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Riverside Golf Course Cross-Country Skiing and Sledding

My daughter commented that I’ve been hiring babysitters a lot lately. She’s right. I’ve hired teenagers to come to the house for a few hours each day so that I can get out and enjoy the perfect snow while it lasts. The kids have been out of school for a llllooonnnggg time… a lengthier than normal winter vacation followed by two snow (and bitterly cold) days last week. I’m very ready for them to go back to school tomorrow and to their routine. The skiing has absolutely helped me retain my sanity while I wait for that school bell to ring.

During one of our first winters in Portland a neighbor told us to check out sledding at the Riverside Golf Course (1158 Riverside Street, Portland, ME 04103). She alerted me to the fact that it was also a great place to go x-country skiing. It took me awhile to get there for a ski–my kids were little and my daughter refused to put on winter boots for the first few years of her life. Those were challenging days to get outside during the winter.

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I’ve gone to Riverside to ski today and yesterday. Both days, the parking lot was full of cars, so I know this isn’t an unheard of place, but I’m sure there are Portland area folks who still haven’t gotten there. For those who haven’t yet been, let me give you a little report.

I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to skiing and quite frankly I often find skiing on golf courses a tad boring. I like being in the woods with snowy branches overhead. I grew up in NH with Pawtuckaway Lake State Park in my backyard. Yesterday I was looking for a change of pace and thought I’d revisit Riverside because I had limited time and wanted to get some inexpensive outdoor exercise.

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I went alone and was pleased with the recently groomed trails. I appreciate having two inline tracks right next to each other, a place for skate skiing, and that there is room for the snow shoers to walk along side the ski tracks.  The double inline tracks is great for passing (or being passed) as well as when traffic is going in opposite directions.  I knew my husband would like to be able to ski right next to me, so we could have a conversation while skiing. When I went alone, I was able to get off the groomed trails and get onto human made trails closer to the river’s edge and under more trees.  It was lovely.  Off in the distance I could see the sledding hill. It was packed. I haven’t taken the kids there yet but there is still time on this gorgeous winter day.

This morning Hans (my husband) and I went on an early morning date. It’s a windless balmy 24 degrees. After a week of negative temperatures and crazy low wind chills ranging from -20 to -30 degrees today feels like a summer day.He’s the music director for an upcoming play called Words By that will play at Portland Stage and has been in rehearsals each day since Dec. 30th and had to be to the theater at 11:30. We haven’t had a date for months so this morning we left the kids with a babysitter, picked up coffee at Black Cat Coffee along with a heavenly maple Holy Donut, and drove the 13 minute route to the golf course. Hans did not grow up skiing and only goes once or twice a year–he doesn’t love it like I do and is still learning. We could have walked to and skied in the woods behind Evergreen Cemetery but I thought he’d rather ski on groomed trails than to struggle with the tight twists and turns on the ungroomed trails in the woods. I was right. He enjoyed himself so much that I think we may just go more regularly this year.

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The skating skiing looked amazing and there were many people doing it. The sledding hill looked long and super fun. And somewhere there is a skate rink, but I wasn’t looking for it and didn’t find it. Keep in mind that there are two parking lots.

To wrap this post up, I’d say that overall I’d prefer take the time to go to Pineland (which is certainly more expensive but also has ski rentals, longer groomed trails through the woods, and a lovely shop for post-ski hot cocoa and treats) but when time or money is tight, skiing locally is a great way to get outside. Also, keep in mind that Riverside doesn’t groom every day, but you can check out the ski conditions at the website (below) before going.  FYI, they had groomed on Sat. and  and the conditions seemed about the same on Sunday despite not grooming a second time this weekend.

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Riverside does ask for a tiny donation in a drop box to cover grooming. But, the box has been stolen. I personally will keep track of how many times we ski there and send a check at the end of the season. $2.00 per person per ski is a very inexpensive outdoor activity and I’m very grateful to have them keeping the trails open and available for all ski abilities.

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For conditions visit www.riversidegolfcourseme.com.  If you have anything to add to this post, please do so in the comments so others can benefit.  Time to get back outside!

 

Thrills on a Hill

I love going sledding. Just yesterday, in the middle of a 17-hour workday, I took a break to walk to the closest hill with my kids and a neighbor’s child. With 4-6 more inches of snow coming tonight I thought I’d bring this post back out–it’s one of my favorites and includes many cheerful photos.

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Zipping down a hill on a plastic board will give you the cheapest thrill to share with your kids next to throwing snowballs. I love to speed down a hill with my arms wrapped around one of my children, the memory of which I will treasure for a lifetime. My babies are growing so fast that all too soon they’ll be heading to the hill without me.

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There are a few things I know to be true about sledding.

Sleds, of course, are a wonderful on a hill but you can also use them on level ground. Children, new walkers, kids on ice, and babies love being pulled in sleds. Who wouldn’t? When my daughter was little, I pulled her to preschool while I cross-country skied. This form of transport was inspired by one of my fondest memories with my father. He pulled me on a sled to the corner store as he skied. The candy bar we shared there was not nearly as sweet as the love I felt being pulled behind my father in the snow-quieted neighborhood. I only remember it happening once, but I am determined to give the experience to my children again and again, with hopes that they will carry the fond memory into their adult lives.

Fun is proportional to group size.  You can have races, link arms and try to reach the bottom together, or make one long train. How many ways are there to ride a sled? A big hill packed with sledders is a brainstorming session in snow. The larger the crowd of kids, the wider variety of techniques and games you’ll see. Groups can work together to create slalom course or ramps for a higher starting point. The more the merrier.

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Bigger hills are better. Although little children prefer smaller hills. They can make do at the bottom of a big one, and even piles of snow by the driveway can work.

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You can’t outgrow a sled. Your kids will outgrow any number of skates, skis, and snow pants, but they will never grow out of their sleds, and neither will you. Sleds come in different sizes, but even the smallest sleds work for everyone. But having a sled that holds more than one rider opens up many possibilities.

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Sharing sleds is part of the culture of many hills. Kids we’ve never met before think nothing of asking, “May we please borrow your sled?” People even offer up their sleds unprompted, as one woman did for me with her giant inner tube.  I’m still kicking myself for turning her down.

Bundle up!  Although you’ll certainly work up a sweat trudging back up the hill each time, catching a chill will cut short a great time.  Throw an extra neck warmer in your pocket for when your son face-plants after an absurd stunt and bursts into tears.

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(photo credit to Deirdre Confar)

If you’re hoping to go for a few hours pack a snack. Prevent bonking.

If you’re in the market for a sled, I recommend a new design we’ve been using that is made of a thick slab of flexible foam with handles on the sides. It slides effortlessly over all kinds of snow, can accommodate more than one rider, and its soft foam material absorbs a lot of shock from bumps and chunks of ice. (The material is 4-5 cm thick, compared to 1 cm of our other foam sled.) My son prefers it because in distance races it travels the farthest, my daughter selects it because it is the fastest, and my tush demands the shock absorption.

Some awesome sleds:

A Pull-your-little-one sled

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(photo credit Amy Priestley-Roy)

Our New Favorite


A Simple Classic

A great sled is wonderful, but you don’t need one to have a wonderful time. You can slide downhill over snow on just about anything.  The kids at the Boston public school where I taught years ago used cardboard boxes and they had a supremely good time.  A friend of mine uses an air mattress!  Whether you use a cafeteria tray or a 6-person toboggan, you’re bound to have a memorable time.

Everyday Power

As some of you have figured out already, I’ve got a thing for doing every day challenges. Recently, in Facebookland, I realized that two of  my friends are doing a pushup challenge. 100 pushups a day for 100 days. Greg Popp, a Maine triathlete and overall energized kinda guy, set up this Facebook page to rally his troops. They started on November 1–I started several days late on Nov. 19th. So far I’ve done 400 pushups (over the course of four days)–but I plan to do all 100 days, just 9,600 left to go!  Greg is totally open to many people joining the challenge if you’re interested. Although I’ve not yet met Greg, I like what he’s doing and think the “do it every day” message is really significant.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve rarely work out every day. I’ve always been more of a try-for-four-days-a-week kind of person. Even in the days before kids, when I was a twenty-something young one, I could never get in a workout each day of the week. In college I had a crazy fitness time. I was racing sailboats on the national level, trained on the water 4 days a week, raced every weekend, and either ran my six-mile loop or was in the gym weight lifting–those were extraordinarily fit days that I long for but certainly seem like a thing of the past. These days, if I get in three solid workouts it’s a really good week.

You probably could have guessed this, but I’ll be doing most of my pushups outside. I’ll spruce up my  simple walks, by stopping at flat spots along the way and doing a set. Typically my walks don’t get my heart rate up as much as I’d like. Adding pushups will be an excellent way to give me a more satisfactory “yes I worked out today” kind of feeling.  And interestingly, this week after I stood up from each set on the packed dirt paths, I felt like my sensory system was on fire. The colors around me were more intense, the earthy smells were stronger, and I was more tuned into the quiet. I know this sounds a little wild, but don’t call me crazy until you try it. If you experience this too, please let me know that I’m not imagining things.

So here’s the thing with Greg’s pushup challenge and my Everyday Outside Challenge–when I say I’m going to do something four or five days a week, it is so easy and tempting to say, “I can’t get to it today, I’ll do it tomorrow instead.” Every time I give that excuse it is a chance to fall off the exercise or outdoor wagon–because one day turns into two and, well, you get the point. But, if I say I’m going to do it every day, the question isn’t, “Will I work out today?” it is, “When will I do it?”

People say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I think it takes longer than that. Doing something every single day for more than three months will certainly get you on the road to forming a life-long habit–whether it is going outside for thirty minutes, doing 100 push ups, or whatever healthy habit you want to attend to, try it for at least 100 days and watch how it impacts your life.

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What we Hide

I’m preparing to present at the Pecha Kucha Event in Portland at SPACE Gallery tomorrow night. Basically eight thoughtful, creative, energetic, and passionate Maine folks will share the cool stuff they’ve done or are doing with 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. Exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds to share a project, art, poetry, photography, or a passion. I’ll be sharing what I do here in this blog and the 365 Every Day Outside Challenge.

I had what I thought was  a pretty tight presentation and shared it with my husband. As you probably guessed almost all of my photos are outside, in fact nineteen of the twenty slides are outdoor ones.  All beautifully capturing Maine and happy moments for my family. After smiling through the whole thing, Hans’s advice was to share the hard stuff too… to show the messy desk, the kitchen with overflowing dishes and windows that needed to be cleaned a year ago (maybe two), to show the night time walk at 11pm because I couldn’t get out until then. It was great advice–I will speak about being busy but I also need to show this in at least one of my slides.

Is there such a thing as a parent who can keep up with everything?  Even stay at-home parents never get it all done when they want to.  Maybe people who can afford to hire a lot of help can keep up but there’s always more homework, papers to sort through, mail to respond to, art projects that were not cleaned up, Lego everywhere, and dirt and dust and grime. So Hans took this photo of what my desk looked like right then and I took a few photos of what my kitchen looked like at that very moment.

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I’m pretty embarrassed by these photos… I’d cringe if a friend or neighbor walked into my home looking like this. I desire a picture perfect home but raising kids is messy work. Here’s the thing, we do have moments of neat and tidy but I can’t keep up. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I could have photographed a few neater corners, but if we only share with the world the tidy moments then it just adds to the shame I (we?) feel when someone sees what we’re trying to hide. None of us live in the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog or Better Homes and Gardens and even if our homes are shared in those pages, the photos are taken after days of cleaning and the things we live with on the counters are hidden in storage.

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Yesterday, I could have cleaned the kitchen instead of taking a few minutes to play backgammon with my son on the front porch in the warm sunshine as he recovers from strep throat.  I could have stayed up late cleaning instead of going to bed early to try and stave off strep which I always get when I’m exposed to it.  I could have scrubbed for those few minutes before work instead of taking my daughter’s hand when she wanted me to watch her “new tricks” on the monkey bars before going to school. I could have and maybe I should have but the choices we make in those small decisive moments define our lives.

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My kids probably won’t remember the mess when they’re adults, but they will remember playing games on the porch on a sick day and they’ll remember how wonderful it feels to be outside on a chilly fall  morning before school. Nobody has asked how I get it all done, or even how I find time to get outside every day, but I think it is important to share that the choices I make make it possible. I also will argue that the outdoor time energizes me to get more done inside… but that’s another blog entry.

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Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow night. Please say hello if you’re there!

I Returned the Cart

I am a Type A person. I’m a control freak but capable of getting a lot of shit done in a short period of time.  To get that stuff done, I’m constantly thinking and planning and multitasking in order to be as efficient as possible. This morning, after a stress and tearful kid drop off at school, I headed over to Whole Foods in order to buy some alfalfa and wheat seeds for two upcoming workshops that I’m prepping for. As I drove I thought of the things I needed to do to get ready for the workshops next week as well as the one I’m teaching on Friday here in Portland, and I also thought of the things I needed for my family while at the store, and how to juggle the other stuff on my very full plate.

I parked at the far end of the lot, shopped fast, and got out of there in under $75 and 15 minutes.  Not bad.  I pushed the cart back to my car at the far end of the lot, unloaded my bags, and looked around for the classic Hannaford–midlot cart drop off. There wasn’t one. I heaved out one deep and frustrated sigh and considered leaving my cart right where I was.  I took a deep breath in and decided to be a good girl and return the cart to the front entrance. After approximately six steps I looked up at the gorgeous blue sky with sprinkled fair-weather clouds throughout, I felt the perfect Maine fall temperature and realized how ridiculous I was being. These few outdoor minutes across the parking lot were mine.  I could choose to enjoy them or to not. I could choose to breathe deeply or shallowly.  I could choose to keep my face in a scowl, continue to think of all the things I needed to do, continue to look down instead of up, and I could continue to feel frustrated.

I chose to relax my face. I chose to breathe deeply. I chose to not think. I chose to enjoy my two and a half minute walk across the parking lot while I looked up at the utterly beautiful Maine sky.  When I got back in my car, I rolled down my windows, continued to breathe deeply, and kept connecting with all the little things that make me more peaceful inside of this type A body and mind.

Those few short minutes outside affect my well being. When I’m fully present in any outdoor setting, even if it truly is only a few minutes here and a few there, I am happier and healthier and less grouchy and less controlling. I’m already looking forward to a walk outside later today–after all, two and a half minutes to and from the car wouldn’t be enough for the 365 Everyday Outside Challenge–but, they were enough to make a difference in that moment.

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Easiest Birthday Party Ever: A Day at Aquaboggin

My son just turned nine and we celebrated with the easiest birthday party we’ve ever given. We spent the day at Aquaboggan, a water park about 20 minutes from our house in Saco, Maine with a small group of kids. It was great fun for the kids and adults and quite affordable because we only invited a few kids.

Every year my husband and I plan a big birthday party and invite lots of kids in order to be inclusive.  We’ve had Bay Blade parties with multiple stations for “spin offs” where each kid was given a Bay Blade; Harry Potter birthday parties with Quidditch and potions; and water play parties with slip and slides, sprinklers, and a kiddie pool. In addition to lots of kids converging on our yard, their parents come too. The parties are always great fun but also a strain to plan and even though they’re at home, they tend to be expensive. This year we did it differently.

My son invited one cousin (who happened to be in the neighborhood), two friends, and of course his sister got to come.  The final count was five kids and four adults.  The park offers a discounted birthday rate for parties of at least 8 ($15 per person) and the birthday child gets in for free.  They reserve a picnic table under a pavillion for the group and will even keep your cake in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it (of course, you have to remember the cake in order to serve it at the park…). They allow you to bring your own food and drink. We packed a cooler of sandwiches, some cut up watermelon, chips, and lemonade.  The only thing I spent money on after the admission fee was to rent a locker for $5 to keep my camera, phones, and wallets in.  Our neighbor rented a double tube for going down some slides with his son.

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I love that the park is relatively clean, that it doesn’t feel crowded, that you don’t have to wait in lines for rides, and that you are surrounded by trees. Our favorite part is the dome (for kids only) followed by the wave pool. Although we did try the slides, most of the kids weren’t interested in spending a lot of time on them. The only thing I would improve is to add more trees throughout the park so that there are more shady spots. Most of my family did get a sun burn somewhere on our bodies. We should have reapplied sunscreen but water parks are tricky for keeping sunscreen on.

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I thought the group size was perfect and I was glad to have four adults so we could divide up and go to different parts of the park throughout the day.

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Aquaboggan charlie going down dome

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aquaboggan henry climbingAquaboggan picnic tableAquaboggan anica silly faceaquaboggan so fun

A very happy and memorable birthday party for sure. Let’s do it again next year!

 

Peaks Island Field Trip–My 40th Birthday Present

On May 30th, I turned 40. We celebrated early, with dancing and a birthday party, with friends and family, and with food and drink the weekend prior.  It was a lovely way to shift decades. But the best possible birthday celebration happened on my actual birthday. I was able to go on a field trip to Peaks Island with my daughter’s class. I couldn’t think of a better way to usher in another decade–a day spent on ferries, messing about with tide pools, humming to periwinkles to bring them out of their shells, building sandcastles, comparing various types of seaweed, eating lunch on a beach while observing seagulls and a pair of soaring osprey, and bringing 18 incredibly cute kindergarteners to an island off the coast of Portland.

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It is hard to believe that in a few weeks I’ll be done with kindergarten… I’m so grateful that I could shift my work responsibilities around to make it possible to go on this field trip. I’m even more grateful for wonderful teachers who bring the magic of the natural world into the hearts of children who may not otherwise find it.

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I’m so grateful that the first forty years of my life have brought me to where I am today. I know another ten will slip by in an instant.  My son will be graduating from high school and my daughter will be 16 when I turn 50.  I hope to go on as many field trips as they’ll allow in those ten years… these precious days go so quickly.

The J24 Team Prepares for the 2013 Sailboat Racing Season

I race sailboats.  It is one of the ways that I take care of myself and is something that I do so that I can be a better mother.  About once a week during the season, I go away for a few hours to work on the boat or to race her and come home feeling like I went on a vacation. This racing season I hope to take you along on my journey.  We mostly race in local regattas and every Wednesday night.  But a world championship is coming up that we’d actually go to if we qualified so there should be some exciting adventures as we strive to improve our skills.

Meet some of my teammates as we take the winter coat off of and spiff up Mr. Hankey!

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Charlotte

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Dr. Andrew Carey (the owner, skipper, and allergist–if you’re wondering where the boat got its name)

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Stephanie

(Toby and Jon weren’t there this day, but you’ll meet them soon!)

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And our fine vessel.

 

 

Bringing the Outdoors In

I’ve been busy. Very, very busy. So busy, that I worry you may feel like I’ve been neglecting my efforts with this here blog. Although I haven’t been writing much, I have been getting outside almost every day. In fact, for the 2013 Everyday Outside Challenge, I’ve only missed one day of getting outside for at least 30 minutes.   

Here’s the irony, the day I couldn’t get outside I was celebrating environmental education with a bunch of outdoor enthusiasts at Chewonki during the Maine Environmental Education Association annual conference. I was one of the organizers of the event, the first conference I’ve ever helped organize, and every minute of the day was devoted to buttoning down a myriad of details needed to make the day a success. I spent all day thinking about connecting people, young and old, to nature and getting others outside more frequently, but when I finished my work and home responsibilities for the day, at 11pm, there was no juice in the tank for actually walking out the door. Anyway, the good news is I’ve gotten outside for 88 of 89 days this year. Family adventures in sledding, skating and snowman building balanced out my alone time skiing and walking in nature, and all that variety and fun took some of the bite out of the harsh weather we’ve seen this year.  Having gone out in blizzards, nor’easters, extreme cold, and a crap load of snow, spending time outside in the upcoming warm sunshine will be a breeze.

I am ready to say good-bye to winter: I want to go outside without boots and am ready to leave my hats and mittens in the basket in the mud room, ready to hang up my thick winter coat in the closet.  I’m watching as the leaves of the breast cancer awareness tulips poke up through the thawing earth next to our driveway. The purple, white, and yellow crocuses fill me with joy and tender feelings of hope every time I walk past them.  As the first signs of spring, they remind me that the end of winter is in sight.  Even though we may face another big storm, soon we’ll see green on trees and bushes, and our yard will shine with fresh grass.

After the conference, I took my husband up the coast to celebrate his birthday.  A Groupon deal made the Hawthorn Inn up in Camden affordable to stay for two nights in the carriage house. What luxury! The room was even nicer in reality than it looked on the web. Though I generally avoid inns because I prefer to be anonymous and don’t always like having to be nice and friendly with innkeepers, this worked out great. The owner Maryann Shanahan struck the right balance of giving us space and sharing her treasured home with us.

What made our room perfect for me was how one whole wall was filled with sliding glass windows.  Beyond the windows was a deck looking out through bare trees that revealed the winter harbor. Lying in bed gazing out the windows at trees and water took me back to my childhood in rural Nottingham, NH.  Back then I spent countless mornings daydreaming through the windows at the treetops swaying in the breeze outside my bedroom window. I concentrated on them deeply on weekend mornings, hoping their swaying boughs would predict great wind for sailboat races later in the day. It was a dream to wake up next to nature’s allure like that, and I miss it terribly. These days, I have neither the bedroom view nor the leisurely mind state for morning window gazing.

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I was so wiped out from planning the conference on top of my full-time job and parenting responsibilities that I didn’t mind the fact that breakfast wasn’t served until 9:00am.  I appreciated the extra sleep and time to just lie in bed and look at the view!  Once in the dining room, we savored a delicious breakfast of fruit salad topped with yogurt and nuts with a second course of a lightly seasoned spinach frittata and roasted potatoes.

Then we were off for a hike up Mount Megunticook, where we found a treacherous mix of slush, ice and mud.  We only slipped and fell a couple times on the way up, but we practically had to crawl back down again.  Well, Hans DID crawl through the steep stretches where the slush was packed solid and grey. Meanwhile, I found myself sliding down the path, pretending I was on skis and that all of this was by design. Skiing down a slushy hill in hiking boots is almost as good as cross country skiing. Despite how much extra energy we had to devote to make our way through the muck, it was still an invigorating hike.  Exhausting, but invigorating.  I can’t wait to take the kids on long hikes like this one, and I think this might be the summer for it: they are getting more and more capable all the time, and they will love working hard to drink in a beautiful vista while snacking on chocolate nut crunch trail mix.

boat house

Throughout the weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about how critical it is to connect with the beautiful things we see. When I say “connect” here, what I really mean is to be IN the natural world. I was struck by how my connection to the view from the hotel window was dramatically heightened when I stepped out the door onto the balcony. Suddenly, the view became much more three dimensional.  The sound of birds, boats, and water all came into bloom.  Details lost through the window glass were now clear. I could almost touch the trees.  The dark shadows cast on the smooth white snow seemed to jump out at me, and the stream tumbling noisily from the mountain drowned out the traffic that I tried hard to ignore. I was a part of this scene and brought it into my soul. Then, walking down by the harbor which we could plainly see from the porch, I noticed so much more than I could imagine from above. Yes, it is obvious that you will see more when you are closer to something, but what I am talking about is an almost intangible feeling of entering into something. It is the feeling of leaving the indoor world where we control everything and entering a vast, interconnected place that can only truly be experienced from within it.

When I returned inside, I continued to admire the scene out the window, and I could still feel it inside of me. Although there was glass separating us, I brought the outdoors in. If I had only looked out the window at this beautiful scene, I would have missed the depth of the connection. I wouldn’t have felt so warmed by nature’s beauty.  Looking out the window, we gaze at art made by someone we don’t know and will never meet. Going past the window into the scene itself, we join hands with the painter and experience her art directly.

yard at Hawthorn

schooners for winter

I felt this most acutely up on the mountain trail while crossing a stream.  The rushing water is perfectly lovely from a short distance.  Then, getting closer, I felt surrounded by the sound, aware of water’s raw power. Even closer, standing on a stone in the middle of the stream, all the sounds were louder and bolder and the scents tangibly more powerful. I could feel through my feet its power to smooth stones and change the shape of land. I could feel that power in my bones. Was I part of the stream?  I don’t know, but I was certainly more grateful and present to be surrounded by it.

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These moments of connecting with nature strengthen me in tangible ways that are difficult to put into words. My regular connection to nature makes me a more fullfilled person. My heart is open and ready to welcome spring and to continue connecting with the trees outside my window.

from top of mountain

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Treacherous Trails, Swollen Jewell Falls, Unexpected Treasure

I woke up at 3:30 am last night. I tossed and turned for 1.5 hours before dragging my tired tush out of bed. I worked for 1.5 hours and then decided to go outside. I grabbed my camera and drove to one of the Portland Trail entrances to Jewell Falls and hoped to walk all the way to Stroudwater. Upon arrival I learned this was going to be a slow crawl of a walk. The ice was often 4-6 inches thick and along the edges where the ice had melted was 4-6 inches of mud.  There were a few spots of snow along which I could find some secure footing, but for the most part I had to be very, very careful.

The falls were swollen with the recent rain and the snow melt.  jewell falls_horizontal_130313jewell falls_vertical_130313

After taking several minutes to absorb the sounds, smell, and sight of the waterfall I carried on along the trail. I managed to get pretty far down the trail and enjoyed my walk. Just as I turned to head home I heard two incredibly angry crows who indicated to  me that a predator was about.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw the flash of big wings and I was pretty sure the crows were pissed that an owl or hawk was near by.  I was leaning towards an owl so I followed the racket until I could see it.  I actually said, “Yes!” in an out-loud whisper in response to making eye contact with this guy.  (Look in the center of the photo below…)owl_jewell falls_130313

I was hoping he’d fly toward me so I could capture an even closer photo, but it was enough to stand and have a starring contest. Certainly made up for a terrible night sleep.

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