Sunday, March 28, 2010

Matthew 7:3 and Me

So here is the abridged, simplified, and slightly cleaned up story of my "war" with the loggers. "My woods" in all actuality belonged at first to an elderly friend of our family Mrs. Boberick. She gave my family permission to use the woods and fields like our own, so I began at probably 6 or 7 to start exploring and building in the area directly across from our home. Before too long, I had expanded to quite a bit larger area of woods.  Years later Mrs. Boberick was put in a nursing home by her only son Freddy who lived in Texas, and he asked us to continue watching over the land for him. Then suddenly one day, logging equipment moved in. I rushed home and had my grandmother call Freddy and tell him. Of course he knew about it, and said that they would just be cutting a few of the biggest Cherrys. It didn't turn out like that at all. Before all was done, logging crews had moved through 3 times, and cut trees by the thousands to chip up and fill tractor trailer after tractor trailer to sell for apparently making OSB plywood. Every area of the woods for miles was completely covered with deep ruts that turned into muddy streams that eroded and filled in "my stream" that ran past my first camp. (I spent weeks after they had finished, throwning stones in the ruts to "stop" the erotion and digging out the stream by hand, It didn't work.)   And several places that were special to me where I often went to pray and read my bible, were turned into brush piles and mud. I watched from a distance for days, until the day I sat on top of the biggest hill and watched as a vehicle with a claw and saw on the front cut down the only grove of white birch I had in those woods. That was my breaking point, and I immediately began to crawl as close to these loggers as I could to gather information and see what I could do. Chad while just as upset, just seemed to leave the woods from then on but I sorta declared war. My first order of business was to give them warnings, and hopefully scare them off. So I hid along the edge of the field where the logs were skidded out to, and played a war song on my drum. LOL, They all stopped work and stared in that direction and talked together. Then they picked up a log with the cherry picker and lifted it up a ways in the air as one of them stood on it and tried to get a better view. He couldn't see anything. So I circled to the other side of them and did the same thing. Over and over I circled them from all sides until they looked dizzy, beating on my drum and giving the occasional war whoop, as they tried to figure out what was going on, but never walked far from the log piles. Eventually after I would guess an hour or so, somebody started yelling and turned the radio on as high as it could go to "make me go away":). I spent the rest of the day watching the loggers working in the woods. As time went on, my anger and depression from seeing all of this got really bad, and I started cutting sticks and carving on them to give no doubt as to where they came from, then I would either stalk a skidder, or lay just a couple feet off a logging trail and whip them at their cabs hoping to scare them as they drove by pulling logs. They never could find me while I did this, but when I look back I can't believe just how foolish and desperate I was. So many times I had such dangerous situations. :(  I would sometimes appear just long enough to be seen, and then hide before I could be caught. Only once did I actually run away, when I was in a bad area and had someone coming, but I'm quite sure that I wasn't seen. So sparing alot of  sad details, this is how it went on for months. I either was in the woods fighting to drive them off, or I was in a state of complete and utter depression, never believing that there was a life beyond those woods I had come to love so very much. Finally it was winter, and the logging was over. Their last crowning act was to dump a 55 gallon drum of oil on the ground, which left a solid stream all the way to the river a good 1/4 of a mile away. I begged everyone to call the DEC to come clean it up, but no one wanted to get them involved, and wouldn't help me with their  trucks for fear of looking like the guilty ones. So I spent an entire day carrying bucket after bucket of oily water back the 1/3 mile or so to my home and filled a couple of  barrels with it. I finally just gave up in complete exhaustion realizing that I could never clean something like that up, it isn't possible. I felt like my life had come to an end after all of this, it was painful beyond expression. But God eventually worked things out in the end, to make these times temper my character, and teach me how to deal with situations without throwing sticks at people. :) Before long, I was working on a farm and eventually we were logging in his woods. It took awhile, but I came to realize that there actually is a way of selectively cutting logs and firewood, that can make the forest healthier. It took a long time to admit that one! :) And I never believed that it could happen, but now I can see how God has began to heal the woods again. Not yet anywheres as beautiful and peaceful as they once were, but still it seems a miracle for me to see. And finally the most important lesson that I came to learn, although it is not right to destroy this earth that God has given us to care for, no matter what man may do, it really doesn't truelly matter in the end. This earth in this sinful state, is not our Home. The woods that I still love, no matter how perfectly in order and balance they may seem to be, is still filled with corruption and death. This life is not what it was meant to be, but someday soon that will change. So lets focus on saving souls, not just trees and squirrels! :)

Save the Squirrels! And other Random Wanderings

During my young years in the woods I had come to think of it as the place where I felt closest to God, the place where I felt more at home and at peace than anywheres I have ever known. I could see His hand and presence in every little thing that happened around me, and felt completely provided for and heard when I prayed. But as I started to grow older I began to struggle with how fake and contradictory most things in modern life seemed against everything I knew to be true. And it became an  endless fight to protect all that I saw being destroyed, which soon became overwhelming and kind of out of control. In all, I am extremely thankful for the time that God gave me, and can now look back and see how He worked to form me and teach me through these things that there needs to be a balance. Now as I finally feel that I have a firmer grip on this way of life I don't think I spend enough time in nature. In some ways I feel like I lost alot that I once had. Anyways, here is a few stories from those times, that you may find amusing.
 (with much thanks to Caitlin for her story request ;)  

When I was probably 13 or 14, David an old neighbor kid that my mothers family had helped raise showed up at my Grandparents house after nobody hearing from him for several years. He and his wife were homeless and had hitchhiked from New Jersey, and needed a place to stay for awhile. My Grandparents always have taken in anyone who needs help, so they came to live with them for that summer. David immediately took a liking to me, and started to follow me out into the woods to help on my projects and accompany me on my travels. I never totally trusted him, but sometimes enjoyed the company. I had a habit of picking the brain of anyone who could give me any knowledge of nature or survival, and he did teach me some things he had picked up in his wanderings. And often told me stories that were quite a stretch of the imagination, which he was already very well known for. ( When he was a teenager, he copied a chapter of "The Call of the Wild" and gave it to my mother saying he wrote it. lol) But the thing that I came to really dislike about him, was when he came to see my local squirrel and chipmunk friends as a food source. :( He went out alone with his BB gun one day, and came back with a collection of them. I was pretty mad, but didn't say anything about it to him. The next time that he decided to go hunting, he asked me to go with him. I had time to simmer by now, and a plan had started to arise, so I eagerly took him up on his offer and went to get my BB gun. We headed out into the woods, "stalking" squirrels, but in all honesty I was "accidently" stepping on every twig in sight. Obviously, most of the little critters were smart enough to hear my warnings and get out of there, but eventually it happened. We met a chipmunk who had too much bravery for his own good. He stood on his little rock pile, and ferosiously chipped away at us apparently hoping we would be intimidated by his little roar. ;) David now overjoyed, whispers "there he is! I'll give you the first shot!" My opportunity had finally come, I slowly raised my BB rifle, aimed a few inches to Chippy's left and fired. In a flurry of dry leaves and motion, he was gone as he received the merciful message and dived deep down into his burrow in the rock pile. :) IT WORKED! And so went the rest of our "hunt" that afternoon without a single casualty. Several fluffy little families are still alive today, thanks to my "good aim" and the ability to consistently not hit "his" target. LOL The funny part was that when we got back, he told his wife about how amazing of a shot I was. :) If he only knew that he was telling more of the truth than he realized! lol

Over time, I have come to dread deer hunting season probably more than any other time of year. My mother would make me wear an orange vest, which usually came off as soon as I entered the woods. (I'm sorry mom. :(  If there was anytime of year that I felt I needed to blend in and go unseen, this was it. So one year, I formed an idea of how to apply my squirrel tactic to save the deer too. Being that I was able to spend so much time out there, the deer had started to see me as a non-threat, maybe a normal part of the woods. I had started to recognize individual does, and there was a herd of 8 in particular that I seen often and I felt were really special to me. Several times and in varying situations, I had stalked within just a few feet of them. I couldn't stand the thought of any of them being killed by someone who had no idea just how much individual character they each had. So I reasoned that they needed a fair warning in advance of the upcoming season. The day before it began, I cut a couple of my old t-shirts up into long strips and soaked these in a concoction of perfume. Squirrels rely on their eyes, but if you need to get a message through to a deer, you speak to the nose or ears. So I went to all of the furthest points of what I considered my Territory, and hung up my stinky strips of cloth while beating on my tin kettle and yelling. :) LOL I can't say just how successful my mission was, but I never personally noticed my herd get any smaller. I wonder how many hunters walking through the woods suddenly caught a hint of "Stetson" on the wind. lol

Not long after my wars with the logging crews had finally came to an end, I was 17 or 18 by that point and my experiances with all of that had made me overly zealous and bold in my protection of nature. It was a VERY painful time, to see most of the things I knew and loved being destroyed. I to a certain point feel much the same care for things today, but God has definately given me a very much more balanced and peaceful view. But anyways... Once again it was hunting season. I had gotten over trying to warn the deer by this stage of my life, and went straight to the root of the problem tracking and warning the hunters. So one fall day I was out working on something in my parents yard, and I heard bird calls moving in the woods across the road that could only mean that someone was over there acting sneaky. Bluejay "Sneak" calls are even more obvious than just the regular human alarms. So I rushed to get my normal everyday "Iroquois woodsy clothing" on and my hatchet, and then stuck a big antler handled knife in the back of my belt(which I had never used otherwise) and fancy Gus-to-weh Iroquois headdress on my head just for more effect when I met this "trespasser." As I entered the woods I began to slowly move toward where I heard the calls. Through a crab apple - thorn apple grove, across a little grassy swamp, and as I was about to stalk up the wooded hill on the other side I caught a motion half way up a tree and saw a hunter in his movable treestand just a few hundred yards across from our house and facing it too. This part really made me upset. I was coming from his left side, so I backed back into the swamp and circled to the far back of his treestand, and from there I began my stalk of the "hunter" who was "watching for deer" lol.
I easily reached the back of tree that he sat in, and stood there for a moment waiting for the right moment to appear and hoping I wouldn't be shot. I finally just stepped around the front of the tree, and stood there pointing up at him with obvious displeasure at his presence. LOL He probably could have fell out of his stand he jumped so high with a moment of sheer terror on his face, which he never totally overcame in our short conversation. I am so lucky that he apparently never realized that he was holding a gun at that moment. "Ahh! Don't ever go sneaking up like that!" "You are not supposed to be here, LEAVE." "I have permission to be hunting on this land." "No one has permission to hunt here." Then followed a long session of staring at each other, he still looked like he thought he was having a dream.
lol, After a time of silence, I walked off to his right and into the field. As soon as I reached the far side and was out of his sight, I circled around again to watch him from a distance, as he climbed out of his tree, packed up his equipment and walked out into the field and across to his truck parked down by the river. And that is just about the way that many of my "evictions" played out, but that was the only one where I actually got to see my success. I hoped and prayed that he wouldn't ever come back. I at that time knew the deer's daily patterns almost literally right down to the minute, and he was way too close to being in the right place at the right time. I had watched a young buck and doe come to the crabapple trees and eat several times before, right at or a few minutes after 5pm. I would go over there, climb my tree, and have them without fail eating under me in less than 5 minutes.

 Now on to another story from just 2 years ago. Camp Cherokee, Outdoor School. It is fall, getting colder. I had been talked into taking 11 little school kids and their teacher on a 3 night survival campout.  Now if you want to know stress, this would be it. Here I am, feeling completely out of tune with the woods, having not practised my survival skills or stepped foot in the forest for a very long time, with a light rain falling and a big thunderstorm coming, basic food (a small bag of flour each and a couple other little things), a blanket each, 1 big kettle to purify all of our water in which also doubles for cooking and both activities rely on the iffy business of making a fire, and each kit is complete with a $1 Wal-Mart  pocket knife that falls to pieces about the moment you take them out of the package. To make matters worse, they didn't let us get going until mid afternoon. (I feel like I'm having a breakdown just thinking about it now! :) So I lead these 12 poor innocent victims into the Adirondack hills, perfectly convinced that none of us will ever be seen again. I had only had to live for myself up to this point, never with a whole helpless tribe to care for, lol. So we wander around looking for a shelter location that has all of the necessary requirements, and finally settle for less than perfect.
give a hurried speech on shelter building, and divide them into groups to get started. Didn't happen. The girls all braided each others hair, while the boys disappeared well out of the range that I had set for our camp. The rain falls harder, the kids all keep playing and or arguing, and I begin to give a heated lecture on hypothermia. lol. Finally, a couple of girls gather a 1/2 dozen sticks and I see hope! To make a long and tiring story short, I ran from site to site like a madman, and basically built 3 debris huts for the girls (with a little help when absolutely insisted on) and eventually found a huge uprooted helmock tree whose roots made a perfect cave for the boys and set them to work leveling the slanted floor up with layers of logs, and then leaves, and finally sheets of moss. They are all built! It is getting late and I am ready to collapse, but we still need to go to our cooking area and try to get a fire going in the rain. At this point I wasn't up to carving a bow drill set, so I pulled my flint and steel striker set from my bag, and spent at least an hour shooting sparks at my damp and crumbing charcloth as everyone huddled in a circle around me and fills the air with the sound of chattering teeth, lol. FINALLY! as I was on my last little 1inx1in square of char, I managed to catch a spark and blow it into flame! HURRAY! We had a prayer of thanks, and built it up as big as we possibly could get it. I cut a chunk of canvas from the inside back of my colonial waistcoat to make more char for next time, the water finally boiled after hours of trying, and everyone filled their bottles. A very, very long process for 13 people. And all retired to our shelters for the night. All night it stormed, but I was so very satisfied in the morning to hear that every shelter stayed completely dry, and the only complaints from all was that they were too warm! A 2 or 3 ft thick layer of leaves, can be mighty good insulation you know! :) And from there on, it was all really quite enjoyable and easy for everybody once we had shelters and fire. We collected food, spent endless hours boiling water, built bowdrills, hollowed out a log to rock boil, and made all manner of useful native tools. But the only other mishap was our birchbark torches, lol, it was so hilareous to see!
It was 2 am and we had JUST finished supper. :) Every one was tired but very happy and good natured. Our problem was that it was completely dark out and we had a long walk back up the hill to our campsites. No problem! So I go to a dead birch log, peel several handfuls of bark, and cut 13 stick handles that are split and fitted with the birch strips. TA DA! TORCHES! So I give them all their own with the warning to only light 2 or 3 at a time so that we will have enough to get back up the hill. I light mine and start walking, and soon I am followed by 12 other lit torches. :( all we would have needed was one person to follow my advice, but half way up the hill one by one POOF! POOF! POOF! They all go out almost on cue. lol So now that leaves all of us standing in the pitch blackness, and kids are screaming everywhere around me. So I managed to rally them to follow my voice until all was grouped together, calmed down and accounted for. In my mind the scariest part was that there was a little 10 ft rock drop off to our left, so not wanting any wanderers I had everyone stay with Ms. Johnson until I could find the camp and call for them. After walking through the dark, trying to gauge distance and picture the lay of the land by the steepness under my feet, I stepped into the leaves of one of the shelters and had the group follow my yell. Which was quite an ordeal as well. :) I'm sure they will never forget that experience! LOL  But the thing that really sticks in my mind, was a point in that torturous first day when I was franticly trying to finish those shelters, and there was a very distinct click in my mind and my old lost woods frame of mind was back. It sounds funny I'm sure, but all of a sudden I felt like I knew what I needed to do, and where to find what I needed, and it wasn't stressful anymore. Kinda strange, but its good to know that all that I've forgotten is still in there somewheres! :) Maybe someday I'll get this balancing act figured out?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ye Olde Tale of de Commencement of de Weddin Journy

Say fine companions, I tell thee a story of my travels so far as of this dark soggy eve. Lend an ear if ye may have the time and will to do so. I received word by means of a fine peddler peddling copper pans, pots, and pails of the wedding and following picnic of Miss. Christy Kurtz of the Massachusetts colony. Formerly of the New York colony, and ever a brave soul often found to wander abouts the Tennessee frontiers for several yeers of her girlhood. As I would have fear of many other maidens in that hostile land, but Miss Kurtz has been known to hold her own in a hatchet throw, and mingles well with the Natives oft times being spyed to wear those

dreadful abominations upon her feet known to some as mokkasens.

So being informed as of this day, and less than four and one half fortnites before the joyus occashun and my due time to arrive upon de Maine Territory, (I no less fear I do not understand her draw to these far and dreary territories, but never to speak such things am I commonly to be) I dropped my plow, filled my haversack nigh full of hardtack, and cast my GreatCoat upon my shoulders (and a great coat it may also be.) and lept upon the back of my fair mare Tory. (Now a tory she nay not be, but a fine rebel indeed.) I trotted north easterly over all civilized trails of dae New York colony (at a perfect post I may add)

until the woods thickened with fir and began to grow rocky and of a fair steepness. I are't to see that I traveled ouert the land of the savage Mohawk. Aye it be fearful. But I knew Tory to be fleet of feet and sound of steady mind, so I proceed onward where other men dare not to be. Oft less in times of such as this.

Suddenly my own mare's ears begin to twitch ot ay sound in near bushs. I see the Mohawk party and nare escape with my scalp and life, as Tory puts many furlongs between us and the savage british allies.

I be of much kind luck they never ride, but walk at all times. Never de less, my stocking was to be lost in the briars. I do not believe that I could leave my fair settlement alongs the banks of Little River and be absent of a kneesock with no observance of such? Nay my mind be better than that! Aft long day and late eve of riding in steady rains, I be secure to be out of the Mohawks grasp for the dark and a time of rest till de morn. So thy sincere writer was to hobble his mount, find his camp and spark a fire, savor a lean meal of hardtack, and eagerly pull his laptop from his haversack to log his fair and honest tale on ye olde site of ye blogger, as de shadows flickered in de Aspenglow...... Miss. Christy, and Mr. Barry, ye nay not know all I art to have to face over de long treacherous trail to Maine territory but I be looking forward to thy wedding very much so, ... and de viddles truth be told...


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Holes in my Soles

It's that time of year again, after likely hundreds of miles and an encounter with my mothers dog, I need to make some fresh footwear for the summer. I have big plans, lol. To quote Doddridge, an 18th century colonial frontier traveling preacher, "dae are just a decent way of goin barefoot." He wasn't the most flattering documenter of his frontier congregations, lol. I'm going all out this time, iroquois style beadwork, the works! lol, unless I get lazy. If I feel really motivated, maybe I'll go for porcupine quillwork :) Now I just need to find a poor deceased porky to slap w/ my shirt, and borrow a coat from an unfortunate jaywalking whitetail...;) Now that will make an educating post! (as my last layer of pride falls away, lol)


Fighting like Cats n Dogs

I thought this was sorta cute :) and now for those of you who like myself, feel the need for exacting definitions

DOGMATIC = expressing rigid opinions: prone to expressing strongly held beliefs and opinions

CATEGORICAL = absolute and explicit: leaving no room for doubt, question, or contradiction

Looks like a typical dog-cat relationship.

But Poor Richard once said, "He that would live in peace & at ease, Must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees." ;) Theres a lesson fur ur critters

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Employee of the month, He works like a Dog!

Over the years as I have worked on various building projects, I have come to notice two things about my work style. First of all, I get so focused on finishing my current project that I seldom take time to clean up woodscraps or tools, until I absolutely have to in order to move on. And secondly, I generally get much more done when I am working by myself. I just don't like taking the time to explain how to do something that I could do myself in less time. Therefore, anytime I have hired someone to help me on a particular job, they usually end up standing around watching me work. Which really don't bother me half as much as it often does them. Well, those days are past! I finally found the perfect work partner, he cleans up after me and I don't have to explain anything, and he is a pleasant little guy to have around. He happily works with me through out the day, as he wags his long tail. Yup you read me right, it is my cousin Chad's dog Morgan.

I just started a job, extending a porch and turning it into a sunroom-mudroom on to Chad's parents house. So far it is going really fast, and smooth thanks to Morgan. Lol, as soon as I cut off a scrap of wood, he grabs it and sets it in a neat pile just off the porch. :) If I'm not producing enough scraps for him, he runs off to the woods and starts dragging back some considerably long dead branches to add to his wood pile. He's an industrious pup, Lol. Chad is just happy that he has a dog that will collect firewood for him.

Now, we just have to talk wages and check up on the legality of our parnership. :) Does anyone know if I will need workers comp? I wouldn't want him to get a sliver in his tongue. Lol And worse than that, he has gotten pretty anxious to grab chunks before they even fall off my miter saw. "Sit Boy, we have to Speak about this..." LOL

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Strategies for making new friends. Well... Maybe not?

My Current blog picture in my continuing cycle, reminds me of something that happened a couple years ago just 100 feet or so from where that was taken. Like probably everyone of you as children, I grew up enjoying hide and seek and any other games that challenged my skills of "elusiveness." The thing is though, at about the same time most of you were growing out of such things, I was just beginning. Lol. I started to read books by Tom Brown Jr, and realized that there is truelly a very, very intricate science to the skills of both not being seen, and being aware enough to see and know what is going on around you in nature (and society ;) not my strong point though). Being a homeschooler I had lots of time, and spent every possible moment in the woods anyways, so although I had ALOT to learn I still was given the opportunity to see and experience many things that are quite uncommon. So many stories I have never told anybody, because I know how hard they would be for me to believe. Well, this isn't one of those amazing unbelievable stories. Lol, but it is kind of funny anyways.

There is a place that my family likes to visit called Whitaker Falls, and usually we camp there a few days each summer. So on one of those days, I woke up just as the sky was starting to glow and went for a nice long peaceful walk through the forest that boarders the river. And on my return I went down by the falls and spent some time sitting along the pool at its bottom. It was full daylight by then, and the air was just starting to warm, so an idea came into my head. I half expected my cousin Chad (my naturey partner) to be looking for me soon, and half wondered what animals would happen by, so I decided to find a place to sit sorta out of the way. There is a crack in the rocks at the base about 2 feet deep a dozen or so ft long, and just barely wider than my shoulders that is filled with still and kinda stagnant water and hundreds of minnows. So I put some mud on my face, found a small mat of moss to set on the top of my head, and submerged myself leaving only my nose and eyes above water. I lay there studying minnows as they studied and nibbled on me for no more than 15 minutes and I started to hear voices coming on down the rocks. A little while later they walked past me and went over to the falls. It was 3 teenage boys, you know the type, tough as could be and they knew it, real manly men, Lol. So I lay there and listened and watched until all of a sudden one of them starts to walk towards my little pool and stands at my feet peering into the water presumable at the minnows. Lol, I love that look on peoples faces when they have no idea that they are looking straight at you. :) His 2 buddies were soon close behind him, although not quite as interested in my particular pool. I could have stayed there and they would have wandered away, but I have such a hard time not taking advantage of such situations! Lol, My foot was wedged in a crevice at the bottom, so I slid it out slowly and watched his face as my body floated to the top. LOL, Such a transformation I have never seen! Lol Mr. Tough Guy let out a girly scream and took off like a lightning bolt up the rocks just barely ahead of his two companions once they had seen "The Swamp Creature" stand up out of the water and their "Champion" head for higher ground. Lol They made it all the way to the top before any of them turned around to see me laughing my head off and rolling around on the rocks below. Lol We had a kinda jumpy conversation shouting back and forth, and once the adrenaline wore off, they were laughing as hard as I was. I followed them to the top, and they still kept a close eye on me, but began to bombard me with dozens of questions. It always happens this way, my favorite time was when an amazed little girl and her mother both on horses (that was just about to step on me if I didn't stand up soon, :) seriously asked if I was an indian who still lived in the forests with my tribe. Lol. I usually try not to go popping out of weird places anymore :) Usually