Archive for August, 2015

Aug 24 2015

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Cabin in the Woods

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NicholsonCabinOnce again my wife Judy and I took our grandkids to the Nicholson cabin in Stowe. We all had such a good time there last year that it only made sense to go back for seconds.

Once again we had the two-acre pond at its base all to ourselves. That’s the main attraction. The kids swam in the pond daily during a run of 90-degree heat, kayaked on it, and hiked its perimeter so many times that we lost count.

For three days and nights, the cabin was our home base. From there we ventured not-so-far-afield to Cotton Brook where we hiked then went for a dunk in a clear, cold pool. We also did the tour at the nearby Ben & Jerry’s factory then ran into Stowe for some good food and a little entertainment. But the cabin itself, both primitive and charming, was what the kids really enjoyed. Judy and I were somewhat surprised by their sustained enthusiasm for it.

When I was younger I dreamt of having a cabin in the woods – a simple little place where I could live close to nature. In my advanced years now, I must admit that I like having electricity, indoor plumbing, and easy access to the amenities that a small town provides. When I feel the tug of wildness, I like to venture into deep woods where there are no amenities at all, not even a roof and four walls. But it’s a pleasure to live simply for a few days in a humble abode surrounded by trees.

When we returned home, all our grandkids were glad to have access to their electronic devices again. That said, I’m sure they won’t forget that cabin in the woods or the fun they had there anytime soon. The Thoreauvian ideal of living simply might be a bit much for most people, but there’s something to be said for the occasional exposure to Walden all the same. Living close to nature, if only for a few days a year, reminds us what we are and how little we really need.



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Aug 14 2015

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The Tug of Wildness

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Off TrailThis morning I had the presence of mind to step away from my computer and go for a little hike with my dog Matika. Glitches in online systems have been frustrating me lately, making me short-tempered.

I could say that the digital world, the realm of ones and zeros, is not my world, but that’s only half the story. The other half is that I’m trying to do too much in the short time remaining before my grandkids come to visit. At any rate, I headed for the nearest pocket of woods to collect myself.

While charging down the trail, grumbling about that which I do not control, I noticed the light breaking through the forest canopy, illuminating the understory. It was a green too vibrant to be real, or so it seemed. Next thing I knew, I felt the tug of wildness – a desire to leave the all-too-linear trail and just meander about the woods. I did just that. Then I settled down. Then I suddenly realized what is important and what is not. I called Matika to my side as I wandered around. Unlike me, with my head full of abstractions most of the time, she is always in the moment.

When I returned home, I found a message in my email inbox from a tech support guy, telling me that the system was experiencing “technical difficulties.” He hoped that they didn’t inconvenience me. I just shook my head and stepped away from the machine once again.

Technology is always difficult for those of us who would rather be immersed in wildness. My grandkids will be here soon. I look forward to spending as much time in the woods with them as possible. Then perhaps those technical difficulties won’t matter so much to me.



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Aug 08 2015

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Woodsy Interlude

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CarCampingI drove all around southern Vermont earlier this week, visiting libraries, thrift shops and church sales in my search for secondhand books. My fledgling book business is coming along nicely but it’s a lot of work, and it sometimes puts me in some funky situations. Wednesday evening, after a long day of book hunting, I headed for the nearby Green Mountain National Forest to spend the night before resuming my search the next day. Talk about out of context!

Car camping isn’t my favorite way to be in the wild, but it beats a motel room. Much cheaper, too. For a few bucks I could have stayed in a campground, but that’s not my style. I prefer running up some dirt road until I find a track slipping into the trees to some primitive campsite in the middle of nowhere. Places like that are few and far between these days, even in national forests, but they can be found if one looks hard enough.

After finding a place a mile up a forestry road, I threw up my tent and tossed a sleeping bag inside of it. Home for the night, just like that. Then I stood there in street clothes, looking around in fading light. A light breeze rustled the maple leaves overhead, otherwise all was quiet. I breathed deeply, relaxing in a way that’s hard to do in the developed lowlands.

Dueling owls hooted as I slept that night otherwise the forest was quiet enough for me to hear the leaves and twigs occasionally shed by trees hit the ground. Book sales seem noisy by comparison.

In the morning I quickly broke camp and followed Kelly Stand Road back to the lowlands. Along the way, I stopped to groove on a mist-covered beaver pond clearly visible from the road. A couple hours later, I was back in the business of sorting through books. I gravitated to the science/nature table, of course. That made the transition from wildness to commerce a bit easier.


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