The final foray- for now.

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I sit in a comfy plastic chair on a busy street in my new home. Our home is strewn with half-unpacked boxes and we ponder how to decorate the empty walls. Irises bloom in the front yard, making me think of Van Gogh and summer.

Meanwhile, as I look at these 35mm pictures, all the silence and noise of the woods comes rushing back. These wet, saturated, deep woods that fill Vancouver Island have seeped their way into my bones and soul the way that the water permeates everything there: slowly and deeply. The forest floor gives as I walk upon it, layers of decaying wood, leaves, animal scat, and other refuse creating a natural carpet. Squirrels chatter and birds sing, and deer quietly and shyly snack on edible foliage. I hear ducks quietly land on the water and smell the rich earth and look at the way the light changes seemingly every second, casting ever changing shadows into the recesses of the forest. It feels right.

Thanksgiving weekend

Thanksgiving break was a lot of eating pie and sleeping.

But on Thursday morning I woke up at 4:30 and met my father in our kitchen. We drove in the dark and hiked up a steep hill and hunted for elk. We spooked deer and saw marten tracks and I got to watch the sun rise from the trees in the most beautiful fashion. We tracked elk across a saddle on a ridge and tried to be quiet in the crunching snow. We didn’t see anything- not a peek of white bum in the woods or some skinny legs in the timber- but we worked hard and had an awesome time. I think honestly once we spooked the deer they told everybody in the woods two oddballs were wandering around.

As soon as we got home, exhausted, we were making pies. I made a cherry one with help from my Mum. Then I collapsed for two solid lovely hours before eating a ridiculous amount of food with my family.

I had a great time home this weekend. I chopped wood with a hatchet in a cashmere sweater (which, if you know me, seems to be perfectly in character) and I remember a passage from Anne LaBastille’s Woodswoman, where she notes that it is very difficult to stay mad chopping wood. AMEN! I felt so awesome afterwards, even if my strokes weren’t always on target. By the way, if you haven’t read Woodswoman, it’s an amazing read. Anne LaBastille built herself a cabin in the Adirondacks and lived completely on her own with a dog, without electricity, running water, etc.- she was a serious badass.

Now I’m back in my little apartment. Today I helped my father drag a cow elk down to the truck. He had to cut it in half and my mother and I gamely tied ropes to it and dragged it for quite a distance! A storm was coming so after we got it to the truck I had to speed off for my college town.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving with people worthwhile and with food delicious!

 

El otoño está aquí! (Hola!)

I woke up this morning feeling restless. I feel restless a lot. This probably means I need to exercise more or be active, but I don’t see how. I walk or bike everywhere, and I’m not still a lot. I fidget constantly and my mind races at the same pace I would imagine a thoroughbred might.

I woke up at a reasonable hour and immediately put on my trusty Asics. This pair is still stubbornly white (I like my shoes to look like they’ve been well loved). After I filled my Nalgene, quickly ate some breakfast and brushed my teeth, I set off.

Chris and I had hiked a little bit in the area exactly a week ago. And yet, it felt almost alien. It was chilly and quiet and damp feeling. There was nobody around, and I had the whole trial to myself. I quietly walked, letting the sound of a stream and of leaves rustling with birds create the perfect acoustics for my adventure.

I held two cameras in my hands- the film will come later- and tried to navigate around mud puddles. My roommate went to church this morning at the same time I did and I realized that we were both in our own way worshiping. I felt leaves and touched tree bark and made the experience a thorough one. I went off trail back to a stream Chris and I had explored a bit earlier. The stream was a tiny bit lower, enough that my shoes didn’t get as wet last time. The sun was peeking in and rising and I wished I had packed breakfast to go so I could sit by the stream and just relax by the rushing water. A squirrel announced to the world I was there, and I moved on.

Climbing higher, I realized how heavily used the trail was, and how lucky I was that I hadn’t seen an alma yet. I like being alone or with people of my choosing in those quiet early morning hours- it feels almost destructive to disturb the perpetual quiet that the woods settles over the land like a blanket. Who likes having a blanket roughly pulled off them in the morning? Nadie, that’s who.

Eventually the earth started warming up. I saw more and more people. I turned around after maybe 2.5 in, and made my way back. I petted several dogs, passed multiple trail runners already drenched in sweat, and a school group of international study abroad students with mixed accents and experience.

I left at the perfect time. Getting to my car, I informed some men about the lack of wildlife and the wealth of people and told them that it was much better earlier in the day. They responded, “It always is.”

Hello, Autumn!

 

 

In the midst of the summer, let’s chill out.

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Lonely, dark, snowy, cold. I was in the beginning stages of a sickness that kept me miserable well into February. Luckily, Julia and I decided to tramp into a nearby grove and take photographs.

I miss the quietness of this snow- the muffling sort of hush that Nature gives. Although, I don’t miss the chill I got afterwards- I stupidly wore only a sweater, convinced it would keep me warm.

It did not, surprisingly.

It’s 80 degrees out and I hate the heat, even though it’s twenty degrees cooler than it will be. This for me is a visual cooler.

 

Winter woods: New photos!

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Today I called Julia at the absolutely last minute and told her to wear something black.

Julia shows up in blue and grey, which actually turned out perfect. She ignored my request for gloom and we were off to my favorite set of trails near campus. Armed with three rolls of film, the trusty Olympus and my shift lens, we trekked. My “fashion boots” led to my falling on my derriere once or twice, but I expected each fall- I’m naturally clumsy, and the boots only further this. (Julia can tell you this- today I tried on a gorgeous pair of heels that were 4 inches tall, but could barely wobble around the store without tumbling.)

Anyway, Julia and I wandered until we found suitable locations, and the shutter snapped. I showed Julia how to fashion my vintage wolverine stole* into a hat, after which I had to immediately wear it- I didn’t dress properly. Julia is such a good model, she lets me put her hair in tree branches and give her directions and she naturally doesn’t freeze up in front of the lens.

Although we only photographed for about an hour I had a wealth of new images to delight in. I love having photographs to look at and critique and ponder over. And there’s even one of me and my hands (I love hands, I find hands to be one of the most exquisite parts of a human being).

* I do not condone wearing new fur, but I have no problem buying fur from estate sales or at thrift stores that is old and in good condition. It has already been used and the money I spend does not go towards the companies that profit from selling fur, but rather to charities or normal people.

A walk in the woods (ish)

Going for a cool afternoon walk in some “woods” nearby, with muted colors, hushed noise, and cottonwood leaves littering the ground might be one of the best things ever. Waking up from a lovely nap and then doing that is even better.

Fall returned for an afternoon. The  cool breeze was enough to make my skin feel slightly flushed. The oranges and yellows against the grays and browns, the murmur of water, and the whispers of trees gave way to a feeling of contentedness. Winter released its vice-like grip for a short while, and we walked, savoring the last shreds of a too-short season here in Montana.

Wandering in den Wäldern

Black and white and some photography, finally. Julia and I found ourselves in the trees, around the autumnal woods. Perfect temperatures and a variety of shadows made me feel creative again. An image of myself that I dearly enjoy even came out! We sat on the ground, walked in streams, and waxed about anything and everything.

Photographing Julia is easy- she takes direction, comes up with her own awesome ideas, and we both know that every frame will not turn out.  I don’t pretend to be professional, and she doesn’t either. We improvise with what we have and see what turns out!

I have missed taking photographs I enjoy. I have quite a few more to post soon!