Archive for August, 2012

Aug 27 2012

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Time Out

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A few days ago, Judy and I went for an overnighter in the woods. Our work schedules aligned, making it possible. It was a bonus outing for me, and a much needed getaway for Judy. She hadn’t been overnight in the woods in years.

We have a favorite camping spot along a mountain brook about an hour from home. It’s less than a mile from the dirt road where we leave our car. Half that distance is a bushwhack, though, so the spot is very private. We’ve never seen another person there.

We didn’t do much during our stay.  Judy read a book. I did a little fishing. We stared into a campfire, talked, and went for a dip in a nearby pool. Our dog Matika was with us, of course. She chased the chipmunks out of our camp then lounged about. All three of us slept well during the cool, dry August night.

Few bugs, great weather, and the constant rush of a small stream. Completely immersed in a green, leafy world. Can’t imagine how things could have been better. These hybrid outings – part camping, part backpacking – suit our purposes well. We’ve learned how to make the most of them, anyhow.

We lingered the second day. Neither Judy nor I wanted to leave. Next year we’ll make it two nights in the woods, but for now we are satisfied. It was a perfect time out.



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Aug 22 2012

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Backyard Lounging

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Contrary to the image that I create with this blog site, I’m not always on the move. Quite often I sit still – especially when I’m between busy shifts at the hotel. On those days, the shade beneath the old maple tree in my back yard is the place to be. Beats staying indoors, anyhow.

I usually have a small pile of books, notebooks and papers on the table next to me. I do a lot of light-duty literary work beneath the old maple: reading, letter writing, journaling, planning, and so on. Sometimes I just sit and think. Sometimes my dog Matika entices me to get up and throw the ball for her. On the weekends Judy joins me and we talk. I’m never bored.

A squirrel scurries along a nearby fence. Crickets chirp steadily. A cardinal or robin breaks into song every once in a while. The town bustles in the background. A gentle breeze rocks the rope swing dangling from a thick branch, reminding me of busier times with the grandkids. These are the sights and sounds of late summer, pleasant yet inducing a slight melancholy. Here in northern Vermont, the warm season is short indeed.

The writer’s life is a contemplative one. This is true even for those of us who write about the great outdoors. Experiences have to be processed. Ideas need time to ferment. An essential part of woods wandering is not wandering at all.


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Aug 11 2012

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Grandkids in the Woods

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Each year my wife Judy and I have all the grandkids over to our house for several days without their parents. We call it summer camp. It’s an opportunity for us to bond with each other while having lots of fun playing games in the back yard, fishing, swimming, and generally goofing around. Towards the end of summer camp this year, we all went for a hike at Niquette Bay State Park. It was something just a little different.

Although I’ve hiked with most of the grandkids before, this was the first time I’ve had all of them in the woods at once. Since they range in age from 4 to 15, it wasn’t easy keeping them together. Maddie, Hunter and Mason were way out front and wanting to go faster. I kept calling them back. Judy and Kaylee (the teenager) brought up the rear with Tommy (the youngest). They showed him where to put his feet when the trail became all roots and rocks. Johnny and I were in the middle, looking around. We were the first to see the garter snake that slithered across the trail. “I like nature,” Johnny commented. I smiled, nodded my head, and said: “So do I.”

It was a hot, humid day. I brought three liters of water for us to drink. We could have used more. My dog Matika drank from the tiny streams that we crossed. She got the best workout, running back and forth between the fastest and slowest hikers, trying to keep everyone together. German shepherds are like that. They don’t like having the pack dispersed.

Everyone enjoyed the walk, yet no one enjoyed it as much as I did. Judy and I haven’t spent enough time in the woods with the kids – Kaylee being the exception. Since the woods are my element, I’m hoping that this will change in the future. But the pack is widely dispersed between Vermont, New Hampshire and Virginia most of the year. Matika has her work cut out for her.

It’s amazing how fast the kids are growing up, how easily the days slip away. Judy and I make a real effort to stay in touch but our work-a-day lives distract us. We’ve talked about taking all the kids camping sometime. During this last visit, Kaylee mentioned that she’s only three years away from going to college. Clearly we had better plan something soon.


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Aug 01 2012

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Hiking Website

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During the month of August, yours truly will be one of a couple dozen bloggers contributing to an interesting hiking website called Each day a different outdoor writer will be featured at that site. It’s designed for experienced and beginner hikers alike. Check it out.

I wrote a piece about hiking along a Maine section of the Appalachian Trail called the 100 Mile Wilderness. It focuses on the importance of connecting with the wild, of course. What else would I write about?


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