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Season of mists

October 19, 2009

My mom and dad just called me from the top of a mountain. They’d gone for a hike and got to the top and were thinking of me. My dad was chatty; my mom was a little irritated with him for disturbing the quiet of the wilderness. As for me, it kind of made my day that someone climbed to the top of the mountain and thought of me. I’m famous to my parents on a mountain top.

We Spys (Spies?) did some hiking of our own this weekend. Saturday was the annual county historical society reenactment. We went for the first time last year because AJ’s Cub Scout troop asked us too. And we loved it. The weather was colder this year, but we still had fun wandering around the colonial era encampment. Or perhaps it was a little later. There seemed to be a little fuzziness as to the actual dates. AJ and I talked to some soldiers of George III’s army with regimental buttons and tri-cornered hats. They showed us how they built a fire for cooking and pulled their rations of salt pork and hard tack out of their bag to show us. They pointed out how the king’s symbol, an arrow, was even impressed in the hard tack. We watched weavers and spinners and candlemakers. We petted oxen with rings in their noses and watched an indentured servant auction. We peeked into a teepee and stood inside a tiny log cabin that had been built for a family of five. There were jugglers and a medicine show. Harriet Tubman sang gospel music. There were trappers wearing furs and French hats and there were Native Americans. There were children washing dishes and raking hay and carrying water and there were children rolling hoops with sticks and walking on stilts. There was root beer that came in a glass bottle with a cork and there was penny candy that cost a dollar. If it hadn’t been so cold and windy, we would have stayed longer. But we had a good time and came home and warmed up with soup and tea and cocoa. Oh, and on the way home we saw the highlight of my day — four sandhill cranes grazing in a post-harvest corn field quite close to the road. They were gorgeous.

Yesterday, AJ and I went for a shorter hike through the corn and soybean fields across the main road. The fields have been turned over to the park district now, but the untended plants still grow. Most of the corn is gone now, probably eaten by deer and squirrels and other hungry creatures. But the soy beans, their pods brown now, are still there. We brought home a few handfuls and I showed AJ how to pop the beans out of the pods. AJ wondered if we should collect them for the food pantry. We might go back with some bags.

This morning, Mr. Spy and I headed out to a very hilly park. On our way out, we found a neighbor lurking in the street in front of our house. He was guarding a half-dead opossum by the side of the road. The possum was curled up in a tight circle like a cat. He was breathing hard, although there was no visible sign of injury. His fur looked soft and curled tightly like that on top of his snaky tail, he looked almost cute. His head looked enormous compared to his body. I felt sorry for him and worried about the children who would walk past him later. I called animal control.

Then Mr. Spy and I left for the park, where he went for a run and I stomped through the woods, listening to the wind rattling the dry leaves at the top of the oak trees. The maples burned up overnight Saturday night and they are all licked with yellow and orange and scarlet now. I was pelted with walnuts and hickory nuts as I walked on the woodland trail, so I cut over to the prairie trail that runs past the stands of white pines in perfect regimental lines, perhaps relics of a bygone nursery. They are many stories tall now. I skirted the edge of the park in a big loop and plunged back through the forest to the parking lot then down the enormous hill — the best sledding hill of all time — to the path around the pond, stopping on the fishing pier and each of the wooden bridges to watch the water birds. There were dozens of geese and maybe a hundred mallards. There was also a single tiny duck that I didn’t recognized who dove under the water, staying submerged for a full half a minute before reappearing a few feet from where he’d last been. After my pond circuit, I saw Mr. Spy standing at the top of the hill and I hiked back up to meet him and home we came. It is a beautiful, sunny fall day. It’s hard to imagine that in a mere couple of weeks we’ll be hearing November’s rattlesnake wind. The snow poles have already been put out and the seasonal stack of Sno-Melt has appeared in front of the 7-11 down the road. But for now, we are enjoying the sunshine. We are in denial of what next month brings.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2009 3:07 pm

    Famous to parents on a mountain top is a pretty good kind of fame! Today my palms are famous to my face as I begin to deal with getting my files transferred to a new laptop. It will be good once it’s done, but it will take a couple of weeks to get everything so I can find and use it.

  2. freshhell permalink
    October 19, 2009 3:20 pm

    It was too cold for us Southerners yesterday to venture out. Blustery. I will try to post the fireplace photo for you tomorrow.

  3. October 19, 2009 9:31 pm

    Jeanne, I thought so too. I’m sorry about your palms, though. That’s not my favorite kind of fame. But congratulations on the new laptop. That is always exciting. Freshhell, I would love it if you would post the photo. And also, if you have any firebuilding advice, I would appreciate it. I’m thinking there must be some video tutorials on youtube. What good is the internet if it can’t help me set things on fire?

  4. freshhell permalink
    October 20, 2009 8:49 am

    I’ll try to download it tonight before yoga. I never got to it last night. Basically, I pile some twigs on the log holder thingy (I know it has a name but I can’t think of it at the moment) and ball up lots of newspapers and shove them underneath. If you have pinecones, those are golden – they catch quicky and smell good. Then, I add larger sticks and then logs. The key is making sure the wood’s old enough (cured) and dry enough to catch. I almost ended up with one like you described the other day because I picked up some pieces that were too new and it took forever for them to burn.

  5. October 20, 2009 9:22 am

    I think our wood is just too wet. We don’t have a cover for it. Should probably do something about it at some point. In the winter, I usually haul a supply into the screened porch, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. Because, you know, it’s not supposed to be winter yet.

  6. freshhell permalink
    October 20, 2009 11:21 am

    Ah – that’s probably it. We had our woodshed rebuilt last summer and I attached (inexpertly) tarps on the sides but the entrances are open to the weather. You could just get a tarp and lay it over the pile. Hold it down with stakes through the grommets or rocks. A $10 solution.

  7. October 20, 2009 11:41 am

    Probably a $0 solution, actually. We have plenty of seldom-used tarps and stakes from camping. Lots of rocks too. It is almost Halloween, after all!

  8. October 21, 2009 7:34 am

    …and mellow fruitfulness

    there, now I feel better

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