Tag Archives: mountains

High mountain explorers.

My friend who’d never been to our mountain retreat had a desire to walk all the way around the lake. I told her that would take all day, and I didn’t know if my feet were up to it. So we walked for a few hours (round trip) and got to one end of the lake where a little creek flows in. I’d never done that walk before, so I felt happy about accomplishing a new thing.

It was also fun to get new perspectives on old favorite vistas.

At first I was surprised by the hundreds of dragonflies zipping around us most of the way, but then I remembered my amazement two years ago in this place. When occasionally one seemed to be considering alighting on the ground, I’d say, “Please stop here just a moment so I can look at you more closely!” But their English isn’t very good, and they mistook here for her, and stopped on Myriah’s pant leg. But not long enough for me to get close.


We admired the rocks and grass and moss, and domes across the lake,
and waded in the chilly waters to get to the inlet.
We didn’t see another soul.

Soon after we got back to the cabin, we got our last dinner assembled and cooking.

It’s been more than 25 years since I stayed five nights in a row at the lake. What a relaxing and rejuvenating time this was, and nourishing to the friendship of my companion and me. So I count the whole week as another sort of new exploration. Next time, longer! But now I am home and gathering my wits and strength for adventures coming my way this fall.

Thankful.

The air moves, the trees wait.

Myriah and I were standing on the shoulder of Gumdrop Dome, looking across the lake to the other shore. She said that the trees rising in ascending rows from the water’s edge reminded her of a choir standing straight at attention. I made a note to include that image in a blog post if I could.

Later we were talking about age and getting old and what is youthfulness? and I was looking up a poem by Wendell Berry that I posted here once, when I found this fitting one:

What do the tall trees say
To the late havocs in the sky?
They sigh.
The air moves, and they sway.
When the breeze on the hill
Is still, then they stand still.
They wait.
They have no fear. Their fate
Is faith. Birdsong
Is all they’ve wanted, all along.

-Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems

 

 

 

The thought of the trees listening to the birds comforts me. I don’t see half the birds here that I see at home, though as Myriah noted, “I’ve heard more birds than I’ve seen.” Yesterday I got the idea of putting some  berries on the deck and railing in hopes of attracting a Steller’s Jay. Nope. Not even a chipmunk has found one yet.

But a blue dragonfly just now graced my field of vision with his blue whirr.

A bird in the mountains.

I’m in the mountains, at my cabin, with my friend. It’s all lovely.
The sky is free of the smoke that has at times drifted south from Yosemite fires.

Myriah and I drove up earlier this week. She’s never been here before and hadn’t envisioned how remote and un-resortlike it is. We have been talking a lot, catching up on the last 65 years of each other’s lives, including learning how our respective parents met, details of our childhoods and college years and our children’s and grandchildren’s babyhood and wonderfulness.

We’ve been walking, reading, cooking, sitting on the deck. We saw strange large birds our first morning, that we haven’t been able to identify based on our brief glimpse of them thudding into the window and flapping in the trees. That was special enough, to have a close encounter with something other than a Steller’s Jay up here. But this morning while drinking my morning tea I saw a bright bird that quickly flew off, but that had such distinctive colors he was easy to identify from a “Birds of the Sierra Nevada” pamphlet: he is a Western Tanager!

I have no hope of getting a photograph of this fellow, if he even comes near again to sit in a pine tree, so I am showing a picture I found. He has been the highlight of my stay so far. I was as happy as if I had found a bag of gold under a hunk of granite.

 

wintertime loves

We in the arid parts of the West have been exulting in rain the last week or so. It’s so comforting and even glorious to wake in the night and hear the rain still coming down. Then to wake in the morning and see it is still falling. We had puddles in the back yard! Thank you, Lord!

Mr. Glad and I do live in northern California, but daughter Pippin lives even farther north in the state, and we drove there early this week for a short visit. Often February is a very snowy month at her place, but this year they’ve had more dry weather and rain than snow, and even the rain stopped while we were there, so we could get outdoors easily for work and recreation.

One day we made a family project out of pruning old apple trees that Pippin and The Professor are trying to revive from years of neglect. I floated back and forth between lopping branches and swinging the kids.

I would get Scout and Ivy going and then run over
to take a picture of the adults on ladders.

Another day we took a short trip to Castle Crags State Park and walked a trail alongside the Sacramento River. Considering the dryness of this year, I was amazed at the thick moss and ferns.

 A pale green, almost white lichen grew on rocks and tree stumps.

yew trees on the riverbank

Everything was wet from the recent rains, and many times our feet slipped on the invisible mosses — or was it algae? — growing on wooden bridges or river rocks.Ivy practiced throwing pebbles into the river, and once she got the hang of it she did not want to do anything else. The supply of rocks was endless.We went to the confluence of Castle Creek (in the foreground below) and the Sacramento River, from which you can get great views of the jagged rocks above, called the Castle Crags. They are high enough that the recent precipitation there was in the form of snow, and some was still unmelted and visible.


My dear husband showed me this large and artsy rock, which you can also see in the photo at the very top of this post, in its original setting. I wanted to take it home. It was a little too heavy for me to carry, so The Professor hauled it back to the car. It came with us on our journey home and is now living by our house. Mr. Glad classified it as a confluitic rock. 🙂

Winter days are short enough that at the end of our busy days there was plenty of time for cozy gatherings in the kitchen or by the wood stove. I read many books to the children. Scout’s current favorite, which I read about on a blog before Christmas and gave to him, is Bumblebee at Apple Tree Lane, and we read it several times.

Ivy likes The Little Fur Family best right now. We danced to the children’s favorite recordings, and also listened to bird calls on the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs CD. After ten minutes of loons and other waterfowl, Ivy must have deduced that those bird songs were some kind of dance music, too, and she started twisting and prancing around.

Hot soup is what you need on a winter’s night, so Pippin and I learned how to make French Onion Soup, using the recipe in The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. The secret that the Cook’s testers learned is that red onions give the best flavor. Our result was sooo good.

And cookies! Pippin had some dough left in the freezer from her Christmas Peppernuts, the recipe that I concocted a long time ago but haven’t made for years. We like our nuts to be nut-sized, so we always cut the frozen dough into little cubes and bake them long enough that they come out crispy. Next Christmas I’ll give the recipe.But for now, since I do love cookies, they make a good ending to my story of a wintry family visit that was warm and sweet.

peppernuts 13-14