Taking Stock (and a link-fest)

Lately, there’s been so much going on in my brain it hurts…ideas and emotions and plans all rolling around in there, it can feel all a little overwhelming at times. But good busy.
One day, I’ll get all of the important ideas onto a page, I’ll record the brainwaves and document those fleeting moments of up and down. Until then here’s a snap shot thanks to Kate at Fox’s Lane and Pip shares.

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Making : a crochet blanket for a friend’s first baby, whilst sitting next to fire watching The Hunger Games movies.

Cooking : anything slow cooked, chocolate filled or mushroomy (not altogether!!).
Osso bucco, spicy pumpkin soup, chocolate brownies (x3), roasted field mushrooms with goat’s cheese, homemade yoghurt. Then late today,  into the slow cooker went mushroom and white bean soup.

Drinking : Hot lemon water with Apple Cider Vinegar each morning. And lots of smoothies – now with banana and coconut milk, not water for the weather has gone chilly. Plus lots of green stuff hidden inside too.

Reading: SLOW magazine, and The Renegade Collective Hub magazine. And The Saturday Paper…proper writings to inspire and comfort and inform.

Wanting: more sunny autumn days but knowing we need the rain more. So please, keep the rain coming but maybe just at nighttime, OK??

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Looking: out in the paddock for field mushrooms. And scanning up in the pine forests for more edible delights; blessed to live in a place with such plentiful fresh produce just a short walk away.

Playing: Asgeir “In The Silence”, on repeat every day. The haunting melodies and lyrics still move me to tears and then uplift my heart all at the same time.

Wasting: plenty of time on Instagram these days.

Sewing: nothing; I don’t sow…not even hem my pants; I use sports tape and safety pins instead.

Wishing: my family lived closer nearby

Enjoying: pretty autumn sunny days filled with lots of colourful trees and reading books in the sun and cups of tea

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Waiting: for a sign, to pluck up the courage and take the plunge: to plan the next adventure and travel some more. Patience, little one.

Liking: after nearly 18 months living in Central Victoria I finally got to go to my “local” Farmer’s Market today; sell cheese and chat to the locals….my locals. For a gypsy like me, it’s a new feeling to find a place to settle comfortably.

Wondering: just how much firewood is enough, and exactly how many hours a week does it take to keep a 3 bdr Farmhouse clean.  (answer to both: too much!)

Loving: fiction – escapism at it’s best.

Hoping: for my flannelette sheets to dry so I can snuggle between fresh, clean, cozy linen tonight.

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Marvelling: just how magical the outdoors is during my favourite season, Autumn.

Needing: to chop some more wood. And collect dry kindling. Then start knitting the next scarf.

Smelling: nothing better than being woken by the sweet aroma of a new slow-cooked meal early in the morning

Wearing: my beanie inside these days…

Following: Mindful In May’s 31 day meditation program this month – taming my monkey mind and fundraising water for African villages. Go here to join in or donate or sponsor me.

Noticing: just how many new lambs are running around the paddock next to my Farmhouse with each day that passes by.
And already just 4 days into May that just ten minutes a day spent in meditation really does ground and calm me.

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Knowing: once the mind is stretched into new territory, it can never retreat. Knowledge is power and freedom. That we never reach the end destination; the finish line keeps shifting, the goal posts move and what we once felt important in life will be constantly redefined by new moments. That the only constant in life is change, and we can only do what we can, with what we have right here and right now.

Thinking: To upgrade the phone, or not?? The USB connection is hap hazard, and the screen freezes in my nigh-on 2 yr old Samsung are becoming more frequent and more frustrating. But oh, the cost. And then Android or Apple?
I’ll probably just keep going with the one I’ve got…til I smash it up or drop it in water.

Feeling: inspired by all the possibilities that are ahead of me, but just a teensy bit scared of the next step. Which direction??

Bookmarking: at page 714 through my next read for #fiftytworeads: Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini. The last of the Eragon books – epic but captivating.

Opening: a block of French-made dark chocolate my boss’s bought back from Paris last month. Mmmm…dinner perhaps?

Giggling: with a fellow farmer chick this morning on our way to the local Farmer’s Market about terrible reality TV, Twilight movies of yester-year and just how much cheese is enough…!?

Feeling: Challenged. Proud. Grateful. Just happy to be alive, here and now.

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How about you??

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big moments, little pauses and this [im]perfect life

The last few months for me have been epic.
Two jobs, two different cities, a new house and plenty of competing demands to be “managed”.
Working 50-60 hrs a week…often no proper weekend, and my “to-do” list still as long as ever each night I crawl into bed.

It has pushed me, bent me, and at times crushed my resolve but showed me such great wisdom I can’t be anything but grateful.

My head and body hurt at the end of each day  – from the physical challenges of working on a farm again, but also mental demand to keep each of my priorities in order. Naturally schedules have clashed, missed calls remain un-returned and various commitments I’ve made fall by the wayside in place of sleep, work and rest time.

I’ve never felt so out of control yet at the same time so grounded, present and content.

While I washed 3 days worth of dishes at dawn before running out the door to catch a train, it hit me – I laughed out loud –  because I find myself strong, healthy and alive in an imperfect world!??

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Home is a sight I am forever grateful to see. Driving up the drive, I curse out loud when the sheep have got in and eaten the “garden”. I notice the growing pile of leaves that need raking up from the back door, a reminder that summer has been and gone with autumn now in her place. Everyday I think “today’s the day I will clean the cobwebs from the shower”…then proceed to find something else to fill my time with (usually cooking or reading instead!). I’ve embraced the space, the silence, that I’m afforded now that I live in the country…padding up and down the long corridors, eating on the makeshift couch or reading by candlelight tucked up in bed.

“Waverley” is still revealing herself to me, piece by piece. No water for 2 days in the first week I moved in (the tank was empty!) then the power goes out for 3 days (luckily for me, whilst I was in Melbourne for work). There is still plenty of empty rooms and blank walls to decorate, when I find time. Add that to the list…
But with all her kinks and crooked floor boards, with water pipes that clang and doors that don’t quite close; with spider webs adorning the windows and possums fighting on the roof at dusk, my Farmhouse reminds me that the wrinkles and bruises and scars we carry are evidence of a meaningful, rewarding life.

That it is all a “work in progress”, to be refined and polished when we find ourselves growing stronger and more certain of what is true.

Here’s to sitting squarely in our own imperfection and chaos, to learning the true art of building ourselves a content, happy life.

 

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Going for a walk, in the woods…

Time spent in a state that is covered in more trees than not (80% of Vermont is trees to be exact) certainly lends itself to plenty of walks. In fact the state’s name comes from verd monts, which translates to “green mountains”………does that give you a better idea?

With the events in August 2011 (Tropical Storm “Irene”) leaving the Green State battered, there was more brown than green – but it still made for some lovely tramping, trekking walking etc. And I was lucky enough to be there for perhaps the nicest season of all….Autumn.

Six of the most memorable walks:

1. Mt. Peg, Woodstock VT
Right in the middle of tourist-town Woodstock is an easy ~1.5 mile  climb to some pretty views over the town and valley surrounding that give you a very good perspective of the sheer green-ness of the state. If you have a spare half an hour, or need to walk off lunch it’s a nice easy stroll through the trees. I wrote at the time:

on the south side of Woodstock, off the small back streets there’s a quick walk up Mt. Peg – a little lump of a mountain that pokes up to give views across the pretty town and valleys beyond. The walk itself weaves through thick spruce trees, under a canopy of autumn colour and behind houses nestled into the side of the hill, before emerging atop for the vista. Even though the weather was cloudy, looking at trees stretching for as far as the eye can see is truly good for the soul.

View across Billings farm and Woodstock

2. The Pogue and Mt. Tom, Woodstock VT
On the opposite side of Woodstock there are some 20 miles of trails and carriage roads to explore (you can take a sleigh ride in winter – how cool!!) as part of the Marsh-Billings-Rockerfeller National Historic Park. Despite the sunny autumn weather (definitely shorts and t-shirt weather) and holiday long-weekend when I visited, the place felt empty. You are literally a stones-throw from the main street in downtown Woodstock, yet the expanse allows you to feel you are miles away from any tour bus. All up, I walked about 3.6 miles (5.75km) along a fairly easy gradient, about 1 1/2 hours with plenty of photo/vista stops to breathe it all in!

First the trail is wide and gentle, walking beneath the shade of an autumn canopy
Then it widens to a field (paddock)
And then you stumble up the last bit to be rewarded with views across the Pogue (lake)

Farther along the road/trail is Mt. Tom itself – the extra milage for a round trip to the South Peak Overlook was so worth the view! You are literally standing on the edge of the summit, staring down across the busy world below.  I think this climb would be well worth it at night-time too – imagine all those pretty lights!!

Woodstock nestled into Mt. Peg behind

3. The Pinnacle, Stowe VT
The town of Stowe is normally known for it’s exclusive, but expansive ski slopes that make it a very popular destination in winter-time. We were lucky enough to have some nice-ish autumn weather (it’s all relative, no rain or snow but still pretty cold with the howling wind!!) to explore the countryside and decided on trekking up the steep 3 mile walk up Stowe Pinnacle before lunch.

Starts out gentle enough…

Nice enough, perhaps better if the recent storms hadn’t washed it out in parts. But because of the extra altitude the leaf change was the best I would see for most of the trip.

Yes, I said steep! There were people practically running this as their morning workout!!

The views from the top were pretty special (we started the climb down the very bottom of those trees!).

 It was also my first and delicious trip that involved sampling apples straight from the tree roadside (you’ll never go back once you’ve tasted fresh picked extra flavour-some apples!!). Then, with lunch taken care of, I was lucky enough to detour on the drive home to Ben and Jerry’s factory – no way could I have come this far without tasting their ice-cream 🙂





4. Moss Glen Falls, near Stowe VT
Despite the drizzle and inclement weather, it really was a pleasant 1/4 mile hop upstream from the car to the falls, ranked in the top-10 of most popular waterfalls in New England. As nice as it was, I was quite glad to be nowhere near here when the floods happened – there was debris half-way up 30-foot trees!! A poor beaver was busy rebuilding his/her home, gnawing through thigh-sized timber on the water’s edge!!!

Short steep pitch up the slope to see the falls…glad to wear decent shoes for this!
Beautiful, powerful…nature at it’s best

We then hiked on a little further along the river, through the beautiful sodden forest – the colours all the more vibrant because of the rain…

 If one set of falls is not enough – there’s a book out there detailing where to find more!
 

5. Hubbard Park, Montpelier VT
A more “suburban” setting but even Vermont’s capital city residents (all 8,000 of them) are not going to lose out on being “close to nature”. So, I found the perfect way to shake off jetlag…a run up the nearest mountain you can find! Set in 185 acres of land just above the State House for parliament, there was more than 7 miles of trail/road to explore – it really was food for the soul running through thick dense fir and spruce, as well as the elm, birch and maple trees all changing colour. I didn’t cover the whole 7 miles, but the climb was quite descent, so certainly felt the legs the next day!

Main street of Montpelier
The trail began climbing up a road overlooking the town
Then it was straight wilderness, I didn’t see another person!
50-foot above the ground
I even found a 50-foot tower to climb – that was my stair repeats to really kill the quads!!!! Glorious views over the surrounds helped ease the burn, then beyond the tower was more trail to explore….rock-hopping over streams, dancing around wildlife (2 squirrels, 1 snake!) and under the autumn splendor of late afternoon.

View halfway up the tower

Nature at it’s best

6. Rattlesnake Point/Falls of Lana, East Middlebury, VT
Thankfully I didn’t encounter a single snake on this 5-mile climb, just a few fellow hikers, one dog and a few lizzards trying to warm up in the sun! I was warm enough pretty soon too, given the sunny weather as well as the climb up ~1500 feet!! Mostly the trail wove through the trees up along old logging tracks, past the falls to the escarpment high above. Certainly strenuous in small sections, the views at the top were well worth the effort. Given the longer distance, it was a very quiet stroll too.

Gentle stream, near the falls; most people stopped about here.
Lana Falls

But far more fun to be had – off the beaten track….
Halfway along the escarpment, the fall foliage starting to pop!
Not a bad spot to stop and have lunch ay? Check out those views…..

 All in all, The Green State was a pleasure to discover on foot…and I really only scratched at the surface. Who knows, maybe one day I will make it back to do a walk along the Appalachian Trail. What? A girl’s gotta dream big!!