Walking with Friends

Friday, January 24th, 2020

This Friday, we went walking with friends.

We walked home in the dark under a clear night sky with Venus shining brightly above.



Hunt for the Lost Ornament (Single-Use Disposable River Crossing Over Bridgeless Brook, Part II)

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

Despite the fact that we had nowhere in particular to go, we didn’t manage to leave the house until nearly three in the afternoon. The goal was to find Linda’s missing gift.


We walked through the field, down into the woods to the place where Iris first showed me the ornament. It was not there. We walked to the near side of the river where we had crossed. No ornament. Then, because we could not cross the river— there was more water and less ice— we bushwhacked down the easterly side of the river in search of an alternate crossing.


At the mouth of Bridgeless Brook was a mass of stuff: a large culvert lay perpendicular to the shore with up-rooted trees, ice and rocky mud all in a jumble amid the water flowing into the Coaticook River. We had found a new crossing spot at last! I tried it out myself first. I crossed a jumble of organic matter over sub-freezing water, walked along the culvert, grabbed something long & logish, inched out on a large protruding log & tossed the smaller log so that it lay across the remaining ice and water between me and the far shore.


“You can do it!” I said, and they came. And they did it. With a helping hand here and there and one final toss of the kids over the last bit of river, we all crossed Bridgeless Brook.


Iris & Akiva on the far side of the river crossing—




Where we crossed the river—




Once on the far side of the river, the hunt for the missing ornament continued. We walked to the far side of yesterday’s river crossing. No ornament. We followed our bushwhack back to the washed out concrete bridge. No ornament. There we met a man named Pierre-Luc. He happens to be part owner of the property. We chatted with him for a bit, then walked through the field, across the street, and followed the path to the school. No ornament.


“There’s one final place I really think it might be,” I said as we re-traced our footsteps to the location of last night’s party. And there it was! There it was, hiding shyly in the fading daylight and all soggy in the snow, right near where we had put down our backpacks by the bonfire! Oh, were we happy.

Single-Use Disposable River Crossing Over Bridgeless Brook

Friday, December 13th, 2019


If the brook that used to have a bridge over it had a name, I’d call it by its name. At this point, due to the fact that we visit so frequently, I’m compelled to name it myself. I hereby name the little river that used to have a tiny bridge over it Bridgeless Brook.


After a brief stop for a snack, where Iris showed me the ornament that Linda had made for her and one for each person in the class, we reached Bridgeless Brook between 3:30 & 4:00 in the afternoon. Recently we’ve been crossing just slightly upstream of where the bridge used to be, because the stream is wide and the gravel is not too far from the surface. However, today it was warm. The brook was deep. I crossed the brook on a rope tied between two trees, but this was beyond the ability of my kids.


Up past the regular crossing is an eddy pool. A tree leans out over the eddy pool, growing vertically where once there must have been soil. After crossing the river, I put one foot on the tree’s trunk, wrapped one arm around the trunk, and put my other foot on the ice on the other side, where Iris & Akiva waited.


“I’ll take Akiva first,” I said. He walked out onto the thin ice. With one arm, I swung him across to my side of the river. He climbed the bank.


“And now Iris,” I said. She walked out onto the thin ice. As I swung her across to my side of the river with one arm, the ice under my foot crashed into the river. I pulled myself over to the kids.


“Good thing we’re all on the same side!” I said. “Lets walk upstream to see if there’s a better crossing somewhere.”


We walked upstream, up all the way to where the concrete bridge washed out. We walked up to the road, walked up the steep bank covered in phragmites, went over the river as the road crosses, then went back down through the tall stand of phragmites that covers the bank. We walked along the edge of the field, across the road to the trail to the school, then reached the school about 45 minutes before the second-grade Christmas party was to begin. We hadn’t planned on attending, but someone was just starting a bonfire, so we put down our backpacks and stayed a while. After some sack races, tug-o-war games, singing and dancing, we noticed our bellies grumbling & headed home. Upon arrival, Iris unpacked her backpack. The gift from Linda was nowhere to be found!


to be continued…


After Hallowe’en

Friday, November 1st, 2019

This year’s house for the Candy Faerie—




is hidden somewhere around here—






Hiking Friday @ the Waterville Trails

Friday, October 11th, 2019


This is my Iris. I love her with all my heart.




Iris loves me, too. She also loves trees.




Iris also loves her brother, tho you wouldn’t always know it.




Iris is cautious. Akiva is daring.

Iris has endurance. Akiva is impulsive.

Iris is devoted. And so is Akiva.




Being together enables them to do things that they might never do separately.




Iris writes Akiva’s name in pine needles.




Then she writes her own—





















We stay in the woods until the sun starts yawning and fluffing its pillow, ready to go to bed.




When we get back home— which is not too far away— Martin & his father are working on the siding.




This is the end of Martin’s 2nd week off work, so they can use all the help they can get.




Akiva works as hard as he usually works.




“Hi, Papa!”




…did I ever tell you the story of how we finally settled on this color of yellow?


Johnville Bog & Forest Park (Hiking Friday moved to Saturday)

Saturday, September 28th, 2019

Lately, every time we go to Johnville Bog, it rains. This time, we try to be prepared.

Upon arrival, the children check the weather. We might be prepared.




Some might think a bog an odd location for viewing autumn foliage, but that is likely because they are looking up.

I love the bog in all seasons. In autumn, I hear my friend Sunshine’s voice in my head:

“In Fairbanks, autumn happens on the ground.”

The Johnville Bog & Forest Park is a little slice of boreal forest in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.




I take some overcast portraits of my always adorable children—




& #2




Then I head on, head down. Akiva is also head down.

Unlike his sister, he does not always enjoy walking.




But I take this opportunity of slowness to keep my eye between the cracks.




The light is low. My focus is off. I can’t get close enough. I wish I brought a tripod.

But I never bring a tripod: it is difficult to carry both a tripod and a 50 lb. child.




Cottongrass hovers in the spruce grove.




Pitcher plants nestle among mosses.




Mosses snuggle between the cracks of the decaying boardwalk.




In a boreal forest, autumn happens on the ground.








At the Wounded Trees (Hiking Fridays, Val-Estrie games)

Friday, September 13th, 2019

With their chests un-girdled,

with the ropes cut at last,

the trees breathe deep.

Their wounds are laid bare to the light.


After school, we walk around the former Val-Estrie property—

still known as Val-Estrie due to the failure to acquire any other name.




On the way back from our walk, we stop among the tall cedars that grow just at the beginning of the games trail.




As Iris looks closely at things growing on the ground,




Akiva pulls loose stuck ropes that have been cut from the trees.




Slowly, people have been taking off the ropes that girdle various trees.




I have removed some. Others have removed others.




To soothe the trees’ wounds, my children give them hugs and kisses.




Trees are our companions.




I try for a posed photo amongst the cedars. My models have issues with the sunlight.




“Ow ow ow ow!”




“Perhaps is you face in opposite directions?” I suggest.




I take over 100 photos. All of them have cute children in them, which is a boon to any mediocre landscape photo.




Trees in the sunlight, sunlight in the trees.




I fill a bag full of ropes to take to the trash. There are many left.




 Slowly, slowly. Perhaps one day the ropes will be gone.


Photo Spot, Val Estrie Trails

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Iris once sat here & told me to take a photo of her, just her alone.

I think of it every time I pass this spot in the woods.


Camping du Pont Couvert

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Camping du Pont Couvert is only 15 minutes from home.

Martin passes by each night for dinner on his way home from work.


  *   *   * 


Tabea, looking like the little girl she is.

Inside this little girl is a magnificent brain, re-inventing the future as she sucks her thumb.




Akiva, looking like the little boy he is.

Inside this little boy is endless charm and fledgling mastery. Women swoon. Strong men tremble.


The Piano Obsession.

Monday, July 8th, 2019

There was an old woman tossed up in a basket

Seventeen times as high as the moon

And where she was going, I couldn’t help ask it

For under her arm, she carried a broom.

“Old woman, old woman, old woman,” quoth I,

“Where are you going, up so high?”

“To sweep the cobwebs off the sky—

And I’ll be with you, by and by.”

—M. Goose


We saw her yesterday in Compton. A woman— destined to be an old woman if all goes well— with a broom under her arm. Or over her head. Well, anyhow, she was making brooms. She remembered Iris from last year. She remembered the tiny veggie scrubber they had worked on together. She remembered how much of it they had made and she said to Iris, “This year, you are old enough to make your own broom.” She sat Iris in front of her on her broom-maker’s bench and made a broom with her. She was absolutely delightful and I didn’t say thank you nearly enough.


When we walked down to the school today, we took the broom so that I could carve Iris’s name & yesterday’s date on it, as Madame KeeVanne (a.k.a. Julie Jo) had said to do.




I took my camera with me, as you can tell. That’s becoming a rare event these days. I used to take it everywhere! I’m not sure what happened. Perhaps I got disgruntled with the quality of the lighting at the apartment. Perhaps I got distracted my a myriad of things to do. But I did take my camera. I like to document my children, to prove their youth and beauty.






On the way back, we stopped at the woods piano. These days, one has to hunt for piano keys on the ground if one wishes to play the piano with piano keys.




Akiva is my main piano player. He appreciates all pianos.




This was once an integral part of a once-beautiful upright grand piano.




Iris & Akiva play a duet.




Akiva bangs out a solo. 




Keys. There once were keys.



Brief photographic timeline of the woods piano:

Broken Down Piano: September 11, 2017

How Fares the Piano? April 9, 2018

Val-Estrie Piano (again): May 30, 2018

Decline of the Woods Piano (Winter): January 1, 2019