Tag Archives: Nature

Happy Campers

By: Colleen

1395888_10151993981973217_1543580441_n

I am not what you would call a happy camper.  (And in fact, I take issue with that phrase.  When is it ever even used positively?  Nowhere, that’s where.  No one says, “Boy, she’s such a happy camper!”)  But, despite that, last week I just couldn’t take the city anymore, and I grabbed some friends and took to the hills, errr rolling plains, ummm, okay, well there was a lake.  C’mon, it’s Texas! We did the best we could.

It’s been a long and hot “fall” here in Texas.  Each year around September I realize that I have been secretly expecting the weather to be like it is at home, to wake up to crisp, cool mornings, and that my 6 am cross country practice will not be sticky and grossly warm.  But, it always is.  Texas is in the South, and Texas is hot, at least up until mid-to-late October.  And so, when the weather did finally clear and cool within the last two weeks here, my Northern, countrygirl nostalgia kicked in, full force.  And I just wanted to be outside.

Last week, we had a day off of school for “Fall Reading Day”, and so I proposed a camping trip to anywhere reasonably pretty and wild and full of nature.  Luckily, I have a very competent boyfriend, Joe, who did all the sensible things like look up campsites for the guys and the girls and arrange car rides, and look too good after a night of very little sleep and a lot of dirt (alright, that is not really that sensible, but hey, he pulled it off).

Joe

And so, on Thursday afternoon, the first in the caravan of cars to come set off to Cedar Hill State Park, just 30 minutes away from the UD campus.

We arrived just in time to see the sunset.

sunset two sunset clare

Expert camper and former Boy Scout, Hermes, built the fire with a little help from my good friend, Clare.

fire

And of course, we then realized that our tent did not have any poles to hold it up.  Although Mary and I have a one for one record of putting up tents successfully (see this post for details), I did not quite have the skills to magically pull poles out of thin air.  And so it was tarps and blankets and a night under the stars for all.

Later on, my friend Anthony arrived with his bagpipes, and as he played, we all danced around the fire, leaping over it and clapping to the inexorable sound of pipes.  There is something so compelling about bagpipes; one cannot help but to want to dance.  Life needs to be more of firelight and music and laughter and stars.

We all woke up early the next day to a gray dawn.  Anthony, who had slept on the roof of the little metal shelter at the campsite, pondered the dawn.

a

And as we headed back to campus, there was the lingering smell of woodsmoke and the musty-clean scent of earth.  And for once, I truly was a happy camper.

Advertisements

Climbing the Silo

By: Mary

For years now I have been eyeing up a lone silo nestled within the woodsy swell of a quiet valley, when running or driving by on  the county road that curves into the said valley. The abandoned image of the silo has enchanted me, and fed into a desire to explore the location instead of simply passing by.

 Recently, I mentioned my hope of climbing the silo to Cale. His response was  “set a date.” Last Saturday, Cale and Clare did just that. Initially, I was reserved to embark on the adventure because of a past track record of adventures with Cale that ended up being a little too much of an adventure. The two of us have had to find out the hard way that police really do show up when offroading….

Putting my apprehension (or logic) aside, I was eager to hop out of my cousins 4-runner and start making my way thru the tall browning weeds.

Clare and I took a moment to pretend that we were Southern. We blew cotton pods into the wind. Pretend is a key word! There was nothing southern about the landscape and us ridge folk adventuring about in the late afternoon sunlight.

Eventually we came to a little winding crick. Cale came up with a way for all of us to cross. He has been saying recently that he wants to get all into being  self sufficient and outdoorsy, so this was  perfect practice. My rain boots are leaky because I have worn them out this season, so I counted on his innovation to get across the water without soaked feet and legs.

After cresting a slope, we hit snarled brambles. Clare did not like this at all. My  wise advice was for her to pretend to be Sacagawea. My little sister didn’t like my wisdom at all.

Finally, we reached the silo which I have come to associate as a fortress. I crawled into the base of it. There I surveyed the plant life and empty beer cans and bottles that are embedded within its dark crevice.

Clare looked at the ladder and vetoed the climb. I was relieved because well… she is my baby sister. I am too possessive of her to think it a good idea for her to climb on an old dangerous ladder just because. But Cale is a carpenter, and spends much of his time on the top of roofs. He had no hesitations about skimming up to the top after me to reach the platform that covers the top of the silo.

From the elevated rim of the little lone silo/tower, the valley view was spectacular.

 The pre-dusk trek and climb was also spectacular. Sacagawea would have been proud.

Until next time,

mary

The Times They Are A’Changin’

by Clare

For the past two days my mother has been out of the house at lunchtime, leaving me, the only Slattery sister still left at the house, to make dinner. I don’t usually cook, so this is noteworthy. And as I sat at our long, Amish-made table for dinner those two days, and watched my skillfully (haha) homecooked meal being eaten, I realized just how much had changed. Years ago, that same table had been filled with several young children, yelling, fighting, refusing to eat their vegetables, and now the table was occupied by four, four, people. All of whom were, excepting me, above the age of 60. The first day I saw this, I was struck with sadness. I moved to the kitchen. Without me there, the picture was dismal. There sat my Dad, at the head of the table. Peter sat on his right, devouring a platefull of tomatoes covered in mayonnaise. On his left sat Grandma, slowly eating her sandwich of store-bought fake lunch meat. And then Dad got up, leaving Grandma and Peter across each other at the table.

Grandma: Well, would you like some yogurt?

Peter: What?

Grandma: Would you like some yogurt here?

Peter: Oh, no thank you.

So polite, so…old.

The second day Peter made his own dinner, leaving Grandma, Dad, me, and Dad’s trusty semi-helpful helper, Gary. James came down later for the meal, and this time I had to laugh. The whole thing was so different, so…unSlatterylike. It’s always tough when siblings go off to college, and now that only James and I are left it’s especially bad. Thankfully Cale came back for a while, and is playing guitar as I type this. Not everything changes, but a lot does. I’ve never liked change, it’s always scared me. I don’t want to get old. I don’t want my loved ones to die, and leave me all alone. One of the most important things I’ve learned about change has come straight out of a Disney Pixar movie. The two lines that struck me, and that I’ll always remember, I have to keep telling myself:

“You can’t change nature.”

“Nature is change.”

(See if you can figure out which animated movie that’s from.)

Farewell, summer.

A Spring List

It has been hot these past couple of days in Western Wisconsin.  After an exceptionally long Winter, Spring has finally arrived!  But, because there was snow last week and now it is 80 plus degrees outside with crazy high humidity, it doesn’t feel as great as we all thought it would.  *Cut to me during track practice, panting, melting into a pool of sticky sweat*

Even as I complain about the heat, I realize how stupid it is to be whining at all.  But, oh do I have a low tolerance for heat!  Dallas this Fall is going to be quite the challenge…..

While this weather does make me want the cooler temperatures which I was just curing out last week back, here are some more positive things that this weather makes me want to do:

  • Drink gallons of the awful fruit punch in our fridge (which I would never stoop to in typical circumstances, being strictly a coffee girl).
  • Sit out under a Maple tree and smell the grass and plum blossoms for hours until I absorb the green that is now coming to life everywhere and not think about school ever, ever, ever.
  • Drag my piano out onto our wraparound deck and play Bach with the breeze to cool my flying fingers.
  • Never wear jeans again! (I hate the pesky things-shorts and skirts I can handle)
  • Go for long walks in the woods.
  • Stick my bare toes into cool creek water until they go pleasantly numb.

 

As for now, I won’t do any of those things.  I think I shall simply sit by and enjoy our late, late Spring.  Stay tuned for pictures of the Wisconsin Spring and happenings on the farm soon to come.  Clare has been out and about in the fields and has a slew of pictures for you all.