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December 2011

November 2011

Farewell to Fall

According to the earth and sun, it won't be winter for nearly a month yet, but with James Taylor singing about winter wonderlands, Christmas crafting spilling from tables and chairs, and the first candle on my advent wreath lit, it's not exactly fall either. 

This year's fall was a muted celebration.  The Halloween snow storm ripped many of the leaves from the trees before they even had a chance to change color.  While I'm sure that disappointed people who had travelled far to see the famous New England color, I was surprised to find myself relieved.  Most years the trees put on a display to rival the 4th of July fireworks.  The reds burn, the golds glow and the evergreens shine in contrast.

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And just as with the fireworks, when the show is over there is a sense of loss and what remains appears all the drabber in comparison to what has been.  It usually takes weeks for me to shift from seeing the barren trees as harbingers of cold and misery, to forms with their own minimalist grace and beauty.

This year the transition was gentler; trees stripped by the storm stood alongside smaller plants displaying their fall glory.  Instead of golden arbors, we had sunlight as soft as butter and looping vines of bittersweet.  It was not a traditional fall, but it was beautiful in its own way. 


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So long fall, until we meet again...







A Step in the Right Direction

Have you ever noticed how when you buy a new car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere?  And if you or someone you know has an ailment, it seems to be the topic of every news report and article out there.  I've been experiencing something similar since writing my last post, the one about choosing an uplifting quote to focus on while walking.  Suddenly I'm aware of just how frequently the image of walking is used in speech.  I've started a list, though I'm sure there are more. 

  1. take baby steps
  2. step in time / step in
  3. one step at a time
  4. walk the line
  5. spring in your step
  6. a step in the right direction
  7. step out of line
  8. step/go out on a limb
  9. march to the beat of your own drum
  10. one foot in front of the other (one of my favorites & quite seasonally appropriate)
  11. step out of ones comfort zone

I've had a little experience with that last one recently.  In late August a friend told me about a photography contest, where the winning photos would appear in a calendar to raise money for the Lincoln Land Conservation Trust.  If you've been reading this blog for any time, you've surely heard about or seen photos of Lincoln.  The town is a living postcard of rural New England, and one of my favorite places to go walking.   

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My first reaction to the idea was "You're crazy".  I've never studied photography.  I take my photos with a Cannon Powershot, a cheap point-and-shoot.  There was no way that I was qualified.  But the more I thought about all the reasons I couldn't do it, the louder my gut asked "Why not?"  So I decided to submit a photo,

or two,

or eight.

About a month ago I learned that some of my photos had made it through the first cut.  I didn't know how many or which ones, but I decided that just getting that far counted as a success. 

Then just this week I learned that TWO of my photos had made it into the calendar!  Yes, I admit I did a happy dance, which may or may not have startled the birds on my windowsill at the time.  And today when I actually saw the finished calendar and my photos among the work of such talented photographers, let's just say Christmas came early. 

Here are my winning photos.  (That's really fun to say).

Sentinel"Sentinel"

Winter won't quit"Winter won't Quit" 

If you'd like to own your own copy of the calendar and see a bit of the real New England (rather than the same old over-photographed spots that  appear in most calendars) they can be purchased through the LLCT for just $15 plus shipping.  The profits go to preserving open space in the town, maintaining Lincoln's rural character and caring for the 375 acres already in conservation.  Part of that mission is maintenance of the miles and miles of public trails that crisscross the town.

 

 


The Wisdom of Roosevelt

I was at a meeting tonight where the conversation slid off topic (as is apt to happen in meetings) and onto the much more interesting topic of the little things we do each day to take care of ourselves.  One colleague shyly admitted that each day she writes an inspirational quote on an index card and carries it in her pocket.  Throughout the day she'll read it when she has the odd free moment (waiting on hold, waiting for her computer to boot up, waiting in line...there appears to be a bit of a pattern here).  She also makes a point of reading that day's card right before she sets out on her daily walk  (another bit of self-care).  Throughout the walk she thinks about the quote and how/if it can be applied to her life.  

It took a bit of coaxing, but we convinced her to share today's quote. 

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” - Theodore Roosevelt

We all sat in silence.  That one quote could put the whole self-help book industry out of business.

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If you have a quote that's important to you or provides you with inspiration, I hope you'll take a moment to share it in the comments. 

Orange glass pumpkin 2011A pumpkin I made during a recent glass blowing class.


A Walk to SoWa Market


Today is truly November, wet, slate gray and cold in a way that sticks to the bones no matter how many layers I put on.  In short, it's not pleasant walking weather.  I thanked the universe that I never did buy a dog "to force me to walk daily, regardless of the weather" and I happily opted for the warmth and golden light of yoga class instead. 

As I sat on my mat, attempting to focus on my breath and prepare for class, images from a walk I took this summer kept coming to mind.  My brain's just doing it's job - thinking, I told myself as I pushed the images aside.  But they kept coming back, an antidote to the wind and rain I heard battering against the window.  So I welcomed the memory in and basked in the remembered sunshine all over again.

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At some point this summer, I was looking for new outdoor activities and discovered Meetup.   Just a few days later I found myself sitting on the T, riding to a part of Boston I barely knew, to take a walk with people I'd never met on a day where the weather was expected to be 90+ humid degrees.  What had I gotten myself into?

Finding the other walkers wasn't half as hard as I'd expected.  I saw a woman who'd been on the train with me, who had a water bottle and looked just as out of place as I felt.  "Are you here for the meetup?"  "Yes!"  That scene repeated itself over and over until a group of about 10 people, including our organizer, had formed.  Once we were sure there were no stragglers, we set off.  The plan was a short walk, just a few miles along the DCR Southwest Corridor ending at the SoWa (South of Washington Street) Market.

It turned out the trail (think sidewalk marked by signs) was a great way to see new parts of the city without any concern about getting lost.  Mosque 071711

These houses of worship were all on the same street, about a block apart.

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We looked like we were on a college tour, all following the fellow with the baseball hat, but what did that matter?  Everyone was there for the same purpose, so starting up a conversation with whoever happened to be beside you was surprisingly easy. 

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But the best part of all was the market.  When we arrived I saw a parking lot set up with white sunshades and brimming with produce.  I enjoy going to farmer's markets, but this just didn't seem to fit with the organizer's excitement.  Had I been spoiled by living in the suburbs?

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"You can stick with the group or do your own thing," the organizer announced.  "Me, I'm headed to the other side of the market to get some lunch."  With that he disappeared into tunnel through a warehouse on the side of the parking lot and we all followed.

What appeared before us was the very best parts of a fair without the hawkers and the puddles of questionable origin.  It was a sea of independant crafters and designers, selling their creations, surrounded by a ring of food trucks. 

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I turned to the woman next to me and said "I thought food trucks were only in California", she laughed and pointed me toward one devoted entirely to the art of the grilled cheese sandwich. (If that sounds familiar, it's because that very truck was a contestant this year on Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race).  It was well past lunch and they'd run out of their  best sellers, so I opted for a classic hot dog truck where they made their own relish.  It was unlike anything I'd ever tasted before.  I think there may have been cranberries in it. 

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Fed and hydrated I wandered the stalls and when I'd seen everything (and done some very early Christmas shopping) I realized there was more to see inside the warehouses that surrounded us.  Let me give you a little taste...

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Some things just cried out to be bought as a set.

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There was something joyful about the eclectic mix of items.

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What more can I say?  It was summertime.  The sky was blue.  There was delicious food cooked in trucks.  There were artists and craftsmen happy to talk shop, and I had nowhere else I had to be. 



 

 

 


Camping - at home

Two and a half days of camping in my own home taught me a few important and several not so important things about this modern day life.  I'll leave the categorizing up to you.

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  1. The hardest thing about losing electricity is dealing with food: how to keep it from spoiling, how to heat it up (cold food is not fun when you're already cold), and how to keep to a reasonably healthy diet.  My breakfast of Cheeze-Its fell a bit short on a couple of these.
  2. Time stretches delisciously in a world without clocks.  A morning feels twice as long when you're not aware that you've already "used up" half of it.  
  3. Quilting and knitting are perfect activities when there's snow outside and no source of heat inside.
  4. You really can light a gas stove with a match without losing your eyebrows.
  5. I owe Jenna of the Cold Antler Farm blog a debt of gratitude.  Her posts about storm preparation and trying to live on as little outside power as possible lead me to buy wind up flashlights, a batter free radio/mp3 player and a solar powered lantern (that also happens to be a water bottle).  Knowing I had these at hand and didn't have to worry about running out of batteries felt luxurious.
  6. Washing up with cold water has more rejuvenating power than a trip to Starbucks.
  7. When the sun goes down and there are no screens, time moves at the turtle pace of childhood.  
  8. While the dim glow candles produce makes reading and needlework painful, there's no better backdrop for listening to Bram Stoker's Dracula!
  9. New Englanders are known for their reserve, but that's just because it only snows 1/4 of the year.  There's nothing like bad weather for creating opportunities to meet the neighbors.
  10. The comforting power of a hot water bottle is underrated.  Curling up with Cozy Bear (my own pattern) in a cocoon of blankets was pure bliss.

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