Return To The Wild

While you can’t see it in the picture, I saw a bald eagle here over the weekend. As I crossed the top of the pond at the local (defunct) reservoir, the bird swooped across the water. Here’s how my brain processed the event: “Wow, that is a HUGE crow…with a white tail…oh, wait; that’s not a crow.” The eagle perched in a tree at the edge of the water at the far end of the pond and Dylan and I watched it for a little while before continuing along our walk.

I know that bald eagles are back in the United States in a healthy way, and have finally resumed breeding in Vermont in smaller numbers. But it’s still a thrill to see such a large wingspan within a few miles of my own house.

I’ve been on hiatus from this blog for the past year, trying to figure out how to balance work and parenthood. It’s harder than I thought. And one of the parts of my life that has suffered the most is the time I used to spend alone (with Oliver) in the woods. That and finding or taking the time to go running, which was often the same thing.

But what is really fun is getting to rediscover all the amazing things about the world right around us, through Dylan’s eyes. And being able to pass on almost embarrassingly gleeful feelings about seeing things like salamanders or birds nests.

Watching Efts

Last weekend I got to show him how snapdragon seed pods will burst and curl up in your fingers when you touch them. (I grew up calling the plants snapdragons, but I understand they’re more commonly known as jewelweed, or even touch-me-nots.) What fun to see Dylan feel the exploding seed pod between his own fingers!

SnapdragonsAnd who doesn’t like being able to laugh and feel goofy with someone who finds you hilarious (except, of course, for the times when he thinks you’re the worst, like when you want him to put on–or take off–his shoes, for example)!

tonguesSo I’ll continue to try to find the time to get outside on my own (and to remove any guilt I might have about taking time for myself). But in the meantime, I’m loving the joy and wonder I get to experience together with this little Vermont kiddo.

sitting pointing

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August 30 – Out of the Wilderness

Wow. It has been so fun to share this adventure as the Kallin family thru-hikes the AT. I even got a chance to meet up with them while they were crossing through Vermont and we shared a nice lunch. Dave and I reminisced about our college days and they all got to meet baby Dylan. I’ve been reading Dave’s wonderful posts on their blog all the way through their journey. It is coming to an end now as they hike the last few miles. What an inspiring family and what fun to be able to travel with them vicariously.

A Family Adventure of the 2,185 mile hike from Georgia to Maine - 2014

The Hundred-Mile Wilderness may be an historical name designation only (it is not true wilderness in either the sense of the 1964 Wilderness Act or in true remoteness, being accessible by several private logging roads). But it does have psychological import for thru-hikers nearing the end of their journey. After a Katahdin sunrise, we walked out of the wilderness to meet Mama Bear’s parents for the final few miles of the trail.

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July 18 – The Common Wanderer

For the past several months I’ve been following the adventures of my friend Dave and his family as they thru-hike the Appalachian Trail together. What a wonderful way to still feel connected to adventure and nature while my explorations have been somewhat curtailed. On Friday I was able to meet up with them in Southern Vermont where the trail crossed a road. I brought them a picnic and caught up for a couple of hours before they shoved off to hike up Killington.

Dave has been blogging the whole trip. His posts are wonderful, full of humor, insight, and character. They’re well-worth perusing.

A Family Adventure of the 2,185 mile hike from Georgia to Maine - 2014

Today was the last day that we would follow the Long Trail, before the Appalachian Trail turns east while the country’s first long distance trail continues north to the Canadian border. Back in the last century, years before I met Mama Bear, my first long distance trip was along that trail. Traveling alone, I met a French Canadian with whom I walked for about a week. Our conversations had a certain poetry stemming from the combination of my broken French and his broken English. He described to me how he had found himself in Vermont’s Northern Kingdom: “For my heart; it was in need of a journey, and so I am here.”

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Things That Are Back:

Hummingbirds at our feeder.

Jack-in-the-pulpits in the forest.


Us. Our family traveled over to Wales last week. I’ll write more about the circumstances of our visit later, but it was amazing to see how quickly spring has progressed in our absence. Our rhubarb has completely unfurled and is ready for eating, the lilacs are about to bloom, and our lawn is already overgrown.

I love spring!

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Today, a at the age of 35, I was able to cross an item off my childhood bucket list: I found an owl pellet.


This is probably more gross than exciting to most people, but it fulfilled a lifelong desire for me that began with a class assignment in sixth grade. We were each given an owl pellet, purchased from some science supply company, and told to dissect it, pick apart the bones, and create a skeleton out of whatever animal had been eaten by the owl.

For those who did not get an early education in owl pellets, they’re the coughed up remains if an owl’s last meal. When an owl catches a mole or a mouse, it eats the poor critter whole. But the owl can’t digest the hair and bones. So it regurgitates them in a small pellet.

When I got that first pellet in middle school I found the full skeleton of a tiny rodent, skull and all. It was so exciting, like unraveling a biological mystery, that I asked for another. A family friend who was a high school biology teacher, Linda, could get me extras and I would pick the bones from the fur, bleach the bones, and glue them to a strip of cardboard in the shape of whatever animal I found.

This hobby was short-lived, but it was intense while it lasted. And ever since, I’ve kept my eye out for pellets in the woods. But I had never stumbled across one until today. I’d been hearing several bard owls calling to one another through the woods and just happened to look down. There was this oblong hair-filled object. For some reason it just stuck out.

I’m sure you will be relieved to know that I did not spend the afternoon meticulously recreating the poor devoured rodent. But this was a childhood wish, after all. So I did wrap it in leaves and take it home to show my parents, who happen to be visiting. Brought me right back to childhood!


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It used to be that autumn was my favorite time of year. That bite in the air. Once I started cross country running in high school, the cool weather was a signal that it was time to run again. Plus, there was the return of school. Friends I hadn’t seen in months, and the possibility of new romance.

But now, as an adult, Spring is definitely my favorite. Everything comes alive so suddenly! After long hard winters, it is such a joy to be outside and see things growing and emerging. Here are a few photos from my walk in the woods with Oliver this morning.





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Eft Return

My favorite harbinger of spring, the red eft, has returned. I had my first sighting of the season on a little-used dirt road on a cold and chilly run this evening and stopped long enough to snap a picture.


I say harbinger of spring, but nightfall has brought a drop in temperature and turned the rain to snow. We may have as much as two inches by morning. Fickle season, this one.

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