Tag Archive 'summer solstice'

Jun 18 2017

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Daybreak on the Stream

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After surprising three deer crossing the road, I parked my car then stepped into the woods. My dog Matika was right on my heels. The sun was just clearing the eastern horizon. I had crept out of bed a little after 4 a.m. and was now approaching a mountain stream at daybreak. A hermit thrush greeted me with its flute-like song.

I ignored the mosquitoes while tying a fly to my line. A cool breeze wafted down the brook as the first shafts of sunlight broke through the trees. The tumbling stream rushed along, unraveling my thoughts. Next thing I knew there was a brook trout tugging my line. I lifted my rod and brought it to the bank where I was crouching, much to Matika’s delight. She danced about in predatory play. The small fish slipped back into the drink faster than she could react.

I caught a few more fish and lost a few while slowly making my way up the stream. It hardly mattered. My casts were more out of habit than intent. I was enthralled by the deep green tunnel directly ahead – the dark hemlocks, vibrant moss and ferns, and slick gray rocks around which the stream flowed. Fishing was just the excuse that brought me here, what got me out of bed.

Upon reaching a deep pool at the base of a boulder, I gave up all pretense of fishing. I sat on the stream bank admiring the unspeakable beauty all around me and soaking in its wildness. Eventually, after killing a dozen or so mosquitoes taking turns at my forearms, I removed the fly, reeled in all my line, and hiked out.

Back on the road, I felt the full power of a sun only days away from the summer solstice. Not even mid-morning and already the air felt warm. It was going to be a hot day, but I’d already enjoyed a cool reprieve at the beginning of it.

 

 

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Jun 22 2014

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Talking, Not Doing

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HPICYesterday I did something rather strange. I drove to a major trailhead in the Adirondacks to give a presentation at the High Peaks Information Center about hiking the Northville/Placid Trail. After the talk, I spent the night in a walled, canvas tent with my wife Judy and my dog Matika. Then I drove home this morning. Didn’t actually set foot on a trail.

Such is the life of an outdoor/nature writer out promoting his work. In this particular case, I was promoting my NPT hiking narrative, The Allure of Deep Woods. Since I was in the Adirondacks, it made sense to be talking about hiking in the Adirondacks. All the same, there’s a big difference between talking and doing.

I haven’t been feeling well lately. Just a little pain in the gut that will probably amount to nothing. Judy accompanied me just in case it developed into something serious.

Our campground neighbors were chatty last night. Temps dropped into the low 40s. Judy crawled out of bed this morning all disheveled, looking like she hadn’t slept well. But I didn’t fully appreciate her sacrifice until she emerged from the restroom a while later, carrying a toiletry bag with the phrase “J’aime Paris” written on it.

On the way home we stopped at a small park where I tossed the ball for the Matika. Judy sat on a rock for a while watching the Ausable River rush along beneath a mostly sunny sky. It was a compensation of sorts, certainly. On the second day of summer, neither one of us is inclined to complain. As for Matika, well, she goes with the flow no matter what.

 

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Jun 30 2012

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Summer Sun

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I open the door to the back yard, letting the dog out, and am greeted by an early morning sun burning brightly as it clears the trees. Not quite awake yet, the spectacle takes me by surprise even though I’ve seen it a thousand times before. The summer sun at the start of a cloudless day is irresistible.

Summertime is all about the sun. It blazes with such intensity on the Summer Solstice that all memories of the longer, cooler time of year fade to irrelevance. And the day seems to go on forever.

Barefoot before going to work, I putter about the yard pulling weeds, watering the herbs and tomato plants spilling out of planters, and checking out flowers now opening to the sun. Then I settle into the shade of an old maple tree with my books and papers. Even when I’m not banging around in the woods, life is good. Simple pleasures, like fresh strawberries, are abundant this time of year.

Our very existence depends upon that immense orb of fiery nuclear reactions over ninety million miles away. Without it this planet would be a cold, barren wasteland as most planets are. Any closer to it and Earth would be a living hell. On some level all the plants around us seem to know this. Each day they reach towards the sun as if worshiping it, and flourish before its unblinking gaze. Is it any wonder that our first gods were sun gods? Even today, in countless modern, secular ways, we still worship it as we leave our homes and offices to recreate out-of-doors.

Here in Vermont, this far north, the growing season is short indeed. But that only makes these summer days that much more precious. This isn’t California. The sun does not shine endlessly here. So when it does we are wise to set aside everything else we are doing – the supposedly important things – and groove on the sun and all its earthly consequences. The long, cold season so conducive to deep thought will return soon enough.

 

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