New friendships and fun

I had too much fun this past weekend. I got to do things I had been thinking about since I was first introduced to them by my technical advisor for the novel. It’s still being done in the name of research but having a little, or a lot fun, while doing the research is a bonus.

I also got to meet some very interesting people. I wouldn’t be surprised if they popped in and out of my life from now on. Colourful characters and so enthusiastic. It was refreshing I have to admit.

Also got to know my technical advisor’s wife better, too. And she’s pretty fucking awesome. We’ve had short chats before when I had my coffee meetings with my advisor. But this weekend was the first time she and I had a chance to really talk. And she said some wonderful, complimentary things about me and my presence in her husband’s life, and in turn, her life. I didn’t expect to hear those words. And to be honest, I was pretty touched by it. Still am.

It’s going to be great having these two people in my life. They’re good people. I think we’re all on the same wavelength. I mentioned having great chemistry with my advisor in a previous post. That chemistry extends to his wife, as well. I couldn’t have asked for two better people to come into my life than these two.

What I learned, and what was reinforced this weekend, won’t take too much time to absorb and parse out into my writing. It’s about continuing to and constantly laying down the groundwork for future stories. It never stops nor should it ever stop. I know what I want to do for my next project while I develop another idea for a third novel. But these two ideas will have to wait until I’m done with the current project. The summer promises to be busy with the current writing project and with deepening new friendships with folks who feel like I’ve known for a long time.

And now I turn back to my writing, thinking about the stuff I got to do this past weekend. I don’t think of it as a re-energizing of the creative blood that courses through me. I think of it as a reaffirmation that the story I want to tell, is the story I’m meant to tell at this point in my life as an emerging writer. It confirms that the ideas I’ve been thinking about as my next projects, are also the right ones to tackle after the novel becomes a book that you can hold in your hands.

The swampy outdoors

Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again — Gustav Mahler

Yesterday morning, I went for a walk in the Assiniboine Forest with a small group of lovely women. It was my first time visiting the forest. It was long overdue. Not a bad way to spend Easter Sunday.

While I’m comfortable with wandering in the woods by myself, it is a lot of fun sharing the trek with other folks. Considering it’s spring, rubber boots are a must. Lots of swampy areas and plenty of opportunities to see if the ice is still thick enough to support your weight. There were also plenty of opportunities to walk into a low hanging tree branch. Thankfully, that didn’t happen to me on this excursion.

Aside from the aspens and oak that make up the majority of forest, I discovered there were plenty of licorice plants, ant hill, the occasional coniferous tree and the odd milkweed plant. The clearings were covered in beautiful undulating mounds of dead tall grass that had collapsed under the weight of winter. It’s quite a sight to see the ground covered in this manner. Carpet-like and hiding whatever is underneath it.

There were a couple of things I hadn’t planned on encountering during the almost two-hour woodland sojourn. The first was a classroom-size green chalkboard and a loveseat minus its seat cushions. What the fuck. No chalk or brush could be found to make use of the chalkboard. I have no idea how long they’ve been sitting there or why they were dumped there. Oh well. I have a shot of the furniture posted on Instagram.

The next item I encountered with the group were a couple of forts/shelters/structures. Took photos of those as well. On Instagram, too. Again, no idea as to the age of these structures. One of the ladies quipped that someone must have had quite a bit of time on their hands in to order to build them. The first structure is no bigger than a pup tent. Room for two or three people lying down. Lacking in bad weather protection, though. Maybe a few animal hides to keep the rain out would suffice. It was interesting to see chunks of cut tree logs (if that is the correct description) strewn about, covered in lichen and moss.

The rest of the walk was uneventful except for the moment one of the ladies got swamp water in her shoes. She had been advised to wear rubber boots but opted to take her chances. She said she had no one to blame but herself for the wet socks and squishy shoes.

It was great way to clear my head. And I appreciated the company. Soon, I’ll be back to running outdoors instead of running indoors on a treadmill like a gerbil on a wheel.

Before I started running last year, whenever I heard a runner mention he/she preferred running outdoors to running on a treadmill, I never quite understood the difference. Over this past winter, I finally understood what they were talking about. I’d rather run outdoors, too. But considering my luck with ice, winter running was never something that attracted me. The drudgery of running on treadmill I’ll take because it’s temporary. I have no interest in pulling a groin or spraining a knee or ankle because I slipped on some ice.

Being outdoors has become important to me. I think it’s more than just my body needing its daily dose of Vitamin D. It must be a need to not feel cooped up. Some form of cabin fever must have set in regardless of how decent the winter has been in this part of the country.

I think I’m trying to free myself from something real or imagined.

To be unhindered and untethered.

Yeah, I think that’s it.

Happy camper

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower — Albert Camus

Autumn, without a doubt, is my favourite of the four seasons. With September several days away, there are a number of things that are a given for me:

1) There are a few weeks left of cutting the lawn left… yay;

2) The zucchini are done for the season and all that is left are the tomatoes in the main garden patch, then it’s bring out the yard waste bags and clean out the garden;

3) The garden box still has basil, mint and eggplant growing but I’ll harvesting them in the next couple of weeks;

4) The Goodland apple tree has produced a lot of apples. Yeah, I know… make apple sauce. Problem is I’m not a huge fan of apple sauce. Never a big thing with me when I was growing up. I already gave away one box to a friend and made a big Pyrex dish of apple crisp. Just discovered a place in the city where they’ll press apple cider out of your apples. Hell ya, I’m going there to drop off the apples. Fresh apple cider is dee-lish. Had fresh cider made out of my apples a couple of years ago and it was yummy. But the place that did the pressing had a fire and pretty much took those folks out of the apple cider business. So, I’ve been in a conundrum over what to do with the volume of apples the tree produces. Considering I just discovered this other apple pressing location, I’m excited to have fresh cider again… mmmm;

5) This is the first season I’m growing sweet potatoes and I’m looking forward to harvesting them before the first frost hits. I just have to figure out where to put the planters once the sweet potatoes are done. Don’t think leaving plastic planters outside over the winter is a good idea. Guess their winter home will be the garage.

As this list whittles down, I look forward to the cooler temperatures and the changing colours of the landscape that often marks autumn.

Not much fun running in summer’s heat and humidity but I did it. Throw in smoky conditions courtesy of the forest fires from the next province and it’s a party. Running should be easier with the autumn temperatures. I’m looking forward to a crisp autumn morning for the CIBC Run for the Cure this October.

Although, I’m drawing the line at winter running. Given the injuries I’ve acquired over the summer, I’m not keen on running down paths where there will probably be patches of ice. Yeah, I could attach some sort of traction aide to the running shoes for the snow and ice but I really don’t think it will be enough to keep me from injury.

Nope, it’ll be the treadmill for this winter.

One of the reasons I love autumn is the scent. Seriously, all four seasons have a scent, that something in the air that lets you know what season it is. Everything about autumn is enticing. Marks the end of one phase and the start of another. Crunchy sound of leaves under my feet. Warm colour of the leaves. Earthy not musky. Crispness of the air. Everything smells good.

Mother Nature is stunning in this season. On a number of occasions, she has taken my breath away. If it was possible to have autumn-like weather all year round, I’d be a happy camper.