Row row row your boat

Last week the three of us went down to beautiful Flathead Lake for a little boat ride in a two-person inflatable boat we borrowed from a friend. We paddled around an island in Somers Bay and went back to shore because the Peanut was not diggin’ the boat ride, but can we blame him? He’d never been in a boat on water before and the only way to get over new or scary things is to do them again!

Boys on the lakeThis is the only photo of a happy Peanut… things quickly descended from there. But we still had fun, even though the boat ride was brief. It was a beautiful day and we haven’t done something like that in a while.

While we were rowing back to shore, we noticed a bald eagle in a tree above us and I snapped a bunch of photos. Here are the best two.

Eagle

 

Eagle hi therePretty cool to live in a place where seeing a bald eagle is commonplace!

 

 

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Lake hikes

As I think many other folks will agree, when you’re chasing a little kid around all day, trying to get meals on the table, squeezing in a shower somewhere, and oh, yeah, starting a small business, exercise and enjoyment of the beautiful countryside that abounds without can take a back burner. Silliness, I tell you! Silliness!

So, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to do yoga. And I’ve been doing that (it feels great!). But I also want to take care of my body more than I have the past few years. It’s not only about weight loss. It’s about being physically active and cultivating a lifestyle that is a model for my children (I should say child, because no, I’m not pregnant, I’m just thinking in future tense). I want my kiddos to grow up being active. We live in an amazing place with scads of recreational opportunities, and it’s foolish to just sit at home when we could be out there in that beauty getting skinny.

So yesterday I went on a short loop snow hike (took the snowshoes but didn’t need them in the end) near the reservoir. And it was awesome. Though I’m still sore as I write this.

Starting at the beginning, I drove up to the trailhead, and when I came to the parking lot, which had about 6-8 inches of snow covering it, I thought to myself: “Self, you probably shouldn’t try to park in there. You’re going to bury the 2-wheel drive Honda Civic lacking snow tires.” So what did I do? Tried to get into the parking lot anyway! So like I thought, I did bury the front tires and that was that. Got about three feet into the driveway to the parking lot. So my friend, who was just behind me with her dogs and baby in her four-wheel-drive, snow-tire fitted car that actually makes sense in this climate/area, tried to get my car rocking so we could push it out, but no dice.

But why ruin a perfectly good hike worrying about the car? It was mostly off the road. So we flipped the flashers on and loaded up the babies and did our hike. Have I ever mentioned that 30 pounds of baby/backpack combined is sorta heavy? Well it is. My shoulders and my hips ache. But that means I did something, right? Yoga will sort out residual aches anyway.

It was a very pleasant hike through the trees around the lake. The weather was fabulous, warm actually, and we both quickly worked up a sweat and started stripping off scarves and gloves. The Peanut babbled away in the backpack and was quite content, even though I had to crawl under several downed trees with him in the backpack. All part of the adventure as I told him!

View from lion lake hike

When we were nearly back to the cars we called a local mechanic to come tug the car out. Which he did for free because he’s a nice guy.

A great little morning adventure!

Lion lake hikers

A stomp in the woods

This past week, we went for a stomp in the woods. We tromped around on U.S. Forest Service land north of town. Shawn carried our son the Peanut in the backpack, as usual. This was a bit different though in that we didn’t follow a trail. We followed a friend and her son as they modeled their mountain goat skills for us. Up the mountainside we went, stepping over moss-encrusted logs and crunching through a golden carpet of fallen leaves. We picked our way through brush and low-hanging branches. The Peanut  had a good time being along for the ride, looking around and reaching out to grab an occasional branch or a leaf.

After walking about for half an hour, we came to a small bowl on the hillside. It was ringed with aspen trees. The late-afternoon light (which is fading earlier and earlier as winter approaches) filtered through the trees. No glow, just quiet. A bit dim. And boy did that place feel holy. The trees creaked a bit in the wind. Our friend’s son went tearing off into the bowl to climb stumps and launch himself off their rotting backsides into the air. He yelled and whooped. I listened and watched, gazing beyond his small body on its short journeys into space. There was something special about that place, something reverent. We didn’t linger long, but it’s a place I would love to return to, to sit myself down in the piles of leaves and just be. To inhabit that space for a little while, to fill it with the sound of my breath leaving my lungs. To be alive as the trees are alive. Fully present in a moment. A part of something bigger and older than my small human mind can comprehend. Too many people believe they exist outside of nature. We are just as much a part of nature and the world as the deer and the butterflies and the aspens. It is our silly belief that we are on some different plane than these creatures that truly separates us from nature.

We walked up and up and up. We came to a slight clearing where the trees parted on the edge of the hillside. Out and beyond lay the valley, blue in hue, in distance. Miles distant, the lake was a bright shimmer against the mountains that ring the other side of the valley. Not so distant stood the mountains just across the dirt highway, splattered with the autumnal gold of the larches. There’s something vaguely erotic about autumn: all of the trees except the prudish evergreens throw on their showiest colors before stripping in winter’s frosty embrace.

And then back down the hill we went, nearly tumbling forward in our momentum (OK, that was just me). I stopped to pick up a few pine cones on the way, mementos of our stomp in the woods. But we made one last stop before we departed. We walked through the almost tropical air of a cedar grove. Like the bowl above it, the cedar grove was a hallowed ground. Darker there than in the bowl, the cedar grove was also hushed. Our shoulders brushed against the soft needles of those grizzled trees capable of near millennial lifetimes. Like other creatures before us, we left only footprints and wonder. Will that ancient, sacred place remember our passing? Or in the darkening hush will we be forgotten?

Beautiful Bowman

Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park is a special place to my husband and me. It’s the first place we ever camped together (we love camping). It’s also the first place we camped in Glacier Park. It’s the place where our engagement photos were shot. And it’s the place we took our son Jonathan on his first trip to Glacier.

Of course he loved it. See? What a happy boy. We think he enjoyed seeing the lake. He’s really started to LOOK at things, to take them in. It’s a very cool thing to watch him learn.

While we were there, I snapped this photo of two tree swallows hanging out by the lake.

Today Jonathan will be baptized into the United Methodist Church. Though I want Jonathan to someday make his own decisions about his relationship with God, he will be raised in the church. I will give him the jumping off point, and he can find his own spot to land. Our pastor suggested we get some water from a local body of water (northwest Montana is a lake district) that holds special significance. So of course we chose Bowman. We filled a mason jar with water flowing from the lake into Bowman Creek, at the lake’s end and the creek’s beginning. We are passing on the significance of this place to our son, but want him to experience his own journey. We are the lake, he is the creek.

Shawn and I decided that we’re going to start an annual camping trip with our children (yes, we’re planning on another kiddo… but not for a while so don’t get all excited!) at Bowman Lake. We want to share that special place with them. Of course we’ll go other places in Glacier Park, but we’ll always visit Bowman (how convenient that the Polebridge Merc and its amazing huckleberry turnovers are on the way!). Shawn and I want to teach our children to be stewards of the land. We want them to feel the same sense of wonder we do in the forests of Glacier National Park, and in the grasslands of Nebraska. We hope to teach our children that they are a part of the world, unique and wonderful, but also tiny, ethereal, and only existing but a moment in the grand stretch of time.

Snow, snow and more snow

So it started snowing here in northwest Montana a week ago and hasn’t really stopped (we must be pushing two feet of the stuff on the ground already). It’s a bad sign that it’s only December — already! can you believe it? — and I’m sick of snow.

This past weekend, however, the Hubs and I went to a friend’s cabin on a lake for a fantastic winter wonderland weekend. We ate fabulous food, had a bit to much to drink (how can you pass up hot chocolate with Bailey’s?) and engaged in full-out snow fights. It felt great to tromp around in the snow and toss snowballs with abandon. Our laughter rang through the snow-laden bows of pine trees and across the lake, no doubt. It’s rare for me to have such fun, without thought of worries or work. But there’s another who sums all this up better than I can and you should check it out here.