"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Busy Big Sister

Disclaimer:  Not one of these pictures was staged.
Each one was catching a natural occurrence. :-)

There once was a big sister who 

had so many babies she didn't know what to do.

She rocked them,

and fed them

and read them good books.

She took them on outings

and sang them to sleep.

And all the while watching her sweet,
gentle mother

Who was showing her how to take care
of her brother.

Note: Hopefully she'll catch on to the lesson that most babies wear clothes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hmmmmm, Anything Left?

This blogpost is similar to one I did not long ago.
But I feel it's a bit ironic considering the post
of Sunday.
As determined hunters search the mountains
and tundra in the lands north just north of us,
we have our own moose dilemma right here.

This time is wasn't the brothers,
but a hungry cow who calmly strolled around the
garden fence in the morning.
Abigail and I were eating breakfast when we spotted her.
We stepped out to the top of the deck stairs.
The moose and I had a standoff for several minutes, the early morning
frost making her breath come out in white steamy puffs.

Then, deciding we were all noise and no real
threat, we were shocked to watch her step over the fence
and under the eye-level rope that is meant to deter all moose.  (So much for that theory!)

She leisurely gazed around at the choice of
vegetables that remained...

Then lowered her head and began to devour the carrots.
What she wasn't munching she was trampling.

What to do???
I grabbed a couple of prescription bottles-
(yep, that's right-quite the weapon!)
and told Abigail to help me out.
We both hollered and shook our bottles in a most 
fearsome manner!

And-would you believe it?
This spooked her and she danced around nervously,
trying to find a quick way out.  In a frenzy, she
leaped the fence and ran away into the woods.
Little Abigail quieted her bottle and then 
grew a bit sad.
"Moose all gone?"
"Yes, Baby," I answered.
"But at least she's still breathing."
And we headed inside to finish breakfast and place our weapons back in the cabinet.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wildlife Beware!

Just in case someone wasn't noticing the flaming gold leaves...
or the lower orbit of the sun...
or feeling the chilliness of the frosty evenings...
there is one more clue that September has arrived in Alaska.

The men have suddenly disappeared.
Not ALL of them, naturally, but a great many.
Stores, churches, post offices, and even the hospital
is feeling a bit testosterone-deprived.
It is quite the phenomenon.

Hunting season opened Sept. 1.
Parking lots and roads are suddenly filled with vehicles such as these.
Many have extra gas cans and some tote fancy RV's or trailers.
But all carry coolers, sleeping bags, ATV's and guns.
Moose and bear hunting involves tracking deep into isolated areas and
 rough terrain in search of the game and then hauling out the "parts"
over many miles.  It's quite the effort.

With the birth of his son and the demands of his job,
Josh was unable to take off the time to go hunting this year.
But I made a big pot of moose chili today from last year's... 
what do I call it?  not "catch"...
not "kill"... not "trophy".
Oh yes, harvest.  (sigh)
I could be a vegetarian, I really could.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just an Illusion

As is the pattern here in the north, 
seasons change with dramatic speed.

Under the still green canopy of early August,
the high bush cranberry leaves turn  red.
Over night, it seems.

Berries appear and draw out attention to the edges of the roads.

From one day to the next, the green disappears at 
alarming speed.

The nighttime temperatures have suddenly dropped, too.
Below the freezing mark for many days now.

That means the tender parts of the garden are gone.
The mornings chilly, I've had to scrape a layer of frozen frost
off the windshield of the car.
(Dare I call that "ice"??)

But the warmth of the golds and yellows glow around us.
The leaves give the illusion of warmth much as a glowing fire would.
Especially bright sunny days-it's as if the merciful sun himself
is sending down rays of heat to each individual leaf.

 But it's just an illusion.
Even though the views out the windows sparkle with rich
tones of yellows and golds, I need to put on a jacket before I head out
to walk in their splendor.
And I'll soon need to add mittens, I know.

The only glow that really warms me is the one
that emanates from the glass door of the wood stove.
I'm thankful for that fire.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Octob--September's Bright Blue Weather

As a child, I have a distinct recollection of a poem my sister memorized in school.
(We often learned classic poetry, perhaps because the world was still so new that there wasn't enough history 
to fill the hours of the school day.)
One line of this poem comes to me annually when I gaze up at the sharp shade of blue in the sky above and recognize AUTUMN.

I love autumn.
It is my favorite season.
I lived many years in upstate New York where the Adirondack Mts
were filled with hardwood trees like maple, oak, elm, hickory.
Each one had leaves that turned distinct shades of red, purple, orange, gold, brown...
The sun's lower angle brought its golden rays 
into the house in a warming glow.

My autumns have been in a different climate of late.

No hardwood trees here, but rather Aspen and Birch
that turn only yellow, gold and orange.
But these shades of the changing leaves contrast
with that blue sky--its vividness striking.

The sky is crisp, sharp, clear.
The haziness of a humid, summer sky has vanished.
The blue is almost hard to stare at, 
as if it could shatter into countless pieces at any moment. 
The farther up I look, the darker the blue becomes

The poem is entitled "October's Bright Blue Weather",
penned by Helen Hunt Jackson who lived 1830-1885.
Being so near the Arctic Circle, 
this remarkable sky is seen earlier, in September.

                                        " O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather."

The sky that inspired Helen almost 200 years ago still thrills me today!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Sum of the Parts Don't Equal the Whole

How does this Grandma describe her tiny baby boy?
He has been part of us for a mere 5 days...
120 hours...
7,200 minutes.
A few heartbeats, that's all.

* * * * * * * * * * *

He is a delicate seashell curve of an ear
measuring 1/2 the length of his mother's thumb.

He is tiny fingers with knuckles and creases.
Even tinier fingernails that already need trimmed.

He is wrinkled wee feet and toes.
His 3 inch long footprint arrived as uniquely his.

He is dark blue eyes just beginning 
to open and gaze around.
These windows to his soul are deep and pensive.
They penetrate me and make me want to never disappoint him.

He is silky blonde fuzz and a recognizable hairline.
These swirls and patterns are Ethan's only.

Yet he is so much more than the sum of his marvelous parts.
He is our boy, our love, our sweetness.
What he hears, holds, sees and where he steps are totally up to us
at this time.  We owe him a world of goodness,
honesty, fairness, and happiness as he starts out his days.

He asks only for a full belly, a warm blanket 
and a soft shoulder to rest upon.
These are yours, Baby Dearest.
Sleep well.  We are here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Welcome to Our World, Little Man!

He has arrived!
It wasn't an easy trip for him or his brave mama,
and he got a bit stuck along the way.
But, thankfully, the competent doctor made some unplanned  but most effective moves and his shoulders finally disengaged, followed by the rest of him.
A collective exhalation occurred in that birthing room
when he gasped that first breath, turned from blue to pink, and cried!
All 9 pounds 11 ounces of this hefty newborn boy!
Ethan Hamilton.
Oh, the wonder of him!

A terrible hush lay heavily in that room when he delayed his first anticipated breath.
The good doctor quietly stated, "He is stunned."
as she swiftly cut the cord and presented him for oxygen.
We now say, "He is Stunning!"
Stunningly beautiful!
Soft as silk. Warm and snuggly.
Why do I become so inept at finding words for the amazing,
phenomenal, miraculous?
He is the Best of the Best and then some.
He is my newest grandson.
***Please forgive me for taking this picture from Kathleen's blog.
I took a ton of them but they are all on the parents' camera
which happens to still be at the hospital while I am not.
I'll get some of my own once little Ethan comes home.
Hopefully, tomorrow.
His sister and I can't wait to have him here with us.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Night Filled with Promise

Tonight is filled with breathless wonder.
We are settled in for the duration at the Women's Center, 
awaiting the monumental moment when a new child enters our world.
We have heard the cries of other babes newly arrived,
but the one we anticipate has yet to come.

Kathleen had a goal (she ALWAYS has a goal)
of knitting a tiny pixie cap for this wee lad before he was born.
She finished the stitches last night, but still needed the pom pom.
Here she is, making that final little thing.
It's done now, on the hat and we are ready!
Ready, I tell you.
The greatest efforts are still to come but this dear mother
is full of strength and hope and energy to meet the task at hand.
And I...my thoughts are jumping around as quickly as the
heartbeats of this tiny person heard echoing on the monitor,
a muffled drum beat in the otherwise hushed room.
I am mother... grandmother...
 My anxieties and expectations are those shared with women 
for thousands of years.
A mother's heart beats to the same rhythms no matter the 
continent or generation we inhabit.
Down through the ages, the birth event in caves or tents or hospitals--
the setting changes but the emotions stay the same. 
So do the ministrations of women to women:
as I soothe with lotion or comfort with soft words,
I recognize that I am repeating the tasks from long ago. Innate skills I was born knowing.

And how astonishing that I should even be present for this!
That God, in His mercy, allowed me the gift of this time,
 this moment.
Though living in Texas, I have spent months here,
weeks building up to this occasion.
And tonight I am an active participant in the miracle--
the bringing forth of new life, with all its potential.
We guess his looks, his weight, his personality.
We wonder together, these young parents and I.
We laugh and later we will weep.
Tears of joy and exhaustion.

This night is dark and long.
The morning will bring changes to this family.
Changes in the shape of a tiny man child.
Oh baby, our hearts and arms yearn for you.
Please don't tarry too long.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Old Friends in New Places

A momentous occasion occurred tonight.
My Texas Chevy officially became an Alaskan car.
Truth be told, she has lived here since June, 2010, 
but her status has been as a Texan the whole time.

I want to take a minute to laud the merits of this humble
but fantastically dependable car.
Purchased new in New York almost 10 years ago,
she stayed solid on snowy and icy mountain roads there.
I remember the day Jack drove her from the dealer to the hospital where
I was working to give me a test drive.  He was already sold on her.
What a wise buyer he turned out to be!

The Chevy and I travelled to Texas 2 years later,
where she endured 100 degree days and crowded interstates.
She still bears the pocked scars of a wild Texan hailstorm.

At almost 8 years old, she and I made the journey to Alaska.
We stretched the summer days into winter and I kindly repaid her
faithfulness with a new battery and an oil pan heater 
to help her tolerate those subzero temperatures.
She thanked me by starting up the first time, every time,
despite no longer enjoying the comforts of a garage home.
She now owns a set of new snow tires and usually
is covered in a layer of dust and dirt since she has exchanged
interstates for dirt and gravel roads.
Her windshield is cracked in several artistic swirls (from said gravel).
She wears her 145,000 miles regally with not so much as one
major repair. (Dare I say this aloud??)
She has been a great car and companion!
I'm sure she will continue to push onward with the same
consistent trustworthiness, asking only for an occasional oil change.
That's just her quiet way.