Why are there so many acorns, hiking Winant Park

Walking in the woods at Winant Park on Sunday I hear all kinds of sounds. As we enter the trails near the church on Pleasant Street there is a loud ripping sound. I look up and see the top of a tree come crashing to the ground. I half expect to see some sort of bobcat or mountain lion run away, like it is high up on a tree limb and its weight causes the tree to crumble. Winnie runs toward the sound, not a great thing in case there is a wild animal but no animal runs away and we continue on our hike. 

Black flies are still hovering which is obnoxious for this time of year. Geez. Go away. I swat the flies as I hobble over the thousands of acorns that litter the trail this year. I don’t remember so many on the trails and roads compared to last year at this time. We hiked as much last year as this year and I simple don’t remember them. And I definitely don’t remember the sounds from them falling in the woods.

The sound of the acorns falling is so loud for such a small nut. 

When you live in the same place for several seasons you start to see patterns such as the sun rising in a different spot or the trail start to be less socked in when the trees lose their leaves. When I lived in Killington, Vermont I watched and recorded how spring changed into summer and then later into fall. I noticed everything, wrote about every detail from hiking the same trail, Trail 17, every day with my yellow lab Abbey. Later when I lived in Granby, Colorado I watched the seasons change from hiking the same mountain trail behind my house for seven years with Abbey and Daisy. All the details never seemed changed from year to year.

The only reason I can guess that I didn’t notice the acorns last year is age; I’m getting older and don’t remember as much. 

That’s why I will now take my journal with me on every hike and take detailed notes again. I don’t want to miss a thing.

Anne Lamott

“What saved me was that I found gentle, loyal and hilarious companions, which is at the heart of meaning: maybe we don’t find a lot of answers to life’s tougher questions, but if we find a few true friends, that’s even better. They help you see who you truly are, which is not always the loveliest possible version of yourself, but then comes the greatest miracle of all—they still love you. They keep you company as perhaps you become less of a whiny baby, if you accept their help. And that is so much easier said than done.”

Notes on Hope, Anne Lamott quotes

I’ve been listening to Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott for the last week in my car; driving to work, driving to the mountains and the many trips to find a second dog to adopt. The audio book is only three discs and I’ve listened to the entire book three times as of this writing. I just love her, and her words make me laugh at the absurdity of living in this world; and at the same time nod my head and say amen. 

But what happens to me when I Iisten to her over and over is that when I start to write, some of her words spill onto my page. 

Such as today as I was writing in my journal about some interactions I had earlier, and in the past, and when I looked back on them I knew I was behaving badly. I felt justified at the time, saying and doing what I said and did, but as I wrote I knew it wasn’t the best way to act. It reminded me of Anne reading from Notes on Hope saying that there are times that she knows she is feeling righteous and arrogant. She knows that she is wrong. But then she apologizes, prays, gives to the poor and calls a friend. I feel that way too, looking back at things I’ve said in the past – I feel badly about my behavior. I’m going to try not to do it again. I will pray a lot. And I will, apologize. And I will give back by giving blood. 

Anne just makes me feel better. I will listen to her book a few more times before returning it to the library. For now, I’ll just finish up this post with a few quotes from her other books that help me when I feel sad and unworthy. But they also remind me that I have so many great things in my life: primarily my friends. Being a friend is my saving grace. 

It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”

― Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“I’m as scared and angry as everyone else, but one of the blessings of being a little bit older is that being scared and angry doesn’t last as long. And you don’t always remember why you are scared and angry.”

“Almost every facet of my meager maturation and spiritual understanding has sprung from hurt, loss, and disaster.”

Yes Anne, this is what you do for me:

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.” – Anne Lamott


West of 98, What Are You Reading

The best mornings start out with reading and then writing.

I’m re-reading West of 98, Living and Writing the New American West.

The best part of reading this book again is that it reminds of all the amazing places I’ve lived and explored in Colorado and Arizona. It gives me fodder for all the stories I want to write.

Truly belonging to this place would mean embracing it as vastly layered and infinitely complex. Wilderness as primal blessing, forever being born and forever dying.” – Gary Ferguson, from the essay in West of 98: Wolf and Coyote and Kumbaya

Mount Eisenhower

I hiked Eisenhower on Sunday like I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

Clinton Road was not well marked off the Auto Road, but once I knew I was on the right road, I found the trailhead easily. The Edmands Path is a gorgeous trail. The first mile was a nice walk in the woods although I was worried about water for Winnie. Luckily there were a few streams along the way. Once we got to the rocky section closer to the top there was water; it rained a lot there on Saturday. 

There were a lot of dogs on the trail, only two were off leash. But all well behaved and cute! One particular grey/blue pit bull – so adorable.

The top was windy and cold. Mount  Washington was in the clouds but a 360 degree view of the world was not too bad. It was Winnie’s 6th 4,000 footer and her first in the Presidentials. She did great.

I didn’t stay at Eisenhower’s peak for very long. I stayed hidden in front of a small cairn just below the summit cairn to stay out of the wind so Winnie could rest and drink water. I saw about 40 people all day. I probably should’ve done a loop and hiked to Pierce or Monroe. Next time I will plan a bit better. It took just 3 ½ hours to hike and 3,110 feet of elevation gain, according to my Garmin. 

I think next weekend I’ll try the Kinsmans.