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Archive for May, 2012

Between dinner shifts last weekend, I squeezed in the most beautiful morning adventure.

Our dear friend Grant was here for a surprise visit, and we woke up Sunday to one of the best spring days yet. At the picnic table over eggs and bacon, we talked about what we might be able to accomplish before I had to leave for work. Prepare a space in the barn for the four piglets that are on their way… plant more greens… install our deer/chicken/dog fence around the garden… or, we could take a walk in the woods and climb up that mountain we’ve been staring at all winter.

We went out empty-handed in jeans, the gray-bearded dog charging ahead. The forest was familiar up to the first mounded ridge and over the first two stream crossings and the rusted truck morphing into the ground. It was familiar to the foot of the hill, where the earth first begins to swell up in a young stand of hardwoods and where we had turned around on our cross-country skis this winter. Past that, we began our ascent of uncharted territory.

We found ourselves scrambling through long-since fallen and moss-covered boulders, and post-holing into piles of bouncy detritus. Grant and Jacob slung jokes about leadership and safety, mocking the ultra-deliberate style of adventure  which we had happily abandoned today.

“You bring your compass, Jacob?”

“Alright, let’s stop and discuss risk management here.”

They climbed up eagerly and without hesitation, Jacob nearly running in his ecstatic, boyish delight at being out in the woods, Grant as if he were on a rock wall, delicately placing his feet and hands, making it work in sneakers and black denim. I moved clumsily, clinging with sweaty hands to anything solidly adhered to what I perceived as a perilous cliff. Avery panted and clambered straight up, muscles rippling, crazed by the anti-histamine steroids she’s been having every day at breakfast. At one particularly bleak move, I secretly prayed that I would be able to use her as an excuse to turn around, but she took one look and powered upward, arms outstretched, a veritable Yvon Chouniard. So I took her advice and continued, stepping, reaching, and shifting my weight carefully.

By the time we reached the top, and found that it was in fact a false top, it was past time to turn around. A warm breeze ran through the band of hardwoods we’d landed in and we stood to catch our breath and peek through the trees at the surrounding hills.

Our descent took us south through the freshly budding branches, past a modest wall that we had to stop and inspect for the potential for top-roping, and along a drainage that quickly dropped into a narrow, rocky gorge. We tumbled down around it, through “ankle-breaking territory” and finally back to the old logging road. At the second stream-crossing, all four of us stripped down and dipped into the one sunlit pool deep enough to sink our bodies into: the first true taste of summertime, the cold, shocking welcome of the outside world.

On our giddy lumber back to the house, I felt a new excitement about this place. I thought of John Muir and his philosophy about the importance of expanding perspectives. He wrote that, “all that is necessary to make any landscape visible and therefore impressive is to regard it from a new point of view…Then we behold a new heaven and earth and are born again, as if we had gone on a pilgrimage to some far-off holy land and had become new creatures…”

I felt just like that on Sunday morning. I felt born again, rejuvenated by the simple pleasure of this piece of land. Grant and Jacob and I had gone on a sort of pilgrimage, had had a sort of baptism in our proud little river.

I feel differently about this farm now that I know it a bit better. It was good to just enjoy it for a day.

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