12, August 2021

Guten Tag, freund. 

I awoke at nine in the morning today. Instantly I knew they were gone. Truth be told I knew when they left yesterday I wouldn’t be seeing them again. It was some sort of intuition giving me the information. They had been restless for a few days. I’ll miss that early morning wake-up in some ways. Today I just missed their presence. Wildlife has always had a unique way of keeping my attention and appreciation. With the departure of the sandhill cranes the white season is just around the corner. The few locals I’ve talked to have all mentioned Jack Frost should come any day now to spread his joy. In a way I’m looking forward to it. A nice book, warm cocoa, and a decent sweater seem like a delightful day to spend an evening. All while periodically watching the snow fall. It’s something I did in Colorado and never grew weary of. Soon it shall be here. Fall is coming to it’s end stages as well. The hills have already shown the fireweed transcend the spectrum of red as the cew cottonwoods and aspens begin to glow golden. Soon all the leaves will be gone. In fact, many were being scattered today by the heavy winds and constant rain. Didn’t stop some fishing from getting done though. 

Jeff is still in town and wanted to go catch some Dolly. So I found myself with him and my brother at the reservoir. I however did not fish. Instead I sat in a nice vehicle reading, snacking, and watching two pals fish in a windy, cold low pressure storm that was moving in. Sometimes I wondered how they got their line to go beyond twenty feet. Even with the wind, pounding rain, and brief lived brakes they still seemed to enjoy themselves. I didn’t mind either as I watched them interact from a distance. Observation is a real teacher. Neither caught a fish and we ended up leaving in between waves of rain, but not before noticing a young man fishing in shorts and and shortsleeve shirt while his lady friend went for a swim. The thermostat read an external temperature of forty eight fahrenheit, or eight celsius. Regardless the unit of measure, it is too cool for my blood. The remainder of the day would be spent mainly indoors, playing billiards, also known as pool. 

I knew I was going to enjoy the billiards because I have done it once before with the Silver Fox, or SF. He and his friends made it so enjoyable for me that I now jump at every opportunity to play. This was my first opportunity since playing with the Silver Fox. He’s an authentic human being who has captured my heart in the way the sun captures the earth. He also resides in a beautiful mountain town known as Frisco. It’s a beautiful place. He and his friends taught me the basics and today Jeff and my brother both taught me about ball control. Jeffs method of letting me practice the same thing repeatedly while giving a detailed explanation allowed me to pick it up rather quickly. I love my brother, but he has a more difficult time expressing an idea, e.g., “hit this nine ball in here and make the cue ball stop here. That’ll be a perfect play.” 

“Ok, got it. Hit this ball here and make this ball stop here.” I replied. 

“That simple”, was the encouraging response he gave. I love him dearly, but he leaves me baffled at times. With a little giggle I gave it a shot, not doing anything we had talked about. I was having fun. Total win. That’s how I spent the remainder of my day. Oh, I faltered on staying caffeine free. The problem seems to be I don’t really want to stop, but my body thinks I should. I’ve got to start approaching this in a more serious manner. What that looks like, I don’t know. 

Oh and I talked to a local about a potential job lead. I do hope it pans out as they say everyone is hiring. I’m wondering why “everyone” isn’t calling me. I’ve got applications in with everyone. 😀

Anyway, it’s late. I have no words of wisdom or advice, but I will confess; I intended to do laundry today but, realized after putting detergent and softener in the washer, I brought my clean clothing instead of my dirty clothing. Sometimes you’re an avocado tree in the middle of an apple orchard. Salome.

11, August 2021

Guten Tag, freund. Had a unique end to my evening yesterday; I experienced my first earthquake. At least the first one I could notice. The little tiny house had a vibration to it while some items made a rattle sound. Lasted about ten or fifteen seconds. Slept gret though. 

I woke  up at five this morning. I took my brother into town so he and Jeff could go do some charter fishing. Dropped him off a little before six then headed back to the house. Didn’t have much going on other than wanting some breakfast so I took my time returning. Thankfully all the coffee houses fail to open before six so the urge to resist getting some was made obsolete. I’m continuously attempting to improve my volition when it comes to the cup of joe. Thoughts really are powerful as they can influence you tremendously. This morning they were suggesting how delightful it would be to have a warm drink to help wake and take the sleepy off the top. Then they plagued me for some of the ride home. It wasn’t until I made it to the ridge that they subsided. I watched as the ice from the glaciers across the bay provided a cool, warming light to the early morning darkness. 

Once home I made some breakfast, watched the sandhill cranes arrive, the moose show themselves, and the sun came over the range. All while sipping on a nice glass of water and eating a sandwich, it was ham. I pondered taking a nap. Funny thing though. As I was pondering I fell asleep. I woke up four hours later a little confused at how it happened as I intended not to sleep at all.  What was done was done though so I took a shower, braided my hair, and started on some chores I had wanted to do earlier. The worst was the dump run. We don’t have trash service so I have to take all the garbage I generate to the dump myself. There were six bags for two and a half weeks. Don’t think I’ll wait that long for the next run. The smell this time was almost too much for me. I dont’ wish to make a repeat. After the dump run I picked my brother up at the hotel where Jeff is staying. I also chatted for a while and heard the stories that fishermen tell. I was joyous to hear they enjoyed themselves. It also meant that fish was going in the freezer. It felt around thirty pounds total. There was king salmon, flounder, and halibut. It didn’t take long to have it all cut into serving sizes, vacuum sealed, and in the deep freeze. The rest of the night was spent relaxing. 

I spent some time thinking about how people come and go from my life. Some are only here for a season, some a couple seasons, and some stay for an extended period. There are also those I’ve pushed away, treated poorly, found no appreciation for, and used. Not proud things, but life lessons that needed to find understanding. Those relationships ended rather quickly or destructively. Again, not boastful of it, but thankful for the lesson. I found myself wondering why I held back. If people may only be around for a season why not treat them like a flower? Why not be mindful of their feelings, their enjoyments, their sorrow, and their person? I need to live an authentic life. I’m so full of love, why not show it? If I’m giving it and expecting something back, then am I not giving it for the incorrect reason? How do I change this? What tools can I utilize to find success? What is the antidote? I know I’m tenacious enough to try and capable enough to find. This isn’t going to be easy, but I’ve got a plan. It’s going to rely on me trusting myself and my compass. We shall see how this goes.

On a side not; fear is a thief. dont let it rob you.

10, August 2021

Guten Tag! I ended up doing a quick German lesson before going to bed yesterday. It wasn’t long, lasting only fifteen minutes, but it was a lesson. I wish I had some insight to plug, but today my mind was entirely in the moment.

The sandhills started their arrival squawk at seven-thirty. Today I arose half an hour before they would start. It is unique, as their departure date looms ever closer I am finding their early hour squaks more pleasant. The call, one I once felt I had to endure like the trumpeting of a football team on an early Saturday morning when all I wanted to do was sleep in, has become a symphony of musical marvel. I throw some breakfast burritos in the oven I made earlier in the week and take my perch at the window, watching the cranes as they dance and fiddle in a restlessness that doesn’t lack display. The grey and rust colored plumage dancing on the wind as wings are stretched and retracted. I enjoy this marvel until the timer on the oven alerts me to a more pressing issue. Food!. I quickly inhale a couple burritos, pack a lunch for the hunting, fishing, and berry picking day planned and gather up the last remaining items before I leave. I have a blowgun I am hoping to be successful with. I glance at the cranes one final time in the misty morning fog and silently thank them for the joy they have given freely. They may not be here when I return. 

I head in town, it’s a twenty minute drive, and find Jeff sitting outside waiting. We decided to grab some coffee at a local shop before heading to the hunting grounds. I have a dirty chai with a double shot. Yummy!! I justify it by stating it’s not coffee. It’s a Latte. My volition to avoid caffine was a double shot of weak sauce. I’m so far removed from perfect. With coffee, a tea, and a latte we head towards the head of the bay where we will be hunting. When we get close my brother asks if we think his front wheel drive car will make it down and back up. I’ve never seen or driven the road before, but that didn’t stop me from giving encouraging advice and ensuring beyond doubt it was doable. The road itself was steep, had five switchacks or u bends, and was a little muddy. As we headed down I thought, “I’m not sure we can make it back up”, but I kept that negativity to myself. Once at the bottom it opened up to the beach. It was currently at low tide and far from our location. We parked the car here and walked the short quarter mile to our starting point. When we arrived My brother started picking raspberries, Jeff took the twenty two and headed somewhere, while I took my blowgun and headed in the opposite direction. Within 5 minutes I knew I made a mistake not wearing my rain pants right away. The dew on the knee high grass quickly saturated the upper half of my boots. Yup, the part that isn’t waterproof. I realized quickly and tried to abate the damage by dawning said rainpants, but it was already too late. Undeterred I moved on. I walked through a small wooded area before it opened to a meadow where rose hips were as abundant as the grass. I enjoyed their color for a moment before moving on and concluded I would pick some on the way back. For the next two hours I walked and waited but saw nothing. Then I noticed something high in a tree. An Eagle. Wait…. Two eagles….. OH, and a nest. There, perched majestically beside each other was a pair of bald eagles. The eaglet, that looked bigger than an eaglet should to me, gave a quick look in my direction then laid back down. I walked directly by them with little more than a quick glance from each. I also concluded at this poin I probably wasn’t going to be seeing much in the area and decided to head back, but first the rosehips.

As I picked rose hips a man, Mark, approached on a four wheeler and asked how I was doing. I introduced myself, gave a brief explanation, and then found joy as he informed me he liked to pick rosehips after the first frost, which should be anytime now. He also mentioned he was there to look at the round bales and make sure no mold was taking root. I asked him a couple more questions before he set off to look at the hay. At that point I decided he seemed knowledgable enough that I would take his indirect advice and wait to pick rosehips until after the first frost and started my walk back to our starting location. Jeff came back empty handed as well. As he started picking raspberries I decided I needed to read. I brought a book I have been enjoying and was eager to return to the African Saffari. About an hour later we all decided we should go fish so we set off back to the car to return to a local spot. By this time the fog had lifted and rays of sunshine sprinkled down with a warmth I did not dislike. Before we would leave though I made a quick lunch on the beach and watched the late salmon arrivals jump in the distance. 

Remember that hill my brother asked if I thought he could make it up? Well it looked a little more daunting on the way back. The dirt that had seemed compact on the way down was loose and thick, sticking to the tires like the Carolina clay does to a boot. My brother shoots up the hill with nervous trepidation as Jeff and I casually encourage him. When I felt the tires spin and the car stop I thought, “Wow, we made it seventy yards”. Luckily we were just past the first switchback where there was enough space to pull off to the side. My brother, obviously flustered by the situation, hopped out and asked Jeff if he would drive. Jeff is a motocross and off road enthusiast who has driven in many different terrains. With him behind the wheel I feel confident we would make it to the top. As he sets off I give encouragement as we pass the second switch back and head up what looks to be the steepest part of the climb. Then…. We stop. The car just wont go any further no matter how many attempts. Jeff decides he wants to try from the bottom and see if he can carry the momentum up past the point he keeps getting thwarted. When we get to the bottom I inform him I’m going to get out and read. If he makes it up he can send my brother down and I’ll walk back up with him. I’ve got a nice spot picked out; the tide is coming in, I can hear the splash of jumping fish, and the two glaciers across the bay shimmer with aquatic color while the salty air fills my senses with lively joy. I stare for a moment, giving thanks for being able to experience such a beautiful sight and then jump into my book. A little while later a young gentleman on a four wheeler pulls up beside me and says, “you Alan”. I reply “indeed” and he informs me the other members of my party have made it to the top. Thankful they made it and dind’t have to get a tow, I start my walk up the steep mile long road. When I reach the top Jeff and Andrew inform me they made it out by driving the car in reverse. A couple locals had suggested it. And although Jeff and my brother were apprehensive at first they gave it a shot. Turns out the advice was solid. Once back on a more firm road we proceed towards the fishing hole. Before we even arrive I indicate my intention to read and enjoy the scenery while they both fish. I find no contestation and feel happy that things are swell. No pun intended. They spend the rest of he evening fishing as I enjoy my book and the scenery. I watch a sea otter nonchalantly swim on his back, then belly, then back to his back only to dive under and pop up twenty feet away. This amused me for a good amount of time. Then with the sun setting in the distance we called it a day.

No keepers were caught, no successful hunt was achieved, but we did get raspberries, wonderful memories, and grew ever closer in our friendship. A beautiful reward.

09, August 2021

One thing I noticed about my first “Journal” entry was how different it is from when I actually write. The post was far less intimate and written without depth to my feelings and emotions. Two things that I constantly look at daily. I desire to know why they happen and what exactly they  are. There is a real curiosity at uncovering the mystery. In some way I think it’s going to be the cure for every bane of my existence. Thus far I have discovered that my thoughts are the most influential on my feelings and if I let them get out of control they can become emotions. My emotions are influenced by my thoughts as well, but the way they come on seems much different than with feelings. The feelings seem to come after the thoughts while the emotion seems to precede them. E.G, I was walking a trail where I work and heard a noise that sounded like a large animal moving. Immediately I felt anxious nervousness as I swirled around; my hand instinctively went on the bear spray. Then came the thought, “What’s that noise?”.  The first thing I noticed was the noise, then the emotion of anxious nervousness, and concluded with what’s that noise as my eyes honed to the spot. Turned out it was a few larger avions. In this situation, did subconsciously I receive a thought that caused the fight/flight reaction? That’s what the anxious nervousness was, fight or flight. It was pretty easy to identify. I felt the adrenaline and shaky voice that accompanies sincere  fear. Am I scared of death or scared of not living? Am I scared to get eaten because I know it’ll realy be a difficult way to leave, or am I scared to move on and see what’s after this epoch of my life? Or perhaps it’s a fear of truth? That last one seems to be pretty cultural for the planet. Could be my problem. What about the truth scares me?  I’ll be persecuted for it or it’ll cause people to dislike me. Why? Because my self image is important. Vanity I say, Vanity. Plus, if I’m honest, a sprinkle of cowardice. Truth. Two things I need to work on, vanity and cowardice. Feels logical and my thoughts brought that on 😉 ! 

Today was as splendid as any. The sandhill call came later than yesterday. I’m not sure why. They aren’t going to be around much longer as migration day approaches and I can’t help but sense I’ll miss them. There depatture signals the white season is just around the corner. Had a friend, he’s more of a friend of my brother than of me, who arrived in town and asked if I wanted to fish with him and my brother. So I spent the day fishing. We started at the reservoir where Jeff turned into the fishing magician. I have no idea how he did it, but I copied his setup so I could catch a few fish. Getting a hand up and wanting a hand out are two different things. After Jeff helped me catch my limit of fish we headed towards town and did some surf fishing. The tide was coming and would soon arrive at it’s climax. I didn’t end up fishing, but I did walk the beach, catch up with Jeff, found a new place to purchase fishing bait, and helped support a local business through a purchase. This busines was Salmon Sisters. It was a small place in a large building. The clerk was friendly with righteous energy. Their eyes were calm and the music relaxing. If I had a book with me I might have asked if I could sit down. But I did not, so I settled for some postcards and a sticker, then bid adu to the elevated feng shui.  As for fishing; Jeffs luck was left at the reservoir. He was handed a goose egg. I accepted my egg before participating, and my brother caught a couple. A small flounder and a decent pacific staghorn sculpin. Both are botto dwelling fish. This brought us to around dinner in which my brother offered to cook. We had Salmon 😀 And that concluded the evening and events. Nothing less than spectacular I must confess. Tomorrow they offered to take me hunting. I’m excited to try out a blow gun and I believe my brother is eager to try out a slingshot. Jeff will have the trusted twenty-two. Oh, I didn’t get a German lesson in, but it’s ok. Maybe I’ll do a quick fifteener when I get off. I’ll let you know on the tenth. 

Don’t forget: Be who you love and love who you are 🙂

08, August 2021

To help save my feeble wrists I’m going to start keeping my jornal online. A little frightening, perhaps; nonetheless, here we go. 

I woke up in a rather delightful mood. The sandhill cranes had been calling for at least the last hour and I reluctantly ignored their babble no longer. I really desired a cup of coffee, but stuck with my vow to omit it from routine. Instead I had some water, took a shower, and made breakfast. Nothing fancy. Eggs and sweetpeppers.  Shortly after I ran into town, had sticker shock for the 15th time, completed my errands then returned to the preserve. I had intended to get some extra work in. Not because I had to, my hours are done for the week, but because I enjoy the job. I’m thankful I have ended up where I am at. I got suited up, i.e., put on rain gear, gathered equipment, and loaded my pack, but ended up talking to my mother for an hour. When I hung up and opened the door it was raining a good little step so I opted not to work. Instead I went on a little stroll around and took some photos. I’m glad I went out because although it was raining most of the time it sure was pretty. I left my field guide at the house, but tried to identify as many plants as I could. I also found a couple I have to look up. I’ll do that after I’m done writing. Strange little fruits with spikes they are.Throughout the day I contemplated how my thoughts influence my actions, dreams, and responses. It’s this constant, epic battle trying to keep them under control. The work has been worth it for sure. After my three hour jaunt I did a German Lesson. This is something I started recently. I’m going slow. Learning the alphabet and sounds first. E.g., liebe (leebu), which translates to love and the letter R which sounds like (air) . I enjoyed it. I also noticed that this time was different. There was an enjoyment and eagerness to learn that hasn’t been there before. I must confess I attempted this once before, but it didn’t feel the same. The excitement wasn’t there like it is now. I’ve also been around, i.e, viideo chats, people who are working on German just as I am and provide encouragement, relatability, patience, and a willingness to help. The environment has been the most noticeable difference from when I tried to learn before. My state of mind is in a far different place as well. Regardless, I’m thrilled to be striving for it. After this I’m going to read some from Whatever you do, don’t look behind you. I’m realy into it. Then probably call it a night. Hopefully sleep comes quickly. My mind has been pretty active today though. I had a friend, Tom Bodnar, pose a couple questions that I found stimulating. The first, “How does one keep the individual consciousness in a ripened state while living in society?” and the second, “If one’s mindset and psyche are the primary items to master, how does one do it without going to live in the woods?” Tom is a beautiful human being and I’m thankful to have him in my life. Thanks, Tom. Here are a few pictures from my walk.

 

Mulberry Palooza

I noticed, a few days ago, the mulberries are ripening. The thing about these delectable treats is they do not all ripen at once. Every tree/bush is different as well so they have their own schedule. You’ll often see every stage of a mulberry on a single branch which creates a colorful experience. As I plucked on from its perch, enjoying the sweetness on my pallet, I thought, “I should gather some of these, make a jam, and send them to friends’ ‘. So, that’s what I did. 

I went out to a local mulberry spot, layed a sheet down, and shook the branch. It only took a couple good shakes and all the ripe, ready berries fell like raindrops; many landing on the sheet I had placed to catch them, and some not so close. I managed to get most of the escaped berries, but a large few found freedom. I could have just plucked them from the tree, but I find the sheet method less time consuming. Once I’ve picked up all the berries I relocate the sheet, select another branch, and shake. I do this around the diameter of the tree and have all the berries I need. Now it’s time to get them cleaned and prepared for cooking. 

I wash the berries in a bath of cold water and remove the stems, placing them in a pot as I go. (In future I will remove the stems as I pick them ←lesson  I learned) Once I’ve cleaned and prepared all the berries I start to cook them over a medium heat, mashing tthem as I go. I was surprised at how much liquid these little fruit actually held. The smell was rather delightful too. I couldn’t help myself and took a quick sip with the ole spoon. “Wooo Buddy, I could leave this as is and use it as a syrup for pancakes” was my initial thought. The thought was shortlived as I became sad I wouldn’t be sharing it, so I continued on to making a jam. This wasn’t a difficult process as I only needed to add pectin. Have I mentioned that I’ve never made jam before? I add the pectin and let it simmer, hoping I don’t overcook them. In the meantime I get the jars ready. 

I grab a couple of pots and add hot water. I place them on the stove and bring the water temperature to 180. I don’t want it boiling, but I want it to steralize the lids. I do the same for the glass jars. I also get the pressure canner ready for use. It’s been a rather lengthy amount of time since I’ve used one, but I think I remember how it goes. Actually it’s more like I’ve never made this and I’m just going to use the same method I used as a child with my grandparents. So that’s what I did. 

After the berries reduced and thickened I added them to the jars, sealed the lids on, and placed them in the pressure cooker. I then let the pressure cooker do what it does. Honestly it doesn’t take much time at all. Before I knew it I was taking out the jars and placing them on a cooling rack to dry. To my surprise I was able to fill 6 jelly jars and one half pint jar. Not too bad of a harvest and a delightfully fun experience. All in all it was worth every second of fun I had. 

Fruit

Decided to play a round of disc golf with a couple friends. Nothing competitive or anything to that nature. We were just getting some indirect exercise, sharing company, enjoying the weather, scenery, and making memories. And memories we did make. I also utilized an urban tumble weed (plastic shopping bag) instead of my usual bag. It was blowing around the parking lot so why not put it tto use? It just needed a ride to the trash can and I heppend to be going that way.

Anyway, we were on hole 12 when an errant shot ended up twenty feet off the fairway in the tall, overgrown honeysuckle. This stuff is dense as a jungle and eats discs with nondiscriminatory judgement. It’s pretty thick. Luckily my buddy found his disc rather quickly and had somewhat of a line to the fairway. After taking his shot he beckoned me over. I thought maybe he had found a flower or was curious about a wild edible, but he wasn’t. He had found an old, empty beer can, picked it up, and asked if he could put it in my bag. Talk about a hearts smile!!!! To see a seed bear fruit, even if only a few, is beyond rewarding. I thanked him with multiple high fives, and a smile that couldn’t disguise itself. We can all make a difference!

Doing things to help others; Is this a gift we should all share?

I spent this entire spring season looking for morel mushrooms. It was a challenging season to say the least, but it was rewarding and productive. I’m also into flowers, especially spring flowers, so it didn’t take much persuasion to get me out. Even on the days many would consider dismal I found excitement at the thought of going into the woods. I watched as the spring beauties made their debut. I was also around for the venomous abomination we call, tick. I plucked my fair share during my search for the elusive shroom. I recall one time in particular where I found seven on me at once. That one was a little unnerving. I know looking for morels this early in the sason is a little ambitious, but why not. You never know when one might jump up earlier than anticipated; I wanted to be ready. Nonetheless, the spring beauties came and went in a colorful dance and I was no more richer in the fungi category. 

As the rest of the spring flowers emerged, e.g., cutleaf toothwart, bluebells, violets, anemone, hepatica, toadshade trillium, and large flower trillium, I found it difficult to stay focused. My sensory perception was locked in overdrive with all the fragrant colors. However, when the mayapples made an appearance I doubled my effort. It’s been my experience that when these shady canopies emerge the shrooms will come. I’ve always found it fascinating that the flower of the may apple is under it’s leaf structure. It also must have two leaves or it will not have a bloom. I spent every free second traveling to places where I might have the opportunity to find them, but I found no success. 

Then, one evening I was out throwing a round of disc golf when I ran into a friend from many moons ago. It had been a while since we had talked or seen each other, but our relationship was exactly how it left off. Peaceful, fun, and kind. I know, right! Anyway, he noticed me looking towards the ground more than concentrating on disc golf and asked if I was looking for the elusive. I let out a sigh and informed him of my plight. I had promised myself I would do all I could to make sure my grandmother had some morels. She’s not in the best shape and I’m not sure she’ll be around for another season of them. (She’s currently on chemo and struggling to keep her weight and strength. Not to mention she took a fall recently from her blood pressure dropping. That however, is a  tale for another day.) I hadn’t informed my grandmother as I didn’t want to get her hopes up and not deliver. After our chat about it he told me he would keep his eyes out for some. 

Three days later I received a message from my friend, Greg Randolph. He simply asked, “you still wanting some mushrooms for your grandmother?” With overwhelming joy I replied, “Yes, please “and provided an address. The next day my grandmother was gifted 11 morels. Wouldn’t you know it, she soaked them in salt water that evening then awoke at 4:30 in the morning to eat them. I would say she was more than excited. 

As for my search. I never did give up. I kept looking and looking and looking, but never found a one. Complete goose egg, i.e., zero. I did realize, at times, it requires a group effort to arrive at success. Thank you for the TBM, Greg. You’re truly a beautiful human BEING!