It started in kindergarten with pens and ink pots and blotting paper. Since then I've loved writing. Transferring the noise in my head to paper calms the chaos. If a worthwhile thought occasionally emerges, I'll keep it here with memories, stories and other random trivia, of interest mainly to myself and, with a bit of luck, to the odd passerby.
Mother Nature humoring those who still can't get their heads around Thanksgiving by the pool. Normally I would not be writing today. I'd be juggling the mashed potatoes, the creamed spinach, the stuffing, the gravy, the cole slaw, the sweet potato casserole, the orange-cranberry sauce and the pies, timing everything to be ready at the same time, while the OC performed grill magic on the turkey in the sunshine.
But today - no sunshine, no children, no grandchildren, no neighbors or friends, just us two. So we made a daring decision - eat out. First time in 47 years. I hope my mother-in-law was not watching from up there. She'd surely think I was sinking to new depths.
We did make pies though. You gotta have pies - Sweet Potato and Bourbon Pecan.
I don't think we'll make a habit of it. I can still hope for a few Thanksgivings, before the jig is up, where we might, by some miracle, have all our children and grandchildren around the table once more.
Overheard at the library recently...
"How are you?" said she.
"Grateful," said he.
I stopped in my tracks. Most of us are not looking for a full organ recital when we ask that question, but what a better answer than the usual "Fine thanks," or "Great thanks, or "Been better," or "So-so."
I think I'll adopt it.
I don't always remember to be grateful. So much easier to have a little moan.
And there's a lot of moaning going around in recent months.
This was a one-word reminder that there is as much to be thankful for as there is to moan about.
Today's photograph is from Mt. Hood, Oregon where I recently visited Youngest Son and - are you ready?
Got high. Really high.
Calm down now.
Not that kind of high.
One Sunday we hiked the trail around Trillium Lake which has a wonderful view of Mt. Hood. It was a beautiful day, blue skies, puffy white clouds, high fifties/low sixties - so delicious we went back on Monday when it was more peaceful, no crowds, no shouting children to shatter the stillness or scatter the fish.
Mt. Hood from Lake Trillium
My plan was to take photos, his to catch fish. He settled on the shore and cast his line. I sat on a nearby rock and watched a while. An eagle swooped down with a loud splash mid-lake, soared up again, then flew towards us. Maybe he'd drop his fish on us? No fish were biting and we agreed that an eagle dropping a trout on his head might be my fisherman's best chance of catching one.
It was cloudier than it had been on Sunday, but still delicious. However, after half an hour of sitting I was in danger of turning to stone so up I got to move around, stamp my feet and warm up. I'd make a terrible fisherman.
I spotted another trail leading off into the woods and decided to explore. YS, ever hopeful, stayed on the shore. The trail was wide and cushioned with pine needles, greenery all around, some already glowing red and gold.
After parallelling the lake for a bit, it turned away from shore, heading steeply upward.
I think I may be descended from forest-dwelling gnomes as walking in the woods always blisses me out. My earliest memory of anything similar was the haggard behind my granny's house. I remember, as a little girl, collecting kipeens (little sticks) for kindling among those trees with her.
The woods at Cratloe were another favourite childhood haunt. I loved it so much we got married in the tiny chapel there. The Little Blister still goes there to run (in the woods, not the chapel) She claims it feels more like church to her than church.
Our California Girl lives in Redwood country, the silence in those ancient groves so hushed and reverent the loudest sound is that of a pine needle drifting to earth.
And where YS lives are more woods with more plush, piney carpet underfoot and a cathedral-like hush.
So there I was, getting high in Oregon.
It must be in the DNA.
The trail was seriously steep now, up and up, away from the lake, turning back on itself in a series of esses, taking me ever higher. In school, in Irish language class, we had a story once about how a donkey, not considered the brainiest of animals, nevertheless had a clever way of climbing a steep path - not by going straight up but by zigzagging from one side to the other. I have used that information often since those long ago schooldays. The Mag would be gratified that it made such a lasting impression, but also puzzled that I remember nothing else from that story.
Zig zagging my way upwards I became aware of a humming sound. Traffic? Impossible. Then I realized it was the sound of my ears preparing to explode.
At each new bend I told myself 'Just to this bend, then, if there's an amazing view, I'll turn back.' Kind of like reading a good book where you keep turning just one more page. I wasn't yet high enough for the amazing views, just more trees, crowding in on all sides, more steep trail ahead and air that was thinner by the minute. On I went, up and up. No strolling now. When I heard the sound of pounding I stopped again to listen. It was only my heart.
By now I was channelling Cheryl Strayed, having recently loved 'Wild,' her account of hiking 3000 miles, skyhigh, on the Pacific Coast Trail, alone. Parts of that trail are there in the Mt Hood National Forest. And yes, it did occur to me that traipsing off up a strange mountain, alone, might not be the smartest thing I'd ever done but, I rationalized, anyone willing to climb this high surely has loftier motives - the beauty, the peace, the views and the exercise - than assaulting daft old ladies.
Upwards and onwards, totally focused, huffing and puffing, just being there, on the trail, no worries, no past, no future, just now, the path before me, the trees all around.
An hour into my hike, just when I thought I might actually reach the summit, my cell phone buzzed. It was reality.com. "Where are you?" a peevish voice asked. He's ready to leave, fishless, dispirited, and I'm an hour above him. If only I had wings I could jump off the trail's edge and land beside him in a matter of seconds.
But no wings, not even a parachute, only Shank's mare.
I gaze longingly at the next bend in the trail. Who knows what heights I might reach if left to myself ? But common sense (I do have a little), and the YS persuade me to turn around
In my next life, I plot, on the downward march, I'll be a serious hiker - stout boots, rucksack, flashlight, water, camping gear, maps, a plan - all the things I don't have now. High above the madding crowds I'll breathe pure, ferny air, eyeball to eyeball with the tops of the tallest trees, looking down on ribbony roads and rivers and shining mirror lakes - taking amazing pictures. I'll have a small cabin there with '"clay and wattles made" a wood burning stove and a neat stack of wood by the door. I think the OC could be talked into joining me. Someone would have to chop the wood (not me!) and someone would have to cook (not him!)
We could leave the aggravations of the world below. Family and friends would be welcome to visit as long as they were willing to climb and leave their 'devices' at home. But, come to think of it, the latter might be a deal breaker for the OC. Hmm. Some compromises might be necessary.
Meanwhile my phone is buzzing again. I walk faster, surprised at the mountain-goat nimbleness of my knees, down down down, snapping quick photos of a flower here or a leaf there, almost falling face first into a soggy ditch in my eagerness.
The world down below forgotten, this is my reality for now.
High as a kite on firs and ferns and fantasy.
November always gets me remembering my early days of blogging. Especially NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and how, for a couple of years in a row, I actually did it - a blog post every day throughout November. And now some lazy, uninspired person has crawled into that space I used to occupy. A person who can't seem to manage one blog post per month, never mind every day.
I drove to the doctor's this week and all the way there (an hour) I wrote the most scintillating blog posts - in my head. They frown on people writing while they drive almost as much as they frown on people driving while inebriated so, of course, by the time I got home again, all my brilliance had evaporated.
I started blogging, more than ten years ago, as a way to practice writing. You know what they say - you've got to be disciplined and do it every day, not just when the spirit moves you. Because the spirit is fickle and can't be depended upon to show up. Back when there was still a lot going on in my life I was more disciplined. A busy life and a houseful of children provides plenty of writing marterial even the aggravating parts. Not Pulitzer stuff by any stretch but at least words to paper, at least some action. Now, with that houseful all grown and flown, life is busy in a different way, filled with the things we didn't have time for way back then.
My lightbulb moment came on my drive to the doc. As well as loving to write, I love taking photographs. Why not pick a photo from my overflowing and constantly added to collection and write about it, maybe not a post a day but perhaps one per week?
Sounds like a plan.
Watch this space.
Note: This photo doesn't have much of a strory. It merely provides a little of what passes, in Florida, for Fall color.