Sunday, November 29, 2009

Season of the Orange Vests

So it may be the season to give thanks but certainly not if you’re a deer on this hill, unless you’re a suicidal deer. Starting Monday, the hills will be alive with the sounds of guys with loaded guns and cans of Bud.

This means that it’s time to pull out the orange mesh vests and see exactly how fat the dogs have gotten since last year. If it’s a year in which the same size vest fits easily over the dog bellies, it’s a year in which our Weight Nazi Veterinarian won’t shake his head ominously when we’re in his examining room.

Breaking out the orange vests is a time of great excitement and celebration for the dog population. (I can tell you after a lifetime of being owned by dogs that Pavlov wasn’t really that smart a guy.) For that matter, Petey and Suzy get pretty excited when L or I put on shoes too, but then it’s an excitement mitigated by the deep dog knowledge that shoes don’t always mean a walk for them. But orange vests always mean just that.

I have nothing against hunting except my own immoderate fear of death for myself and companions. What I do have something against are all the dumped beer cans in the woods. And for gods sake, why are they always Bud? Blowing the heads off innocent cute animals who are just minding their own business, OK, I get that impulse. But if you’re heading out to the woods with weapons, ammo and a lot of alcohol, couldn’t it be something better than Bud?

Sometimes my clinging need to preserve my life while walking in the woods during this season gets me started whistling, even singing (god help us), while on the trails. (This is related to my favorite anti-bear measure, much to the amusement of certain California in-laws, of loudly yelling Go Away Bears! while in the woods.) The whistling/singing during hunting season is based on the fervent hope that the hunters can put two and two together and understand that no self-respecting deer will tolerate that noise and they (the hunters) should all just pick up the six-packs and move off. So far so good.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Gratitude for having this hill to walk on this morning, the last Thursday in November.

Gratitude that the rain of the last three days held off so Suzy and Petey and I could enjoy ourselves out here, early morning ground fog lifting and the leaves wet underfoot. And gratitude that there are a few more days until the advent of deer hunting season when the whole experience of walking on the hill will be spiced up by a little fear of having one’s head blown off.

Roaring Brook filled with rain, rushing down the hill.

Artifacts in a grown over barnyard.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Struggling to Keep My Eyes Open

This lovely early November Sunday morning full of sun and the promise of a warm day ahead found the dogs and I out for a Pond Loop walk with camera and time and reflective curiosity nipping at the edge of semi-consciousness.

Our friend A, psychiatrist by trade, once explained some of the thinking around seasonal depression, light, the optic nerve, the reduction of light getting in to the brain through the optic nerve, resulting chemical changes. This morning it strikes me that at this moment of the year my whole ability to see suffers the same fate. See with a Capital S in the sense that Paul Rezendes uses it. See as in connect deeply by opening the senses to the forest around me. Maybe it has to do with the reduction in light getting through but it’s as if once things get browner and colder outside that my ability to see gets reduced as well.

These late fall days too often I'm just walking along these trails and I'm caught in my head, not present in the woods much at all. All seems plain and brown and dead or dying.

Until, of course, I open my eyes.

There is so much going on out here so it’s a real pity it’s tough to see. The browns are actually magnificent and there’s an undertone of muted green everywhere with occasional highlights of lively emerald green, strange purple, other shades. The light has a filtered quality that is partly the barer branches it is moving through, partly angle of the season.