Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Caretaker’s Log, Saturday, April 4, 2015

I had set my mental clock to wake me at 5:30 so I could watch the lunar eclipse. But, knowing the lunar schedule better than I do, my mind alarm gets me up an hour earlier. I look out through the skylight and see the moon already a third of the way eclipsed. I get up, put on socks, my snow pants, and a sweatshirt, and go to the front room to retrieve my camera.

I set it up on a tripod on the table in the den. I crouch on the chairs and benches in front of the table and snap photo after photo after photo. It's cold. 9 degrees outside and who knows what temperature in this unheated room. I go put on my coat.

By 6:08, the moon is fully eclipsed and dawn is on the way. A hazy film of clouds covers the western sky. The moon is lost in the gathering light. The sun turns the space above the mountains a soft then brightening blue.

I go back to bed. It takes forever for me to warm up again. My toes and fingers are frozen. I put on some thick socks and tuck my fingers behind my bent knees. Eventually, I fall asleep. I stay in bed until sometime in the nine o'clock hour.

All the morning things get done. And not too far off my normal schedule.

I make a three egg omelet for breakfast with a pseudo hollandaise sauce and half an avocado to top it all off.

The cat and I go watch the moose in the red willows. With spring changing the face of everything, the willows are a cacophony of colors, red, orange, yellow, greenish brown. The moose stands out like a solid shadow, a silhouette, a friend. There are ducks in the river and geese on the riverbanks.

Two red tailed hawks soar overhead.

The air is rife with birds.

Back in the lodge, I put on music and I read.

Eventually I remember to post a blog.

Before I know it, it's three o'clock. The wind is moving strong across the plains, over the mountains, and through the trees. I set some laundry in the sink to soak. I eat an apple and a banana for a snack.

I'm sitting down to write when I see a coyote in the field. I go out and watch it finding things to eat in the snow. I watch it settle on its haunches and I know what will happen next. I’m ready. It pounces. And my hand, traitor that is, shakes at the exact moment I press the capture button on my camera and all I get are the tips of that coyote’s feet instead of a perfect action shot. Blast. Despite that, I get plenty of other pictures. The coyote scores something, a ground squirrel or a mouse perhaps, I see it chewing happily.

The cat doesn't want to take pictures of the coyote. She wants me to pet her. "Kitty," I say, pushing her gently aside. She purrs nevertheless.

There's a moose in the willows. Ducks fly by. The geese sound out an alarm warning everyone that a predator is near.

The coyote trots out of my sight. I go into the lodge to get back to work and the coyote comes back into view. I'll never get anything done with all this wildlife around to distract me.

Michaela calls. I can still see the coyote through the kitchen window while we talk.

A bit later, I see the beaver through the den window and go get a few photos of it before my camera dies.

I say goodnight to the moose. The cat and I do our nightly walk around.

I make tuna for dinner.

I record the weather.

I rinse and wring out my clothes and hang them to dry over the fire.

Then I finally sit down and write—only distracted by the sunset. And then by the now waning moon as it rises so quickly up over the east mountain ridge.

Caretaker’s Log, Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday.

I stay in bed until 8:40. The mice in the ceiling woke me twice during the early morning hours. I'm really going to have to do something about them. I just wish it didn't mean their deaths.

After the usual morning things, I take a cup of coffee and my book to the front porch. The cat sits in my lap and I read. The sun is warm. Although the wind is brisk it's very pleasant out.

After a while, I go in and eat bananas and tahini for breakfast. I finish the Martin Beck book I’m on. I've only got one more left in the series.

Then I gear up and go out to ski. I head up to Industrial Park and then through the gate that defines the country as National Forest land. Then I head on down the hill. I go across the west field and up the slope that looks out over the west plain. The snow has uncovered a single file footpath, and with no set plans I take off the skis, shrug, and walk along it. I've never been on this side of the crag. It’s a different world from here, striking red and sand-colored cliffs and huge dark rocks littered among the grass and snow and willows. Once around, I ski across the plain. I hope to skirt the river, end up on the other side at the foot of Sportsman's Ridge, and go back to the lodge via the north and the northeast route.

Once, I cross the river. It's shallow and I step my way over on the rocks. My ski boots don't even get wet. On the other side, I ski along. But the river is tricky. It winds and esses across the plain and I can't get to the opposite side without deeper wading. I'm not wanting to get that wet. I wind and ess my way across the plain, but I can’t find the proper crossing point. In spite of my exploratory trekking it soon seems that I’ll have to either swim across the river or go back, more or less, the way I came.

It’s too cold to swim. Too cold to wade. I give up on my plan to go back via Sportman’s Ridge. Trying to evaluate my exit strategy, so to speak, I look over at the slope with the foot trail I’d walked in on. I’m separated from it by a large block of six foot tall willows. Unlike the animals, I don’t enjoy being in the middle of the reeds. But the quickest way between two points is a straight line, I’ve heard.

Eventually, I brave my way through the willows that are taller than I am. They’re thick in places and the skis I hold under my arm get caught in the branches. I struggle through until I find a moose path and then I'm out in the open again and back to that first hill where I had started from. It's easy going home from there. I ski all the way back.

I’ve been out wandering for two and a half hours. Now I'm tired and hungry and sticky. I take a bath right off. Hang my socks to dry and set the ski boots by the fire.

I eat a banana. Have a shot of Kraken rum. I post some pictures. Answer some emails. While I'm online, I look for another series to read from my library. I'm sad that my time with Martin Beck and his team is over. I have one book left in the series, but it's not immediately available in ebook format. However, it is available as an audio file so I download it.

I call my grandmother. She and my grandfather have been to my parents’ house for an Easter get together. Apparently there was plenty of food and a good time was had by all.

I eat tuna for dinner.

I sit down and write. My character does the cliché and goes from the frying pan into the fire. Though not literally.

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, April 6, 2015

14 weeks today.

I get up at 8:30. I can feel the storm coming in by the protest of my joints. I want the snow, but could do without the pain. It snows soft flurries on and off all day. It's enough to make staying inside cozy, but not enough to replenish the diminishing ground snow.

I make granola. I see two moose and something grand like a hawk maybe sitting on a nearby fence post as if to oversee the mooses’ breakfast. I see some robins, ducks, geese, and those little black songbirds.

I decide to listen to the Martin Beck audiobook I’d downloaded yesterday while I work the last jigsaw puzzle that I brought with me. It's the perfect day for it. I take breaks every now and then to pay attention to the cat, bring in some wood, clean up the lodge a little, eat a snack, and stare out the window. The book is only five and half hours long. I finish two thirds of the puzzle as I listen. Too soon, the book is over. It was a great series, all in all.

I have kale salad for dinner.

I've had my snow day. Had my fun. Now it's time to work. Fortunately, I enjoy my work. I feel lucky about that.

I sit down and open up the computer. My character has been kidnapped. His situation looks pretty hopeless. He feels like he's failed.

I only get up half a million times. To get a drink, to eat a snack of apple, cheese, and crackers also known as second dinner, to look at what I've done on the jigsaw puzzle, to add wood to the fire, to go wash a dish, to stand up—everyone needs to stretch now and then—and despite all this, I manage to get some work done. At least four pages of writing. This is actually above my daily average. I'm nearing the end of this book. Part of me wants to keep it going for as long as possible and the other part wants to finish quickly with a roaring sense of satisfaction.

Just after ten o’clock, I shut things down and head upstairs for the night.

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