Archive for October, 2012

Oct 26 2012

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On the Calavale

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Taking a day off from writing as well as the hotel job, I grab my pack, load the dog in the car, and head for the hills. The sun is shining and temps are already in the 50s. I have a feeling that this might be my last shirtsleeves hike for a long, long time.

I park my car along the edge of a rough dirt road cutting through the Belvidere bog then tag an ATV trail skirting some flooded areas. A woman with a pack of huskies suddenly appears. They are followed by an old man leading a draft horse. After that five hunters come along on two ATVs dragging a dead bull moose. What next?

The rest of the hike is a solitary affair. I walk up the logging road to a stream crossing then follow the brook while recalling a similar outing years earlier. Back then I had gone on a walking meditation. I had traced the Calavale Brook to its source before turning around. On the way out, weakened by a daylong fast, I had stopped to nap on a flat rock next to the brook. When I awoke, I saw two brook trout swimming in the nearby pool.

Finding a pool similar to the one where I had napped years earlier, I stop to eat and rest. My dog Maika stands guard after lunch, half expecting another surprise encounter. I listen to the brook tumbling over a five-foot ledge to the shallow pool while jotting down a few stray thoughts in a field journal. The surrounding trees, mostly birches, have lost all their leaves already. Here in the Green Mountains, winter isn’t far away.

It’s hard to explain the primary benefit of an outing like this. A day alone in the woods has a leveling effect. Whenever my boots are wet and muddy, and I’m sweaty from a rigorous walk, I seem to be more receptive to wildness both without and within. Then I see the world in a way that’s not possible in the developed lowlands. It’s instructive to say the least.

Walking out is easy – downhill all the way. I soak my feet good while wading the flooded areas. Otherwise there’s no adventure. Matika keeps stopping to sniff clumps of hair and bits of bloody flesh that the dragged moose left behind. That’s amusing. But all too soon we are back to the car and driving home. Yeah, these daylong outings never seem to last quite long enough.


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Oct 15 2012

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Precious Days

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A few days ago I hiked around Indian Brook Reservoir, immersing myself in autumnal color. Yesterday I did it again on Aldis Hill, enjoying the not-so-subtle hues of the season despite the chilling air and thin drizzle. Rain or shine, the New England forest is magnificent this time of year.

At the hotel where I work evenings, tourists have been inquiring for weeks about that ever-elusive phenomenon called “peak foliage.”  I have done my best to point them in the right direction so they could snap their postcard photos and experience technicolor ecstasy. But mine is an entirely different take on the season, where each step on this steady march towards winter is just as precious as the next.

Strong winds last week shook a lot of the most colorful leaves from their tenuous moorings, thus blanketing the forest floor. That works for me. I don’t care if the color is up there or down here. It’s all beautiful, and the pungent leafy smell is reason enough to ramble through the woods.

From the first color to the first frost and beyond, Nature slowly closes shop. The growing season ends and it is time to bring in the fruits of the land. The long siege is not far away. These are not days one should waste.

There will be some balmy days still, and here in the lake valley where I live some leaves will cling to branches for several more weeks. That said I have no illusions about where all this leads. So each walk I take is a joyful prayer of thanks. Every autumn moment is delicious. I harvest what I can.


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Oct 06 2012

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Paris Book Released

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In May 2004 Judy and I rented an apartment in the heart of Paris, then explored the history and culture of France while feasting on the city’s many delights. It was a fulfillment of Judy’s dream, just like going alone into the wilds of Alaska was a fulfillment of mine.

To my own surprise, I enjoyed the City of Light so much that I felt compelled to write about my adventures there. In order to do that, I had to step out of my comfort zone. A Little Crazy in Paris is written in a style similar to my outdoor/nature narratives, but the urban scene of Paris is a world away from American backcountry. As a result this book is something else.

Francophiles will like this story, no doubt. I hope others enjoy the lightheartedness of it. There is more humor here than in all my other books combined.

A Little Crazy in Paris is now available at as both a paperback and a digital download. For those of you who would rather buy the book directly from me, I’ll have copies in-house in a couple weeks. I’ll be sending a notice to folks on the Wood Thrush Books mailing list at that time.

Let me know what you think of it.



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