Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Four Days at Russell Pond

"Less than a mile up the trail and the space between my shoulder blades already aches. I’m regretting the overpriced mini tube of sunblock, which the dense trees and clouds have rendered unnecessary, the extra layer I threw in at the last minute, and my insistence on healthful foods that caused me to pack two pounds of green beans and carrots fresh from the garden, a jar of sunflower seed butter, and three loaves of German bread the size, shape, and weight of bricks."

If you'd like to know how the rest of the trip went, please read the rest of "Four Days at Russell Pond: A First-Time Family Backpacking Trip" in Issue 19 of TrailGroove Magazine.

In other writing news, as you may (or may not) know, I recently joined the editorial staff at Literary Mama. We have just opened submissions in the Literary Reflections department, where we seek essays focused on the creative process and literature--writing, reading, sharing books with your kids. Please check out our submissions guidelines and our archives and consider drafting and submitting an essay reflecting on your experience with literature, writing, and motherhood.

Literary Mama is also starting to incorporate photographs on the site and seeks original images that reflect the various sections of the site. I know I've got a few great photographers among my readers, and I encourage you to check out the call for submissions and send in some photos.

And, finally, Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. My seven-year blog anniversary just went by, unacknowledged, and I want to express my gratitude to those of you who have been with me since the start (are there any original readers out there?) and to those of you who have just joined me, and to all who fall somewhere in between. Thank You!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Hike, Not an Expedition

There's a place where we used to go hiking all the time.

(And by 'all the time" I mean at least once a year.)

It has enchanted moss-covered rocks and tall, fat trees and a good spot on the river for throwing rocks and getting wet feet.

It even has a spooky old cabin right on the river bank.

But we hadn't been there in a long time--two, three, maybe four years.

It's only a fifteen minute drive from home and only two or three miles round-trip, but still we could never find the time.

I've been stuck in the mindset--for about thirteen-and-a-half years--that every venture out of the house is an expedition, for which we need to set aside an entire day, forgetting that we no longer need to pack strollers and backpacks and diapers and changes of clothes and dry shoes and cheddar bunnies and cubes of cheese and o-shaped cereal in little plastic tubs and sippy cups of apple juice diluted with water.

I forget that we can just say, on a Sunday afternoon after all the weekend's chores have been done (at least all that are going to get done) and we've all grown weary of our games and projects and each other, but it's not yet time to start thinking about what to make for dinner, that we can just say, "Let's go for a hike!" 

And then we can throw a couple of water bottles in a backpack, put on our coats and our hats and hop in the car and just...go!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Giant Water Bug

This weekend, E and Z had a friend over, and the three of them went down to check out the gravel pit pond, where they found a creature skating along, upside-down below the ice.

A giant water bug or electric light bug.

According to our Pond Life book: "Giant waster bugs are the largest of the true bugs. They feed on insects or even on tadpoles and small fishes, killing their prey with a poison secreted as they bite."

It certainly was giant.

After we all admired the bug sufficiently, Z returned it to its home in the pond.

The pond itself has already settled under an inch or so of ice. The boys pitched rocks out on it in an effort to try to break through, but even the largest just bounced a little--as if the ice were made of something elastic--and came to rest on the surface.

It won't be long before we're skating over the top of the ice. When we do, we'll have to look closely to see if any more giant water bugs are skating along the bottom of it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

This and That

 Since I last posted about our snowstorm, we've had some sun,

And some wind, and two more snowstorms (both on workdays, so no photos, and neither enough to shut down school).

In the meantime, I've been trying to overcome some of my own natural inertia:

  • Making appointments, taking care of car- and bank- and gym-related things. 
  • Piddling around on some small writing and editing projects, but not getting started on a bigger piece that keeps rattling around in my brain.
  • Getting out the knitting for the first time in months (and even putting in a few rows!).
  • Realizing Christmas is right around the corner...and stirring the pot by trying to mix up family Christmas gift traditions--trying to make things less money- and material-oriented (for admittedly selfish reasons...we have so many people on our Christmas list...it would be so much easier to whip up small things in big batches than seek out unique gifts suited to each person!). My theme for this year is "Impersonal But Heartfelt." How is that for a slogan?
  • Creating a new Facebook page in an effort to beef up my "platform." I haven't entirely figured out how it will work, but the goal is to showcase writing that combines the themes of motherhood and nature. Check it out at Mother, Nature.
  • Getting ready for a public reading I'll be giving this Saturday at Local Buzz in Cape Elizabeth. I'm equal parts excited and freaked out. If you're local, come check it out.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

First Snow

Before everything went all to hell this week, there was snow.

A real nor'easter, it not so much fell from the sky as flew to and from all directions.

As I lay in bed in the morning, watching the snow swirl out the window,

I heard shouts of "It's snowing! It's snowing!"

So magic still exists, and pushing snow around on the deck is still fun,

at least for the first snow.

It didn't let up all day,

giving us a good five or six inches in the end,

plus the first snow day of the year on Monday.

It made me want to cozy up by the fire, with a big stack of books and basket of yarn, for the next five months, a kind of reader/knitter's hibernation.

The snow has pretty much all melted by now, but I wish I had gone into hibernation anyway.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween Redux

We got our costumes made, 

and our Jack o' lanterns carved, 

and we loaded on the hay wagon.

While Z's Legolas costume took a few hours of work, E was a skeleton, with a $5 mask and a black sweatsuit. After about the first few houses, he ditched the mask and called himself a "phantom."

No one noticed their costumes, anyway, everyone's attention was on C and M, dressed up as--and acting the part of--secret service agents to our friend's, scariest-of-costume-of-all, politician. 

I went dressed as a mom who wants to stay warm on the back of a trailer at the end of October in Maine. I know, I'm the least fun person ever. But I talked and laughed with our friends, while the kids snuggled under blankets and engorged themselves on candy. And except for the fact that no one gave out a single Butterfinger, it was a pretty good night.
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