Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Halloween!

When witches go riding,
and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween.
~Author Unknown

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls. ~George Carlin

Backward, turn backward,
O Time, in your flight
make me a child again
just for to-night!
~Elizabeth Akers Allen

May Jack-o-lanterns burning bright
Of soft and golden hue
Pierce through the future’s veil and show
What fate now holds for you.
~Author Unknown

Eat, Drink and be Scary. 

Love, Deb

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Keeping The Campfires Burning

At the top of my love list of all things Fall are warm campfires, an illuminating centerpiece for all my backyard gatherings. At the end of a cold and damp day, whether cutting firewood or playing with my hunting and fishing friends, I gravitate to the fire with the enthusiasm of old dog in need of comforting warmth. No amount of clothing, no matter how adequate and appropriate for this season, can compete with the radiating heat of my campfire. On crisp evenings, I hold my feet in front of the flames, the warmth spreading up to my glowing face. Once my jaw is adequately lubricated by an appropriate amount of both drink and campfire heat, I find my words coming effortlessly, maybe too much so. So, I rotate and turn my back to the fire, enjoying the inhale of brisk air and the immediate silence that comes with facing the darkness and a brilliantly star-lit sky.

For me, campfires are:
  • Peace: As I start to warm from the outside in, I feel a sense of peace. I slow down. I breathe deeply. My campfire is a place to just be.
  • Great Conversations: When I have the pleasure of sharing a warm campfire with friends, and sometimes even strangers, the conversations always seem a little more provocative, open, entertaining and free.
  • Stories: Oh, yes, the conversations are wonderful. And the stories we tell around a campfire are even better. Even the weakest storyteller among us is able to weave a tale worthy of attention while the heat glows on his or her face and only the little ring of fire keeps the dark and the cold at bay.
  • Reflection: As the firelight and heat reflect off everything in the presence of a campfire, one warms to the opportunity to go inward and reflect about those things most important to us as well as the little things that seemed trivial minutia during the day.
  • Food: Campfires mean the concoctions never end. Eating begins as soon as the fire is started and can last well into the night. Everything has its own cooking time and while some dishes need a quick hot flame, others do better buried deep in hot coals. This time of year it's spice cider, baked potatoes, wild game, mulled wine, warm garlic bread, a big pot of chili or stew or chowder, spoon bread, bread pudding... no hurry, we have more than 14 hours of darkness this time of year and it's increasing every minute.
  • Morning Coffee: If I've banked my campfire just right, I've got good hot coals with which to enjoy my morning coffee.
Come on over any time. I'd love to share a fire and hear about what keeps you warm. Bring your flashlight.

Through the Flashlight's BeamCreepy Campfire Tales

"To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world" ~Charles Dudley Warner

"The most tangible of all visible mysteries - Fire." ~Leigh Hunt

"One can enjoy a wood fire worthily only when he warms this thoughts by it as well as his hands and feet." ~Odell Shepard

"Fire is the most tolerable third party." ~Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Fish Tale

A remote Northern Ontario lake
Alone in the boat
Alone on the lake
I cast
My lure hits a beaver!
Splash! Slap!
My line screams out
And out
And out
Do I cut the line?
I hang on
Little line left on my reel
But, wait!
I'm reeling in
I breathe
I reel in
My line screams out
I reel in
I am hopeful... help that beaver recover my lure keep the boat upright
Will I be lucky?
Will this be a disaster?
My line screams out
I reel in
Dare I play this out or cut line?
Do I want that beaver near the boat?
He won't be passive
I ponder inconsiderate acts of fishermen
I'm tired
I reel in
A stiff drink and the warm camp, more than an hour away
I reel in
Big and heavy, under the boat
The water swirls
Can I recover my lure?
Can I rescue that beaver?
Can I save myself?
A fish head at the end of my line?
A fish tail on the other side of the boat?
Drat! No net
Drat! No camera
I release the Northern monster
Drifting back down
Out of sight now
70 feet of water shrouds the giant
An hour back to camp
A warm campfire
A stiff drink
A clear night sky
The wolves are howling
And I feel alive!

"Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after" ~Henry David Thoreau

"I love fishing. You put your line in the water and you don't know what's on the other end. Your imagination is under there." ~Robert Altman

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Over The Top

With March, we have more light. The sun increasingly rises above the tree tops around my home. Critters are sticking their noses out of burrows, dens, holes, brush piles and woodpiles and taking good long sniffs of the air.

Winter is hanging on this year with another 12 inches of snow just last weekend. Yet gone are the dreary days as we celebrate the light that now holds some tints of color and a warmth around midday that makes promises of more to come.

My furry and feathered friends and I are happy. How about you?

There is still a couple of feet of snow around my home. I’m not complaining. We need the moisture.

But since December I have lived by the path. The path, that is, to the compost pile and the woodpile, the bird feeder, the fire pit, and my well-worn path along the creek. The paths have become beautiful as the March wind carves striking lines and shapes in the snow. The banks, and the paths, and the piles have flowing and crisp edges.

The pin oaks are finally giving up the leaves they have held on to all winter. I beg them to drop their leaves in the fall, making cleanup needed only once each year. But they ignore me. My paths are full of leaves. The wind blows them down the paths and they huddle together in the dips and curves as though they were little brown creatures scurrying to get out of my way.

And now comes the fleeting warm ups when the temperatures rise just a little above freezing for short spurts during the day. It’s perfect Maple Syrup weather when moisture locks up tight on cold nights and then flows freely for even just a few hours during midday.

For months now, the way of the path was my limited walking world. But I have become flighty with the new freedom the contrasting warm and cold temperatures have given me on my morning walks. As the snow warms up each day and then freezes hard each night, a crust is created that can support me. If I rise and get out early enough, I’m free to go anywhere I please. Just this month, I've hiked over bushes that would grab at my clothing and snarl me up any other time of year. I've walked on water over the creek. I've run down slopes that, in the summer, have so much dead fall I’d surly break a limb on my way down. And I've walked over the marshes and swamps, knowing there are all kinds of critters underneath my steps waiting for Spring.

What a contrast to my path routine. I’m free, unconfined, and able to move quickly. March is warm sun on my face and cold wind at my back, serious enough to freeze my toes and frivolous enough to encourage me to take myself over the top.

"Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush." ~Doug Larson

Monday, January 24, 2011

Give It A Rest

Once again, January has locked the Northland in a deep freeze.

With the cold temperatures, little moves. The creek has numerous ice bridges over it and the little bit of running water moves toward the river like liquid gelatin. In an otherwise silent world, the river itself is full of ice flows, creating an unearthly groaning sound as they bounce off the frozen bank. The chickadees, jays and nuthatches stay busy at my bird feeder, a little more frantic for the food that will sustain them in these cold temperatures. They have become friendlier, grateful I imagine for the unending source of seed I am able to provide. They speak little, too busy eating for warmth than having conversation over a meal. The deer move in each evening for a snack on what’s left of the corn I’ve thrown down for the jays. The squirrels have moved inside their tree-top nests, the partridge and rabbits are buried deep in their snow caves. There is little evidence of night activity beyond a few mice prints on each night’s new snowfall. Life moves minimally. Everything has fallen silent.

And even though we have so little light during these days of January, I too feel the urge to close my eyes and enjoy the peaceful darkness of a nap. While I excel at napping any time of the year, my body seems to be designed for this midwinter type of siesta. In January I take napping to new levels, finding accessories like a down duvet, body pillows, hot baths and intoxicating scents sprayed on these adornments. I am a pro. What Mother Nature doles out at other times of the year, warm sunlight, breezes carrying heady smells, a hot sandy beach or the lapping of waves on the shoreline, I have learned to manufacture in my frozen north.

I’ve been good at napping all my life. Falling asleep during required nap time was embarrassing when I was in kindergarten and Brownies. I had no problem closing my eyes and drifting off. But I’d wake with all my mates staring and giggling at the spittle running down my chin, my damp mat-crushed hair, and one wrinkled and red cheek that had previously been plastered to my sleeping surface, usually a rug. They, of course, had not slept at all and had entertained themselves by watching me. I probably got unmentionable and gross things stuck in my nose, ears and mouth as I blissfully slept on. I’m thankful I’ll never know.

However lately, napping has new respect. Maybe I’m noticing more nap appreciation in others because I’m hanging out with an older, nap-loving crowd. Or perhaps folks of all ages are turning on to the power of a nap. Either way, I no longer get laughed at. I get envied. Those who do not have the time or a place in their day to nap, marvel at my ability to sack out for an hour or so each day. So, with new level of approval, I’ve improved my napping proficiency.

For those of you who want to learn napping, the single most important thing to understand is that napping embraces the often-forgotten talent of doing only one thing at a time and doing that one thing well. When you turn the prestige of being able to multitask on its head and elevate the old way of doing things, single-tasking, the lowly nap not only seems more respectable and even doable, it becomes art. Oh, granted, there are multiple benefits from napping; a sharper mind, better motor coordination, happiness, lower blood pressure, to name a few. But you are not the “doer” of these. You are, by simply taking a break and becoming a master of The Nap, “being,” the recipient of these, nothing more.

And as a reminder, all good things arrive when you’re sleeping; Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and even Spring. Try it.

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." ~Barbara Jordan