustling with sharp strikes and shakes. The fire down below is not effected by the wind, just the tips of the trees. Maybe we'll see another hazy orange July moon.


Sunday dawns bright and beautiful and quiet. We make our way to the water. The waves were white-tipped from the wind which made this hot summer day feel mild and comfortable.


This girl needs a friend. I continue to tempt and coax and entice some friends and family to join us even if just for the day. Hopefully sometime this summer.

Still. She did have a great time floating in her princess raft and swimming on the softy sandy bend in the river. So much so that this happened on the ride back to the dock. I remember a time when we would be the ones napping after too much sun and not enough fish.


So we sped back to the dock and Dave finally got the chance to ride the motor out, something he's wanted to do for years. 


The Kuki Wailer is nearly thirty years old and she tears it up in that brown silty river. We bought her from a town local. My imagination tells me that she has spent her whole boating existence here on the Flambeau Flowage She helps us create golden memories on each ride.


I'm diving into this grapefruit shandy craze. The one I made tonight was particularly tasty after a long afternoon on the river.


Now I am satiated with some pizza take-out from a nearby town and we're quietly packing up all the outdoor stuff: screen tent, kids tent, hammock, camp chairs. Gathering the stray arrows. All this work shows how full our weekend was. All this to prepare for the rain. And that, my friends, is the best way to wake up on the last day of a long holiday weekend. The rain wakes me early. I was woken by all the pleasant sounds of raindrops dripping off the trees and onto the airstream trailer, splashing on the deck and the windows.



But the long weekend isn't over until we make our way back to Minneapolis and so we extend the good times with a stop at out favorite tavern, a tavern with Sasquatch.


And northern pike fish tacos.


All went well over the holiday weekend and none of us had tantrums. We even got some decent sleep. The wood tick count was in the single digits, the mosquitoes were abundant but bearable. The woods didn't catch on fire. We saw five eagles on the river. But no deer. No bear either. And we found a sapsucker feather, just what the little one was hoping and looking for her so that I can spin it into a web that will catch the nightmares before they enter her sleep.

That's how I think of these golden July memories. They spin webs in my brain so that the negativity is caught and expelled before entering my thoughts. If that's truly the case, then I want a bunch more.







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Monday, June 29, 2015

The astonishing ends of June

The other night a firefly came right on a path between me and my love when we were out on the road looking for constellations. He was gazing up when the firefly decided to make its flashy buzzy way in between our bodies.

Question: if a firefly flies between a pair of lovers and if one of them doesn't see it, is it still romantic?

Yes, yes it is romantic.


Do you know that in all this time I've spent out in the woods completely removed from any major city, in all this time I have never seen a solar flare or the northern lights? I am astonished with myself.

I've seen the International Space Station bright in the sky but I've never seen my own Gemini constellation.





As soon as we got to the 4-Acre Wood I noticed the firepit. It looked like some very large bird had been here, a bird who took a very large poop. Here look at it. It's not just in one spot either. It's all around the ring of stones.


Of course my imagination tells me it was an eagle or an owl. Somewhere in the back of my mind a voice says it was a turkey. But then turkeys do roam in flocks and this seems like the work of one bird. It seems to have flown in, moved around the pit, then up onto the bench all the while dropping poo.




Daisies, fireflies, strawberry flowers - that's what the wilds of June are all about.




This weekend was our first visit to the local Ladysmith farmers market. These are the goods I picked up.


It was good to see how everyone did in the winter. It was good to get the farm fresh eggs. The garlic scapes for pesto. The baby kale, the tender peas perfect for snacking.


The trifecta of today's farmers market: tomato/basil jam, sweet honey, and spicy hot kimchee. I'm astonished by all that I found that was made in the local area.


The farmer from Maple Hill Farm said he loses over a hundred chickens a year to owls. Not coyote or fox but owls. I am astonished by these owls. Well fed, apparently.




And if all that wasn't enough (of course it all is more than enough) we had the perfect golden summer afternoon to cruise on the Flambeau Flowage. The water was warm and silty.


How astonishing to realize this is my life, that this is the life we have created as a family.





The second day in the woods my senses are enhanced, I'm less jumpy, my ears are getting used to being away from the city and I'm calm enough to identify the sounds around me. I am not startled by the rustling steps in the woods just to the left (east) of me. Probably deer or maybe a raccoon. I'll know if it is a raccoon if I hear similar sounds in about ten minutes.

I'll wait to see what I hear next. I'll sit here next to the fire within a circle of citronella torches, listen to WOJB (probably one of the best community radio stations in North America), and sing some more Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and Buddy Red Bow (because it is the listener request honkytonk show and it's almost always the same songs each Saturday). I'll drink my grapefruit shandy and think about the golden ends of June.

Yep. Here comes a few more raccoon traipsing through the woods. The lead one must have given the all clear. Seeing as I'm sitting right nearby that might be the most astonishing thing a city girl could experience today.









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