No – not the butter you spread on bread – the butter that is a gnarly but chiefly beautiful mountain-bike but also multi-use trail up to the top of the mountain at Roseberry. I have no idea the name of the mountain – just the trail.

Simon and I took the puppies today and it was purely awesome. It happened like this: I was going to go alone. I made a sandwich and prepared to leave. Shanara decided that daddy had to come too and since Simon wasn’t quite as motivated to look after the RV as he would have been if he’d had to collect the Lotto jackpot, he gave in.

“How long is the hike?” he asked.

“About 4.5 hours” I said.

This was good, he thought, because it would give him time to do the hike and get back and get work done. I think it was somewhere at the trailhead (or shortly after) that I recalled the hike might be more like 5 hours. After about 2.5 hours uphill (around 800 metres total) I recalled that maybe it was a scootch more than 5 hours. Simon thinks I was notoriously and deceitfully withholding actual information about distance and elevation. Not so, I insisted – its just that I’d only done it once and hey – who can remember such petty details?

I was accurate just before 1 p.m. (on the trail for three hours by now) when I said it was only about 10 more minutes to the end of the trail/top.

And so we had lunch. Simon said it wasn’t very scenic. Hey – can I help it if the top is a parking lot for mountain bikers? I did get us off the main road! And yes, we did have to hike to the very end of the trail and not stop beforehand. Why? Because I said so!

And so we headed back down after lunch arriving back at the parking area about 6 hours and 15 minutes after setting out. This was a scootch more than 4.5 hours but what a day! And so, so wonderful to hike with Simon. It’s been a while. He really is my favourite hiking partner even though he does question my accuracy in time and elevation.

We ran into a lot of mountain bikers today – all of them really nice and gracious. When everyone looks out for the other guy, sharing a trail is no hardship at all. It was a completely wonderful day!

More great days coming up this week. Stay tuned!

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The Garden

It feels like a madly productive day.

First was a dog walk/hike (I suppose I can call it a hike because it was almost three hours and there was some reasonable elevation gain) from Three Forks and along the trail to Sandon, turning around where we hit the road.

It was sunny (yay!) and warm (double yay!) and the dogs loved it. Then a quick shop, back home for lunch and then out to the garden.

Simon once again proved himself a total hero by digging around in poop for the better part of the day. First, while I was out happily gallivanting with puppies, he was at the farm shovelling very wet horse poop into the back of the truck, then unloading it into the garden beds. When I got out to the garden, all I had to do was a bit of soil turning and weeding, planting and seed sowing – and a few other odds and sods. You know how it is in the garden – you end up doing more than you planned on because that’s just how it is.

Very excited about the garden now. In this small space we have a grapevine, raspberries, radishes, dill, collards, swiss chard, many kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. Not bad for the first year. Next year there will be potatoes, carrots and a ton of other things. We have room for at least eight beds and so far are only planting three.

So that was good. Also good was a shower afterwards. Simon, not satisfied with digging around in horse poop, also uncovered one of our septic tanks and dug around inside to do things with the filter that was rather plugged. He fixed it but for some reason, insisted on being first into the shower when he was done. Also, for some reason, he has washed his hands and arms repeatedly. I fear he is trying out for the Broadway role of Lady Macbeth.

I think this evening calls for a big salad for dinner – with our own very yummy radishes – and a blistering game of Scrabble. Early to bed for a full hiking day tomorrow. That should keep the puppies happy. Following are some photos of flowers on the trail today – and puppies of course.

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Time – time to sit; time to think; time to simply be. It’s rare that I give myself that kind of time. When I do, good things occur.

Today, I gave myself time off from thinking about what I should be doing; I gave myself time away from worrying about what is to come or even what has already transpired. Just a tiny bit of time to be in the now.

I got my chores done this morning – all the usual upkeep a family needs. I took the dogs down to Bannock Point and let an exuberant Shanara chase sticks in the water while Abby looked on with a great deal of boredom.

Then – with everything done – sitting here, realizing there is nothing else I have to do today – and I have time just for me. Yes, I’m looking forward to hiking tomorrow and then planting my garden. But right now – all I have to do is sit – and perhaps think.

What I’m happy about: that I am re-involving myself in the Pursuit of Excellence and that this is going to be a busy and exciting time and that Cathy and I are going to make a very big difference in people’s lives. I’m also happy that I have dropped writing as work.

When I retired, I retired partly. I find it interesting that every time I told people that I had retired, I immediately followed that up with the statement that writers never retire. Well, maybe they do. When you earn your living as a writer, it ceases to become a pure pleasure and often becomes a chore, especially when the writing involves a business publication. Even when I started writing books – I remember how I felt immediately after my first book was published – that I had to publish at least one a year. That was a bar I set and for three years, I did just that – then a two-year pause – and after that three years. And then, when I didn’t immediately publish again, I felt like a failure.

Enough of all that. I believe it may be time to redefine myself.

Like so many people, I have spent most of my life as a human doing instead of a human being – defining my identity and even my worth by my productivity.

I think it’s time to slow down the pace and to listen to what my soul tells me. I may have to re-learn many things. First, I have to learn to be true to myself and to who I am.

Right now – at this exact moment – I know that I love sitting quietly in a house that is still and peaceful, simply writing down my thoughts. I may also want to do some more writing- my experimental piece that I started a couple of weeks ago. But where that goes? It doesn’t matter. I have no goal to publish. All I want to do is derive pleasure from the activity.

I am reminded of what Simon said about his music – all he wants to do is play for his pleasure – and he wants to do that in his man-cave. Right now, this quiet space is my “she-shed” – and it’s a fine place to be.

Forward with my life – one step at a time. It will be oh so very interesting to see what reveals itself next.

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Food for thought

I started the day off by visiting Cathy – who goes beyond getting called a “best” friend – way more into the realm of true confidante and soul sister.

I came away from her place feeling good – but better than that – food for thought. Back to comfort zones. I have massively stepped out of mine, meaning that for well over a dozen years I was very “comfortable.” Then along comes Simon, along comes a move to another part of the country and along comes retirement and a massive change in my financial situation – whoops! What was that rule again? Something about notching your comfort zone up one step at a time. Oh well then.

In other words, its little wonder that I’ve been feeling a bit (a lot) uncomfortable. Right – I haven’t found the definitive answer to anything but my understanding is growing and that’s a very good thing.

And THEN! we talked about the Pursuit of Excellence. Cathy just happened to float the idea of another Pursuit in Nelson – she already single-handedly (!!!) created three in the city plus a Wall. Time for another one. She said October 20. That works. I said I’d do anything to help. I think it’s time to get started.

So far I have identified, prompted by suggestions from Cathy – several ways I can help make it happen. Make contacts and enrol people; talk to Pam about doing it and about getting a program leader, lead the Advancement of Excellence and assist/team captain/etc. the Pursuit and Wall. Sounds like a plan.

I’m totally in.

I did these programs aeons ago. When? I think it was 1990 or thereabouts. I have never lost my admiration and respect for them. They work. They make a massive difference in people’s lives. This is coming at the perfect time for me. Thanks, Cathy! Awesome!

Funny thing is, whenever Simon and I have talked about how I make a difference in people’s lives – he thinks about my writing. I know that the biggest difference I ever made was as a program leader.

I think I can do that again. I know I can.

Okay – must go and tend to the fire and take the chill off this Junuary day.

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The Garden and other subjects

Clearly, these are not photos of the garden – this is the Awesome Trail. Again. But hey – nice to celebrate a brief break in the clouds today to take the puppies for a walk and loosen up their stiffening muscles after yesterday’s hike.

But back to the garden. thanks to the most awesome Nicky and Brent, Simon picked up two truckloads of fabulous loamy soil and almost filled the first two raised beds. Tomorrow we’ll dump some manure in them and I’ll plant and sow seeds.

My contribution was relatively small. In between baking bread I went out with my trowel and pulled as many weeds and weed roots as I could while Simon shovelled dirt off the back of the truck. There’ll still be a lot of weeds to pull over the next couple of weeks, but we got some of them. But then I’ve often thought that gardening is essentially a euphemism for weeding.

No matter – we will be eating produce from our garden later this year. Yay! Bit by bit it’s coming together. Simon is working on the fencing as we speak.

I’m still torn about this place long-term. I suspect we will be here a long time. I don’t know if I am beginning to accept it or becoming resigned to it. No matter. I am also taking into account that along with a change of location in space, I underwent a huge life change – a relationship plus retirement. One change at a time is enough to stress anyone out – I have three to contend with.

Everything considered, I’m probably doing better than I give myself credit for. But it’s all coming along. I think.

After an experience like yesterday with Nicky in the big trees on a beautiful trail, it feels like it’s coming together. I have a strong sense that I am going to have more and more experiences like this.

Even better – tomorrow I am going to Nelson to visit Cathy and do nothing but gab for a while. Then off to the nursery and the greengrocer store. Fingers crossed I can get all the transplants and seeds that I want. When I get back it will be planting time. Double yay!

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Kinbol Lake

This has been the kind of day that makes me want to burst into many paragraphs of excessive hyperbole. How else to describe this day and this hike?

Happy? Well – let me put it this way: you know when a dog gets so enthusiastic its entire rear end starts wagging? Yup – that’s me. As a matter of fact, I had a dog once that wagged so hard she actually sprained her tail. That’s me today.

Where to start? The Kinbol Lake Trail. It was a cross between Vancouver Island’s Crest Mountain, CPR trail and Cathedral Grove. For over four hours we hiked in a fairy-tale forest with pretty creeks, thick fields of mosses, ancient cedars, and sun-dappled trails ending at a beautiful mountain-shadowed lake.

No – there aren’t enough superlatives to describe it. Nicky and I both decided that it was our favourite trail. And the great news is that there are other trails (at least three) in the area to explore. And all of this is only about 45 minutes from home! Yay!!!

What else was great about today? Well, the weather was awesome! And when we got back home, the garden! The first two boxes are built and ready for soil and plants; the fence is underway. Simon has done crazy work. I can’t believe how much he has done and how it’s all coming together. I really am excited about the garden!

I loved that the dogs got to go on a real hike for a change. And they had everything: mud and creeks and squirrels to chase and a lake to dip into. For Shanara, perfection arrived at the top when we found a few patches of snow for her to roll in. Dog life doesn’t get better than that.

For Abby the highlight was sharing my sandwich at lunch – and extra cheese for both dogs. And then there was Nicky – a dog person. And let me tell, you, dogs know when they’re with someone who loves dogs. They both fell in love with her. In fact, I think they would gladly have abandoned me and gone home with her.

Speaking of Nicky – she is truly one of the most awesome people I have met here. Because she was on the hike, it doubled the pleasure of the day. “Nuff said.

Happy me.

Oh – did I mention how much I love Simon?

Happy me.

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Gardening and other domesticities

It may not look like much at the moment, but that gentle reader, is our garden. Simon has been labouring in the hot sun all day, pick-axing through rock and boulders and moving heavy stuff and overall being a hero.

In comparison, I’ve been putting my feet up munching on bonbons. Oh sure, I did the domestic stuff – you know – cleaning, laundry, baking, making meals, shopping, walking dogs – but, as I said, I’ve had an easy time of it.

Ergo – I am trying not to feel guilty. Tomorrow I am taking the dogs on a hike near Nakusp and then visiting the nursery. The bulk of our garden is going in late but heck – we’ll have a garden anyway. There’s just so much to do with this property.

What I liked today: walking in the hot sun (heat! Yay!) on the Galena trail and doing it slowly because when I’m not doing an arduous hike, I really like the way the sun slows me down. Most of the time I have two speeds: flat out and stop. Heat puts me in another place. I truly understand the whole slow pace of thing in hot climates – not just because it’s practical but because it feels good. And that “feel-good” phenomenon extends to a mental state of mind too. The sun makes you happy. No – it’s not the only factor – but it helps. It’s why we want light and sun to come into a house. It’s important.

I turned down another KMC hike today. (What’s the world coming to?) The description included hiking on old forestry roads, bushwhacking and climbing over boulders as well as snow.

No thanks. I’m done with all that for this season. But I noticed that the south face of Idaho Peak is almost free of snow. I sense a trip to the top coming up very soon. And out first backpacking trip of the season is only 10 days away.

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