Archive for September, 2014

Sep 30 2014

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Gaining Perspective

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PrestonBrookSeptAt long last, Judy and I went for an overnighter. We had planned on doing so this summer, and had tried again Labor Day, but circumstances kept preventing it. No matter. With unseasonably warm temps holding, we cancelled appointments, shouldered our packs and slipped into the woods together.

We have a favorite spot next to a mountain brook where we like to camp. Although there’s nothing special about it, we’ve infused the place with fond memories through the years. As a consequence it has become our number one destination whenever we feel the need to get away.

A hard September frost brought out autumnal color earlier than usual. The forest canopy was a beautiful mix of green and gold leaves. The stream, though running low, broke over and around rocks as it made its way downhill. The sound of it unraveled our nerves. We sat back and let rushing water work its magic.

As the forest filled with evening shadows, Judy and I conjured up a small campfire. We kept it going well past dinner – flickering flames dancing in the darkness. With each stick thrown on the fire we grew more reflective, more philosophical, slowly gaining perspective on the world beyond the forest. Campfire gazing is like that sometimes. While meaning with a capital “M” was not forthcoming, we went to bed with a better bead on things. And the incessant rush of the nearby stream washed away all worry.

The next day we sat all morning and part of the afternoon, tending the fire and listening to the brook. Eventually we broke camp and hiked out. Then we returned home refreshed, though we’d be hard pressed to explain why.  Every woods retreat is like that.  Simply reconnecting with the wild seems to do the trick.



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Sep 22 2014

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Autumnal Equinox

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groundleavesStrong winds the past few days have knocked leaves to the ground, making it clear at a glance exactly what time of year it is. The leaves are both green and colorful – both reminiscent of summer and harbingers of autumn.

Light and dark are in balance now, along with warmth and cold.  Since late August I have been bemoaning the passing of summer, which is always too short here in northern New England. But while meandering along a local trail, a part of me comes to accept it. After all, a fall forest has its delights. Best to look forward to that.

Autumnal Equinox. Already a hard frost has stricken my garden, and I’ve closed up my house more than once. During the day I open windows to catch the moody breezes, but at night I close them again. So it goes during these harvest days.

Soon I’ll be hard at my literary work. I’ve already begun, actually. It’s easy to sit down at my desk and write when it’s chilly, raining and the wind is howling.  It will be even easier when the snow flies. But there are a few sunny, warm days ahead, no doubt. I’ll be sure to put my pen aside when they come along.



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Sep 10 2014

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Woods Retreat

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FrHillBkCampMonday morning I stuffed a few essentials into my rucksack and headed for the hills. I had plenty to do at home, but when the wild beckons the work can wait. I was overdue for a night alone in the woods.

I had my canine companion Matika with me, of course. Together we humped up the Long Trail two and a half miles from the trailhead parking lot to a small stream called French Hill Brook. From there we bushwhacked west, following the stream until I found a nice place to camp.

I didn’t set up camp right away. Instead I left my rucksack leaning against a tree and fished the brook for a while. In most places the overhanging vegetation made it difficult to cast, but I stumbled upon a few large holes where I could present my fly properly. There a couple wild trout rose to it, taking me by surprise. I didn’t expect to find 7 to 9-inch brookies this high up. I pulled them out of the water long enough to admire their beautiful markings then put them back.

I set up camp as late afternoon shadows overtook the forest. Matika lounged about, chewing on some of my firewood. Then I settled in for dinner and a little campfire meditation. The fire burned away all my concerns as I fed sticks into it. After the sun departed, a full moon rose into the cobalt sky. It’s light filtered through the trees. A cool September breeze kicked up. In the cusp between summer and fall… I reveled in it.

Up at daybreak, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before breaking camp. The hike out was easy: downhill all the way. Soon I was back home and getting ready for a half-day shift at the store. No matter. I got my fix of wildness so I’m all set for a while.


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Sep 03 2014

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Wandering and Wondering

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town forestIt’s a warm, very humid morning and I’m as restless as my dog Matika. We need to stretch our legs. Have to do a shift at the store later on so I should stay close to home.  With that in mind, I head for a town forest only a ten-minute drive away.

The trail system in the town forest has been forgotten. Either that or no one has gotten around to improving it yet. Not that it matters. When I’m in the mood to wander, the slightest hint of a trail will do. Don’t even need that, really.

Having only been here one time before, I wander in circles. That’s how I get to know a place. I check my compass regularly to keep myself oriented. I visit the small pond twice and loop back to the parking lot three times before it’s clear just how small this town forest is. Fine by me. This is all I need today.

I wonder as I wander, allowing my train of thought to loop around and crisscross as the trail system does. This is how, as a thinker/writer, I orient myself. It’s September now and I’ll soon be returning to my literary work. Although it’s still technically summer for another three weeks, I’m feeling the tug of autumn.

I return to the car soaked in sweat then head back home to make plans for the months ahead. What’s the best use of my time? That’s the driving question. As I grow older, this puzzle becomes more difficult to solve. So much depends upon what one holds dear, and at my age the list is long.


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