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Basking in the Winter Sun

I did something yesterday that I hadn't done all summer: I sat outdoors in a chair. Some people do this all the time, but I don't know how or why. But it was cold yesterday at over 8000 feet of altitude. Wyoming doesn't mess around with winter. It felt so good to have the trailer's door facing south towards the sun and to finally be able to open that door in the afternoon.  Sitting in the chair was even better. My clothing was dark. I placed the chair between the white van and the sun. It felt like a solar cooker. I felt like the Australian shepherd pup, photographed on his bicycle in Quartzsite one winter: How was that for a look of pure snowbird-contentment! I cooked up some potatoes in the pressure cooker -- something I seldom look forward to, in summer. Then I dragged the winter-sleeping-bag out of the van. If only my dog liked snuggling in the bed with me! Some people might think that such things are too trivial to write about. Long-suffering readers of this blog k

A High, Lonesome Trail to Oregon and Californee

One of the most admirable sounds in the right sort of place is that of a train: its rumble and whistle. The "right sort of place" is likely to be an isolated rural or backwoods area. From my blissfully lonely camp I hear a busy train track that parallels the Old Lincoln Highway, which was built over the Oregon/California Trail, as it hooks around a small mountain range. If you can actually see the train, its aura and mystique erode. A modern road just blasts right through the mountains. Such is the power of the diesel engine, caterpillar treads, and Blaise Pascal's hydraulics. Old routes follow the contours of the land instead of trying to annihilate them. I learned just yesterday how rugged this small range of mountains was, as I mountain biked through them. It has been several years since the sounds of trains have affected me so much. How do you explain the mood that overtakes the hearer of train rumbles and whistles? A look at the Merriam-Webster's might give a cl

A Compliment

A quarter inch of rain the other night sufficed to get my van stuck in the mud. How refreshing! Seriously, think what a luxury it is to get enough rain to get stuck in. It has been a long time. With no need to go anywhere I waited patiently for the sun to do its job. And it did so, in about 3 hours. A person in a hurry can cause so much trouble for themselves. I hope the reader prefers to hear about time and patience solving a problem rather than how-to details and ads for traction boards, etc. ______________________________ It has turned chilly at night and in the morning. What a wonderful month September is! Better sleeping at night. Afternoons are still warm but they are mercifully shorter.  Even better, my trailer door is facing east. Is there a better way to start the day than to anticipate sunrise on a chilly morning; and when it comes, to open the door to that warming sunlight and cold air, and to feel the impulse of each, simultaneously, on your skin? __________________________

Forest Malpractice

  'Busy as a beaver' is not an expression you hear often these days. Perhaps it is just as well. Actually I am not sure I've ever seen evidence of beaver-work as much as I did recently. There wasn't just a dam -- there was a system of dams. I never would have believed such a thing was possible in the modern age. Surely, by now, beavers have learned to just sit in cubicles and dick around all day on the computer, optimizing dam design; while the actual physical construction of the dams is outsourced to a construction crew of Mexican beavers.  Perhaps every now and then, the American beavers get involved in "field work." And here is the result. The photo plays it down, but water was pouring over from the pond onto the forest road. The road was actually eroding. My bike was slopped up with mud. Moral of the story: this is what happens when there is an over-reliance on computer models in engineering work.

Regime Change for the Seasonal Calendar

  Recall that my Noble Quest for this summer was to learn to actually enjoy summer. It was bad luck that this summer turned out hot and smoky. Still, I did make quite a bit of progress, if not in actually liking summer, then at least in not hating it. It wasn't so much a matter of coming up with brilliant ideas as it was of developing improved habits. And now the calendar/seasons are going through "regime change." Thermal collapse. It was 90 F around here yesterday, and brutally sunny, but I just looked at the sky and said, "Is that the best you can do?"  It was good luck that I ran into my first fresh produce of the summer, yesterday, on the last day of real summer. Wyoming wasn't such a great place to buy fresh produce. Oh they do raise food in Wyoming -- beef. Every year I appreciate locally grown food more and more. Walking around the growers, you are lit up by a reflected glow from them. And why shouldn't they be proud and pleased with their work: