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Postcards to Pterry June 30, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

There are many things that impress me about my friend Terry (aka Pterry, after the pterodactyl Pterri, my favorite Pee-wee’s Playhouse character—come on, you know you have one too). Two of those things are how much she travels and how she keeps in touch with her friends when she’s traveling. She used to always send postcards (she would print out sheets of address labels in advance to take with her) and sometimes still does. More recently, she writes wonderfully detailed travelogues and sends them round the world via e-mail to keep us updated on her adventures.

When I go on vacation, I am just the opposite type of person. I don’t get in touch with anybody. I retreat from anything that feels like obligation, which, for me, includes writing postcards. The thing about Pterry is that these postcards she sends, either physically or electronically, clearly aren’t “obligation” for her. She does it because she loves it. I love that about her, and I am doing my best to accept that I’m not like that, and that’s OK.

So I’ve decided that during this, likely my second-to-last week ever at Northbrook Lodge, the camp I’ve been coming to for twenty-two consecutive summers, I will write postcards to Pterry and post them here. I will try to write a lot of them, because she has written a lot of them to me, from every corner of the globe, it seems. Et voilà:

Saturday, June 21
Front: Tail o’ the Pup, Ray Brook, NY
Back: Pterry—On our way to Adult Sleepover Camp, we made our annual stop at the restaurant we call Eurotail, in honor of the hot 20-year-old Eastern European waitresses always employed here to serve us our pulled pork. To think we used to regularly pass this place by til we got a firsthand recommendation! Yum. Indigo

Saturday, June 21
Front: Sphinx moth
Back: Pterry—One of the first things I saw when we arrived and got out of the car was one of these sphinx moths on the flowering bushes, flitting around like a hummingbird (its own proboscis quite impressive) and looking for all the world like a huge bee, what with its striped-butt coloration. Unbelievably cool. Indigo

Saturday, June 21
Front: Closeup of black fly
Back: Pterry—We’re finally settled at camp and have been reunited with some of our BFFs. First thing, Tim and I took a canoe out to Church Pond, where we somehow managed to successfully spot a northern parula (much easier heard than seen). It took no time at all for me to get a big black-fly hickey on my neck. I’d write more, but we’re on our way to a cocktail party at Tim and Valerie’s cabin. Wish you were here! Indigo

Sunday, June 22
Front: Common loon
Back: Pterry—I woke up at 3:15 a.m. thinking I was in my own bed and it was coyotes who had done the wakin’ me up—but it was actually the wolf cry of a loon right outside my window! Now I know I’m really here. Love, Indigo

Sunday, June 22
Front: Brown trout
Back: Pterry—Tim and I fished the Upper Saranac this morning. I hooked two trout, landed one. Tim hooked one so deep we had to keep it, which always makes me sad, but we shared it with our friends as a dinner appetizer tonight. In other news, I’ve been reading a YA novel about roller derby, and I took a nice long walk in the woods this afternoon for some exercise. I actually didn’t end up where I wanted to be at first, because (as I figured out when I retraced my steps) I had been completely seduced by the sound of a hooded warbler right when I should have turned right. I never spotted him. I got back just in time to shower before the cocktail party at Tom and Jinki’s cabin. More soon! Indigo

Monday, June 23
Front: Antique repro card featuring Adirondack guideboat
Back: Pterry—This morning Tim and I paddled across No-Name Pond to head up No-Name River, where we saw a loon on his/her nest. I’m hoping to see some babies when we come back in August. A great blue heron, looking somewhat immature but maybe the biggest we’d ever seen, kept flying ahead of us up the river. Indigo
P.S. You should see all the mosquito bites on my neck!

Monday, June 23
Front: Visitor Interpretive Center, great blue heron, Heron Marsh, Paul Smiths, NY
Back: Pterry—I’ve moved on from the roller derby novel to letters of Vincent Van Gogh and some short stories. I took an incredible walk at the interpretive center (wish you could see it—8 or so miles of incredible groomed trails through many habitats), during which I had some excellent bird encounters in the middle of the afternoon. Watch my blog for possible further detail. Gotta go host a cocktail party now at Tom and Jinki’s cabin! Soon-to-be-tipsy Indigo

Tuesday, June 24
Front: Donnelly’s ice cream stand, intersection of Routes 86 and 186, between Paul Smiths and Lake Clear, NY
Back: Pterry—The weather was most unsettled today. I woke up to a downpour and slept in to the sound of the rain. At noon, Tim, Virginia, and I headed into Saranac Lake for lunch and a trip to the used bookstore, as both Virginia and I were needing more uplifting reading. Tuesday is berry day at Donnelly’s, so I had to go. I’m not really a fan of soft-serve ice cream when what I consider real ice cream is available, but this place is an institution, and it’s a single flavor each day, twisted with vanilla—the only choice you have is the size, cup or cone. This makes for some frustrated children sometimes. We love that. Red raspberry today. Mmmm. Creamy Indigo

Tuesday, June 24
Front: Rodney Yee in lotus position
Back: Pterry—Lazy day. The most I could muster exercisewise was a short yoga session. Am breezing through a novel that, although not necessarily uplifting, is nonetheless a good vacation read. Oh, look, it’s nearly 5:00—time for happy hour at Tim and Valerie’s! Cobra Indigo

Wednesday, June 25
Front: Black Pond
Back: Pterry—This morning went birding with Tom and Jinki before breakfast, but couldn’t produce the aggressive ovenbirds from a couple of days ago. Still, there were warblers to be heard, and even a few to be seen. One of our BFFs, John, had to leave today. It felt like seeing the first Canada goose fly south. Virginia (who gets another day) and I took a 5ish-mile hike/walk, the prettiest part of which was around this pond. No cocktail party tonight. Sober Indigo

Thursday, June 26
Front: Magnolia warbler
Back: Pterry—Got up to canoe before breakfast and saw one of these on the far shore! Hey, I keep meaning to tell you how GREAT the dry sacks are that you gave us. We have been using the blue one in the canoe this week, and each time we’ve been out, we’ve hit a patch of rain and had to throw all sorts of stuff in it for safekeeping. You think of everything. Thanks. Grateful Indigo

Thursday, June 26
Front: Ausable River
Back: Pterry—Rain today. So Tim and I picked up lunch at Lake Placid and headed out to the Ausable to fish. Such a beautiful river. I missed a couple; Tim caught three. Virginia left today; Tim and Valerie leave tomorrow. The Big Dread is coming on strong. Why does Adult Sleepover Camp ever have to end? Blue Indigo

Thursday, June 26
Front: Marcy cabin, Northbrook Lodge
Back: Pterry—Through the walls, I can hear Tom singing, “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No.” I love that song. Broadway Indigo

Friday, June 27
Front: Snapping turtle
Back: Pterry—Tim and Valerie left today. We leave tomorrow. Today we threw the canoe on the roof and checked out a new pond, Moose Pond—bigger than we expected, but quite beautiful. We were passing some rocks when I noticed that one looked suspiciously turtlelike. It was a huge snapper sunning herself. She was so still and dry, I began to wonder whether she was alive, but we woke her up when we finally circled to her front. She was in the water in no time. We gave her plenty of space. Gorgeous. Indigo

Friday, June 27
Front: Strawberries
Back: Pterry—It’s strawberry day at Donnelly’s, and we were driving by anyway, so why not? So you know, and in case you’re passing through, here’s the schedule: Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, chocolate; Monday, nut surprise; Tuesday, red or black raspberry; Thursday, fruit surprise; Friday, strawberry. All flavors always twisted with vanilla. Pick a size and get out. I tend to avoid nut surprise day, because I am always hoping for pistachio, and it ends up being maple walnut. Apparently this past Monday it was butter pecan. I probably could have lived with that. Berry Indigo

Friday, June 27
Front: The point at Northbrook Lodge
Back: Pterry—We had a Northbrooky Friday, with an hour-long hike on the interpretive center trails, a long read on the point by the pond in the sun and breeze, a yummy dinner just the two of us, a rousing scorefree ping-pong battle, and a postprandial canoe on Osgood Pond. The water was so still you could see every cloud in it and pull your paddle through your cloud of choice. We got to see the larger merganser family—more than a dozen chicks (but too quick and too many to accurately count). The ones that could got on mom’s back. Saw a smaller family earlier in the week, just four chicks, all of whom could all fit on mom’s back. Indigo
P.S. Common merganser chicks are among the cutest baby animals in the world.

Saturday, June 28
Front: Woodchuck
Back: Pterry—We have come down from the mountains and are on our way home. I’m in a the parking lot of a sheet music store; Tim is inside browsing. I am in the passenger’s seat, door open to a small hill. I just looked up to see a woodchuck heading right toward me. I closed my door and we stared at one another for awhile, maybe four feet from each other, maybe not quite. He moved on. We are in the middle of town. Hope he doesn’t get hit by a car. Concerned Indigo

Sunday, June 29
Front: Hexagenia (mayfly)
Back: Pterry—It’s a good thing it’s pretty where I live and that I have good friends here. The days at Northbrook are so ephemeral. I am home, there are tasks to be done. Last week already feels dreamlike. Good dream. Between-worlds (but not for long) Indigo

Turtles in the Rain June 17, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

A couple of weeks ago, it was this: We were doing chores on a Saturday and getting ready to attend a work-related art opening. Tim went for a run in the afternoon. When he got back, he said he’d been approaching a Huge Something on the trail and couldn’t figure out what it was until he was right up on it: a snapping turtle at trailside, digging, likely laying eggs.

We scarfed a late lunch. I thought about the turtle. I wanted to see her.

Did I have time? Take your bike, Tim said.

The skies were threatening. But we’ve hardly had any rain, and I didn’t care if it rained on me. If there was thunder and lightening, I’d abort.

I rode fast. The wind was picking up. I got about a mile and a half out to the small bridge. I thought Tim said the turtle would be before that. I went a little farther. Not too much farther. It started to rain, so I turned around.

On the return trip, I found a turtle-sized disturbance. Looked like someone had buried her eggs. But I didn’t see the turtle. I rode back in a nice light rain, my clothes a pleasant clingywet by the time I got home.

I recently walked out to the bridge but found no turtles or disturbances. I want to see baby snappers. Some summers I do. But often I just see the ones who don’t make it. No sign of either yet.

Then, last Tuesday, when the thunderstorms hit, when the heat finally broke, it was this: Tim and I were dining after the first storm when he noticed a turtle making its way across our neighbor’s yard, right next to our driveway. Right there in town, heading toward the stream. A painted turtle.

Because two of our neighbors are kids, I admit I had a fleeting worry that they might also see the turtle and come out and capture it. I don’t know that they would have done that; I’m being a bit prejudiced about kids here. But I wanted the turtle to get where she was going. Unfortunately, she was heading for a rather large precipice: a stone wall where, a couple of years ago, there had been a sloping hill instead.

I don’t like to intervene. But now I was worried about the kids AND the 6-foot drop if the turtle continued along her determined path. Maybe turtles are fine with falls like that. Maybe she would have figured out another route. But she’d have to go out of her way.

I intervened.

I caught up with her. Picked her up. She was gorgeous. She withdrew and hissed at me. Hissed. I’d never heard a turtle hiss, and I totally deserved it. I walked her around to the back of the barn and put her down on the other side of the wall. Hoped for the best. Retreated to dinnerandhusbandtime.

When I checked on her, she was gone. She must have made it the fiftyish feet to the stream—at least, that’s what I’m hoping.

Last Day of School June 16, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Last night the folks next door invited us over to help polish off some birthday-party leftovers. We like to do what we can for our neighbors.

We found out from two of those neighbors, Kristina and Nolan (aka birthday boy), that today is the last day of school.

Tim is so jealous.

(OK. Maybe I am too. But only if I let myself think about it.)

Damyanti: Still Here June 15, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Yesterday a blog friend, Damyanti, left this message on one of my posts: “Haven’t seen you around my blog lately. Or have you been lurking?”

Well, both things are true. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to read or write blogs. I occasionally lurk, trying to keep up on reading if I can, even if I don’t have the extra je ne sais quoi it takes to leave an intelligent or well-meant comment.

But for me, the wonder of Damyanti’s note comes from the little jolt I get whenever I realize that someone on the other side of the world* is wondering how I am doing—a someone I know only through our bumping into each other’s words/worlds at the big blog block party.

Isn’t it amazing?

Thing is, I’ve grown quite attached to my blogger friends, and I too wonder what’s going on if they take a longer-than-usual break. Should I be worried? Are they OK? Will they disappear forever? Are they OK and will they disappear forever? And for as much as I wonder this about the people I read, I’m still surprised to find that they wonder it about me.

I have friends in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, even right here in Vermont, friends I may never meet face to face, but real people I’ve developed an honest caring for. When you disappear, I wonder how you are.

When I disappear, it is usually because I fallen into the Great Pit of Tasking and have devoted all mustered energy to my job, to chores, to getting through stacks of mail and e-mail, to paying the bills. Instead of using the evening break to blog or read blogs, I’ll fall into a heap on the couch and watch a DVD. Or I’ll rally for happy hour. Or both.

And as I begin to feel further and further behind, as the task of trying to catch up makes me think objects in mirror are larger than they appear, I simply run faster in the other direction. Silence ensues.

Saturday I am off to a week in the Adirondacks, where I believe I will have no Internet access, so the Route 153 blog will definitely be going dark (although perhaps not for any longer than usual). The thought of all that needs to be accomplished in the next five days makes my breathing shallow.

But, Damyanti, Sewa Yoleme,** everyone: I am still here. I will keep lurking, and I will even try to comment. And when your blogs go dark, you know what? I’m out here, hoping you’re OK.

*In her case, Singapore, although I think she just moved to Malaysia. I’m still a bit fuzzy on this.
**Whom I do know personally and who sent me a concerned e-mail, he found my lengthy silence so disconcerting.

99 out/85 in June 10, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

That’s what my indoor/outdoor thermometer is telling me at 5:45 p.m. It may be hours yet til the magic switchover moment, when it’s cooler out than in, when the windows, shut tight all the steamy day, are thrown open with an exhaled prayer to equilibrium, when a red carpet welcomes the cool and the dark.

Fireflies June 9, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Saturday night, on Deb and Dan’s deck, after cocktails, greens from the garden, a cold roast, and a crisp white Portuguese Fernão Pires.

At last.