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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Trail Mix

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Trail Mix

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yavanna earth
Aside from looking for a house and building the SWG archive and writing a novella and everything else, Bobby and I have been hiking a couple of trails per week. The weather has been beautiful here in Maryland; Spring was late in coming, but she's treated us well since. And I've needed to walk, both physically and mentally. Having spent the winter inactive thanks to my hip and the lack of skating, I am really out of shape. For me. Slowly, I can feel my body coming to its senses and realizing, "Oh, yes. I'd forgotten, but I'm not supposed to just sit around, am I?"

Mentally, when hiking, I can feel order coming back into the scattering of pandelirium that is my brain these days. It sounds strange to say, but walking and being in nature is like a good housecleaning for my head. One of the theories behind while humans need sleep is the consolidation of memory, and when I walk and don't force my mind to concentrate on any single task (which is, admittedly, most of my day when not hiking, eating, driving, or watching an hour of a movie each night--and sometimes I work while eating too), I can feel something like that happening. I can almost feel the short-term memories clicking into place and connections forming between things. This is helpful for tasks both logical and creative. And it helps to put stressful things into perspective too. Of course, endorphins don't hurt either, no pun intended. (Okay, yes, that was a very bad biopsych pun. My apologies.)

The walks/hikes we've done so far:

The Shorties (about 1 mile/1.6 km)
Patapsco Valley McKeldin--Ole Ranger Loop (three times)
Patapsco Valley--unmaintained off Mariottsville Road (two times)
Patapsco Valley--Liberty Dam

Patuxent River State Park (about 3 miles/4.8 km)

Soldier's Delight Environmental Area (about 3.5 miles/5.6 km)

Calvert Cliffs State Park (about 4 miles/6.4 km)

When we did Soldier's Delight, we discovered that the second trail has now been reopened. Soldier's Delight is a perennial favorite of ours: It winds through the rare and delicate serpentine grassland, which is so odd that it's possible to believe we're not even in Maryland anymore. (Honestly, of all the places we've hiked, it reminds me the most of the Guánica Dry Forest in Puerto Rico, sans cacti.) But because the serpentine is so delicate and the park service is trying to save it from the invasive Virginia pine, the second trail has been closed for as long as I have known of the park's existence. It reopened this year, so we've already got plans to go back and walk the second trail, which will be new for both of us. I'd like to try it this week, but we've got appointments to look at houses on Thursday, so we'll have to see how the rest of the week plays out.

Last Wednesday, we took off to work and made the hour-long drive to Calvert County to go to Calvert Cliffs State Park. It was worth the drive. It was an amazing park, not quite like any we'd yet been to. It began as an ordinary Maryland deciduous forest (and Maryland deciduous forest is beautiful unto itself) with meandering creeks and a few tiny falls. It then opened up into a wetland that spilled out into the Chesapeake Bay. There was a tiny beach and, of course, the famous Calvert Cliffs. The Cliffs are known for their fossils, and Bobby and I found several. We've decided that it is essential to return (without Alex this time) and pack a lunch and spend the day.

I've also been taking my camera along and practicing; I have two rolls of film to be developed and will probably drop them off tomorrow.
  • Of course, endorphins don't hurt either, no pun intended.

    Ouch. My soul. :P

    Of course, there be no hiking in Central-East Texas...Plus, the mosquitoes are awful, and I have very tasty blood, apparently. I've been here, what, two days, and already have seven ginormous bites on my legs. >_<

    Anyways, you still ought to come to the Rockies, i.e. real mountains. ;P (I don't feel the least guilty saying that, because my friend who grew up in D.C. and now lives in CO agrees!). Though I remember you saying that you're not overly fond of the bouldering, which is actually my favorite part.
    • Boooooo for mosquitoes. Out here, we have ticks. We pulled about twelve off of Alex the other day. Nasty bastards.

      No moskeeters though. And I am not complaining.

      (Incidentally, I do think that I recall reading once that a certain percentage of people are inherently more attractive to mosquitoes. So see, you're just special! :^D)

      Also, the tired, ol' Appalachian mountains say that they don't appreciate being made fun of. They are the oldest mountain range in the world and would like to remind those whippersnapper Rockies that they were once taller than not just the Rockies but the Himalayas. They claim that they've earned their right to be unimpressive. :^D

      (Eru, now I'm channeling mountain ranges. I've officially gone nutz!)
      • Yeah, I figured I was one of those "special" people with inherently delicious blood. O_o Ticks suck though too. We don't have many here, luckily, though I've found the occasional one on the dogs.

        Well, see you should come lay the smack down on them young 'un Rockies in person. ;)

        Eru, now I'm channeling mountain ranges. I've officially gone nutz!

        Wow. And here I thought Feanorians were bad...:P
  • I'm so glad you two are getting out and getting exercise. Those long walks can be really nice.
    • We love it! We started hiking the trails near where I grew up shortly after finishing high school and have been at it ever since. Though you may have noticed ... we both tend to be treehuggers. ;) I would hike all day, every day, if I could.
  • If the weather holds I might go to the lake this afternoon. I only have to read about walking and I want to do some myself. Meh. I've met the most adorable puppy. She's a mix of a golden retriever and a Hungarian shepherd and promises to grow into a huge pretty thing. At the moment she's rather friendly and fluffy. Best of all: she belongs to one of U.'s clients and lives around the corner. Maybe I can borrow her a bit one day ... The cats thought dog smells interesting, by the way. *g*

    Your walk sounds great and good luck for Thursday!
    • A belated thank you! All the good wishes everyone has been sending me worked, as you know. :)

      The dog sounds beautiful; I'd definitely borrow her. ;) Meanwhile, Bobby and I are breaking the news to Alex that he'll be getting a little brother or sister soon: a kitten. He's terrified of my parents' cat Jack, who chases him, but I'm hoping that he'll adapt to a kitten. Well, if he does anything stupid, he'll meet the business end of a set of claws, and that'll learn him, if nothing else does. ;)
  • Hat's off to finding a form of exercise you can a) make time for and b) really enjoy. The MD trails, esp. Calvert Cliffs, sound great, and watch out for the icky ticks!

    I used to take my long runs (8-12 miles on a Saturday or Sunday) on trails in the conservancy around Lincoln MA or in the Blue Hills Reservation south of Boston. I loved trail running, and it sure was easier on the old knees. Walking's more my speed these days, although I'd dearly love to run again, but the trails around here worry me because of the prevalence of Lyme disease. I read an article about the Sourland Mountain preserve which I thought sounded great for hiking until I read that for all practical purposes, one needed to don a biohazard suit to avoid the damn ticks. Sigh... Looks like I'll stick to the sidewalk in the 'hood.

    the scattering of pandelirium that is my brain these days...

    Heh. I can relate. :^)
    • First of all, I hope that you're able to read this and that the laser surgery went well. :) I've been wanting to email you, but you know how it goes with pandelirium ...

      On ticks, Bobby and I got a rude awakening the other day when we stumbled off the trail by accident at Soldier's Delight. We looked down and each had about twenty ticks crawling up our legs. We spent the next few days bathing and plucking at poor Alex constantly. So we've given up on taking Alex with us for the rest of the hiking season. He's on two flea/tick preventative meds, plus we bathed him in flea & tick shampoo, and nothing killed them. Though Bobby found an interesting device designed for long-haired dogs that detects ticks. Not quite sure how it works, but that's the only alternative left to save Alex's hiking season.

      I'm a conservationist through and through, and I really do try to see how even the unpleasant critters fit into the big picture of things, but damnitall, I have trouble finding a good reason for ticks.
  • That sounds great! Man, I love walking through nature. Was just out right now and enjoying the nice weather (finally). I think what you said about the brain putting itself into order when not troubled by things (like when watching tv, walking, etc.) is right. For me, things become more detached and less troublesome. (Wish that would happen more often! X_x) And Calvert Cliffs State Park sounds absolutely gorgeous! *wants pictures*
    • First of all, I adore your icon! That little red dude is so me! :^D

      You'll get your wish on the pictures ... if I ever find a moment to drop the film off! Or upload/sort/post the pictures that Bobby took with the digital.

      I'm glad someone relates to the brain reorganization that occurs during nature walks! :^D I've also learned that I need to read or watch a movie before bed, else I have weird dreams and sometimes insomnia. If I'm working on web design projects before bed, I spend the night dreaming about web design. The only up-side to this is that I occasionally solve problems in my sleep! The down-side ... well, dreaming about web design! :^P
  • Hi Dawn. How nice to have time to take walks in beautiful landscape. It sounds as though Maryland is a very nice place with much variety. (And good luck with the house-hunt btw. It can be a pain, but it's worth it in the end) If only it would stop raining here I would go out and enjoy nature as well, now that I finally handed in that master thesis, and have all the time in the world (except of course for having to look for jobs...). I'm still hard at work on the drawing I have talked about, and hopefully all this extra time should see it finished in a week or so.
    Knus
    Hrymfaxe
    • Hello! It's great to see you on LJ ... I've said that already, but I felt the need to underscore. ;)

      Maryland is called "little America" because we have such a diverse state. We border on the ocean and have the Chesapeake Bay, so have a major estuary as well, as well as many freshwater rivers. There's wetlands on the eastern shore, lots of deciduous forest in the central part of the state, and the Appalachian Mountains out west. It's really cool for a nature geek like me. The only downside is that summers are steaming hot and winters are bitterly cold.

      I hope that the rains have subsided enough to allow you to enjoy your side of the world, and that you've enjoyed your time off from school as well! :) (And I am looking forward to that drawing. ;) Btw, I've wanted to ask: Is the cliff in your icon the same from the Elf-king legend?

      {{{knus}}}
      • It's great to be on LJ, so we are of the same mind on this! :)

        Maryland sounds wonderful! I love variety in nature - Denmark is too small to have very much of that, but it's still nice with many forests and endless coastlines, being a kingdom (or queendom as is the case right now) mostly consisting of islands!

        And you guessed correctly - that is the cliff where the Elf-king stands to listen to mermaid-music. It is one of the more dramatic places in Denmark, nature-wise, the sea is eating into the coastline, and every now and then large pieces break off. There is actually a church that was once safely on land, but now stands on the very edge of the cliff - the cemetery has already disappeared in the ocean... There is a picture of it here: http://www.stevnsklint.dk/home3.htm (the church that is..)
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