Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter camping, Tippecanoe River

Tippecanoe State Park Canoe Camp, deserted in
December except for two hardy souls and a dog

About winter in our fair state, a writer in Outdoor Indiana observes:

Winter can be a tough time to find outdoor recreational opportunity under an open sky in Indiana. Sure, there’s ice fishing and cold-weather hiking. A few hardcore enthusiasts may even spend a couple of frigid nights camping. But it’s hard to find much else—unless you know where to look.

--Feature Story by Brandon Butler, Outdoor Indiana, November/December 2009.

We are apparently hardcore enthusiasts.

Armed with a tent, a down mattress pad, several fleece blankets, two sleeping bags rated for 0 and -15 degrees, and many, many hand and toe warmers, we set out for our first winter camping adventure. We wanted to do this for some time, unable to see why our outdoor activities should be curtailed just because the sun decided to migrate to the other side of the earth for the next half year.

It was cold. And I don't want to negate any glory for which I might be eligible in return for sleeping outside in twenty-degree weather, but it really wasn't that bad. We also learned what steps to take to minimize the cold even more. We're lucky, though -- 24 hours later it was snowing and much colder.

Sometimes I'm awed by how effectively we have insulated ourselves from the elements in this modern age. It is entirely possible to pass a whole day without ever going outside. You can wake up in your house, get into an air-conditioned or heated car in your attached garage, and drive to a parking garage attached to your office building. You can order lunch brought to you, and go home the same way.

Kids aren't allowed to go out to the playground for recess anymore when the weather is too cold, for even the shortest periods of time. I know people who regularly hop into their car to drive a single block in the rain instead of walking under an umbrella. My sister's office is so over-cooled in the summer that she has to bring a sweater.

I'm the last person to judge anyone who wants to avoid the discomforts of winter. I am constantly cold five months out of every year, and unafraid to complain about it. Nor am I saying that everyone ought to set up housekeeping outside in early winter -- hell, it took me almost forty years to do it. But I do wonder if life lost a degree of immediacy, a bit of pungence, when sleeping outdoors in December became a near-radical act.

We heard something that night, perhaps an owl. It sounded, T said, like a witch seeking her first victim. It was loud, and it was nearby. I don't remember him waking me up in the middle of the night to listen to the coyotes howling, but he did. I do remember him coaxing a fire into existence the next morning, before I photographed the river in the clear, stinging air.

And then we went to breakfast in town. Where it was warm.

Tippecanoe River, winter morning

Monday, November 23, 2009

The problem with puppies they think they can get milk from your nose.

Muskrat, muskrat, candlelight....

Wildcat Creek in northern Indiana

We were paddling the Wildcat about six or so weeks ago. T isn't a photographer, but he has very strong wildlife-spotting skills, which, along with his fire-starting talents, make him a very good outdoor partner for me indeed. He had this water-dwelling gentleman spotted while I was still staring blankly into the trees thinking about dinner that night. Other than swimming in circles around his nest, he didn't seem terribly concerned about our presence. T paddled the canoe around for several minutes to give me the best possible angle to get his portrait, and I fired off fifty or sixty frames.

For all my otter-loving buddies, something for your Monday morning

...Or in Fran's case, your Monday afternoon/evening.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blog upkeep note

Facebook really does chew up a lot of the inclination that used to go to blog posting. So I've decided to start cross-posting.

On another note, I was reading through the original THC archives the other day. I used to be funny. Does anyone know where I misplaced my sense of humor? Or do funny things just not happen to me anymore?

Wherein Thomas suffers for my art. But not for very long.

"No, Thomas. Stay!"

"Okay, Thomas. Go get it!"

Inspired by Jon Katz and his Lab, Lenore.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Headed south

The boyfriend and I are headed out to Tennessee this evening for a hiking trip. I've spent most of the last six weeks ill in one fashion or another, and here is the usual pattern: (1) Get sick. (2) Be sick for a few days, start to feel better. (3) Spend the weekend sleeping in a tent in the unseasonable cold, and/or hang out in a canoe on the water all day in the unseasonable cold. (4) Get sick again.

Repeat two more times.

So, I do realize that I'm opening myself up to yet another relapse, and possibly another two weeks of illness. But whatever. It's fall, the leaves are glorious, and I just want to get to the mountains.

I'll post on the trip when I return, of course.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nature, red in tooth and (Enum)claw*

Did I get to this before Kristy?

*Yes, I've used this before.

Held by the Taliban

This series of articles has had my rapt attention all week. Unfortunately, I'll be waking up in a tent on Thursday morning when the last installment appears. Urgh.

Monday, October 19, 2009

For the google

I saw two turkey vultures at the zoo this weekend. I wonder if they have anuses.

Just getting the new place broken in.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Full circle.

Funny how a blog can seem like a home, a room, or a locale. And Dog knows I've had enough of them. And for the sentimental or ritualistic of us, it may be difficult to just keep one. Blogs for me tend to correspond to distinct periods of my life -- Trailheadcase started because I'd just moved out west a few months before, and was coping with that. Mountain Time started when the former Mr. T and I bought our house in Montana. And ended when he left. Then came a series of limbo blogs.

I suppose my blogs are a little bit like chapters in a memoir, in that sense. But Trailheadcase isn't as much of a niche as Mountain Time. It's more my alter ego. So here we are, albeit at a new address.

It's been since August since I had a blog, and it's starting to make me nuts. I've become a Facebook junkie, but 140-word chunks don't always do it for me.

And I'm entering a new and distinct phase of my life. My divorce is over, the feelings faded into indifference and even gratefulness, and I feel the possibilities stretching out before me like an endless summer prairie.

I told someone the other day that I finally have the freedom now to just live. I have no external pressures on who or how I "ought" to be. For the first time in my adult life I am completely and consistently comfortable in my own skin. That doesn't mean my life is tranquil. I'm in a relationship with someone just as intense as I am, I have a 7-year old who isn't over the divorce yet, and, well, there's always the dog.

So I have things to say. As usual.