Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Break in the Weather

I just returned from a four day adventure that took me 225 miles north of home to Humboldt County. When I was last up at Christmas I promised my friend that whenever she was ready I would help her liberate her sewing room so she could again have a haven to create. My mission, in her words, was to be brutal, to help her tackle a long term accumulation of material, yarn, and notions and help her organize what was to remain. It took us a couple of 10 hour days but it was great fun. No box was left unopened, all baskets were cleared of their holdings, all shelves were emptied of materials. We spent hours talking and laughing while we went about the task at hand. 

Sunday afternoon her husband ordered us out of the house for a break and we took the dogs and went for a walk near the ocean. I'm glad he did because it was a gorgeous day and I was able to take a few pictures. Northern California has been dry for far too long and the rains that have continued since the middle of January have revitalized the North Coast. Flowering trees and shrubs in bright yellow, pink, white and lavender are scattered in meadows of electric green all the way up Hwy 101. The redwoods and rivers are refreshed, and there are acres of brilliant yellow wild mustard in the vineyards and along the roadsides.

As it turned out she would not be the only one to benefit from our labors. We have a local store here in Sebastopol called the Legacy Shop that is a wonderland of donated crafting, sewing and knitting supplies. It is much loved by local crafters because the prices are so low and all sales support our Senior Center. Knowing that all of her treasures could be donated made it easier to let go and we managed to fill every square inch of my Jeep for the trip home.

Just before I left on Monday morning, we walked back to her sewing room and marveled at what we had accomplished. The look on her face was priceless. I'll head back up in the Spring and we'll tackle a few more spaces.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

They Call It a False Spring

Cherry Plum in our Garden

We don't have winters here like the folks on the other coast put up with, but we have had five long weeks of cold and rain. I couldn't play outside so I was happy as a clam to spend the time in my studio creating.

The last two days the temperatures have reached 70 degrees. My outside orchid, that is usually blooming in December, has finally started to open. We've been pruning, pulling weeds, playing in the dirt and just enjoying the sun on our backs. 

This is what we call a false spring and it happens most every February. You're lured into the garden on false pretenses, start planning the beds and maybe even putting in some starts. Now sometimes you get lucky and you have a jump start on the growing season. Sometimes, however, winter shows up again for another 4 to 6 weeks and you end up start all over again in April. Ah, but what does it matter as long as you squeeze everything you can out of the day?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Simply Unexpected

When we were young it seemed cards and flowers, presents or a candlelit dinner were to be expected on Feb 14th. We have now shared 28 Valentine's Days and find that the little unexpected gestures, acts of imagination, and something as simple as the offer of a foot rub after dinner have more meaning than anything we could buy.

I am a collector of rocks and crystals and last year my husband awoke to find this on the counter. He is the chef in the family and today fixed pancakes for breakfast. When he brought my plate to the table there were 2 heart shaped pancakes smothered in a compote of raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. I was so caught up in the moment I was halfway through the first pancake before I realized I should have taken a picture! However, because of my delightful, edible gift he has been forgiven for skunking me at Cribbage this morning!

So when Valentine's day comes around again don't purchase your thoughts of love; create something from your imagination, pick a bouquet wildflowers, cook something special or go for a long walk. It's the little things that make a difference.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wild Blue Yonder

When was the last time you said adios to the real world just stepped out of time for a bit with only a general direction in mind? 

Too long ago I suspect! The first time I did it I was 25. I packed up my VW bus and Charis, the handsome fellow above, and headed for Canada in Summer of 1970. We spent a month exploring British Columbia and Western Alberta, and for a couple of weeks traveled with a couple of other free spirits from CA. We first crossed paths a Yoho National Park and decided to head east to the Rockies and Alberta. We camped in Banff and then headed up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, setting up camp at the base of Mt. Edith Cavell. We went exploring every day for a week and found some of the most beautiful places I had ever seen: Miette Hot Springs, Medicine Lake, Malign Canyon and Athabasca Falls.

One afternoon we climbed a ridge behind Punch Bowl Falls and found a midden of trash (Tin Can Alley) from a former mining camp closed 50 years before. We dug for hours in the middle of a rain storm, fighting off mosquitoes the size of goldfinches, and rescued some old glass bottles, Hudson Bay crocks, and other wondrous stuff. I still have the Roses and Co lime juice bottle in the window to catch the morning light. 

As we turned west to head home, we stopped at Mt. Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, to hike up to Berg Lake and camp. The hike is 14 miles UP and took us a couple of days. We first went through a rain forest with moss so thick it was like a mattress to walk on. As we continued to climb we came around a bend to a valley where every tree had been strewn about like pickup sticks, no doubt at the hand of some long past avalanche. Pushing on we set up camp at White Horse Station on the porch of an old ranger cabin. It was in the middle of a forested valley surrounded on three sides by steep vertical walls. That night there was a thunderstorm. When we awoke at dawn we heard the sound of water. The morning light revealed crystal blue skies and hundreds of waterfalls all around us. We learned later the area was called Valley of a 1000 Falls, aptly named I'd say! 

We continued our trek until early afternoon where we came into a valley that looked like a rocky moonscape, no vegetation to speak of. We waded across an icy river and around the next bend we found Berg Lake with a small flotilla of ice bergs on its surface. There was a hand built log lodge at the edge of the forest, and across the lake was the glacier. We set up camp and stretched out to relax and rest our weary bones. Then came the highlights of the entire adventure. Have you ever heard a glacier calve? Have you seen an ice face, that seemed the size of small state break away and fall into the water like a breaching whale? The thunderous sounds and sights left us at a loss for words. We were treated to a number of these events that day and the next.

When we started the hike out we were determined to make it in a day. It took 7 hours, our feet were not happy, but what kept us moving was the thought of a Mountain Burger at the joint at the end of the trail where we were parked. Food had never tasted so good! 

As far as stepping out of time again, my husband and I are plotting to follow in the tracks of my late parents and spend more time on blue highways than at home!

"Away from home, and the daily routines of life and people, time comes unhinged. A peculiar sense of always having been gone, of all other lives being just a memory or a dream. This disconnection allows for behaviors that wouldn't be considered in the familiar matrix of everyday life. Without the checks and balances, of friends and family, risks are taken and rules are forgotten. The road beckons."

Happy Trails