Wednesday, May 25, 2011

that's a wrap

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower.
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

- written 1923 by Robert Frost

This poem came into my life from a dancer I once dated. She fancied these few verses by Frost. And in short order I found myself enjoying the same poem from time to time. Now is one of those times.

There was the first post on this blog and with this, the last. For over a year and a half I have been doing my best to report stories, faces, places, personalities and inspirations on any given day. I have enjoyed the people who informed me every so often that something I wrote made them feel something or see something beautiful. Those uncommon comments fueled my tank along the way.

For a multitude of reasons I will no longer be keeping my notes from the field. The short answer is I feel this blog has run its course. I no longer feel I am reporting moments of inspiration the way I set out to do in the beginning. You can be sure life's smallest moments will still catch my eye and grab my heart but that is where they will stay.

To the handful of dedicated readers I thank you for your interest in my bits of banter. And for those who dropped by every once in a while I hope you managed to take away some enjoyment from this dusty diary of mine.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go attack life.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bullwinkle (and gang) in the backyard!

I arrived back at the house after my run and the thought hit me- "i wonder what time of year that moose usually comes around" I made a few more steps down towards the creek and spotted Bullwinkle in my backyard! Had I not been jamming to my tunes i would have spied him before i spooked him. He saw me and made an unhurried effort in the other direction. Hence the "backside of Bullwinkle" pic.

And then, just as it was about dark I noticed some odd movement mixed in among the bushes across the creek. After several minutes of investigation it became clear that they were porcupines grabbing dinner. I had no idea they enjoyed such meals, several feet from the ground. Again, a sad photo, just to give some idea.

Monday, May 16, 2011

An unexpected change in terrain

So this video makes me laugh. It was filmed up on St Helens by two guys who were part of our group that climbed this past weekend. Though I dont know them well, both guys are extremely talented backcountry skiers and have tremendous passion for the outdoors. And this video was just one of those special moments that happened to be caught on camera:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Skinning up and skiing down Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens erupted 31 years ago almost to the day. I know this because I was born one month before she blew her top, sending ash hundreds of miles in all directions. Much of the Pacific Northwest corner of America watched the sky turn dark in the middle of the day on May 18, 1980.
I found myself in a car with a few fellow co-workers on Friday after work. The car was loaded with skis, tents and the goal of "skinning"to the top of Mount St. Helens. Skinning is a term used to describe alpine touring, the act of walking up hill on skis and then taking off the "skin", a strip of material that attaches to the bottom of the ski to grip the snow that is removed when one feels the urge to ski down.
The morning started out perfect. The sun was out and the guys and I were making good time up the mountain. Alpine touring is an art I am only starting to learn and appreciate. It takes tremendous cardio strength and strong leg muscles to hold a good pace while heading up hill.

The point when things became interesting started around the time we found ourselves in a dense fog some 700 feet from the summit. A complete white-out where you could see no more than 7-10 feet in front of you and the fog/cloud cover matched perfectly with the white snow giving the sense of vertigo.

Pushing up towards the summit we found ourselves along the ridge line. The only telling feature that allowed us to know we had made it to the crater's edge was the 50 foot long flat ridge line and the faintest white line that represented where the sky and the edge of the crater met.
Stripping our skins from the skis we started to slowly ski down through the fog. We had lost any clue as to where we were exactly, hoping after we skied through the fog we could find our sense of direction. However, not only had the fog moved further down the mountain we had inadvertently skied further west of the trail head that would lead us back to the car.
I will not bore you with the five hour unexpected traverse we did in order to find our way back down the mountain to the parking lot. It was a lesson for me on many levels. The most important being how disoriented one can get in a complete white-out. And a close second is to pay careful attention to maps, compass readings and land marks even on what is assumed to be the simplest of journeys.

Darkness and rain began to fall just as we happened upon the trail head. Making it back to the car felt better than it usually does. It was a great weekend spent with some great guys. I collected many beautiful moments from this weekend. Some I acknowledged as they happened and others only came to me in hindsight. But on this late Sunday night all of them are now filed neatly away in my mind as "that long day on top of an old volcano".

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother Nature's version of speed dating

The other day I finished a run in the hills behind my house. It was one of those awesomely moody May days in Spokane, the first part of my run it poured rain but still managed to have patches of blue sky and then minutes later the sky spread out into an endless sea of blue with big clouds spaced apart like ships in a harbor.

Finishing my run I grabbed some water and walked down near the creek. I have learned so much from nature, mainly how simply perfect it can be without even trying but also (more recently in connection with this day job i have) is the understanding that without making time to be "in" nature and absorb its splendor you will miss it. All of its little secrets. So now I make a point of walking down by the creek as often as I can to be surrounded by all that mother nature is cooking up for this summer. example:

That's right, mother nature was throwing one of the biggest parties of the year in my backyard. As I stood in amazement at the 4 or 5 clumps of ladybugs on stray weeds, i couldn't help but feel as though I was in NYC looking out from my window to the skyscraper across the street seeing a totally sick rooftop party, wishing to god I could get my funk on with them.

That's when I realized I was wishing I was a ladybug, which made me think I pushed it a little too hard on the run. No, but seriously, this is crazy cool. I mean, what is going on here? This has to be mother natures version of speed dating. Which begs the question: do female ladybugs fall for those same cheesy pickup lines that get tossed around bars across world on any given Saturday night?

Friday, May 6, 2011

NEWS FLASH: wild turkey is not just a cheap way to get hammered

It's bike-to-work month at Mountain Gear, the outdoor retailer where I work. I have an old steel frame LeMond that I have been riding to work. It's 12 miles almost on the dot from my house to the office. For those 12 miles in the morning and after work I'm free to think about life as it passes by. 

The chilly spring air is cool on my face. Rolling out from the driveway I always make a point of looking over to the field where a group of wild turkeys graze in the early morning. I'm crazy for the "big fan" turkey. Its big tail feathers open and close so perfectly its hypnotizing. 

There's a bakery that I pass on my way to work, the smell of donuts crawls into every part of my nose. Its like breathing in a sea of wonderful calories. The cars and trucks speed past me until I am able to find a side street or the centennial trail which follows along the spokane river. There are a few runners and an old lady I see in the same stretch of trail every morning. We smile at each other now. Knowing that the sun is making us become summer socialites, if only for that morning moment. 

A small stretch along the river is an abandon dirt path. I could find another way on some busy street but i always prefer this way, it reminds me of walking in Spain. I had the great fortune of passing a man with a weathered face and nomadic eyes the other morning. We looked at each other. I was decked out in nerdy bike gear, he was pushing his existence on wheels, yet there was this split second where our eyes connected and we nodded at each other, a silent hello as dawn became day along the quiet flow of the river.

For all these reasons I love biking to work, well that and it reminds me of my time with Lyudmila.

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