Changing Seasons · Musings · Nature · New York State Parks

Golden Autumn Afternoon

The leaves are changing and they are scattered on the damp dark path.  Two years ago this way was impassable due to high water, it is now so dry that I begin to take a path which doesn’t actually exist and have to climb three feet to get to the real path.  The dog is pulling and puffing to sniffing everything he possibly can.  The geese are paddling towards me as I cheep like a baby bird at them.  They sit, guards on the outside, while the dog patiently waits to finish my nonsense.  I stop to chat with a guy who is fishing from the low shores, what kind of bait, what kind of fish, are they biting?  The path is challenging, the whole reason I took it, I wanted a brief but difficult walk.  I feel a deep sense of quiet, breathing in the smell of the leaves, the wet earth, the distinctive smell of black walnut and the somewhat fetid edges of the pond.

Were a moth to fall in the water, would I not reach in to try and save it.  Holding the edges of its wings firmly as I take it to a dry place in the sun.  Were it a mosquito, a fly, a bee, a cockroach, would I try to save it?  I suppose the answer is no.  But are not all of their lives equally important?  The bee would surely sting me, the mosquito could kill me, or someone else in this EEE infested, and West Nile Virus infested region.  The fly performs its important function in eating shit, and garbage and pollinating some flowers.  The cockroach?

The sun is shining all golden, like a memory of good years on the tops of the trees, and they are reflected in the crystalline glassy water.  I take the long hard trek up the stairs, feeling the movement of my leg muscles as I do so.  I love this muscle ticking feeling when I stop to rest.

I am hot and sweaty and the dog is panting hard in the back seat.  If I were drowning in the water, would you try to save me?  If I were fat, or ugly, or stupid, or a person you took pleasure in harming, or a person you would rather not speak too?  Would I try to sting you?  Am I a shit eater?  Would I die anyway?  Am I a cockroach?

 

Eating Locally · Fishing · Healthy Eating · Nature · New York State Parks · Photos · Strong Woman

Fishing Queen!!

Once again we headed up to the ADK’s, although this trip was planned weeks in advance, last weekend’s brief overnight was far more impromptu.  We took the slow route, and when we got to our intended destination it was early afternoon.  We ascended up the short but strenuous incline and finally came to what we thought was the summit, but two days later learned it was not at all the summit.  The skies were cloudy so we found a good rock to fish from.  The pirate caught a couple trout, and I had several bites but couldn’t hook one.  Finally I passed him my rod and said, here something is biting please catch it.  Which he did, it was a tiny trout, but later I fried it in butter and it was so delicious!!  The decent was also a challenge and by the time we got to the end of it, our legs were so wobbley that we started singing “If I Only Had a Brain.”  Hot, sweaty, my face scarlet from the exertion (it gets really red whenever I exercise at all).  I regretted going for a run before we left the house!!  The next day we let our very sore muscles recover from the hike and went for a drive, we found a cool naturally formed stone bridge and cave, and then later on we went to Mt. Defiance overlooking Fort Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain.  After dinner we decided to go fishing, and suddenly I was on.  I saw the fish surfacing and I had lost my trout lure on a snag, so in the dark I just put on the first packets of hooks I came to.  I immediately got a solid hit and pulled in a really big female bullhead chock full of eggs.  Then threw in again to the same spot and pulled out another bully.  The third time I cast to that spot I caught a decent little trout, which I think was a native, judging by its pink flesh.  Of the four of us fishing, I was the only one to pull any in so they called me the queen of the fish.  I swear it was the Magic Margarita I was drinking out of a little canteen my friend gave me for “the road”, which we walked down in the dusk and back up again in the dark.

Sock Fish in Garnet Lake

In the morning we decided to fish in Garnet Lake, the pirate caught a perch and I caught a little sunfish, which I threw back in the water.  We then went back and picked up my friend and his daughter and went back up Crane Mountain.  My legs were absolutely burning and it was really slow going for me, but I finally made it too the top.  Our fishing spot was taken up by swimmers, so we went to a different spot suggested by my friend, and discovered that it was an absolutely picturesque spot.  The pirate and I fished there on the rocks for a couple hours.   It was still early and they were not biting but after a bit I pulled a decent sized brookie in, this one was small and had more of the white flesh of a stocked fish.  This morning we cooked up all the fish for breakfast sauteed in butter with a little lemon juice squeezed over it.  Delicious.  Nothing tastes better than fresh caught fish!!

Our legs and feet are sore.  The decline on the second day was hard.  Real hard.  The pirate had about an 80 pound pack and was taking it slow.  My legs hurt so much I was shakey and had to take it slow for safety.  I did some of the more difficult rocks on my rear end, dropped my new OFF bug keeper offer, which tumbled down the face of a cliff, shattering as it went.  😦  It worked really well, and I was awfully disappointed to see it going.  Close to the bottom I stepped on a small stick and my foot just slid out from under and I fell on my rear end in the leaves.  The first thing I did after shower and before food was take a couple minutes to stretch, so I am only a little sore today, mostly in my left quad.

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It feels good to be so strong, though it was tough, I did it.  I loved fishing, and was thrilled to catch so many.  I loved being with my friends, and my pirate.  Whose encouragement on the hike helped me get through it.  The whole weekend was so fantastic, I cannot believe I spent so many years NOT hiking.  What a waste!!!  I am so happy to back at it again.  My life is so much better with my pirate in it!!

 

 

 

Artists · Nature · New York State Parks

Sportsman Days

We are both early risers, I texted him right after I put the banana bread in the oven and before it was done my phone was ringing.  The Regional Market was really busy and the veggies and fruit are right at the peak of harvest, every thing was very inexpensive.  I decided to make carrot ginger soup, which I made tonight with the addition of a fresh yam and it is very tasty.  There were many people at the market that I knew teachers, administrators and students.  We were just headed back to my car when I saw a face that was a blast from the past.  I was staring at him, and he was staring back at me, and I cried out MARTY?  and he answered back MEG!  I have not seen this guy in probably 9 years or so.  Another friend who did not like my former husband and stopped spending time with me.  The first thing he asked is How is ___?  I told him what had transpired and he and his partner of 30 years exclaimed their delight at our breakup.  And Marty hugged me about 10 times.

Later the pirate and I went to the Sportsman Days at Carpenter’s Brook.  A county park which specializes in fish and game management.  They have many pheasants, and a bunch of pools of Rainbow, Brook and Brown trout.  There were a few non profit and game club organizations with booths as well.  Plus a super tasty fish fry.  There was an opportunity to fire muzzle loaders and throw tomahawks.  I passed on the muzzle loader, too much fire and kick.  But then we went to the cross bow range and first shot I hit a bullseye, okay so the sight was outstanding but still, second shot was in the second ring directly below the bullseye.  I loved that, no kick to speak of.  And as I argued, perfect for the Zombie Apocalypse because the bow would not draw undue attention via noise while hunting for game.

Cross bow target shooting

There was  guy carving wood with a chainsaw which was cool, although there was a carving he had started that was a bit phallic looking.  I admire this art form.  I would be too chicken to try it.  Though the pirate likes to carve tiki idols with a chainsaw.  (he is so cool!)

Chainsaw carved fish
Sorry but this doesn't much look like a fish from this angle.

I really liked shooting the shotgun.  It was light weight and did not have any kick to speak of.  I tried skeet shooting, first shot was novice and I shot the minute I saw orange, second shot was high, third shot was a hit.  I was kind of pleased because when I was 15 – like a million years ago, I was a pretty good shot, so I guess I haven’t lost my touch.

Though this festival was small in structure, I had a great time.

Changing Seasons · Musings · Nature · New York State Parks · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure

Lucky Lucky

The summer slew of festivals has waned down and Syracuse is once again a town of college sports fanatics and college parties.  Although there was the long running Westcott Street Cultural Festival and the Italian Festival for whatever reason the pirate and I decided it would be a good weekend to take out the canoe and go for what he called a hike and I called a very short walk in the woods.  I literally was on the verge of buying a canoe or kayak this spring, but a new lap top was needed first and I never did get around to it.  In the midst of it all was the Pirate Festival in Marathon, and the willingness of the pirate to load up his canoe, though we did not use it, left me with a question of whether I might at some point get to enjoy his boat, though this summer thus far we had not.  Earlier this week, when we talked about the weekend, I said lets go for a hike or take out your canoe.

The day was crisp and cold, the sun warm, but the chill in the shade left me shivering and pulling my fleece lined hoodie close.  We went to the Regional Market, which is a flea market on Sundays.  Then to his ritual Sunday breakfast with his Mom and step-Dad, my first invitation in the three months of actual dating, preceded by two months of platonic friendship and over two years of peripheral awareness of one another.  I tried liverwurst and though I despise liver I really like the liverwurst.  He loaded the canoe on his truck and off we went to Labrador Pond.  It was a lovely quiet pond, surrounded by bog, flanked by driftwood, and bordered by lily pads.  We saw so many minnows, frogs, monarch butterflies, blue and red dragonflies and some beasty that left a long wake of bubbles moving so quickly underneath the water, we paddled hard and could not keep up.  We followed the inlet back in as far as we could, stopping by a beaver house, and on the return saw either a beaver or a muskrat closely followed by the green head of a water snake.  Our evening of long laughter and persistent teasing carried over as we continued to gently spar with one another on the sparkling clear water.  He kept me laughing for the entire time we spent together.  Including his ode to Bob Dylan “Don’t stand up in the boat, or you’ll sink like a stone…oh the times they are a changin'” after I pretended to not know that you should not stand up in a canoe.

After we reloaded the boat on top of the truck we headed to Tinker Falls.  Although it is mostly blocked off near the falls themselves and truly a short walk it was just an added bonus to the day.

Driving home I had butterflies, in my belly.  I cannot explain it.  All I can say is that one day some long long months ago, when the brutal rawness of the ending of my marriage was not so bad, I envisioned a relationship with a man of a certain type, a certain caliber. I wrote out a long list of important qualities, though one day in a huff, (the “this shit is never going to happen so why should I curse word bother” kind of huff) I threw it out.  But here riding home in the afternoon sun with my strong, hardworking, resourceful, down to earth, nature loving, funny, sweet, handsome, creative, intelligent, family oriented, warm, sexy boyfriend, I felt this wave in me, a wave of happiness.  He is so much the kind of person I have wanted to be with for a very long time, even while I was married, I wanted so much for my former husband to be like this, though he so wasn’t.

I don’t know what the end of this book will read like, but I sure as hell am having a wonderful time reading these chapters.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  I am so very lucky to have the pirate in my life.  Though he will not see these words, I will say it:  he is an awesome boyfriend, and I treasure every moment I spend with him.

Labrador Pond
Nature · New York State Parks

Homecoming

Spiderweb

 

I have returned to you my beloved, my friend.  Though my mind is miles away I wander your muddy paths and savor the quiet of your sun dappled trails.  I watch carefully as my feet tread upon you, taking care not to harm my injured knee.  And I do not.   A twinge here, but nothing too bad.  It has been a long time.  The very possible threat of EEE and West Nile Virus combined with injury,  has kept me away too long.  He convinced me with a constant barrage of whining that I must go and I reward him under the power lines with time off leash.  We are started by a mountain biker and a group of very odd people running and walking.  I look ahead on the trail and am startled to see a shining gold thing in the setting sun a patch reflected at about eye level.  Treasure! What could it be?  I think spider web and as I draw closer I see spiderweb is the answer.

Flowers · Nature · New York State Parks

I went to the park this morning with the dog.  It was a beautiful morning.  I forgot to put on bug spray and found the mosquitoes were quite hungry on at least one of the paths.  I did a super big loop and back tracked around, probably about 3.5 miles altogether.  I was psyched to see how much “Meg’s Trail” had been cleared out.  It looks like a real path on the far end where it comes into Long Trail.  At that point earlier it was so grown over with small bushes it was a little hard to find.  It looks like at this point turning it into a real trail is just a formality.  I am so pleased about this.  It is a great little trail that cuts off the necessity in the winter of trying to hike around the Cliff Trail which can be so slippery and treacherous, giving one access to the back trails that are only accesable really via the Lake Trail, the Cliff Trail or going off trail altogether at the end of Long Trail.

Sancho on "Meg's Trail"

 

Honey Bee on Butterfly Weed
Cooking · Healthy Eating · Nature · New York State Parks · Small Joys · Treasure

and uh erm

I am so into where I am and what I am doing; standing tall and happy, hand on one hip surveying the land. I have written about this so many times it should be old news.  My phone rings and after a few brief words I am returning to the parking lot.  I bend a corner and there he is photographing a buttercup, and bearing a begged water bottle.  We turn back around and walk the way I have just come from. He asks you have your map, don’t need one I say like the  back of my hand.  We do the Long Trail Extension, and keep walking past the end of trail signs and into turkey territory, he informs me of this in a soft voice.  I am subtly impressed that he knows this part of the trail and I do not.  We bend around under the power wires and then catch up the official trail where I had answered the phone. I say look there it is by that stump there and then lead him down the trail to the other entrance to the long power wire scar.  On the trail he talks softly about looking for animals, and after a few minutes makes a soft whistling noise with his mouth that I know instinctively means come here.  I go and there is a small red newt.  He picks it up and tries to take a photo but his hand is too close so I take the delicate baby in my hands, where it rests quietly until the photo is taken.  When we are out in the long desolate byway he points down to the swamp where two deer are walking in the grass, then I see a fawn.    Then we see and hear a male and female cardinal, the male on a dead branch brilliant scarlet against the bright blue sky.  Gorgeous.  I find myself loving this quality in him of sighting the animals, calling attention to them and photographing them.  I have walked for two and a half hours, down the long steps and back up, what would typically be my usual 40 minute trek through the tougher trails and then back around again.   I feel a strange sense of being so comfortable with this companion.  I hug him tightly and he hugs back.  Promising more time spent together.  I couldn’t ask for more, I couldn’t ask for one single thing more.

Dinner:  one vidalia onion, one yellow pepper, three cloves of garlic and two small stalks of celery sauted in olive oil til tender.  A couple chicken breasts sauted til done.  Salt.  Add a small jar of sofrito, a few dashes of salt and a small can of fire roasted tomato then one cup of white rice, mix stirring for a minute or so.  Then add two and a half cups of water, two tablespoons green olives and two nearly ripe plantains (yellow not brown). Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer twenty minutes.  Arroz con pollo a la la pajarita.  Latin fusion with a Meggy twist.  Delicious.  I ate it for breakfast and lunch today too.  🙂

Buddhism · Musings · Nature · New York State Parks · Small Joys · Zen Buddhism

Upper Treman Falls Park

Lucifer Falls

I cannot believe I have never been here.  But it is beautiful.  A gorge in an area that has bumper stickers that say “Ithaca is Gorgeous”.  I have been to one of the places so many times I cannot count them.  But never here in an area south of the city.  We eat our lunch on the rocks that flank the stream,  mine a salad with nuts and beans and tofu.  A paper coffee cup full of red wine.  Hers is sushi, and a complementary coffee cup.  We hike up the upper rim trail, the one that goes along the trail is blocked with dire warning signs.  It is hot and sunny and I have worked up a pretty good sweat in no time.  We go down the million steps and I am whiny to be honest.  I wore the wrong pants and I am cranky, I like this woman I am with but we have spent the morning in a crowded environment filled with hundreds of women digging through cardboard boxes and her trying on the same clothing over and over and over, and I am starting to get annoyed by her.  We get to the bottom and she strips off her clothing and jumps into the water.  I sit calmly on the rocks but then in a moment of sweaty annoyance I join her.  In my underwear in the freezing cold water.  After a moment it feels so good and we are playing in the water like kids.  Swimming and splashing and shouting out in joy.  We continue walking further down the path.  She goes in again, but I am cool now and feel like meditating on the side of the rushing water.  I find a cool spot on a flat rock the slopes just so, I sit in Burmese Lotus.  My feet lower than my bottom.  I find it hard to get into the moment and realize that half my problem these days is that I am not meditating enough.  As I sit there I also realize that this is more in line with what I want my life to be.  Day trips to beautiful places.  I don’t want to walk along a mosquito filled road side feeling like I am not good enough for the person I am walking with, even though I far outshine them.  I do not want to learn to golf (I have never even miniature golfed!).  I do not want to try to be a person who is quiet and demur and not outspoken.  I want to just be myself with acceptance.  In the moments I sit there on that rock, trying desperately to return to ONE breath, I realize I probably won’t find this in anyone but myself.  What am I clinging to anyway.  Will I not feel whole if I do not find love?  I need to just love myself; I remember Dr. Cross telling me that the energy I put outward, to try and please others, to try and do special things for the people I love, to spoil and pamper those I care about, all need to be turned inward.  Not that I mean material goods, what I mean is that I should be taking care of finding my own joy.  When I sing sometimes, out loud in the voice that is finally returning from laryngitis and I can finally belt out the music again, I realize this, that “who am I singing for?” (though my voice is strong and generally in key),  I am singing for me.  I am the only one who needs to hear it.  She calls to me, Meg!  Meg! I slowly get up and go to where she is.  Come in the water come sit over here come blah blah.  I was meditating I say, I am fine.  I find a warm smooth rock and sit in the sun while she swims.  I would have never thought it, I say but I think you are more adventurous than I am.  I like going for long walks but I don’t want to spend the whole day swimming in freezing cold water.  I do not want to break the rules and risk prosecution for a good view.  She laughs at me, but it is true.  We return up the long steps to the top, and then to the car.  We change into dry clothes and drive home.  When I close my eyes I am swimming in freezing water, I am a warm rock in the sun.  I am a comfortable place to rest.  I sleep deeply.

Rock Sculpture below swimming hole
Nature · New York State Parks · Small Joys

On walking on in Clark Reservation

My dog greets me at the door with a hiking boot in his mouth, the day is warm and the sun is shining.  I change out of my skirt and into comfortable walking pants and put on my all terrain sandals.  Ready?  Oh yeah.  We both are.  We get there and he leaps out of the car, the truth is so do I.  Leap.  Out.    I know these trails inside and out backwards and forwards, as we say “like the back of my hand”.  The trail I call the Secret Trail, is being called Meg’s Trail at the Council of Park Friends.  I wonder why? (facetious).  At this time of year, I miss the long trek down the stairs and around the lake but I don’t even try it yet.  I am sure it is flooded I look down from the high cliff and see water all around the edges deep into the trees.  It has rained and rained.  Evidence: I didn’t come here more than twice through the end March and part of April.  The longest I have gone, by far, without coming here in over a year.  There are many people at the park and I don’t let him off leash as I do in the winter when often my car is the only one there.  Sometimes on the back side and near the steep places I will, but not for long, just long enough for him to make his way up.  On the Cliff trail there is either a sloping curve or a rock climb.  I let him choose which way he wants to go, as I often do, on these trails.  He picks the rock climb.  There is one spot he struggles with IF I am behind him.  He lifts a shakey leg and looks back at me pathetically.  Make your own way I tell him.  Come on.  If I am above him he hops right up, no problem.  Funny thing.  I have come to know the plants and look for the spot where the jack in the pulpit grows.  I have come to spot the crevices filled with herb robert.  The wood sorrel and violets that dot the landscape are old friends, and the spotted leaves of trout lily are like family.  We wind in and around up and down trails until it is time to head for home.  In just a short time, the thick belly of winter begins to go away, and the cobwebs in my brain are cleared each time I come to this place.  It is a friend this park.  Dear and special.

Changing Seasons · Nature · New York State Parks · Photos · Trees

On the same page.

Birch Tree on bluff overlooking Lake Ontario

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We walk early in the morning, sun bright in our faces the wind on our backs.  I am suddenly charmed by this little town, its charm more evident by the slowing down and taking it in step by step.  I take the time to notice the water and the small shed under the embankment, and I find my hands itching to watercolor paint, though it is by no means my medium of choice.  As we walk he takes my big strong hand into his own, it feels good to hold a hand bigger than my own, stronger than mine.  I take in his profile and the smile wrinkles all around his eyes, I tease him unmercifully which makes him laugh as his cheeks get rosy in the headwind.  He takes me to show me the magnolia trees he has planted all along his property, and the robin’s nest in the top of  the maple, not a sapling and not yet a tree.  The nest has robin egg blue yarn and dryer lint and pieces of plastic string in it.  I tell him my family tradition of planting a tree for the deceased, he says he likes that tradition.  We go over to Fair Haven State Park.  The wind is strong, two buzzards dance on it, the waves crash hard on the beach.  He stops so I can take photos, my own face chapping in the wind, my long hair whipping my face, my down vest is cozy and my heart feels warm.  When I turn around he is watching me, and for a second I feel self conscious, but it passes, as though it was a mote of sand.  As we walk back to the car he opens the door for me.  He makes no show of it, it is done with no quest for thanks and when I do thank him, he laughs and asks for what.

For what is there though simple is good, is great, because when it was not, it was awful.  I give thanks for this one day.  It feels like the first chapter of a book that promises to be good.

He tells me, I think we are on the same page.