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the path back is the path forward


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myths. [d.r. thursday]

he reassured me that – were we to be lost in the woods, deep in the forest, without our alltrails app, without google maps, without a gps of any sort – we could determine north by the side of the trees on which the lichen was growing. “that will be the north side,” he told me, adding, “and with that important information, we would be able to find our way.”

uh. nope.

i just looked that up and it is a myth. whattheheck?

just exactly how are we to know which things we have learned are myths and which things we have learned are not? this is a confusing and complex problem. particularly at moments – like in the woods, lost – when one would think, “wait! i can help! the lichen! look at the lichen! it grows most profusely on the north side. we can find our way out!”. which old wives’ tales are true and which aren’t?

we have found, lately, that the real truth of the matter is that everyone is pretty much making up everything. it’s all on-the-fly. wives’ tales and all.

the monsoon rains came on sunday after a perfectly-perfect day on saturday. “seven inches of rain possible,” the accuweather app read, “areal flooding. flash flooding. turn around. don’t drown.”

we hoped it would go around our town, just a bit to the west (or the east over the lake) and just skirt around us. but no such luck. it downpoured. at exactly the wrong angle and velocity for our house. in the middle of gathering chimney-work estimates, the rain battered the compromised chimney. in the basement, i made it up and laid towels to direct the rivulets of water (complete understatement) that were coming in, hoping i was making a difference. we crossed our fingers and wished for the storm drains to keep up. we turned to the north, looking for the way out of the forest.

because it was truly torrential, everyone around us was having issues. the huge tree in our neighbor’s yard fell and we kept looking up, standing out in the rain, waiting for the city to come and help them. the trees to our north are the ones that worry us the most in our own yard. there is no lichen on them. we laid down tarps on the deck along the house trying to keep the water from pooling along the siding and foundation. we got sopped in all our making-it-up. i wondered what else we could do, besides wait. but there wasn’t much. we kept vigil on the basement and on the trees to the north.

and we didn’t get a cold from standing out in the rain. another myth.

*****

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the orange blazes. [d.r. thursday]

there is this thing about being on a mountain in the woods. you don’t realize you are there – on the mountain. oh, you know you are going uphill and downhill and some of it is extreme, but being ON it is different than looking AT it. you are immersed in the scents and sounds and each step you take on the trail, over tree roots and slippery fallen leaves, is a really glorious celebration of being outside.

and then, in-between the branches devoid of leaves and over the tops of pine, you catch a glimpse. it takes your breath away, as do things that you love, things that are beautiful, things that remind you to “be here, now”.

the days were warm and the sun was amazing. it burned off a bit of fog early as it rose over the mountains and drew us outside. to drive down the road a bit meant getting to the national forest in a matter of minutes. hundreds of waterfalls and innumerable trails awaited. with only a couple days, we wondered where to start.

the orange trail blazes were on the trees as we hiked. it was supposed to be a relatively short trail, so we decided to turn off and take the faintly-traveled blue up the side of a steep ridge a good ways as well. we need new hiking boots it seems; the hundreds and hundreds of miles we have hiked in these over the last years have worn down their tread and traction on the leaves was a challenge. i found a stick on the side of the trail and that helped. trekking poles are also on the list. we saw no one on the blue. it was quiet and immense and the babbling stream below us was serene. the mountains around us peeked through branches on our way, more so the higher we got. we watched the sun as it got a little lower in the sky and turned around.

joining back up with the orange we started to hike back toward the lot. or so we thought. it seemed far, much farther than we had thought. the trail app wasn’t cooperating and we began to wonder if we were heading the wrong way. that made us the tiniest bit cranky, though we tried to laugh it off, even as the sun was slipping.

we passed a few people, also confused by a couple signs propped up by rocks that didn’t seem to correlate with the blazes. i took stock of our rations: a mini kind bar, a bottle of water, two halos, one sweater poncho and a thermal shirt tied around d’s waist. though i didn’t actually doubt that we would find our way out, i could imagine what it would be like to truly get lost and be unsure of the way out of the forest. “before we do the pct some day in the futuring-future, get a trail gps,” i made a mental note.

since orange was a large looped trail – and a smaller interior loop choice too – we knew we’d eventually get somewhere, though it did extend to two different parking lots, separated by a whole lot of what-would-end-up road walk. we kept hiking. at one point david thought we should turn around and go the opposite direction. happily we didn’t follow that naggy doubt he had in moments of what-the-heck. littlebabyscion was patiently waiting in the lot at the end and we loaded my stick in the back, checked our mileage – about 8 – and drove down the national park road in the last of waning light.

we hiked up another ridge the next day. we got a later start after a wonderful morning wandering in town. we didn’t make it to the peak. we were told the view was spectacular. but the hike was quiet and the brook babbling, birdcalls plenty and that smell of deep-in-the-woods like the best candle you’ve found.

before the sun set we turned around.

but it’s ok. we’ll be back.

*****

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snow angels. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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it wasn’t exactly a blizzard, but it was a great snowstorm.  it makes me wonder what would have happened if i had wished for something else….

every weekend My Girl drives back and forth across the high mountains.  she is a head coach for a snowboard team in aspen and instructs in telluride, so this four-and-a-half-hour-each-way-she’s-driving-where-there-are-no-guardrails-worry-zone for me is a necessity in her life.  i check the weather and implore her to stay in touch as she goes.  this last week, both of these towns and pretty much every town in-between had “winter storm warning” and THIS posted: avalanche warning copy

not exactly words that warm a momma’s heart.  but kirsten knows i am worried and, probably rolling her eyes, generously lets me know how things are as she goes.  she has good snow angels and i count on them.

i always say things like, “someday you’ll understand” to kirsten and craig, but i know that right now my mom-worrying might just be a burden to them.  i’m grateful they humor me, and i do know that someday they’ll understand.

when we were driving across the country in really bad weather, wendy had the ability to locate us and we were both really relieved for this.  checking in every so often, had something happened, at least she knew where-in-the-world we last were.  a good snow angel.  both The Girl and The Boy can locate me at any time too.  this is not an uncommon device used by families and i know that every mom has eternal gratitude for such a thing.

we took a walk in the freshly fallen snow.  It was very cold out and the wind was blowing, causing drifts across sidewalks and the waves to slam against the rocks on the lakefront.  i was glad not to be driving and my mind wandered back in time to other snowstorms….ones where my children bundled up and ran out to build snowforts and snowmen, ones where i was the one on the road and my sweet momma was the one worrying.  snowstorms when i went outside and played in the snow laughing with beloved old friends.

it had been kind of a long while since i’ve made a snow angel.  we got back from our walk downtown and were in front of our house.  i took david’s hand and we fell backwards into the snow.  i drew in my breath at the cold and laughed, my arms the wings of a snow angel.

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granny gps. [flawed cartoon wednesday]

granny gps jpegBIG copy

now, my sweet momma was pretty directive at times.  she knew what she wanted and was pretty specific about it.  even from the seat in her wheelchair in later days she would direct traffic or let you know exactly where she wanted to go and if you were doing it right.  then there was the electric wheelchair.  she got to be in charge.

it took scaling a mountain and zooming off into outer space and back to make all the arrangements that would eventually deliver an electric wheelchair to her assisted living facility.  but all of that fades in the memory of her phone call.  she had been practicing and practicing, trying to grasp how to make the chair go forward or turn or go backward without running into things or people.  we kept telling her, “you got this!” her confidence was thin and i know she felt like she would never really be able to master that chair.  until that day.

she called to say that she had gone down to breakfast.  in her chair.  alone.  and when she got there, a woman at her table told her about how there had been an author there, sharing her newly published book, reading, autographing; it had all been quite exciting, she told my momma.  my sweet momma looked at her, i’m sure smiling broadly and sitting up as straight as she could in her electric wheelchair and said, “that was me!”

never underestimate a granny gps.  there’s so much possibility.

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click here (or on the product bar above) for SO MUCH POSSIBILITY & GRANNY GPS products

FLAWED CARTOON WEDNESDAY – ON OUR SITE

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