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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Wednesday, June 24, 2015


It's the title that drew me in. I have a tendency to lean towards annihilation. At every wrong turn, at every unexpected challenge, at every health obstacle my mind turns to annihilation.

I'm not exactly sure what the point of this story is but I liked what Jeff VanderMeer has started in this Southern Reach trilogy. The writing style reminded me so much of All the Birds, Singing - that stinging inner dialogue that everyone experiences but is so hard to capture with words on a page. What surprised me even more was this man's ability to capture the inner thoughts of a woman. 

Here are some passages I highlighted: 

 The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.

Sunlight came down dappled through the moss and leaves, created archipelagos of light

That’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.

For most of the read I had no idea what was going on* which mirrored the protagonist's own experience. But then about half way through I realized that she, ghost bird, knew more than she was sharing. Hints of this were seen early on as she shared with the reader what she was withholding from her expedition group but then there comes the sinking suspicion that she's withholding from me as well and that made me a bit nervous. When I noticed I withdrew my trust in her narrative. My reading experience didn't necessarily take away from enjoying the book, its just that I became weary which made me more active in my reading.

“We all live in a kind of continuous dream,” I told him. “When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.”

This is what I felt back in May and for the first time in my life I don't know if I am ever going to seek out that continuous dream again.

*ETA: I was talking to a friend last night about this book and I told her that I don't know what this book is about, who the characters, why they are there in that setting, what the motivations are or even where the setting is though I do suspect it is somewhere in North America. She asked why I enjoyed it and I think it is for those feelings of not knowing what is happening. Perhaps this just speaks to where I am in life right. Not knowing what is going in my life nor which path to take is somewhat liberating.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

there is life in these woods

It was mostly wet all day then in the early evening the sun came out. But not enough to dry things so I had to get creative with my tinder: peeling off bark, shaving some curls off the logs. 

There is a bird family in the tree just north of our firepit. Sapsucker, I think. Don't know yet. They have a perfectly round entrance to their nest in this dead old popal. I listen for the fluttery screeches, hoping for a photo op of the sweet family. 

Then I'm pulled back from this vigil because there is so much to do, too much to be tied to just one thing.

This is what Daddy was made for; to help his little girl to fly.

After dinner when the kid is finally asleep we walk out to the road. Armed with a sky guide app we find Vega and Jupiter and brightest of all Venus. I didn't look down much and I almost missed the fireflys glowing in the tall grasses near the road. It is the June light show all through the woods and sometimes I think it specially made just for my birthday month. A little bit of magic.

Where do fireflys hang out during the day? At dusk a June bug does a flyby and all eyes are drawn to her curious route in between and around our bodies. These are the contradictions found in the bugs of my birth month: firefly and June bug.

The rain starts at 11pm but the next day the sun is out and out goes the boat. Daddy's Father's Day treat. 

Note the raspberry scent.

I drank a grapefruit shandy as the day was coming to an end. In these few quiet moments at the end of the day it is not hard at all to be grateful for where I am today.

"Real magic can never be made by offering someone else's liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back."  (Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn)

I gave up my gallbladder. My intention now is to reap in the magic that is the result of my sacrifice.

I absorb the magic in the solstice sun rays. My family took the sunlight and transformed them into sparkles.

At 9:45 Dave and I sat by the fire as the last of the day's sun left. The sky and the woods turned from blue to dark. The bats sped around up above our heads, the dusk songbirds sang loud all around in many different tunes. The stillness I sank into allowed me to see the intensely graceful wing sweep of a billowy moth.  

Finally night arrives and we make our way out to the road. The moon does this perfect hazy crescent pose. I seek out constellations, try to let Draco sink into my mind. 

The fireflys below in the tall grass blend upwards to the stars in the sky. The stars fall back to the ground. This is the end of my birth month. The season has come so far in just one month. And so have I.

I am grateful for so much on this summer solstice. I am grateful for the abundance in the woods and in the skies and in my life.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

The ocean sound of leaves

There is always a bit of unease when we come to the Four-Acre Wood for the first time during the warm season. For me anyway. The trees are full with their leaves and even the tiniest bit of wind makes the sound of waves in the ocean. The sound and the woods seem immense.

We saw a black bear just as we turned down the road that leads to the property. That's bear #19 for me. The sound of the leaves will mask the sound of an approaching bear. Who may be curious and unafraid of our species of mammal. There is no way to know just now.

No way except my own experience that tells me that the bear is more afraid of me than I am of her.

Yet the sound of the leaves does not cover the sound of  the owl who seems just a few trees away. The owl call is distracting me from my audio vigilance. It is lovely yet I fight the distraction thinking somehow I will keep my little family safer. 

I am not quite out of city mode. Which is quite ridiculous considering how in the city I dream about these exact sort of encounters, in the city where I boast to other urban dwellers about my bear and owl sightings.

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