Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Did you ever have a time when you knew the exact right thing to say to someone who was feeling down on themselves?

Today I had that experience while chatting with a colleague who is also more of a friend. We've known each other for several decades of our careers, crossing paths multiple times until we now work together.

We were chatting about a work issue, then I asked him some questions about tuition tax credits. A strange segue perhaps, but his kids are a little older than mine so he's been at this college financing stuff longer than I. That got us off into talking about our various kids and how they were doing and the choices they are making and the lives they are building and how the role as parent continues to change with as they grow and mature. He was saying how he marveled at his kids, especially his oldest and at the choices he was making and the person he was becoming.

Then, closing the door first, he said somewhat wistfully to me, , "I tend to be a little too cynical and negative at times and I am never sure if I am a good person or a bad person inside; and I think my son is becoming a better person than me."

Well he does tend to be a little too cynical at times and I've joked with him about that, but I also know him as someone who is a caring ethical person, husband, Dad and son.

What immediately came me, and what I said in response, was a phrase I had read this week; that it is the good person who is attuned and cares about whether he is doing good or bad and continually reassesses his actions and adapts. It is the bad person doesn't care.

I think most of us wonder at times if we are more bad than good, more harsh or critical than not. I guess that's why we are a work in process.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring is definitely here and as I think about it, that is unusual. Usually we bounce around in an out of winter and then right into early summer. Because we live at a higher elevation spring and summer comes later than the lower areas. But this past week has been glorious. Warm and sunny and the sun is up later, I've even been able to take some late afternoon runs, which always brighten the spirit.

Last week or so ago we went through several days of high winds. I've written about the wind here, as it is fairly constant and can be quite active.

I had just cleared the yard of all the branches brought down over the winter and gad enough to keep a fire going for hours and then wind came and blew down much much more and the yard looks like I never done anything.

Another thing that it blew down were pine cones. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

All around the yard and in the woods there is almost a layer. More so than I can recall.

From a distance they look like a mole or something similar until you realize they aren't moving.

Looking high in the trees there are still plenty up there and who knows when they will join the rest.

I recall when we lived in a house with oak trees that would go through cycles and would dump so many acorns that I used a snow shovel and barrel to clean them up.
I am sure there is a similar cycle for pine trees and cones.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Hike up Monument Mountain

As the sun gets brighter and hangs around more each day winter is retreating and spring advancing. Though if you looked at the 6 inches of snow in my yard you might think it is advancing on the slow side. But as the day time temperatures are hitting the 50s snow and ice (in other places) is turning to water.

I have a couple days off and my plans on at least one of them was to spend some time with my son who is home on break. Our first idea was cross country skiing, but the conditions are mediocre with a strange combination of ice and slush and mud. So we decided on a hike up Monument Mountain, a local mount ridge that we have pass almost every day dropping someone off at school. He had been up it a few time but I never had. At an elevation of almost 1800 feet is has some great views and the trails up across and down offer several miles of good exercise, which I was in need of.

Deciding to start off the shorter route, which means more quicker up hills, there was a combination of snow and ice and frozen ground. Much more of a challenge the the soft yielding ground of summer. This meant climbing more rocks and occasionally getting off the trail to pull yourself up the side through the snow with the assist of friendly saplings and roots. A much more vigorous approach than a potentially average climb.

The sound of a stream could be heard but not seen until much further up as it had a thick covered in ice and snow and the sound we heard was echoing from below. When it was finally reveled, its racing waters cut though the hard rock.

Further up the stream made a waterfall that was completely caked in ice. The column at the base was easily a foot thick and created a cave behind the ice falls. Getting down to this required "climbing" down the sides of the wet icy rock and my only
sitz" of the day. Sometime gravity just helps you our when there is not better footing. Which made returning the same way not possible, so back into the woods and snow and around and over the falls to catch the trail further up.

The Mountain is made of Quartzite, extremely hard yet with veins running through the case it to break. The fallen rock makes dozens of caves along the base and the side, many big enough to climb in, though I was leaving that for more warmer weather and without the ice. The rocks are all sizes and are as big a a bus.

The face of the front side is sheer with sharp drops and the trails make there way around the edge and in and out of the woods

and around and up to the summit.

The views from not that far up are spectacular with this view off to the southwest and hills in Connecticut and the Catskills in New York


and this view to the north and Mount Greylock, 40 miles away.

The back side is just as rocky though not as sharp a drop and a little easier on the return. Coming back through the snow on the backside there were several animal tracks, a reminder of this remoteness so close to "civilization". Unfortunately the camera couldn't focus on some rather large tracks, which looked like some sort of cat, bobcat perhaps. They followed the edge of the path to the bottom and were not that old. It had me occasionally looking behind just in case until we reaches the base.

An enjoyable hike, good exercise and good company. What could be a better way to spend and afternoon off.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Traveling between Winter and Sping

My daily commute brings me 45 miles direct west, out of the hills and into the flat lands of western Massachusetts and the Connecticut River valley.

At this time of year I leave the Berkshires with snow on the grown and frozen lakes and the only sign of spring is the change in the light.

Moving east on highway the snow gradually disappears, the hillsides are bare the woods have that empty flattened look with an occasional pile of dirty snow left behind by the plows.

I arrive where there is no snow, the temperature 10 degrees warmer and spring is definitely in the air. I can be sitting in my my sunny office and talking with folks at home and they describe the heavy snow that is covering the ground and making a mess of local travel. Yet just a short distance away it is a different world.

Then at the end of the day and into the weekend I return to the land of winter. Return to Narnia before the arrival of Aslan. Only there are no ice queens here and spring will eventually come.