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Building Strong Bodies 12 Ways

Monday, January 16, 2006

As day after blessed day dawns gray, then clears off to glorious sun, I feel it would be ungrateful of us not to take advantage of the warmth and beauty. With the kids on a four-day weekend, we've taken a monster hike each day, exploring parts of our and our neighbors' land that we've never really seen before. It is a humbling feeling to come upon a magnificent tree you didn't know you "owned." What a strange word, owned, as if one could own a tree that grew unbidden on land you happened to buy. I like that sentiment that we can't own land, but merely borrow it from our children. I love to think that Phoebe and Liam will be hiking it with their kids someday. I hope I'm spry enough to come along. Got started a bit late...but I can dream. If Phoebe waits as long as I did to have her first child, I'll be...let's see...oh, let's not go there. Not many sycamores grow up tall and perfectly straight, but this one has. I picked up a beautiful piece of bark, curled and perforated, leathery and strange. Liam said, "Hold that right there." And karate-chopped it in two. Boys.

The pileated woodpeckers have been drumming and calling a lot since it turned warm, and I've no doubt they are already thinking about excavating nest cavities. In general, woodpeckers use the male's roost cavity for the brood each year. And, keeping to his habit of sleeping in this particular cavity, he incubates the eggs and later broods the young at night, while the female retires to her own roost cubby. It must be nice for her to get away and sleep soundly in her own room after tending to the eggs and young all day.
Today, we climbed the steep south-facing slope, enjoying the play of sun on the forest floor, and walked all along it, high above the little creek. The views were dizzying at times; this is one of the highest points in the entire county, and it feels like it. Sounds float up to you when you're that high. We could hear the interstate and even a train blowing its horn all the way from Marietta, 18 miles away.
Chet was intrigued by the sound of melting icicles on the far bank, and when one would crash to the rocks below, he'd plunge down the nearly vertical embankment, dash across the creek, and snuff around where it had fallen. He had hoped he was hearing squirrels, but figured it out after only two trips, and after that was content to watch for the falling ice.
Chet likes ice. He likes to walk on it, bust icicles off, and chew them.
He also kept a close watch on his kids.
He's really good about keeping an ear and eye turned our way; no matter what interesting things he runs across, he's constantly checking in, circling back, and always responsive to our whistle. He ran a couple of deer up into our neighbor's yard, and set their big dogs barking, and had the sense to run back to us rather than tangle with them. He's only a year old, but he has a lot of sense.
It's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I guess I'll be lashed to the drawing board. The funny thing about taking a three-hour hike every day is that when you come back, you're on such a high, that you can sit down at the drawing board and whap out a sketch or drawing that's waaay better than one you forced out when you weren't centered. At least that's one of my many elaborate rationales for treating myself to these workouts. The mind of the addict works in mysterious ways. The second the sun came out, I called Shila to jump in her car and join us, but she had to work today--what's that? I guess this beautiful hiking vacation had to end sometime. Every sunny day has been a gift. Thank you!!!


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