Monthly Archives: December 2010

Dreams of bears and owls…

During the winter, here in the Northwoods, the bear slumbers in dens covered with thick snow.  Many other animals hibernate or torpor, lulled into the depths of dreams as the ice forms and thickens on Lake Superior.

Icicles

We can be so busy during the spring and summer and autumn of our lives.  We can run to and fro, caught in cycles of busy-ness.  We so often keep creating, creating, creating our active lives without a complimentary cycle of down-time, rest, incubation.

Three years ago–in January, 2008,–I decided to focus inward.  Besides doing my two part-time jobs, I spent much of the month in meditation, silence, prayer.  The usual days of busy-ness turned into contemplation and deep inner peace.  By the time the bear rolled over in his den (also known as Heikkinpaiva around these parts) I felt renewed and content.  I also felt no need to move outward toward people ever again…fully convinced that my own company was finally enough.

Snow on spruce branch

Of course the Universe always laughs at pronouncements such as these!  Within a month or two after this winter retreat, I discovered Blogging.  All those years of wanting to share my writing with others, of feeling sometimes stifled in our forest-world, of deep-winter restlessness, suddenly found an outlet.

I blogged.  I blogged!  I blogged some more.  For three years you couldn’t shut me up.  Years of pent-up creativity burst through hundreds of inner seams.  Energy flew helter-skelter into the world, delighted to be freed, to be heard.

Last year I wrote 365 posts in an outdoor blog, a year-long commitment to spend time outside.  During two years on Gaia.com, I probably wrote a couple hundred spiritual blogs.  The blog you are reading now is #295 from Lake Superior Spirit.  Add another forty-six blogs on Simply here.  (OK, you could also add twelve more on another now-defunct blog about non-duality…)

If you do the math–that’s about 918 blogs in three years.  That’s a lot of blogging, folks!

Bearyweather of Bear in Mind recently lamented about bloggers who leave the Internet without a formal word of goodbye.  One day they’re chatting away about Snowmen and Santas, and the next day they’re gone, without a word.  It hurts sometimes to feel the empty space where our blogging friends once shared their lives.  He said that the average blogger blogs for two years before ceasing.  If that’s the case…I’m probably overdue for a blogging rest.

My  inner bear (or perhaps my inner owl) has suddenly decided it’s time to hibernate for a while…to turn more steadily inward…to quit focusing outward in huge bursts of creativity as the magic of silence and contemplation works its renewal.

Woodpile

Therefore, I am saying goodbye to blogging and Facebook and other internet pursuits for an extended stretch (except for daily checking of email).  Maybe a few weeks?  Maybe a month?  Maybe longer? 

I want to listen deeper to the Spirit within and determine which direction it wishes to turn as 2011 unfolds.  Does it still want to blog?  Does it want to turn directions in blogging, or stay the same? Does it want to focus more on photography?  Does it want to do something else?

This feels exciting, this turning inward.  If any of you have the time or space or inclination, never hesitate to give yourself days and days of silence and contemplation.  Amazing fruits can be discovered in the dens of our winter muse.

Illumination

Wishing you all the best.  Your reading support has filled me with a deep appreciation and joy.  You will never know how much this has meant!   May 2011 find you closer to your own inner peace, connection and love.  Blessings to all…until we meet again.  Maybe when the bear rolls over in the den?  Or when the owl swoops, silent, through the frozen forest?

The Santas, the Snowmen, the Tin Man and popcorn!

Christmas carnation from my “get well” flower arrangement

You guys simply wouldn’t believe the things that happen in Aura, Michigan!

It’s a magical place.

Lean close by our fire and I will tell you a magical tale.  OK, you can drink some hot chocolate first if you want a cup.  No, you can’t go make snow angels in the snow.  Not ’til we’re done with our Christmas story.

K’s favorite ornament from childhood

This is not the story of  Mary, Joseph and a babe in the manger.  This is not even the story of a fat jolly old elf with his sack full of toys magically emerging soot-free from a chimney.

This is the story of the Santas and Snowmen.  Settle yourselves down for a long winter’s snooze and listen to our Christmas story.

Christopher is not forgotten on our tree…

Years ago I walked into a raffle at the Aura Hall.  (I think it was the Aura Hall.  But it could have been the Skanee Hall.)  My eyes surveyed the scene and lingered on the only Prize I wanted.

Three inch high Santas and Snowmen sat on a tic-tac-toe board.  With cheery scarves, swirls and caps, they announced “CHRISTMAS” with utter joy.

I–who do not necessarily like very many decorations–fell head over snowflakes in love.

“The Santas and Snowmen are mine,” a voice in the head claimed them utterly.

However, who listens to voices in the head when they say such things?  Certainly not me.  I paid for a few raffle tickets and went home, never thinking about the tic-tac-toe Santas and Snowmen again.

Until the call came.

“You won!” announced a triumphant voice.  “A tic-tac-toe Santa and Snowmen set!”

The Santas and Snowmen set up residence every Christmastime beneath our tree.

Then–one Christmas–the Fun Began.

The Santas and Snowmen–and, oh yes, the Tin Man, too!

Someone (no one likes to admit who) decided that the Santas and Snowmen must be prime players in our Christmas scene.  One of the first years one of us–we won’t reveal who–set up a tableau in which the hapless fellows marched like lemmings, one following the other, off our living room coffee table.  (Please!  Do not judge us too rashly! We know we have weird senses of humor…)

The second year the Santas and Snowmen were all drunk and hung over on Christmas morning.  Empty beer bottles lay around their fallen bodies.  It was a frightful scene.  (We laughed so hysterically over this scene that we could barely function…HIGH FIVE for the Drue who thought that one up!)  Although I still remain partial to the lemming scene.

The Snowfolk (with popcorn)

The Santas and Snowmen have been found perched ‘way up high among our plants.  They have been found descending into the basement.  They gathered one year in our refrigerator. Last year they marched outside…well, I don’t want to spoil the story.  You really MUST click here and read what they did last year.  It was absolutely amazing what those fellas decided to do.

The Santas (with popcorn)

What would they do this year for an encore?  I went to bed before the Other Two occupants of the house.  When I awoke this morning…well, you can see the above scene.

The Santas and Snowmen AND Howard’s Tin Can Man (see story here if you’ve forgotten) were gathered around the TV watching a DVD and eating popcorn!

A note lay in their midst:  “After a long night delivering presents, the guys relax with a movie and some popcorn… and a new friend!”

(The Tin Man, being a recent arrival, is of course the “new friend”.)

Please let me know if you spotted any of these fellows delivering YOUR presents last night!

Ho!  Ho! (I’m sure they shouted.)  A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND TO YOU A GOOD NIGHT!

Looking down from the Eye in the Sky

Mouth of the Portage Canal (west side)

United Airlines brought our baby home last Tuesday afternoon.  However, she’s not a baby any more.  She’ll be 25 years old next week and she’s been the Best Nurse in the Universe after my gall bladder surgery.

River of ice from the sky

It was barely snowing on Tuesday as her plane jetted from Chicago to Hancock, so she aimed her camera out the window and snapped photos.

I was mesmerized by the images she captured.  Flowing rivers of ice.  Matchstick trees.  The winding Portage Canal opening up to Big Lake Superior.

Close-up: River of Ice

The view is so different from an Eye in the Sky.  What a wider perspective we suddenly possess!   We view the vista like an eagle soaring on the lake breezes.  Suddenly our problems seem dwarfed, less important.  The world expands to a bigger more comfortable place.

When the trees look like matchsticks...

This afternoon Kiah put the ornaments on the Christmas tree.  We’re listening to Christmas music.  The house feels cozy and festive.  She’s baking focaccia with our pasta and vegetables.

Land of a million trees

A mama could get spoiled!  She and Barry keep saying, “What can I get you?  What would you like?”  I walked slowly, oh-so-slowly, to the mailbox today.  It felt like climbing Mount Everest!  But every day keeps getting better and better and better.  Surgery will soon–I’m sure–be a distant memory.  Far away, like matchstick trees.

The vista is improving.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas Eve tomorrow!

Run over by a Volkswagen Bug

Surgery is over.

I had laparoscopic gall bladder surgery yesterday.

Today I feel like I’ve been run over by a Volkswagen Bug.

If you have the traditional gall bladder surgery you would feel like you’ve been run over by a Mack Truck.

The chatty 25-year-old in the next bed had gall bladder surgery a couple of hours before me.  Because of her age–and because she was comparing it to a C-section–it seemed like she’d been run over by a bicycle on training wheels.

I will get back to you all when the tire tracks don’t hurt quite so much.  (Of course with all your prayers and well-wishes and energy…that will probably be soon!  Thank you a million times for all the love.  I have never felt this much love in my whole life.)

Musings from the Day Before Surgery

Amazing sky (and orb)--around the Head of the Bay

First things first.  Thank you all who welcomed Robin to the “living room” in our Little House in the Big Woods.  I appreciate your friendliness so much.  It brings to mind the first time I wrote a guest blog.  It makes you kind of self-conscious and nervous.  (OK, maybe it doesn’t make everybody self-conscious and nervous.  Robin probably thought it was a piece of cake.) 

I was so nervous that no one would say “hello”.  That they would think, “What is THIS STRANGER doing on the blog?”  But folks kindly said “hi”–and some regular readers from Lake Superior Spirit dropped by to give a “high-five” so the nervousness abated.

Thank you, Robin, for sharing yourself in my living room…and good luck on your 365-day outdoor commitment.  This is no easy feat!

Yellow. Blue. Sky.

Speaking of 365-day outdoor commitments, tomorrow will be one year since mine ended.  Odd, that I will be in the hospital for gall bladder surgery, on this auspicious anniversary.

It’s also odd having an inactive blog on WordPress.  It’s interesting how many people still regularly stumble upon the posts.  Or even those–like Elisa at Elisa’s Spot–have been reading some of the daily postings in that other lifetime and commenting  steadfastly. 

This past life still gets about one hundred hits a day.  People who google “raccoons” or “vegetable scraps” or “Julie/Julia”.  “Palm trees” is the second all-time search engine hit–go figure.  Just what a blog from Lake Superior country needs!

Crossroads in the sky.

Sometimes I miss the outdoor focus of that blog.  It was very simple.  What was going on outside the front door.  It really didn’t care what was going on in the Big Living Room in the Mind or the Lofty Attic of the Spirit–although, you know me, I tried to include them, as well.

Shimmering

I also have been missing the playful ease of taking pics with Ms. Sony Cybershot.  I took her out to play again this weekend on the way to town.  She is the best playmate!  You can take her out without any trouble, without any fiddling, without any fuss. 

She doesn’t take “perfect” photos some of the time (well, neither does Ms. Canon Rebel!) but she is always such a sport.  She loves impromptu photo shoots in restaurants, public bathrooms, walks to the mailbox.  She adores spontaneity. 

What she lacks in polish, she reveals in creativity and shine. 

My "home away from home" tomorrow--the hospital

You can aim Ms. Cybershot out the window of your car when driving–as long as you don’t focus or otherwise concentrate in a way that would take more than .12535% off your driving abilities.  (It’s not texting, Mr. Policeman!  I wouldn’t do THAT while driving!)

Map that hangs on the wall at the Sentinel --shows our hometown "Aura"

Barry had to stop at the Sentinel–the local newspaper where he is editor–and download photos.  He’s trying to stay on top of his assignments so he can spend quality time with me in the hospital.  I mean–quality time in the waiting room. 

While he downloaded his photos, Ms. Cybershot and I took a gander around the office.  What to photograph?  A map on the wall?  A frog on top of Nancy’s computer?  (Nancy is one of the part-time reporters.  She is also one of Barry’s ice fishing buddies.  She is also my friend.  She has a great sense of humor.  I have tried to take lessons from her.)

Frog on Nancy's computer at the Sentinel

I can’t believe how well I am feeling.  After feeling so ill for a while–things have sure settled down.  It must be all the prayers and good wishes and positive energy.  My liver enzymes dove by more than three-quarters to only mildly elevated levels.  The gall bladder is hardly cranky at all. 

The emotional energy of earlier this week has turned to a calm peaceful feeling.  Sure, bits of nervousness arise–but not overwhelming. 

One of the nice nurses called this morning.  “Be at the hospital at 9 a.m.,” she advised.  Surgery is at 10.

Will try to re-connect with you after it’s over.  Don’t know if that will be Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.  If something happens that I must have the “other” surgery (not laparoscopic) I’ll have to stay in the hospital several days.

In which event my Private Nurse (also known as daughter, Kiah, who is coming home for the holidays) will write a short blog & report to you.  (You will do this, Kiah, won’t you?) 

Hope everyone has a Happy Solstice.  Three cheers–as we celebrate that the Light Returneth!

Meet Robin! (She’s doing a 365 day outdoor commitment, too!)

Time to meet another blog reader/commenter.  I am thrilled to feature Robin this month…please extend her a hearty welcome some words of encouragement to help her through her year-long outdoor commitment. 

When Kathy asked me if I’d like to do a guest blog post, I was honored.  A little thrilled, too.  I expected I’d have plenty of time to mull it over and decide what I wanted to say but then life took a turn towards Busy and I’ve been zooming along, trying to catch up, ever since.  I finally decided to take a little detour towards Make Time and here I am, trying to write up this introduction to me.


My Gravatar

So.  Who am I?  My name is Robin.  A few of you may know me from my blogs:  Life in the Bogs and Bountiful Healing.  Or you may recognize my feet from comments I’ve left here at Kathy’s and at other blogs.  It was this post at Bountiful Healing that made my feet almost famous.

Self portrait

I started blogging in September of 2006 as a means to keep friends and family up to date with M and I during a temporary move to West Chester, Pennsylvania while M was on a sabbatical.  M, by the way, is my husband.   I’ve never been very good with the pseudo-anonymous naming of family and friends so my blogs tend to look a little like alphabet soup when I’m writing about them.  The exceptions are my two granddaughters, the Exquisite Emma and the Magnificent Maddy, and pets (such as our two cats, Izzy and Bella).

Like most people, I am somewhat defined by my relationships.  I am a daughter and a sister.  I am the oldest of five children, with three brothers and one sister.  I am a wife, married to the Lovely Man (aka M) for 35 years.  I am a mother, with two sons who were born 10 years apart.  Both sons are grown, married, and my oldest son and his wife have two gorgeous daughters, making me a grandmother.  Being a grandmother is an amazing role in life, filled with many blessings and joys, and I am loving every minute of it.

Self portrait

I am a homemaker and photographer now but have had a jack-of-all-trades career in the workforce and it would take a long blog post to go through all of my jobs.  I’ve worked picking blueberries in the summer, night shift in a factory, managed a miniature golf course, and had the fun of being a secretary (now known as “administrative assistant”) in a variety of places including universities, a nursing home, an insurance company, and the U.S. federal government where I eventually advanced to being an Accounts Receivable Analyst (numbers cruncher). 

My last job was as a pharmacy technician for one of those big box store companies.  It was quite a learning experience in a variety of ways and what I loved most (and sometimes disliked most) about it was the interaction with people.  Everyone reacts differently when dealing with illness and injuries, whether it’s their own illness or that of a loved one.  Sometimes it brings out the best in them.  Sometimes it brings out the worst.  I learned to practice levels of patience and compassion that went beyond what I had known in the past.

A summertime view of the pond at Breezy Acres.

I am originally from New Jersey.  M and I have moved around a little throughout the course of our marriage.  We have lived in:
Columbia, South Carolina
Chicago, Illinois
Atlanta, Georgia
Huntington, West Virginia
Southern Ohio (the southern most point of Ohio, in fact, along the Ohio River)
St. Louis, Missouri
London, England (for one summer)
Kent, Ohio

And now we are pretty much settled in the secondary snowbelt of northeast Ohio where we get about 100 inches of snow each winter.  The pond pictured above is part of the 8 acres of property we care for and live on, known as Breezy Acres (once the name of the farm that was here).  I have always wanted to live in the country with a bit of land to roam around on.  Breezy Acres is a dream come true.  The pond is 1.5 acres (more like a small lake than a pond) and 13 feet deep.  It is home to bullfrogs, green frogs, a few varieties of turtles, bass, blue gills, a few carp, the occasional muskrat, snakes, and minks, just to name a few.  At the back of the pond we have a small section of woods.  The rest of the property was once all mowed, including a hayfield that a local farmer would cut and bale. 

During our time here we have seeded a wildflower meadow, allowed the meadow with timothy grass to grow wild (the deer love it), and planted about 200 trees in hopes of turning the hayfield back into forest.  Our main objective as caretakers is to allow nature to take care of things for the most part, having gotten plenty of input from our local Extension Service on the land, indigenous plants, and pond life.

I have a small garden area where I grow a few vegetables.  I started with an asparagus bed because fresh asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables.  Other than the asparagus, I don’t grow too much as there is a farm with a market about a mile up the road where I buy most of our produce.  I am a strong advocate of buying local, generally avoiding franchises and big chain stores when possible.

One of the reasons I babbled on about Breezy Acres is that it relates to how I came to know Kathy.  You see, I like to make lists.  Almost every day I start out with a list of things I want to accomplish that day.  And almost every day for the past few years I have included this:
Step outside and enjoy the beauty of this place where I live.

When we first moved here I didn’t need to put that on a list.  I went outside every day to explore the property and the neighborhood (so to speak — the houses are spread pretty far apart here and going around the block means walking 5 miles).  But after the first year or two, those daily adventures into the great outdoors were turned into once or twice a week excursions.  Depending on weather (too cold, too hot, too humid, too rainy) and bug (mosquitoes and deer flies) conditions, sometimes less than that.

Sitting on top of the world. Pike's Peak. Colorado.

Enter Kathy.  Or rather, enter Freshly Pressed.  Kathy and I were Freshly Pressed on the same day earlier this year.  I posted about redbud trees and suddenly my blog hits were climbing like crazy.  I decided to visit the other blogs that had been Freshly Pressed that day and that is how I “met” Kathy and discovered her amazing adventures of Opening the door, walking outside.  She inspired me to begin my own outdoor adventure and on the autumnal equinox of 2010, I opened my door and walked outside, making the commitment to do so every day for a year.

It has been over 80 days now since I started my outdoor commitment.  I am learning a lot about this small piece of Mother Earth that nurtures, nourishes, and sustains us in a variety of ways.  I now know where the deer paths are through the woods and meadows, and where they sleep at night.  I have met a dule of doves (and learned the term “dule” as a result!), a kingfisher, a great blue heron, and many other birds while out on my daily walks.  I am getting to know the woods and the creek that runs through the woods.

The enchanted forest. Ceran St. Vrain Trail, Colorado.

I am honing my photography skills.  When you walk nearly the same paths day after day, you have to be creative with your picture taking.  Or so I thought.  Mother Nature provides plenty of creativity for me to capture.  I am often reminded of the quote about how you can never stand in the same river twice for that is what it is like outdoors every day.  There are always changes and even “the same path” is different if you’re paying attention.

I am also learning things that touch the heart and the soul.  But the nature of this sort of learning makes it difficult to put into words.  It is an expansion or an opening of the heart and the soul as well as a sense of peacefulness that comes with feeling a connection to everything.  I still have about 280 days to go and expect I will continue to learn a lot along the way.

Day lily at sunset.

I am lucky in that I also get to travel quite frequently which has allowed me to experience nature in different settings including the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, California.  I have been exploring nearby hiking trails as well.  Stepping outside doesn’t always involve a trail through the woods or meadows or mountains, though.  Sometimes my outdoor adventures include walks through a village (as they call the towns here in Ohio) or a city (frequently Akron or Cleveland, both of which are not too far from where I live).

Well, this is getting lengthy so it’s time to wrap things up.  Thank you, Kathy, for inspiring me to take this journey and for inviting me over to introduce myself to your world and your friends.  I not only enjoy your blog posts and photographs but your comments as well because you attract interesting, positive people to your blog.  It’s a fun place to visit.

The week of the pears and other Northwood tales

Filling the wood room

Just a short little post with pictures of our daily life here in the woods. 

Our tree in the living room--not yet decorated.

It’s taken us days to get the tree halfway decorated.  Last night we finally hung the star and lights and garland.  Both of our strings of colored light contained renegade lights which wouldn’t turn on, so we threw them away.  Don’t want to burn down the house attempting to utilize an old string of lights, you know.

We're slowly getting the tree decorated

 Barry announced–after hanging our white lights on the tree–”It looks like a tree in the mall!”

We’ve never strung white lights on the tree before.  A new Christmastime experience!  (What color of lights do you string on your Christmas trees?)

Wine glass stem--and stars

Barry dons snowmobile helmet to plow. Because the wind is so fierce & freezing.

We sure didn’t get lots of snow from the snowstorm last week.  Not like folks in Minnesota and Wisconsin and lower Michigan.  Although different parts of the Upper Peninsula did experience a wild storm.  We maybe have eight to ten inches on the ground.  I’m not sure. 

I was trying to estimate last night when emptying the bucket of woodstove ashes.  In the middle of the winter you sink above your knees.  Last night the official snow line was below the boot tops.

Yet another view of our "Little House in the Big Woods"

We have to get the wood room filled.  Sigh.  Kiah promises to help fill the  wood room when she’s home next week, but we’re in need of logs to burn NOW.  Barry insisted I do the easy job.  He handed the logs into the wood room and I dropped them mostly effortlessly onto the pile.  No hassle.  No stress. 

Winter chores must get done, no matter how one feels.

Pears to share

Besides that, it’s been the Week of the Pears.  One of our neighbors appeared last month selling fruit for the L’Anse Booster Club or Band or some similar organization. 

“No, I’m sorry,” I said, “my mother-in-law always sends us oranges and grapefruits.  Guess we can’t get help you out.”

She smiled sweetly.  You know, the kind of sweetly that melts your heart and makes you want to order something.

“How about pears?” she asked.

“Pears!” I said.  “That will be wonderful.  A box of pears, please.”

The pears came last week.

They taste wonderful.  They are at that incredible perfectly ripe stage.  However, how can the Drues eat 24 pears?  Impossible!

Thus, I have been giving away pears left and right.  Book club potluck?  How about some pears?  Schoolkids?  How do you like pears?  Dear friends, a pear or three?

“Deck the gall with balls of holly..”

It’s been the best of weeks…it’s been the worst of weeks.

The last couple of days have been particularly emotional. 

Psychedelic peacock feather

 

I figured I had better get back to you blog readers with the gall bladder surgery details just in case you’re wondering what happened during the appointment with the surgeon yesterday.

Yesterday I was in fine spirits.  You know, humming spirits.  You go into the surgeon’s office with your husband and you’re discussing all sorts of ordinary things while you wait for the surgeon to arrive to discuss Your Problem.

I was humming Christmas songs.  When suddenly the words “Deck the gall with balls of holly!” came out of nowhere.

Barry and I laughed.  I laughed some more.  And then laughed some more.  It struck me as the silliest thing in the universe.  Where did this line come from, anyway?  Some extraterrestrial trying to cheer up the situation?

Santa? Is that you?

The good-looking surgeon arrived.  He set the date for surgery for next Monday.

Was that OK with me?

Whatever you say, doctor!

“Why do we have gall bladders, anyway?” I asked him.

He smiled.

“To help put my kids through college,” he joked.

Nothing like a comedian for a surgeon!

But, seriously, folks, I like him.  Have confidence in him.  It will be simple laparoscopic surgery unless there are complications.  If complications exist–well, as my friend, Janet, put it:  let’s hope for a gentle knife.

Let’s assume no complications.  Prayers and good wishes will be appreciated.  I will pay you back when you need them.

Nonetheless–after yesterday’s giggle attack in the surgeon’s office–I awoke today feeling absolutely emotional.  Sad, teary-eyed.  The doctor’s office (the local doc) called wanting more blood work.

Back to the hospital.  Last time I was cheerful-happy and thinking, “Oh, this is nothing!  Isn’t blood work easy?”  This morning the renegade thoughts snarled, “I HATE blood work!  I HATE this!  Get me out of this place!”

December's picture on our calendar

I cried this morning.  Seriously, folks.  Who knows why?  Fear?  Tired of this dull feeling of pain?  The roller-coaster effect after giggling yesterday?

99 out of 100 folks who have had laparoscopic gall bladder surgery (and lived to tell me about it) said it was a breeze.  A piece of cake!  Easy as pie!  Wish they’d done it years before. 

“You’ll love it,” they all say.  “Have it done.  Don’t even give it another thought! You’ll sail through it!”

I am wondering if it would be possible to get through the next five days without thinking. 

Perhaps should just keep humming, “Deck the gall with balls of holly…”

Your last chance to imagine…

…Upper Peninsula flowing rivers until spring.

As the flowing river whispers its adieu...

Ice suggestion...

Imagine yourself walking along this Upper Peninsula river last week.  Imagine the river turning to ice.  Imagine whispering “goodbye” to the flowing Silver River between L’Anse and Skanee.

Log over river

Imagine publishing three days worth of freezing river photos.  Imagine wondering if the readers are bored stiff with freezing river images.  Imagine having to publish them anyway.  Because the river insists. 

Snow covered rocks & shadows & river ice

Imagine the photographer attempting to take these river photos.  Imagine how she felt weak and tired (mostly because she had just learned she had to have gall bladder surgery.)

Imagine how she sighed when she looked up at the river hills which must be climbed.  Imagine how she muttered to herself.  Imagine how the river really didn’t care.  It had hired its photographer for the moment and her health was secondary to the beautiful shifts of ice and snow and flowing water.

River ice

Imagine how you will feel tomorrow–or the next day–when the freezing river series has ended.

Imagine how we Yoopers will feel for the next five or six months as the river remains solid, unchanging, covered with white snow.  Imagine how the underwater fish feel.  Imagine how the snowmobilers will feel as they roar along the frozen surface.  Imagine the cross-country skier.  Imagine the coyote, the wolf.  Imagine how all of us will think of this frozen snowy river for the next half year.

River curves

When you’ve imagined that:  you will know why these photos capture something precious.  How they capture change before it seemingly ends for a while. 

At the edge of becoming ice...

Yesterday–when we bought our Christmas tree in town–the last of seventeen Christmas trees available, mind you–I glanced at the river as we sped by.  Only a lone strip of water remained in the middle.

It’s almost frozen solid.

Rivershape

In the middle of winter you might not even suspect that a river is a river.  You might think it is a brief clearing in the trees.  But a wise outdoorsman or woman would notice how the clearing follows a winding pattern into the distance.  A wise person would tread carefully.  Especially as spring arrives.

United States Geological Survey worker tests Silver River

I discovered a United States Geological Survey worker measuring the Silver River as I prepared to leave.  His colorful jacket shocked the black-and-white scene wide awake. 

All shyness deserted this shy photographer as I approached him.

“May I take your picture?”

He looked a little startled, but agreed.

He gave me his card.  Which the shy photographer promptly misplaced.  He’s based down in Escanaba and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community has hired his company to do baseline studies of the river. 

He told me all about the river’s conductivity.  I pretended to know what conductivity might mean.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about hydraulic conductivity.  I’m sure that’s what he meant.

I truly wish I could find his card.  It listed the website which we could click to learn all about the most current findings.  (If it’s discovered later I will place the link here.) 

It almost looks like he's ice fishing, doesn't it?

Imagine that this is the last of the Upper Peninsula freezing water photos you will see for many months.  If you see any photos in the spring, they will be thawing photos. 

Thank you for your attention to the Upper Peninsula Rivers.  They thank you, just before they stop babbling just in time for Winter Solstice.

Ordinary extra-ordinary kindness

Yet another river photo...

The mail just arrived in our mailbox.

My mom’s good friend, Rose, from Florida–and originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Lake Linden) when she was a young girl–sent a Christmas card.

She included a clipping from the Fort Myers newspaper. 

It showed “Pictures from Paradise” winners.  This is a photography contest in a Fort Myers newspaper.

Rivershapes

She suggested maybe I might be interested in entering the contest.  Maybe with one of the pink spoonbill or egret photos from our recent trip to Florida.

Pink spoonbill

On another note–but related, as you shall see–Kiah, our daughter, called last week, during the height of my gall bladder agony.  See blog here if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

She said, “Mom, I was going to wait until Christmas to tell you this.”

“What?” I said eagerly.  OK, maybe not so eagerly, as I was probably nursing said gall bladder trying to keep from having an acute attack.

Yellow birch over ice

“You know, Mom, when I go to so many places on the Internet I feel neutral or not-so-good.  But whenever I come to your blog–I end up feeling happy.  Really happy.  Because it feels so real, so honest.”

And then our son, Christopher, also called recently.  “Do you want a hard copy of your blog for Christmas?” he asked. 

OK, maybe I’ve completely lost it, but I am feeling on top of the world from early Christmas gifts like these.  THANK YOU, Rose and Kiah and Christopher!  You have no idea how the simple gift of your words lifted my heart and spirit during one of those–shall we say?–challenging weeks.

More rivershapes

Maybe I will enter the pink spoonbill or snowy egret photos in the Fort Myers newspaper contest!  Maybe this blog does make a positive difference for some folks!  Maybe life is really A-OK.

People really do care.  Life shines brighter than the lights on the Christmas tree. 

Even if we’re suppose to get a foot of snow before the weekend ends. 

Let’s not forget to share our appreciation with others!  Over and over and over again!  Our gratitude, our joy.

Let’s pass it on.

Rivertracks

I am SO grateful for all of you, dear readers!! You have no idea how grateful I am.  Your presence and comments fill my days with joy.  I hope I express this to you enough!  Thank you, and thank you, and thank you again.