Beyond expectation

I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated.  And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving.  We are alive within mystery, by miracle.

~ Wendell Berry

Read the rest of this entry »

One Two Zero


It has been 120 days since I started my year-long commitment to step outside every day.  That’s one-third of the journey completed.

(The fungi ladder.)

One of the unexpected benefits of this commitment is that I’ve found myself stepping outside of my comfort zone on a number of occasions.  Perhaps there is something about sticking with a commitment on a daily basis that makes a person braver.  Or maybe it’s a matter of growth, this wanting to reach and stretch.

(Radiant reds.  Winterberry.)

Boredom (or familiarity) may be a factor as well.  I walk the same paths most days.  It’s good to go somewhere different once in a while and/or do something novel.  Learn to ski.  Practice food photography.  Take on a challenge of some kind.  Find a new way to capture the familiar.

(A delicacy.)

The hardest part, so far, is the posting to the blog every day.  One hundred twenty days of blog posts with more to come.  Yikes.  Talk about a challenge, especially in terms of keeping it interesting.

Frankly my dears, I’m running out of things to blog about on the days where nothing really happens and my walks are limited to Breezy Acres.  If you have any suggestions, ideas, questions for me, photos you’d like to see, challenges — anything at all — please leave your ideas, etc., in the comments.  I’ll see what I can do.

Blindingly White

That was my first thought when I stepped out the door today.  The sky is white.  The ground is white.  The snow falling from the sky is white, and everything is being covered in a new layer of white.

(My boot print in the snow.)

Winter seems to have come to us in layers this year.  On the bottom it is wet and muddy.  The layer above that is snow.  Then ice.  Then snow again, being freshly laid today.  I can see the layers in my footprints, more so in some places than in others.  Every step is crunchy as my boots make their way through the icy layer.

(Layers.  Snow, grass, dried flowers, fungus, wood.)

This is where the posts get boring (to me).  I turn my outdoor adventures into weather reports.  I’m not sure what else to write about them.  It’s cold.  Snow falls.  I shiver.  My face gets numb.  My nose runs.  My eyes water if it’s windy.  And my legs work hard walking through the snow.

(Bright white on a holly bush.)

It’s 24ºF outside.  The radar is covered in blue to represent the snow.  Off the radar, outside, it’s difficult to see because of the heavy snowfall.

(Today’s view of the creek.)

But back in the woods, by the creek, it is calmer.  Quieter.  I could hear the snowflakes hitting the ground after making their way between the trees.  It’s a good place to rest, sheltered from the wind and the heavy snow.

Trees are sanctuaries.  Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.  They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

~ Hermann Hesse

91: In the quiet

(Old Town San Diego.  November 2010)

During the past few weeks I’ve had some aches and pains that I was able to ignore.  Traveling (in snowy conditions!) and then getting the house ready for an early Christmas celebration meant I didn’t have time to pay attention to aching joints and bones.  It was a matter of mind and spirit over body, full speed ahead.

(A bird on a succulent, calling, calling.  San Diego, CA.  November 2010)

With family here saturating the house with love and laughter, aches and pains were reduced to twinges easily ignored.  Now that the house is empty — with M back at work and our family gone back to their homes and lives — those aches and pains are no longer in the background and in all honesty, today I hurt.

(Being helped along by a service dog.)

Stepping outside was the last thing I wanted to do.  I would much rather sit here and look at pictures of sunny, warm places.  The cold weather exacerbates the aches and pains.  Wouldn’t it be nice to sit on the beach and soak up the warmth of the sun?  In my mind and through my photos, I could go there.

(Finding ephemeral gold in the ocean at sunset.)

It’s been snowing here today.  Flurries to start.  Then a heavy squall for a little while, enough that the driveway and sidewalk need shoveling.  I did not want to go out.  But a commitment is a commitment is a commitment so…

This is how it went

Bundled up from head to toe I stepped outside where I was hit with a blast of wind that must have made its way here from the North Pole, preparing the way for Santa and the reindeer who are accustomed to this type of weather.  There was no evidence of the sun or anything remotely warming.  The wind howled and lifted the snow to form white funnels racing around the front yard.  I wanted to turn around and head back inside.  (Wouldn’t you?)

The warm up yesterday which caused a slight melting followed by last night’s cool down made everything crusty and icy.  I made my way over to the bird feeders, filled them, and gave serious thought to standing in the shelter by the barn rather than going back out into the wind.

(Video from today’s walk on the “low path.”)

This is the kind of day that motivated me to make the 365 commitment.  It is not about perfection.  It is about honoring promises I make to myself.  Somehow those seem to go by the wayside more often than promises I make to others.  Not today.

(The linden tree finally lost all of its leaves.)

I plodded over to what we call the high path.  It’s a path through the future-woods, not all that high as this is Ohio and although we do have hills, they are nothing compared to places that have mountains.  The high path is on the outer perimeter of Breezy Acres and I went that way with thoughts of taking the long route rather than wimping out with a short walk.  All or nothing, right?  Wrong.  And another lesson learned.

(View of the pond from the “high path.”)

The wind sliced its way through my layers but I trudged on to the woods.  I haven’t been out that way since the snow started accumulating.  It’s often windy and the drifts can be high in spots so it was no surprise to find I had to break trail and the only other tracks out there were those of small animals making their way over the top of the snow.

(A tunnel in the snow.)

The snow looks almost the same color as the sky.  A dark grayish-blue.  I thought about tweaking the photos (adjusting the contrast and levels) to fix it but decided to leave things as they are in order to represent things as they are. Sometimes the snow really is blue to the eye, the brain, and the camera processing it.  This is my first winter with my new camera and most of the time the snow is white, as people expect to see it.  The truth of my eye is, the snow is rarely white in the Bogs.  It usually does have a blue or gray cast to it.  Near the end of winter it’s a dirty gray or black.  I am happy to see the new camera reflecting what I see.  (Isn’t that the point of art?)

When I reached the woods I decided to turn around and take the “low path” back.  The low path also goes through the future-woods.  It is higher than the timothy grass path or the wildflower meadow but lower than the high path.  “All or nothing” was a distant memory.  By the time I reached the house, my face felt frozen yet the rest of me was warm and feeling oh, so much better.  I met my commitment and really, who cares if I didn’t overshoot it by pushing myself around the perimeter of the property?

I was surprised to find the entire walk took me over 40 minutes, longer than required by my commitment.  I did not stay out longer to prove something.  That’s just how long it took with the resistance of the snow and the wind.  Common sense, every now and then, prevails.  (I wish that happened more often in life — and not just my life!)

And now…

I canceled the pity party.  I am sinking into the quiet of the house after all the noise of the wind.  The warmth is pleasant, too.  Still, I wouldn’t mind another trip to the beach just to see the sunset…

Isn’t it wonderful and amazing that we can do that through the magic of modern technology?  I think so.  And I’m very grateful for it.

46: From place to place

(A child’s rainbow)

M and I are home again.  The cats were very happy to see us.  Well, not really.  They were napping.  I’m not sure they even realized we were gone since it was such a quick trip.

(Miss Madison)

This morning’s Thanksgiving breakfast was a lovely feast.  There was an assortment of breakfast foods including the much-anticipated chocolate-chip pancakes.  When Emma throws a party, she goes all out.

(Time to rest.)

Emma had a lot going on yesterday, including going to a concert with her mom last night.  Both of them must be exhausted.

M and I hung out with Maddy and her dad again during the evening while Emma and B were out enjoying the concert.  I got my very first Maddy hugs last night.  I’m still thrilled and excited and all that good stuff.  I’ve held Maddy, of course, in the past when she was a baby but now that she’s a toddler, she can be more than a little shy with us.  Part of the reason for that is we don’t see Maddy and her sister as often as we’d like.  Everyone is busy and life gets in the way.  That makes these get-togethers all the more special for us.

Just before we left last night I asked Maddy for a hug and she not only gave me a hug, but she stayed there, ready to drop off to sleep.  It was nice.  I was afraid I’d have to win her over again this morning.  Nope.  She gave me another big hug before we left to come home.

(Cornstalks in an Amish farm field.)

We pass through some Amish country on our way to and from Columbus when we go to visit the kids.  Every fall I think about stopping to take some photos of the cornstalks.  This year I finally remembered.  I need to be a little taller to get a better photo.  I couldn’t shoot over the fence.  I would have tried to get closer and shoot through it but the way was paved with poison ivy.

(There are still leaves on the linden tree.)

I went out for my walk shortly after arriving home.  It’s a mild November day here in the Bogs.  If we got snow while we were away, there is no sign of it now.  The sun is shining, there are a few high, thin clouds, the temperature is in the 40’s, and it’s a little breezy.  The sunshine, exercise, and fresh air were a good combination after all the car time.

(Creek-side reflections.)

I came across a dead possum at the beginning of my walk, on the path that runs through the once-hayfield, future-woods.  I’m not sure why it was dead but it has obviously been a source of food for some of the other animals around here.

(The shadows grow longer.)

I guess that’s about it from the Bogs for now.  I have some unpacking to do and then I should see about making something for dinner tonight.

I hope your weekend was as wonder-filled as mine.  😀

(Today’s view of the pond.)

Contemplating fire (11)

There are many kinds of heat in our lives, and many forms of burning.  Wood burns; propane burns; coal burns.  The star at the center of our solar system burns, as does the core of the earth we live on.  Our own bodies burn calories of energy in order to maintain their healthy existence.  Sometimes we burn with fever or anger.  When we consider it appropriate, we burn incense as an offering of purification.  And after we die, in many cases our bodies are cremated.

~ Gary Thorp, Sweeping Changes

The air here in the Bogs has turned damp and chilly.  We haven’t rev’d up the furnace yet, but there has some been discussion about it.  What we did do instead is have our first fire of the season.  Or fires (plural) as we had both fireplaces going last night.

(Reminder:  You can click on the photos to see the larger versions.)

Although I am one of those people who is generally on the warm side (being very good at generating my own heat), the dampness, once it seeps in, makes it difficult to stay warm.  The fires provided just the right amount of heat for us as we relaxed last evening.

The bonfire pile has gotten a good soaking from all the rain so it may be a while before we have our annual bonfire.  I was checking through my old photos to get an idea of when we normally have it.  Turns out it’s usually November.  I imagine the right conditions are in place by then.  It has to be dry enough that the wood will burn, but not so dry that we’ll set the grass and trees on fire.  We have the bonfire down by the pond which would limit the spread of the fire but you never know how quickly or how far a hot spark, picked up by the wind, will travel.

(Burning bush after this morning’s rain.)

Fire is the element of the inner flame of self-esteem.  It is the inner element that enables you to choose your path, to evoke visions of your desires.  It is the inner force that gives you the strength of body, the courage of mind, and the faith of spirit with which you may achieve your goals.

~ Amber Wolfe

It’s day 11 of my outdoor commitment.  Motivation was a little hard to come by after looking out the window at the gray skies and wet landscape.  It still felt pretty warm and toasty inside.  Why go out into the cold and damp?

Why, indeed.  Because I said I would.  Because I promised I would.

(The light behind the clouds, or today’s view of the sun.)

I thought, with fire on the brain, that I would be seeking out the reds and oranges while out on my walk.  There was some of that.

(Leaf on fire with yellow.)

But my eyes were drawn more toward things that were black or brown, looking almost charred.

(Blackened coneflowers.)

(Blackened leaf.)

M went out for a walk around the same time.  We walked together for a little while and then separated where one path leads up and over to the woods and the other goes down by the pond.  Since I had been in the woods yesterday, I took the pond route that goes through the middle of one of the meadows and then down.  We didn’t discuss taking separate paths.  We just did it.  We met up again a little later as our paths crossed and then continued on our separate ways.

It’s nice to have a relationship that doesn’t require us to be joined at the hip, where we can go off on our own occasionally and then come back together again.

One of the results of all the rain is that the grass is turning green again.  It was brown for most of the months of August and September.  It’s odd that just as everything else is browning and dying off, the grass has suddenly come back to life.

(A mix of seasons.)


(047:  Escaping through the fence.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)

The sun is new each day.

~ Heraclitus

Read the rest of this entry »