Him and Me: 1

Why not begin a new regular feature? This one doesn’t have a particular day of the week, just a whenever-I’m-inspired-but-in-the-back-of-my-mind-as-a-thing kind of a thing going on.

I wrote this piece for my Wednesday contribution to Literary Traces, where you can read new work every day by a rotating group of lovely writers.

Our topic this week is SKY:


It was wide open above us.

There is nothing like a desert sky.

Nothing like a desert sky to fill one simultaneously with the weight of insignificance and the lightness of purpose.

Nothing like a desert sky to expand into, endlessly, and yet feel grounded beneath its immensity.

We lay under the desert sky, our fingers entwined. The smooth rock under our backs was solid, but the vastness above us made us feel untethered to gravity’s pull. All those days were a dream, but that night we spent in J-Tree…we floated. Up and up, above ourselves, inside and out of all the dreams we were discovering we shared.

All day we had skipped across giant boulders, tripping lightly and laughing, sometimes collapsing into each other, sometimes chasing, sometimes caught in our own silent reveries. We were like feathers tenderly tossed about by a gentle breeze, finally settling on the warm surface of the rock only to be caught up again and again. The sun seemed strong, but it was November and so it didn’t make us dizzy, just warm all through and energized. Our heads were clear, wide open like the sky above us.

We thought about pitching our tent at the campsite, once we’d ambled back in the early evening. There was a perfect spot, flat and free of debris, where hundreds (thousands?) of tents had spent the nights previous to this. A boulder loomed, like a protector. We would be in its shadow, perhaps, when the full moon rose. Until then, our day had been free of shadows, so why should we want one now? We climbed, and the great boulder was flat on top, the perfect size for a nest of sleeping bags and blankets. The tent remained behind and we made our camp, free of shadows, beneath the deep blue-black of the desert sky.

There is nothing like a desert sky.

First, there were stars, and beneath them we made Grand Plans. We reached as far as those stars with our breathless, excited talk. And then we lost our tethers. We were stars. There was nothing we could not do with the jet pack power of new love, and we lingered up in dreamland until the darkness faded. It was like daylight but it was not daylight.

There is nothing like a desert sky.

I read The Fog Horn, out loud, by the light of the full moon that night. It sobered us, the unrequited longing of a sea monster for a lighthouse, our own longing to live forever in those stars that were already fading from view with the white-yellow intensity of the moon’s glow. Ah, it is fleeting, our time in the stars! The next day, we would move on, to places where tall trees and buildings cut the sky into ribbons. To places where the tethers would hold.

We didn’t know how long they would hold.

Where, now, is our wide open sky?


10 1/2 years ago. I’m gonna go let that blow my mind for a while.



Five Senses Overload

I just couldn’t narrow it all down for a typical Five Senses Friday post. We took off for the hills earlier this week…the foothills, that is…and it was a lot for all those senses to drink in.

For example, I could go on and on about how amazing everything tasted…why is it that even the most ordinary, everyday foods taste so good when you’re camping?

Eggs. Cooked in butter, with a little salt. No big deal…certainly a lovely little number when I’m craving it, satisfying and simple…but cooked in the iron skillet over the propane camp stove, the scent of pine heavy in the morning air? Manna.

I generally make a big production out of my hot chocolate…starting with the basics: unsweetened cocoa powder and palm sugar, then adding butter, salt, and something like a pinch of chili or a splash of mint extract depending on my mood. I don’t drink coffee, so the perfect mug of hot chocolate is often a matter of great consequence for me. For the sake of convenience, I left all that ceremony behind and brought a few high-quality chocolate bars and simply stirred broken hunks of them into the milk…sipping this heavenly mixture around the campfire, I wondered why I normally go through so much trouble. I brought cream to ‘whip’ for the top, but C shook the jar absentmindedly while he paced around the fire until we ended up with a hunk of butter instead. Ha!

My hair smelled like the campfire and I hated to wash it out when we got home. I wish I could make an essential oil of that earthy, smoky scent, so grounding and comforting. Long past his usual bedtime, The Boy would sit, mesmerized by the dancing flames. Sometimes he would snap out of it and set to collecting needles and leaves that he would drop into the fire one by one, watching as they were consumed in a tiny, bright blaze.

What did we see?

Perhaps pictures are worth more than words…

Some of the pictures above are from Empire Mine State Historic Park. Take a look down into the shaft and you might just feel your stomach leap into your throat. We took a self-guided tour and, of course, The Boy was fascinated by all the decaying machinery…I’m amazed that any of the wooden structures are still standing, let alone supporting the tonnage of iron parts, since carpenter bees have made swiss cheese of it all. I could have watched the bees for hours.

We were told of a little shady place to splash around and have a picnic on the Independence Trail…we hiked forever in the hot sun and never found it. A few miles round trip is a long way for small feet to trek.

Forgive my self-indulgence…I couldn’t help posting this one.

Anyplace without mosquitoes was thoroughly taken advantage of as a place to rest. We were eaten alive at the campsite, so a grassy place on the grounds at the mine was a glorious respite.

We heard birds at all hours, deer crunching leaves, and small critters snooping about the tent at night. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my research well enough, and so we also heard a great deal of noise from the motor sports on the lake. Next time we camp near water, I’ll make sure it’s a river.

Too many chomps were felt from swarming mosquitoes…really, I have never experienced quite so many of them and from morning to night they were relentless in their pursuit of blood, especially from The Boy’s sweet face. He was swollen and itching (we all were), but quite a good sport about it.

Of course, a place always starts to feel comfortable and a bit like home just as it’s time to pack up and leave. It almost started to feel as though we weren’t in this place of limbo anymore, that we wouldn’t have to go back to our life in boxes…but alas, here we are…in boxes…plotting and planning the next step, still cultivating the patience required to get there.

In the meantime, getting back to work…

I’ve finally broken down and am offering hand dyed spinning fibers and fiber club subscriptions. I seem to be dyeing up a great deal more fiber than I can possibly spin, and I’d like to share it with you. 🙂 The link below will take you to the new club section of the shop. Other fiber types will be added soon, as well as yarn clubs!

Happy weekend, all.

Vacation and Sharp Knife are synonymous

….yeah, so anyway, here is something NICE to cut the stress with:

ME/MA Weekend!

My friend Stacey, our little guys and I took a three-day weekend and headed north. The plan was to camp a couple of nights on Hermit Island, leave Friday morning, come back Sunday night.
On the way, I had a knitting emergency occur just as we happened upon Purl Diva:

Phew! Super-cute shop! Brunswick, I think???

Later that evening, we ended up here:


The air was so damp we couldn’t even get paper to burn, so we spent a rather chilly night (no cocoa by the fire!)…and then the rains came. We woke up to water in our tents and soaked sleeping bags. I had the beginnings of a cold and so we decided we would pack up later that day, head to the beach and skip back down to MA where we could sleep the night in a warm, dry cabin. Before packing up, though, we headed into town…first to try to find a part for the cookstove that was forgotten and then on to Bath, ME to check out the farmer’s market there.
Like everywhere we went, it was right on the water and I think I could totally live there. However, I was very disappointed that the sign saying "Chocolate Church" did not in fact lead to a place of chocolate worship. Just a regular church that happens to be painted the color of chocolate. Harumph. OMG, Stacey, it’s so not a church at all…we should have made a pit-stop! Take a look at Amanda’s comments! 

Anyway, we played on the beach:

…where aggressive gulls tried to steal our sunflower nut butter and raisin bread.

Then ended up here:

to play amongst young trees and sunshine…and maybe a wee thunderstorm thrown in the mix.

And in case you didn’t know…


I did succumb to the nasty cold, but am now on the mend. I don’t think I have quite the constitution to hold up to damp Maine summers. A very satisfying weekend, but next time we’re skipping Maine and just heading the short journey south to Mass…woodsy, watery and just as splendid.
eta: not because Maine isn’t totally amazing, but rather an hour drive is better than five hours when there are two young boys in the car!