Archive for May, 2020

May 21 2020

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Three Trillium Camp

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What a dramatic change in weather! Frost warnings one week; temps climbing into the 70s the next. At long last, I can go into the mountains overnight without freezing my ass off. And no rain in the forecast, either. So without hesitation, I load up my pack and am out the door.

With a desire to avoid people altogether (pandemic or no), I head for the Calavale Brook. It’s located somewhere in northern Vermont and that’s all I’m willing to say. The access road to it is too heavily eroded for my little car so I approach the brook from another dirt road a mile away. Sort of. Actually, I drive that road until it becomes a track, then walk that track until it ends at someone’s deer camp. Then I bushwhack along a NNW bearing through the woods. Eventually I hear water. Then I see it.

I find a relatively flat spot near the brook and set up my tarp amid wild lilies. Then I create a campfire circle a little closer to the water. Home sweet home, with three painted trilliums marking the boundaries of it. A good place to relax, meditate, and scribble in my field journal. The constant sound of water rushing past is quite soothing. The black flies aren’t too bad. The sun slowly settles into the ridge behind me and soon I am staring into a campfire. Once I’ve had enough of that, I go to bed. The naked trees (leaves not yet unfurled) point to a thousand stars illuminating the heavens above. And it’s good to be alive.

Despite my tossing and turning, I manage to get a fairly good night’s sleep. But getting out of bed and into the chilly morning air is a bit rough. Temps dropped significantly overnight. I snuggle next to a morning campfire and life is good again. When the black flies come back out, it’s time to go. After making the campfire circle disappear, I head out the same way I came. Only now I’m in a much better frame of mind. A solo overnighter is good for that.

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May 09 2020

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Return to Fisk Quarry

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Following the governor’s orders during the pandemic, Judy and I went off the beaten path, midweek, midday. We went back to Fisk Quarry on Isle La Motte for a short walk. Six years have passed since we last stopped by. Time flies.

This was Judy’s first time seeing the quarry, actually. She stayed in the car during the previous visit, while I raced to the top of the quarry to check out the fossils embedded there. We were on our way somewhere else back then. Can’t remember where.

Fisk Quarry Preserve is part of the Chazy Fossil Reef – a National Natural Landmark located on a large island in Lake Champlain. Chazy Reef is one of the oldest exposed reefs in the world, dating back over 400 million years. The fossils of thousands of gastropods, cephalopods and other ancient marine creatures are embedded in its grey rock. Being there is like stepping back in time. Way back.

The last visit inspired me to write the first chapter of my book, A Reluctant Pantheism. The swirl of gastropod fossils reminds me of hurricanes, galaxies and other natural phenomenon, convincing me that such a thing as order exists in nature. How? Why? Some organizing force is at work, no doubt. God or simply the laws of physics? Either way, I drop to one knee in deep reverence.

Judy noticed it, as well – the incredible passage of time that makes one feel so small and inconsequential. Meanwhile, red-winged blackbirds flew overhead, a pair of mallard ducks swam in the quarry, and turtles sunned beneath a partly cloudy sky. All very much alive, like us, and living in the present. Wild strawberry, pussytoes and other wildflowers bloomed, while the first tree leaves slowly unfurled. Life goes on. Hundreds of millions of years later, life still goes on. It’s humbling to say the least.

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