Stopping by the River on a Foggy Morning

The river steams every morning at this time of year, filling the valley with fog that lasts until mid-morning.
Sumac leaf with a little red for web
This is one of the magical times when the start of a new day merges with the departing night.

I love the subdued colors, the hush, the sense of not-quite-knowing what’s up ahead.

Sometimes you can just dimly make out the dark shape of a great blue heron prowling for breakfast in the shallows of the river on legs that Ichabod Crane would envy.

Sometimes you round a corner in the path and meet headlong with a deer.

And sometimes a little spot of red just catches your eye.

The Fine Texture of Water on Bridges

Being a quilter, graphic designer and newly-obsessed Zentangle maker, I confess to a profound love of texture. In fact, I have quite a photo gallery of texture pix that get used in lots of different ways.
Water ripple texture under bridge 2 for web
One of my favorite textures—and the one that’s among the most difficult to capture—is the play of light reflected off water onto other objects.

In our house, one of our summer heralds is the ripple effect of water on the ceiling of our living room off of the White River. I’ve tried taking pictures of it but all you can see is a white painted surface.

But yesterday, as we explored this great inlet off the Connecticut River, Jay, Goldie and I came up on a low concrete bridge that turned out to be the perfect surface to capture this natural event because of the deep shadow under the bridge.

This is one of the many pictures we took of it. I love the geometric. Makes me think this would make a great inspiration for an abstract quilt.

Nooks and Crannies

Jay, Goldie and I got on the Connecticut River pretty early this morning, putting in on the New Hampshire side in Orford.
Jay and Goldie on the CT River 2014
When we studied the map of the river last week, Jay noticed a sizable inlet just north of the Orford put-in and we made for that.

It was perfect, full of birds, little nooks and crannies to poke around in.

We explored for an hour, paddling slowly.

At one point, we reached a spot where a brook flows over a little waterfall on its way into the big river. The sun was dancing on the water, making a perfect backdrop for my annual “Jay and Goldie in the kayak” photo.

Crafting the Connecticut (We Hope)

Warm and very humid today. The weather folks around here are predicting t-storms to clear this hard-to-breathe air out of here.

Sure hope so because we all want to get out on our kayaks tomorrow so we want the rain in and out of here, followed by cooler and drier weather, stuff suitable for September, not mid-July.

We did a recon mission last Sunday, scouting out good locations around the region for an upcoming article that I’m doing for Upper Valley Life magazine and we’ve scheduled ourselves to put into the Connecticut River up in Orford in the morning.
Grafton Pond-Goldie in the back of Jay's kayak 2 for web

Remembering Mom

My husband and I recently watched a two-part series on PBS about the Great Plains, how they have been abused and some of the folks who are trying to reclaim their wildness.
Mom at 17 for blog
Over and over again, the folks who are trying to conserve this amazing area talked about how they wanted it to be there for their grandchildren.
Mom's kids for web
It’s four years ago today since my Mom died. That’s her high school graduation picture at the top of this post. My favorite.

I’m the oldest of eight children. We were and probably still are the center of Mom’s universe. That’s us replicating a photo we took for our Mom and Dad’s 25th wedding anniversary on the day of her memorial celebration. (Please note that the third person from the left is my niece Natasha filling in for her Dad, our brother Jim, who was not there that day.)

My Mom faced many challenges in her life but she always made us her priority. She could be the fiercest hen in the barnyard when it came to keeping her chicks together and safe.

She sacrificed herself in ways that I probably still don’t understand.

In the last months before she died, she asked me to make her a smallish quilt because the bed-sized ones I’d previously made were too heavy for her to handle. Parkinson’s disease had left her fragile.

I made her a log cabin quilt, her favorite pattern, and it became the first quilt made for what became the Parkinson’s Comfort Project, though I didn’t know it at the time.

Her request became the inspiration for an effort to bring the comfort and compassion of handmade quilts to others with Parkinson’s disease. The effort started in her memory grows all the time.

There are lots of ways to reach into the future. The conservation folks in the Great Plains know that. So did my Mom, Marcia Luey Hakala.

An Enhanced Experience

Our son and daughter-in-law were married this past June at Seyon Lodge State Park in Groton, Vermont.
Mint and morning glory for web
It’s a beautiful spot and the food was absolutely wonderful.

For every meal, the staff set pitchers of cool water on the table, its delights enhanced by slices of lemon, cucumber and sprigs of mint.

I fell in love.

We have great water at our house, spring-fed, cold on the hottest days, no chemicals whatsoever. Yeah, we’re spoiled.

But that hint of mint? Mmmm. The barest breath of lemon? Nice. And cucumber is one of my all time favorite tastes and smells.

Years ago, I bought a single spearmint plant to add to my expanding gardens. Now all you dirt diggers out there know that there’s no such thing as a single mint plant. I yank this stuff out by the roots from the rhubarb and cat mint every fall and every spring, the mint mocks me by coming up exactly where I thought I’d pulled it.

I regularly harvest the leaves in the fall, drying them for tea for the winter. Mint tea will settle an upset stomach like nothing else and if you have a sore throat, make a very strong cup and you’ll find it’s the best gargle ever. It will even calm down a case of strep.

But in all the years I’ve grown it, I’ve never used it to enhance water.

Now every morning, I clip four sprigs of mint from the patch near the house, fill a half-gallon pitcher from the tap, add a couple of squirts of lemon juice and set the whole business in the refrigerator to stay cool. It’s always gone by supper.

But what about the cucumbers? Well in this house, they never make it past the peel-slice-salt-and-pepper part of harvesting from the garden, and quite frankly, the mint and lemon are great without the added veggie.

My husband’s now adding mint to the half-and-half (half iced tea, half lemonade) that’s his favorite summer quaff. He puts it into the tea while it’s brewing then strains it out with the tea bags before mixing it all together. The result is one of those “I can’t believe we’ve never done this before” experiences.

But I still don’t think I’m going to have to add mint to my garden.

Leaving Summer Behind—Slowly

There’s a tree—not sure what kind—that sits at the top of the hill opposite our house. Every year, on or about August 7, I look up to inspect the hardiness of the green in its leaves because this particular tree is the first indicator that we are turning from summer to autumn.
Yellowing tree in august for web
It was right on time this year, showing the unmistakeable signs of its weakening chlorophyll, the physical act that reveals the yellow pigment that’s been masked all summer.

We still have time with our green canopy but our big ash tree is starting to shed its leaves. They dot our yard and stick to our shoes so that we’re picking them up from the floor every time we go in or out.

But this morning, as I hung up laundry, I was struck by the dazzle of morning light being filtered by the maple that anchors the top of the bluff that holds our home.

I say this often but we are so fortunate to live in such a remarkably beautiful place.
Maple leaves in sun for web

Author of the Carding, Vermont novels, quilt books, and book publishing guides.