Despite the prospect of rain on Saturday, Winnie and I headed north for leaf peeping. She forced me to walk along the trail in 38 degree temps for the perfect photo spot. Little did she know, she would only get out once for a few pictures before the rain overtook our shoot. Nevertheless, being out in the crisp air and looking at the change in seasons was relaxing to say the least. I'm at a loss as to why I saw so many cars from Maryland, New York, and New Jersey meandering on the fall covered roads. Perhaps these people forgot there is a pandemic but then again I guess you could say the same to the hundreds of cars from out of state, mainly Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut who decided it was a perfect day to hike near the Old Man of the Mountain and Mount Major. I don't think I have seen so many cars parked on the side of the road, ever. Like we are talking a good mile out from the trail entrance at both locations.
On a different note, Winnie thinks she deserves her very own Instagram page. She's a bit young if you ask me. From our animated conversation, I set her up nonetheless with the link underneath my running commentary. Feel free to join her page and share some of your best furry or stuffed friend pictures. We'll see how long this lasts...ha ha ha.
In writing news, I'm 44 pages in to my Italian memoir. This past weekend I picked up steam and wrote over 18 pages after months of doing nothing. I'm hopeful this is an upward trend. I will keep you posted. More photos to come next weekend from the southern part of the state. Until then, enjoy your week.
Here we are again with the changing colors. This is truly my favorite time of year. I would say I think it's earlier than usual, but in actuality we are only a few days before October. For the first time in my lifetime I was able to drive into the White Mountains and see some of the fall colors first hand. Granted, having grown up in the grand state of New Hampshire, I know fall. I know the changing of the guard and the hues of red, orange, and yellow that arrive this time of year. What I did not know was the vast landscape of color in the mountains save for an Ode to New Hampshire YouTube video I watched when I lived in Florida and in Italy to remind me of my home.
Yesterday, I embraced the area and drove seven hours exploring and seeing this ever changing landscape portrait. If only my camera could adequately tell and share what I saw first hand. Over the next few weeks, I know what my Saturdays will now consist of. I will do my best to document and share the beauty that surrounds us, well me, and maybe you depending on where you live.
Even in this crazy time consisting of our pandemic lives, the non stop news cycle, and the saga of the 2020 election, there are reasons to smile and feel grateful.
The mid 40s low this morning means one thing and one thing only - summer has indeed departed. As we transition to our beautiful fall colors and the cooler days ahead, I'm trying to get in some additional trips to nature. Yesterday was fun even after my best Gollum imitation caused me to fall between two giant boulders and crash into the water. Note to self, either bring someone along next time or maybe look more than a split second before jumping boulders. My bare foot didn't realize there was a slick surface waiting. Thankfully, my knee slamming into the side of the boulder and my left hand bracing my fall spared me my dignity. The bruising today . . . not so much.
Enjoy the weather my friends why you you can. Remember to have fun and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us all.
I meant to post several times over the last month, but to be frank with the current situation here at home from the pandemic, the election, everything on the news, and just dealing with people in general has been a bit draining. Knowing that getting back up on my high-horse, if you will, isn't necessarily going to change anything, I think it might be best to simply share some of my adventures from this last month. It seems that getting back in nature has been the cure for many and I imagine it would be the same for you. Not to mention, my travels have also allowed me to see more of the beauty of New Hampshire in 2020 and move past the fuzzy recollection from similar travels in the late 90s.
Enjoy the photos and the comments. Let me know where you traveled this summer.
At this point it might have been 12 years ago when I first discovered the Downeast part of Maine. This region of the state is literally down east from everything else. You jump onto Route 1 and head east to the Canadian border. Due to Covid, even though I stayed at an inn directly across from Canada, I was unable to visit our northern neighbor. I had hoped that maybe they would lift the restrictions for New Englanders at least so that we could get a taste of Canadian island life.
Despite this setback, I enjoyed my downtime in the area exploring roads, lakes, and bays. Being in this unique area without traffic lights for at least 60 miles and minimal traffic was a bit weird yet peaceful. In the mornings even the water was still and utterly quiet. For the first time, I saw seals in their natural habitat.
Enjoy the pictures and if you get a chance go explore this beautiful country.
This past month has been quite a whirlwind, one filled with several professional and personal challenges and opportunities. Looking back as I fast approach my upcoming birthday and some respite, I am thankful for the values that my grandparents instilled in me at a young age. Granted this doesn't mean I don't make mistakes or even question some of my actions occasionally, but for the most part I have always been guided and followed that simple adage of treating others how you want to be treated.
It's not just the golden rule, but knowing that each human being is of the same worth and value. Frustration builds when I see others are not keeping with this value. They might say that they care about the everyday person, but actions are clearer than words. Even the avid church goer who speeds down the road and recklessly swerves around a troop of kids playing on their way to service, is not immune to this judgement. A proud man who boasts about being a great parent, but than sits on the couch to watch television and ignores his children has no right to criticize another. Or perhaps the politician that says they love all people, but than stokes racism by disingenuous remarks.
Life is already difficult enough that when we don't hold true to our values, to inherent self worth and good in all people that more problems arise. We need to level the playing field so that there is no disenfranchised areas of the country or for that matter the world. As long as we politicize what it means to be a good person, we as a society are missing the point.
The greatest generation, those that fought during World War II, did so to preserve values that they felt a nation should have, maintain, and endure over time. There was no question on whether it was right to intercede when it became clear that millions of people had already been impacted an ocean away. Meanwhile at home, the values that many held close to their hearts, had not been translated across all areas, regions, and peoples. Only after veterans returned from the war, working in unison on a common causes, did some change come about.
Now some 70 years later we are still dealing with those changes, pushing forward to finish the work that was started. While we are in an election year, dealing with COVID-19, and an array of other issues, the idea of human decency and doing the right thing should be the focus point. We should be looking out for one another, helping when we can, and doing the little things necessary to preserve life and that "pursuit of happiness," many of us hold dear. Let's look past the politics and truly think about and embrace those qualities that are universal and should be shared by all.
Talk about relentless . . . my deer friend from late spring made an appearance over the weekend. I was shocked because not only did she follow me from out of New Hampshire but she insisted I meet her family too.
While running on some quiet roads outside Baltimore I thought it would be like any other run. Boom! Who bolts out of the woods and stops roadside? That's right that sweet doe. Thankfully her sister appeared on the scene and beckoned they continue on, but even so she paused long enough to watch me run on down the road.
Fast forward a few days later and I'm on the same road. This time she was lurking within the trees waiting to catch a glimpse of her "man." I think she made sure to eat along the road side, hopeful that we would cross paths. She wasn't alone though with her sisters and a younger brother.
None of them were interested in meeting me and bolted deeper in the woods. She on the other hand watched me carefully and even stepped out from under the foliage.
I was taken a back and carried on my run. Twenty minutes later I cut onto an adjacent side road and who was back at the road side? I know . . . crazy right? This time she wanted to be play coy. She stepped out on the curve and watched me from a distance. Then when I was within 30 or so feet, she cut back into the woods, crossed a small stream, and then watched me run by.
I thought that was the end of our encounters but wouldn't I be surprised a few miles later to run into her grandmother who was feeding on a few bushes. I think grandma was sizing me up, debating whether I not I was worth the effort. I didn't stay long enough for us to have an in depth conversation, but I do know I'm locking my doors at night now.
Have any of you had this happen to you before?
Last June was difficult for a variety of reasons but one reason being I was not in Northern New England to enjoy lupine season. I vowed when the 2020 season arrived I would make it a point to get out and explore.
A few weeks ago in central Maine I came across my favorite flowering plant and today in the White Mountains of New Hampshire lupine was out for all to see. I am going to share a collection of photos from my trip. If this doesn't give you ideas for a story, I don't know what would.
The moral of this week's blog - get outside and explore.
In the craziness and upheaval that 2020 has become, I decided this morning I needed to revisit my past in order to get more perspective and peace of mind.
Sure I wasn’t marching in a city protest or writing an op piece for a local paper, but instead focusing on the greatest change, that from within. That’s where things begin right? One must be centered and clear in order to grow and be a true instrument of love.
To that end, I headed into the woods, up a trail I have not hiked since my late teens. I have to admit I didn’t expect this hike to become an laborious task but in some ways it was that and more. The first part of the trail was littered with loose rocks and mud.
True to what we are dealing with at present, we have to walk through this muck and grime, in order to leave behind those failings and tasks that define our very being. For some that is easier said than others.
Once clear of the mud, the terrain lightened up briefly before a steep incline of rocks, boulders, and roots. To continue moving forward, these obstacles had to be overcome. More often than not, in the past, even a slight obstacle could deter some from moving forward. I had my hiking stick, so with some careful navigation I protected my ankles from rolling and safely navigated the path.
In some regard this part of the path was easier than the mud. It was far less dirty and aside from the occasional root to trip me up, metaphorically and physically I was able to maintain a steady pace.
Then the raw, uncovered roots appeared. This reminder not of Bilbo Baggins and Mirkwood Forest, but of our warts and scabs that have been uncovered, this was not the most beautiful part of the trail. It was downright creepy and uncomfortable. You could safely hike through the lined path of death but still had to face those skeletons and shadows.
Once through the real progress was made. The path opened up and was even level. I gained the most ground on this section. It was as though I had come up through the mud, scaled the tricky rock portions, reflected on those times I had been closed off and ignored the past.
Of course the hike wasn’t done, far from it. Like any journey, especially now with there being clear sides on what is right and what is wrong, the toughest part was yet to come. The wide open trail branched off. To the left was a narrow path that went upward. There were rock faces, more roots, and steep grades in wait.
I imagined some would give up at this portion of the hike. It was far easier to stay on the level grade and continue on the merry path in the opposite direction. Some don’t want real change, an ever lasting one that means we all move forward. It’s safer to say you looked at the past and that’s enough - sort of like a band aid, an illusionary effort to mask the hardest part of the journey.
Not to mention, some aren’t ready to take those final steps, no matter the outcome.
I took the steep incline. I had come too far to not continue the task. Funny enough, I had never gone this way before. I recalled years earlier, I had taken the flatter route, the safe way to the top. Not this time. I had my support system, my trusty hiking stick, a good set of shoes, and balance to scale these roots and rocks.
As I trudged upwards, slowly I might add, because anything done right should be done right the first time around. Come on now, you don’t want to rush and fall, only to be stuck in the very spot you want to overcome. So I looked for the safest path among these many pitfalls and made for the top.
Eventually, even though the path got steeper and more difficult, I could see the blue sky opening up above the tree line. My pace quickened even as I found myself with my hands balancing my steps on the rock face.
Then I made it to the view I had sought out to find. There was the lake, the mountains, mother nature at her finest. The path I took while perhaps not as “safe” as years earlier, was better for the soul and conscience.
I took everything in and realized that while I made the journey up others had to do the same. They all will in time. In fact, after I took a few photos to remember this moment, I turned around and headed back.
Unlike Sisyphus, I didn’t follow the same route down the mountain. No, I had learned how to navigate the trail in a way that was safer and quicker, with a new understanding that this was just the beginning. Others had come before me and paved a new path only now clear from above.
The rocks and roots were no longer obstacles. I had come off the mountain top and knew there was much more that could be accomplished with time and perspective.
Finally, as I took those final steps down to the parking lot below, I saw the mud and grime I had passed through before. From the safety of my new trail, I knew I didn’t have to go that way again and neither do any of us after we make this climb of equality and love.
I don't know what has happened to society's values. I really don't. Everyone has an opinion, whether right or wrong, and I don't think you need me sharing my two cents on what's streaming the news this May weekend between the protests and the outcry over events in Minneapolis. However, I do think these major news stories are tipping points to a shift in values that we continue to see in daily life.
There is a larger contingency of people who are not considerate anymore. That's the bottom line. Maybe they weren't forty years ago either, but really in my lifetime, I can tell you there is a breakdown in values that has run rampant especially over the last 15 years. I can't put my finger on whether this is a socioeconomic issue or some other shift, but from where I have visited, lived, and worked this breakdown is across society and cultures. Perhaps it's the ever codependency on technology; I don't know.
On the front line in public and private education, I have watched my students and their parents change over these last twenty years. Every year it has gotten more difficult with less teaching of material and more time on the counseling side of education. I find this concerning. Generally speaking, there are fewer people who take others into account. They hide behind the veil of social media. They play the victim when it serves and they cry foul if their proverbial picket fence is threatened. Few want to take responsibility for their actions and feel justified when challenged. I'm talking about this across the board in populations and family systems.
Knowing this, I pine for the values of my grandparents who were members of the Greatest Generation. As shown in this age of COVID-19, I don't think people are equipped with the same ability to adapt and cope with changes now, as they were during a world war or Great Depression. Between the toilet paper hording, canned good snatching, and more recently protesting social distancing and what stores/restaurants should be opened is eye opening.
I don't assume to be an expert on these issues, but why has it been so hard to help each other and to do the right thing? Maybe that is the greater issue - we are debating on what is the right thing. We are talking about livelihoods and families that are at risk, so it's difficult to put every person and family in the same box. It's a giant grey area.
Still, COVID-19 aside and that drama that we continue to play out, these issues were undercover but lurking prior to these past few months.
For me, I was reminded of this while out and about this morning. Returning from a run, I was dropping a friend off when we spotted a family in the middle of the park and ride parking running their gums. That's me trying to sound like an author.
The people were oblivious. For whatever reason this family was congregating among three parking spots. The oldest, most likely the grandfather or father to someone in the group, was a grey bearded man. He felt it was necessary to lean back with his buttocks firmly on the hood of my friend's car. He was using the hood as his personal seat.
I watched this older man hold court for his children and grandchildren. Instead of apologizing, this man passed the buck and said something like, "I didn't know the car had an owner." Seriously, why would the well cared car be in the middle of a parking lot with current tags and inspection if there was no owner? We didn't engage in further conversation as there was no point. The old timer didn't care and neither did the rest of his entourage.
Likewise, I can tell you stories about residents in the quiet apartment building that feel that midnight is a good time to hook a guitar up to an amp or the people in the busy grocery store parking lot who decide it makes perfect sense to park between two spots as opposed to taking one. There are dog walkers who let their faithful friends run leash-less in an urban park because the dog has to be able to run or they allow the dog to defecate on a neighbor's lawn without the intention to remove the waste. Sure some might say, I'm nitpicking. Really, I'm not though. I'm pointing out these little things add up.
While last week Ziggy Marley was singing in my head, the fact remains that despite those who do the right thing, even when no one is looking, there is a larger group of people who don't seem to care. For that, I'm hoping they'll wake up and realize the world isn't just their oyster but it is a shared one meant for all to experience and love.