The little things

We are caught up at home and settled back into civilization. Back to work, banking, shopping and consuming. Hmmm. Memories of Deal Island arrive every day.

There are simple pleasures at home. We have sandy soil and partial sun due to a mountain to our east. Nothing grows very well. This peony limps along but it has at least 3 blooms this year. Pretty pathetic in comparison to some but beautiful nonetheless.

Tim found this little hummingbird trapped in our garage. It spent the night there. He nudged it outside and I made a batch of nectar. I dripped some into its beak with my finger. I couldn’t even see her swallow. After a while at least she started to look around. I went indoors and watched with my binoculars. It was like watching a newborn take its first steps. I saw her flutter her wings and perch up on the dish of nectar. Some time later she was gone and off with her pals to do hummingbird things. I will never know if it is her at the feeders but will imagine it is.

Strawberries are finally in season and delicious. Both Tim and I brought a quart home. Too many strawberries. So I made a batch of strawberry jam in my instant pot. Good on toast, in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and on vanilla ice cream.

On the rocks

In my mind there are six seasons in the Adirondack Mountains: summer, fall, winter, ice, mud, and spring. The one to really avoid is ice. It happens every December and January. We get early snow, then a thaw and sometimes rain. The end result is ice, black ice, crusty ice, you name it. It’s all slippery. And dangerous. Each year there are a few broken bones and head injuries; sometimes even death.

This is our driveway this morning. I keep a pair of mini crampons (microspikes) on a pair of shoes that I wear to do chores in these conditions and to walk to the hot tub. On Thursday night, my winter 46’er ( he climbed all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks above 4000 feet between December 21 and March 21) slipped on the ice on our front step and shattered his wrist.

We drove to our local ER where they confirmed he had indeed shattered it beyond what they could set there. They arranged for us to meet our orthopedist in the ER at the hospital in Lake Placid. The problem was we had to cross two mountain passes with ice on the roads and get there in under an hour because it closes at 11 pm. With some white knuckled driving on my part we made it.

I expected some violent maneuvers to get the wrist back in position but it was all very gentle with traction and weights. Then it was cast and we were sent on our way back home. We’ll know in a week or so whether it remains in position. The ride back home was much more relaxed, my 46’er had pain medicine on board and we were no longer under a time constraint.

Until we reached the last hill right in front of our house. It was sheer ice. I made it halfway up, slid into a 45 degree angle on the road and couldn’t go any further without skidding. Going downhill would have meant sliding into a snow/ice bank, which I had done once before under similar conditions. We were stuck. And it was 1 am, well past my bedtime.

We decided to abandon the car but still had to get to the house without another fall. I thought my socks would stick better to the ice than my Blundies. They didn’t and I had to drop to my knees and crawl and slide, uphill to the car, to the side of the road where I had better traction. Then I walked in my socks to the house. I retrieved our microspikes, brought them back to the car and then we walked carefully home.

We called the highway department to let them know I had left the car stranded. The next morning as I was checking the temperature to decide if it was time to try to move the car, there was a knock on the door. The plow driver had walked up to my house and had a plan. He had backed the whole way down the road in the event he couldn’t make it to the turnaround. He had sanded behind the car and the crew had hand shoveled sand in front of the car. All I had to do was drive forward, straighten the wheels, roll back down the road in neutral and let the plow pass with more sand and then come up the hill. I chickened out and asked if one of them wanted to do it. One did – with aplomb. He slipped and skidded the car so it was no longer at an angle, rolled down the hill and then gunned it and raced up the hill right into my driveway. How lucky are we to live here?

Here are some photos of the more photogenic seasons in the Adirondacks.

It seems I don’t have any pictures during mud season.

Rainbows and moons

We’ve already had three snowfalls at home. We got stuck in one downstate, with cars and tractor trailer abandoned on the side and the middle of the road. It took us two hours to crawl a half mile. Never again. Then to make matters worse, the hotel we found was overbooked (“we have negative rooms”) and there was a convention of 1000 stranded lawyers who ate all the food and drank all the liquor before we got there. So we had raisin bran for dinner and called it a night. But the next day we saw a double rainbow over Newark airport.

Back home, I was able to ski my favorite trails, which Tim had already broken.

I’ve been doing a major house cleaning; a real purge. I was deciding whether to keep my stargazing binoculars. They are Elmer Fudd sized and have to be mounted on a tripod to be of any use. I set them up and could see Slip Mountain clearly off in the distance and spy on the local birds. That night, I couldn’t sleep and was able to observe our two? moons setting behind Cobble Mountain.

I think I’ll keep them.


Not a bad commute

Here we are back home on the range (ridge); really neither. The leaves are almost at their peak. I attended a conference in Burlington, VT last week and got to see the sun rise over the Green Mountains of Vermont. They were anything but green and the lakescape from the bouncing ferry was pretty nice.

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Another day I headed south for work and could see the leaves changing over a local pond. I’m lucky I get to work on time with all these distractions.

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This week I am trying to resume walking the two miles to and from work in preparation for our next backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. I’ll probably be too lazy to add 30 pounds to my pack but will keep walking the walk.

Birds abound at home. We have at least one pileated woodpecker, northern flickers, chickadees, barred owls, goldfinch, sparrows, thrush, hawks. What we don’t have are pigeons. Yet a mile and a half from home, not exactly an urban area, they abound.

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Hope they keep to that old, decrepit building.

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There and back again

It’s almost summer in the Adirondacks and my calendar is full. I’ve been here, there and will be everywhere.

This wool rug came off the loom just in time for warm weather. It was woven in double width and then unfolded.  It’s sort of mind blowing. You weave part of the top later, the bottom, then the top again and it’s connected on one side. I hope the obvious middle becomes less so over time.

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I sewed this baby quilt for a dear friend’s new grand daughter.

2E0D0B60-78F5-4D50-88B2-93B6A416877CAll while finally getting to spend time outdoors. I’ve been walking to work, in the woods, and hiking with friends and family. Summer is a glorious time at home.

F9F14C3D-6896-40D1-A69C-03E551FC03A5 But I won’t be here much.

I traveled to NYC to see Bruce Springsteen in his Broadway show. I think he was singing and talking directly to me. Wonderful!

A88C78BF-91B1-44D0-816D-9FD5EC256CAD16A8DBCF-C88C-4370-AB85-F8579F7D0F8BWe came across these Lady’s Slippers in the woods and hiked around and to the top of this waterfall.

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557F06EE-E55F-491D-8ECB-A46B5545A6A4And enjoyed ice cream from one of the many stands that open for summer.

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Next I’m headed downstate to babysit grand children for a bit, then off to North Carolina to visit that dear friend, then canoe camping with more grandchildren, traveling to Guatemala, weaving camp in New Hampshire and back to Seguin Lighthouse in the fall. What have I done?? My head is spinning.

Like the good old days

A late winter Nor’easter dumped about 2 feet of snow on us during what the National Weather Service is referring to as the Pi day blizzard.  What fun.  I was supposed to attend a 4 day weaving workshop but had to cancel and found myself at home with no obligations.  Yay.

I pieced and quilted the king sized quilt.  More about that another day. I’m currently sewing the binding on by hand.  I started a baby sweater and dressed the loom for two baby blankets.  Just like the good old days when I was really retired.  Now I’m just so busy!

We took turns using the snow blower to clear our driveway and walks.  It took 4 complete sweeps.  I woke up to this.

Pretty impressive even if it is from the basement window.

Today I got to do one of my favorite things.  I cut a cross country ski trail in the woods next to my house.  It took 35 minutes to do the first loop, which was pretty hard, but then I could ski it.

I found a new way to take selfies.  I was never much of a fan but this is the way to go.  I even found a buddy out in the woods.

After an hour of skiing, I made my way home.

I’ll hop in the hot tub a little later.  That and the cabin are two of the most important things we dig out.

Flooded rivers

A microburst of rain in the mountains flooded our river and caused it to jump the bank and flood our road. We live on a hill and were never in danger.

My biggest adjustment to living in the mountains (besides sluggishly slow internet) is to understand and respect the dynamic nature of the rivers. They trickle, flow and rage, even when it’s pleasant in the valley. This is very different from coastal living where what you see is what you get.

When I went out to run errands, I noticed the river was high and decided to curtail my activities and head back home.

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Houseguests were headed this way when I heard the road was impassable. I went down to have a look and saw rushing water flowing over the road and filling the field. I started making phone calls: an initial heads up, then hourly updates. I made good use of the extra alone time and kept working on my quilt.

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When the water receded, we waited to see the damage to the road. We got out some shovels and leveled a passable path. Our neighbors improved the job with a tractor and the town finished it off the next day.

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I stand corrected

The other day, I waxed on about Spring’s arrival to the North Country. Not so fast.

Mountain Man proposed a hike to Scarface, a relatively diminutive peak by Adirondack standards, so I said yes. A nice Spring walk. NOT!

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There was an icy “spine” most of the way and I clumped along in snowshoes. It was Spring after-all and i left my micro spikes home. I can only speak of most of the way, because when it became too gnarly by my standards, I turned back and headed away from the hills.
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That’s Spring in the Adirondacks.

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My walk out provided plenty of time to collect a pocketful of lichen, which had fallen off the trees, and to contemplate rocks.

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I may not see dead people but I do see things in rocks.

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Who turned off the color?

There was a definite chill in the air this morning with ice on the windows. Although it was clear, it was as if someone had sucked all the color out of the landscape and replaced it with grey scale.

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I put my snow tires on just in time. I guess we won’t see any more Monarch butterflies on the milkweed.

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Hopefully the cluster flies will go to sleep for the season-or better yet migrate south where it is always warm. Cluster flies are new to me since I moved north. I should have been wary when the person who built and sold us our house had a handout. The good news is they don’t spread disease. The bad news is they swarm inside the house on sunny, cool days. They play dead, or are just sleeping, when you scoop them into a dustpan and then miraculously reawaken and fly away just when you thought you had them. Now I only use a DustBuster and put a sock in it.