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Return to the Trails and Mountains... Check!

098 Dearest Mt Pisgah, you really kicked my ass. Ask my family and  they will tell you I was heard countless times on the trail, "you're really kicking my ass Pisgah!" But I needed it, and am better for it, so thank you.

And to anyone reading this, thanks for indulging me with all this Vermont talk. It's going to take me a few posts to cover everything, I'll break it into three sections I think; hiking, Grandmother June's homestead, and how to keep a ten year old happy and energized enough to be dragged up the side of a mountain by her parents. First I'll cover hiking, sadly there will be no links because whatever improvements that have been made in the land of Typepad, they are lost on me. I can't figure out adding links with the new format and don't feel like spending hours on here figuring it out - with the blog trying to be on retreat and all.
062 First things first. I left my hiking shoes at home. Excellent move on my part. I grabbed my running shoes (which I never use) by mistake, they look like my Northface hikers but sadly are nothing like them. Keens it was. How do you all feel about Keens? I've found them to be okay, not great. For local light hikes (think airline trails) and of course walking through rivers they are great. To seriously hike in them though is difficult as tiny sticks, sand and stones always slip into the sides, get trapped underfoot, and the shoes need to be "emptied" regularly on the trail. They do work for me in the sense that I don't require a lot of support, I'd hike barefoot or in moccasins if it weren't for the sake of protecting the feet. A serious abrasion or puncture (gross) will ruin the day for everyone.
063copy  This photo was taken at a lookout about half way up. Emily sported her head net most of the way as the black flies were out in full force. This tiny little investment is just about the most essential piece of gear for her. Without it she is miserable, with it, good to go. I'd highly recommend a head net to anyone hiking with children, especially if black flies are in your area.

This mountain (man, I wish I could add links for you!) overlooks Lake Willoughby which is five miles long and 300 ft deep. It is mostly undeveloped as you can see and is really only accessible from either end. It is clean and quiet, and it is 10 minutes from where Adam grew up. Nice stomping grounds for a young boy and his friends.
066 Finally at the top. The hike wasn't too long, only 2 miles. But it was an intense, straight up two miles. I thought it was one of the most beautiful ascents ever though because the whole time we had this incredible glacial lake to our left and the late afternoon sun dancing across it's surface. So beautiful. We were rewarded further by views of Burke Mountain (Vermont) and The White Mountains (New Hampshire).  The height of Mt Pisgah is just under 3,000 ft so I didn't expect it to have that incredible alpine feel, but it did! The last twenty minutes of our hike the temps were cooler, the incredible scent of pine surrounded us, the hardwoods were gone, and the dirt underfoot was replaced by rock.
071 We hung around at the top, consumed some calories, and soaked it all in.
Have I ever mentioned how much yoga has helped me as a hiker? Probably not due to the fact that there was little to no hiking reported on this blog last summer (looking to change that big time this year), but it's true. Yoga has made me a stronger hiker. Not just because I am physically stronger, but my attitude has shifted. I remember years ago Adam and I were on a hike (Mt. Ascutney) and I gave up. I was ten years younger and literally thought I couldn't do it, we had to turn around and headed down the mountain. I think there were some tears, Adam was cool and supportive. He must have thought I was such a wimp, but never would have let that show. Now I realize that if I just stay with an even, steady breath, and place one foot in front of the other , the mountain will get climbed. It's just walking after all. I'm not fast, but I do get there. I listen to my heart muscle and keep it at a reasonable pace, if it feels like it's going to burst out of my chest I slow down or stop for five minutes, then keep going. No big deal. Yoga has taught me about meeting my edge, to gaze beyond my limits, and when the time is right, to break ground and discover new territory.
080 Of course having her around is pretty inspiring and makes me stronger for sure.

When I get back here to blog some more I'll write about the homestead and some new to us methods of keeping the kiddo on board with the rigorous hiking requests of two crazy parents... what I share might surprise you.

Heading Out

006 One pack... two feet... 48 hours... countless footsteps offered up as prayer for each soldier who has fallen and their loved ones left behind. This is always a difficult weekend for me, heading to the mountains feels right.

Happy Skirt

019copyWhen I saw this skirt over at Vintage Goodies, I knew it had to come home to me. It just made me smile. And it reminds me of something my grandmother used to have, I can't stop thinking she had a skirt in this exact fabric, it feels so familiar to me. Anyway, it came in the mail and was even more amazing in person. It's a wrap style which is always a favorite of mine.  I put it on right away with a bright yellow top and was off to the co-op for some dandelion greens. Emily got a letter in the mail from her great-grandmother in Vermont and she told Emily all about how dandelion greens are perfect right now. We cannot wild-harvest them here the way Grandmother June can, but Emily thought we should have some too.

It turns out this skirt makes other people happy too. Double the benefit! Every single woman working at the co-op commented on how awesome this skirt was... not as a group... in separate aisles... and they were all smiling, big smiles... happy, happy skirt. Happy day.
021 I don't love dandelion greens, but I eat them regardless because their bitterness seems so right, like a tonic after a long winter of dull, starchy foods. I knew Emily would not be a fan, but I tried to make it as appealing as possible for her. To counter the bitterness I sauteed them with garlic, then added a tiny bit of water along with a handful of jumbo flame organic raisins. the water quickly steamed the raisins making them even more plump. Meanwhile I had a pot of barley cooking away, and another pot of tempeh steaming. I combined it all and sprinkled it with sea salt, pepper, and a bunch of pumpkin seeds. I thought the bitterness of the greens balanced by the sweetness of raisins was brilliant. Emily, not so much... she does like my skirt though and asked me to wear it again today. Of course! Day two... happy skirt.

Good Earth

008I can't believe this got done today considering the weather we've had the last few days. Out of nowhere my Dad called and said he'd be over shortly to rototill our garden (Adam dug the sod up last weekend). The rain stopped, Dad came - but while he was on his way Adam ran out to the horse farm for um, you know, horse stuff. Also picked up some peat and all was tilled nicely with the earth to create this lovely, rich, fluffy bed that any plant or seed would be happy to call home. I had picked up seeds at the co-op earlier in the week, and I got a few plants from a farmer last week. We got to planting... broccoli, kale (2 varieties), romaine, green cabbage, soybeans, green beans, cucumbers... more to come. I know I'm asking a lot with the cucumbers, but I think the rest will do well in this semi-sunny location. We are definitely not growing tomatoes and watermelon, it's okay. We'll make due.
With the seeds and plants in the ground... it was time to move on to some homespun fence building. Nothing too fancy, we don't have to worry about deer and such here. This is more to keep out stray dogs and feral cats - how quaint.

Voila! All in a days work. I'm feeling pretty hopeful about our little plot of earth. I really loved and connected with how Jules Dervaes says growing food is a powerful thing to do, that it gives a person freedom. That growing food may be one of the most dangerous occupations on earth, because you are in danger of becoming free.

Washington certainly does not want a nation full off freebirding, food growing, biodiesl brewing renegades on the loose... see? Dangerous. For them.

Wow. I hadn't planned on climbing up on my soapbox when I sat down to write - geeez. Too much dirt under my nails I guess, makes a girl spunky.