Archive for July, 2015

Jul 28 2015

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Cool Brook on a Hot Day

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Deep PoolAfter weeks of relatively cool, wet weather, temps are suddenly very summerlike here in the North Country. To beat the heat, I went trout fishing on a mountain brook yesterday – not so much to catch fish as to wet-wade a shady stream and keep my dog Matika chilled out.

I was not disappointed. The forest canopy blocked out most of the direct sunlight and the water was cold enough to keep the trout happy. Wearing old, worn out hiking boots, I didn’t hesitate stepping into the fast-moving water. Matika was a little reluctant to get wet so I intentionally crossed deep sections of the stream several times, urging her to follow. She complied.

Despite the heat of midday, the trout rose to my fly. I caught and released half a dozen brookies and browns, losing that many again. I’ve been working a lot and not fishing much. That’s my excuse for not landing the surprisingly large brown trout that darted out of a deep side pool. Truth is, the white flash of its torpedo-like body rising to my fly excited me to the point where I overcompensated while setting the hook.

Towards the end of my afternoon fishing, I came into a deep pool way out of proportion with the small stream. I knew there was a bunch of trout holed up there, but for some reason I decided to let them be. Or perhaps I’d taken my fill of angling joy. I chose instead to sit on a stretch of high, flat ground and eat a simple lunch with my dog.

Sometimes it’s enough just to sit quietly and look around. The wild re-creates us in a way that recreation cannot. Afterward, I hiked out as slowly as the biting insects would allow. It was another good day in the woods.


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Jul 21 2015

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High Summer

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SummerFlowersEven though temps haven’t reached into the 90s yet here in northern Vermont, the daisies and black-eyed susans in full bloom along roadsides, as well as in my garden, make it clear what time of year it is. The early blooming day lilies in my front yard are on their way out, along with any remnant of spring. It is summertime, replete with thunderstorms, mosquitoes, and that fecund smell wafting through the window at dusk – the smell of happy vegetation at the end of a long, hot day.

I suck down as much water as I can during my book-hunting road trips. I keep the car windows rolled down whenever it’s not raining, so that I can bask in the hot, dry wind. Camped overnight in the Green Mountain National Forest between book sales, I listened to coyotes singing at dusk, the hoot of a great horned owl at midnight, and blue jays at dawn. I swerved around a turkey crossing the road in early morning, and spotted deer in open fields as made my rounds in southern Vermont and New Hampshire. Even while immersed in a work-a-day mindset, the wildness that runs amok in midsummer gets my attention. It’s hard to miss.

Back home between road trips, I work at my desk in shorts and a t-shirt, occasionally wandering around my back yard whenever I need a break from the computer screen. The grass is thick this year, thanks to all the rain we’ve been getting. My wife Judy loves this green carpet. I’m not quite as enthusiastic about it, especially when I’m sweaty from having just mowed. My yard often resembles a cut hay field.

Circumstances have nixed my backpacking plans this year, but I find myriad ways to enjoy the season regardless. High summer – what’s not to like? The first fresh fruits and vegetables are out, the birds sing every morning, and the sun blazes at midday in a way that makes dark winter thoughts impossible. Why not revel in it?



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Jul 08 2015

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Butterfly Camp

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NewHavenHeadwatersTen days after my brief stay alone in the Broadleaf Wilderness, I returned with my wife Judy to spend some more time there. We camped in the same spot where I had been before, along the edge of the headwaters of the New Haven River, miles away from the nearest road. With fair weather predicted, neither Judy nor I could imagine a better place to be on the 4th of July weekend.

A little rain fell the first night but we were comfortably situated in our tent by then. The rest of the time it was cool and dry – perfect weather for lounging in camp. Judy knitted or read while I gathered wood, tended a campfire, or puttered about. Twice I fished the mountain stream for brook trout, which Judy had for lunch. Our dog Matika chewed on sticks when she wasn’t following me along the stream. We napped. We listened to the endless rush of water breaking over rocks. Yeah, we did a lot of nothing.

Black and white butterflies overran our camp in the middle of the second day. Later we would identify them as the birch-loving white admirals. They gathered on the clothes hanging from a line strung between trees, on our tent, my backpack, and whatever other gear we had strewn about. They were not shy. I had encountered them on this stream before, but never in such abundance. Clearly the headwaters of the New Haven is their world.

Judy had some trouble getting comfortable in our primitive camp. I could relate. It’s not as easy to lounge in the wild at our advanced age as it was thirty years ago – not while living out of a backpack, anyhow. But we were glad to be out there all the same. We returned home on the third day feeling more than just a little relaxed. The wild has a way of massaging all concern into oblivion, temporarily at least. Wish there was some way to can it.


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