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Infused with hopefulness and enthusiasm for a new day, I bound from bed to embrace life. I consider myself an optimist because no matter what the previous day was like, I’m usually rearing to go with each new sunrise. Rarely do I feel dread or any sort of negative emotion first thing in the morning.  An exception to this comes about when I am not living my life well; when I spend too much time doing things that don’t seem important in the scheme of life such as earning money, and spending it. When I’m not living true to my desires for days and weeks on end, then I start waking with feelings of dread dancing in my head.  The prospect of facing eight hours of distasteful activities–such as doing work that doesn’t satisfy me nor have much impact on humanity–eventually leads to a fading of sanguinity. When this happens, as it does from time to time in my life, then I step back and analyze the reasons for my unrest and vow to make changes. Another sign of an optimist, in my opinion, is that I can’t stand being unhappy for long and I take action to put things right. I am not apathetic or lazy when it comes to discontentedness.


Since we left for Africa I’ve been in high spirits, as I have since we returned. Though things aren’t perfect–I’m still not writing enough or living as authentically as I would like–I am attaining more balance in my lifestyle, more truth with myself and in relationship with others. As long as I feel movement in a positive direction–regardless of the increments–I’m imbued with hope.


Ice crystal in aspen crookThis morning the sky was pink, then pale lavender, settling into blue. Dry, frigid air caused ice crystals to fill the Yamsi Valley. Nature’s diamonds, they waltzed with the wind and tumbled from trees. Ice garlands were strung like cobwebs between willow bows. It was three degrees so my nose and lips grew numb during our short walk to the edge of Owl Meadow.  Back at the cabin we ate breakfast then fell to work. As mid-day came into view it had warmed to near 30 and neither of us had gotten around to the outdoor chores that were the last tasks we had to do to prepare the ranch for winter. It became apparent that we weren’t going to make it back to town on this day so I decided to go ski before it warmed too much and marred the good quality snow. I decided to drive the truck around the 49 road, cross the Williamson River on the Rocky Ford Bridge, and find better snow at a higher altitude up on Yamsi Mountain. After trying out snow shoes in the yard Bob determine that his sprained toe could handle snow shoeing, though not skiing, so we both loaded up snow shoes and miscellaneous gear.


Bob tried to start the truck but it wasn’t behaving. After a few minutes I signaled to him to stop grinding the starter. I climbed behind the wheel to see if I could get it going. It has always been a finicky old truck when it comes to starting it but I’ve owned it for nearly 20 years so I’m pretty good at determining its moods. My technique worked and it started right up. I outlined the process I used to Bob and suggested he try it this way the next time…not a good idea when we both know that he is very mechanical and I am not. It just pissed him off. He said if I had given him another 30 seconds he would have gotten it started. Maybe so, or he might have flooded it or ruined the old starter. I think men can’t take much coaching from women, especially when it comes to manly sort of things.  Since this was our first outdoor activity together in three weeks (since he hurt his toe surfing) I really wanted to have a good time so I apologized and asked that we forget it and have fun. He readily agreed but then refused to drive because he didn’t want me telling him how to drive in the deep snow. I’ll admit I can be prone to backseat driver syndrome.  


During the 20-minute trip around the valley, across the bridge, and up onto the mountain–a spectacular drive in a winter wonderland–he never said a word other than the occasional grunt of Snow shoe self portraitagreement to something I was saying. I decided not to bother talking either. We drove most of the way in silence. We headed up the #610 road and discovered there was far less snow on the east slope of the valley than on Wild Horse Ridge to the west, where the cabin sits. We had to drive clear up to 6,000 feet to get into enough snow to make it fun. I suggested I ski and we go our separate ways since we weren’t interacting anyway and I prefer to ski. He said everything was fine and he just wasn’t talkative. I realized there wasn’t enough snow for a good ski anyway so I donned my snow shoes and joined him on the trail up Modoc Mound, which is a hump on the west face of Yamsi Mountain that gives birth to Modoc Creek that flows onto the ranch property in wet years.


Ponderosa snag_blue skyBob hasn’t been able to get much aerobic exercise in lately, with his bad toe and all, so combined with his desire not to talk or interact (though he denied it), he soon took off and left me in the dust. I thoroughly enjoyed the next hour and my time alone on “My Mountain”.  I had my little camera along and when the sun shined hotly on the bright orange-yellow skins of old growth Ponderosa Pines, I would stop and take dozens of pictures. The snow was so cold and light it left vapor trails as the back tips of my snow shoes flung powder into the air behind me. It felt good to climb and the snow depth barely topped my ankles.  The pitch on the 610 road is relatively gentle so I could put my head down and sink into a zone, plowing forward until my breathing was heavy and paced just right for a long haul up the hill. I vowed not to stop for at least an hour but every 10 or 15 minutes I would see another vista or snow covered log that cried to have its picture taken. My Klamath Marsh from Yamsay Mountainendorphin induced high was interrupted in this way a number of times but within the hour I knew I was close to the 610 intersection with another main logging road so I was determined to make it to this crossroads. About 5 minutes from my goal I met Bob as he descended. I told him I was going on up to the main road and he opted to backtrack and go with me. We took a few photos with a clear view of the Klamath Marsh Wildlife Refuge to the west then headed back down. I led during the descent and though we stayed together for the most part we seldom spoke.


It was a shorter drive home because we went to the eastside of the ranch so we could leave the truck on the mountain side of the river for future, faster trips up Yamsi. Brumby was walking toward the barn was limping pretty badly. A dreadful feeling came over me as I considered what might be ailing him and wondered if it was going to be “that time”…the time when he is so badly injured or sick that I am unable to treat him and he would have to be put down. When we caught up with him I left the truck and walked the rest of the way to the barn with him as he seemed quite resolute about getting to the hay. I checked him out after giving him some grain. He has always had bad feet for one reason or another and I concluded that they are just tender and the cold, dry snow is taking its toll. If I could find a Ferrier who would come out to the ranch I’m sure I could get his hooves in better condition. As it is I keep them trimmed the best I can, which probably isn’t good enough. The ranch is just too remote to warrant a visit from a Ferrier to deal with just one horse. I got Brumby a bucket of water from the river but he was more interested in the grain than me or the water, so Rio and I moseyed back to the cabin.


Bob had gone on before me and moved quickly into doing the last of the chores we needed to get done for the winter. I took Chami for a walk to the edge of Owl Meadow, put some things away, sat in the outdoor recliner for a bit and watched evening settle in. A delightful, fiery sunset graced the western horizon then reflected of Yamsi bouncing color back at me onto the river. The cold drove me inside where I took a sponge bath, did some marketing work, made dinner, read for a while, wrote some, did Yoga, then went to bed. Bob settled down to his computer as soon as he came in the house so we barely spoke all day.


I didn’t get everything done in my day that I had planned for at the start of my day, but then I seldom do.  I had to sacrifice writing time for business work and my time with Bob was the opposite of what I’d expected. Still, I went to bed tired and thankful for the day I did have: my time in nature, the words I was able to put on paper. And I’m have great expectations that tomorrow I’ll write for hours, play outside, laugh with Bob, eat good food, earn a bit of money, and have a perfect day.  I hope.

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Outside The Boxx is a place where I can put down some memories, collect my thoughts and opinions, relate my adventures, assemble my beliefs, and narrate my stories through words and photographs.


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