Outdoor Lore and the Lure of a Good Cup of Coffee

Autumn … let that sink in for brief moment.

Dense fog and moisture in the air, dewy wetness on all things still green and those turning color too.Rusting leafy foliage falling away baring their now stark treed host. Dried corn plants shuffling their crinkly leaves await the harvesters blade and the pale early morning sky fuzzy misted over as the sun begins to burn through with a cool and bright effort. And pumpkins dotting this or that field or ornamenting this or that farmer stand or door steps.

Yup, it’s fallish out there folks.

And I’ve got a hankerin’ to be out there, to spend time in the thinning woods. Where green turns to rust and mushrooms show themselves off against the leaf littered forest floor, some pretty, some ugly and all of them fascinating.

Yesterday I gave in to that hankering and hunkered down the evening before to prepare my daypack for a short day trip into the local deciduous woods. The air felt fresher, the temperatures chillier and my step quicker so as to generate a bit more body temperature even though my wool mix hoodie kept me snug and warm.

It being a Saturday morning, the forest lanes and roadways (this is Germany and the woods are crisscrossed with ‘Waldwege’) were empty. I had the place mostly to myself. And as I often do, I wondered where the wild boars were. But most of all I was anticipating my first cup of outside coffee.

Clear Lake OR Camping 2012 ciaodarlingciao.wordpress.com

goodness (ciaodarlingciao.wordpress.com)

If you’ve ever made a delicious cup of hot coffee outside you may know the pleasure I speak of. No, not a cup of instant crap but the real ma-coy, boiling water poured into a coffee filter over a large cup. The result a brew so good that it nearly blends into the surrounding beauty. Ah ok, so the heady scent of a freshly brewed cup of java out there is kinda out of place as it were but it does the body good. If you prefer a good hot cup of tea would also do the trick I suppose but coffee is my choice for moments like that.

I spent some time looking around and gathering a bit of firewood, smallish bits and processed them into suitable sizes to accommodate my Bush Box multi fuel pocket stoves’ small size and then set to building the fire that would boil the water that would release the intense flavored coffee into my cup and then my mouth. It took a little while but the time spent doing the work was well worth the efforts.

Bush Box

By the time my cup was filled, the sun had begun to shine on the spot I’d selected for the coffee ritual.

I sat back and just liked being there.

Entrepreneurial spirit, too little too late & spilled beer

I just returned from the village store. I took a few cold beers from their fridge, the coldest beers around. I like that. It’s summer. Three beers. Having a store in the village rocks. It is convenient for me, only a … Continue reading

The Wood is the Journey

Wood. It’s everywhere. It’s all around us. I’m looking at some right now. My feet are firmly planted on some too. I like it. I’ve always liked wood. That’s an ingrained thing. Wood makes me feel good.

I’ve always done things with wood, carving walking sticks or carving other things. But many years ago I put the more serious carving aside. You just know.

Perhaps you dear reader have experienced something similar with your toolbox of human talents and creative skills. You sense it and you can’t really ignore when something within you refuses to be abandoned, when the pilot light of creativity remains alight. Time goes by but the thoughts, ideas and dreams keep coming. And so it was. And so it is. And so I returned to the tools, the feel and the wood.

A dear friend was instrumental in this return and I am thankful for that. I simply joined the wood sculpting course he was in an the rest took and is taking care if itself. The feeling of relief a sure sign that I was doing the right thing. That I was doing what I should be doing. That it was good to touch the wood and to reconnect with the familiar. I began with a warmup piece, creating in a larger scale the same spiral lines I usually use on walking sticks, this time on a birch log. I still need to finish that one, it is roughed out and ready for finishing work it was a warmup piece and remains a work in progress.

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When the wood feeling firmed up, I bought tools and will buy more tools

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A second piece began to take shape and is leading me along an unfamiliar path which is intriguing and a bit frustrating at the same time because it is drawing me out of my comfort zone.

And then I found olive, or it found me. Actually a largish chunk of olive trunk wood. Wow. What a find. The possibilities …

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top view with wet core

The piece was wet wood, freshly cut when I put it in storage for observation and to let it dry out. Over the next few weeks I peeled off the rough bark, giddy with impatience to expose the fantasy shapes, twists, hollows and bulges that are this piece of wood. Ok, so olive wood is fairly rare in these southern parts of Germany. Finding a piece like that not an everyday occurrence and no, I didn’t find it digitally although a few of my carving colleagues in the course found and bought olive wood pieces online. I am fully aware of the coolness of this score. The trunk is approx. 45cm in diameter and 65cm tall and I guess that the tree must have been close to 60 years old when it succumbed to the worms that were working their way through the centre core.

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peeled with mirror

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rough start

It is one thing to begin a piece. It is another to finish it. And yet another to turn a project into firewood. THAT is not an option and so I bridled my excitement and only then laid tool to the wood when the moment felt right. But once I began the project grabbed my by the neck with such intensity and urgency that the first 60 hours few by.

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roughed out

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smoother

chiseled and riffled

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roughing out

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roughing out

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opening at bottom

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impression

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exposed and finishing

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hollow

So far I’ve whacked away at the piece with carving tools letting the mouthwatering olive smelling chips fly. I’ve spent days in an intensely focused meditative state with long thin riflers in nearly cramped gloved hands creating shapes, rasping lines and following as best I can the dictating flow of the myriad emerging flowing grains and contrasting dark/light patterns that make this wood so unique. And to satisfy my most irritating perfectionist urges, countless pieces of paper parted from sand in varying grades, shimmied to and fro, back and forth, across and with the grain to render by hand a nearly baby bottom smooth finish.

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riffling

 

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shapes

 

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lines & grain

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interior view

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smoothed surface

At this stage of the project I can see at least 60 hours into the future and perhaps beyond but there is not real rush and I have no deadline other than to create something interesting, something that takes the eye on a visual journey … into the olive wood and I have the finished piece also firmly in mind, yet open to changes as fluid as its grain. The openings into the core of the piece drawing the eye inward, the colorful grain triggering day dreams. All that said, a photo of the finished piece will be added as an update.  Das Holz ist der Weg

When Shit Happens

Lemonade Option

We’ve all experienced it … bad timing. When things are going along rather well when all of a sudden something unforeseen forced its way center-stage and won’t exit stage left. Not immediately anyhow.

That is shit happening. That is life pinching us. That is why the saying exists ‘Shit happens’. We may not want these painful pinches or shit happening to us, but it is the yin for the yang, the balance between the good and bad things in life. It is all part of the whole. The shit happening is not the whole of our life experience and that is what should be meditated upon when you find yourself in front of the proverbial fan.

Sometimes those unexpected events turn our worlds upside down and we sometimes end up struggling like a wild kitten tangled up in a loose skein of yarn in a valiant attempt to disengage from the unpleasantness. We rage and vent, we feel frustration and other weird emotions that accompany the unexpected pit stops in life. Thing is, we do not have total control over how our lives play out. Sure, we wish we could and sometimes we think we do, but sometimes a monkey wrench finds its way into the mechanism of our existence.

Chin up people of this planet, things will always get better. The sun sets but it always rises and brings a new day, a new possibility and a new outlook. It is within us all to strive for and choose the positive even when faced with a wheelbarrow full of lemons.

©2011myronunrau, ©iphoneographythis

Life lived Consciously

Life as we know it is beautiful, awkward, rewarding, freaky, easy, difficult, hard, frustrating, interesting, exciting, demotivating, intense, frightening, fun, not so fun, thrilling, chilling, amazing, eye opening and humbling. That said, I probably missed a few descriptors but you can fill those in from your own experiences.

We all go through various stages in our sojourn in this form as humans and thankfully we don’t all experience the same thing at the same time, nor do we all fit into cookie cutter shapes that make us the same. No, we all have our ups and downs. Sometimes up and sometimes down and sometimes both at the same time as circumstances dictate our experiences.

You know what they say about every cloud having a silver lining … I think there’s something to that because out of the blue, that pure light of love shone its light on me; nearly blinding me. When I accepted it and opened myself to it, my heart filled with indescribably happiness and joy. My wow moment. That love is what drives me. I like it, she rocks my world. Every single struggle, hurdle, every moment of doubt or worry is diminished and transformed into just another step bathed in that light.

I am now in an exciting stage of metamorphosis/reinvention. It is a struggle and at times physical/mentally/emotionally hard process but also a very deliberate choice to consciously renew my human experience. I once read a quote that stated that one can not rewrite ones beginning, but one can write the ending. So true and so I am setting out to write that bit, not to let it just happen, no. My inner voice (what my heart is telling me) is a gentle and constant reminder of that.

Why am I writing this? To say that there is always hope, that there is always the unexpected when things appear to become too dim. I write this to say ‘Chin up‘, you have what it takes to overcome and move forward.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Live and love like you mean it . Happiness rocks and true love … well, I wish that experience for every sentient being.

Vidette Lake

Overland Journey to the Center of the Universe

or how wanting to post the image below, triggered the following story…

at the center of the Universe

2009©myronunrau

I’ve been to the center of the universe. And no, I don’t mean Toronto.

I realize that stating something like this makes me sound a bit whacked. The statement does sound a bit whacked but I tell you that I am not whacked, nor that I was the first to make the claim; to have found the center of the universe. That distinction falls to some unidentified Tibetan monk. Perhaps he was whacked.

It was while listening to some radio show that I first heard tell about this place, this ‘center of the universe’. It was a few years back and the story was intrigued enough not to forget it and to file the claim away as a charming marketing ploy to attract visitors to some out of the way place.

Story has it that one day a Tibetan monk showed up on the doorstep of the owner of that particular piece of land somewhere between Cache Creek and Kamloops, British Columbia, claiming it had been determined to be the center of the universe, the core of existence based on instructions of his master. This after performing various Bhuddist rituals and ‘the revelation’ that this place was it.

Long story short, the owner refused offers to sell, even though the amounts offered were said to be well above market values and monks continued to arrive; some in limousines, to experience the place and its energies for themselves. The owner never said why he refused the offers but said that on various nights while camping at the exact place where the monks had practiced their thing at the core of the universe, that he heard a ‘heavenly chorus’, akin to a Mormon choir but sans words “somewhat earie but also very beautiful”.

I was game to see this place for myself.

And as it also turned out, it was way out of the way for someone accustomed to city streets; even if the Canadian geographic distances was another thing I am accustomed to. Getting from point A to point B can have long seemingly desolate stretches in between.

Ok, so you might concede that such a claim about an area within reasonable driving distance in relation to where I live might stir some interest. More than a little curiosity it stirred in me and I felt that visiting this place would be an interesting experience if nothing more than to chalk up a visit to a place most of us never would think of visiting in the first place; it being something so outside the norm and so far into the realm of science fiction so as to stretch credulity if not the normal thinking mans mind beyond its normal elasticity. And I for one am no science fiction buff. Not at all.

When the time was right I invited my German girl-friend along; a friend who had never heard the story or suspected that I knew where the center of the universe was said to be. Pretty heady information if you think about it, hehe. Pretty presumptuous too if you take logical thought a bit further still. Either way … we were going to visit the place.

I have to say that this was my second attempt to find the center of the universe … the first time I went looking did not meet with success and was a tentative exploration … with a smart car. Who in their right minds goes looking for the center of the known universe in a smart car? Me.

heading for the centre of the universe

2009©myronunrau

My first attempt took me in the right direction and ended without success in the gathering gloom, and soon it was pitch black around me under a near clear night sky, parked along some seemingly god forsaken stretch of back woods dirt road, the darkness and uncertainty of what lay out there in the blackness keeping me inside the tight confines of that small car. The early morning light a welcome reprieve after a near sleepless night, my aching body stretching tight muscles groups as soon as I was able to see enough to get out of the car. And that fresh cup of hot coffee I brewed was pure bliss, a dark and strong celebration of early daylight.

When I’m on the road I always bring along my own coffee fixin’s. I insist; knowing that what passes for good coffee in some places is not always good coffee. Long story short, I cut that exploratory road trip short based on the fact that I was navigating along an unknown road with no spare tire, no jack, no nothing (cause that’s the way Smart cars come) should I encounter a flat tire so far from anywhere. The decision to head back registered a bit of disappointment but it was the smart thing to do.

Now, I am not generally someone who has to go to or is attracted to ‘must see‘ places to say that I’ve been. However this place, this notion, this distinction seemed odd enough and interesting enough to pique my curiosity. No, I go to places as I am led to them. I don’t have a tourist mentality nor am I a place ‘collector’. That I was, curious and open to the experience. If I had had to fly or endure more than 12 hours of car travel, I probably never would have gone, but this was a place I could get to, easily.

Ok, so I packed up a much larger borrowed car, my girl friend nested into  the passenger seat and we set off to find the center of the Universere. We had reservations there and a I a better idea of the route and distance.

Our time together that summer had already consisted of wild and beautifully isolated places, out of the way spots that take your breath away for the sheer simple and all encompassing wilderness that is all there is to see, be it dense still forests or some lonely shoreline, the powerful pounding sound of pounding ocean surf as the eye strains to make out shape and form in the vastness that is all around.

As we drove my girlfriend saw even more trees than on our last drive, more mountains and rocks and rivers and wilderness than her native Germany could compete with. Maybe she got bored with all the wildness out there but never let on.

needle in the haystack ;)

courtesy of Google Earth Maps

At Dead Mans Canyon we turned left, off the country highway and headed north towards our unseen goal. Having driven a stretch up the canyon before, I knew what to expect and what we were seeing made it all worth while. The original trail along these parts was part of the gold rush experience many years back and now farms and ranches nestled into their chosen locations and the dirt road winding between them from one side of the narrowing canyon to the other as the river dictated. Lots of horses and some cattle, old homesteads and lovely countryside.

in deadmans canyon

2009©myronunrau

And on we drove, carefully steering our wheels around sharp rocky bits in the hard gravel surface. And then as we edged our way along the eastern side of Vidette lake, we knew that we would reach our goal at its far end, still in late summer afternoon sunshine, that warm soft glow.

When we had parked the car and stretched our travel sore muscles, we watched as humming birds flashed in the sunlight, dazzling like liquid metal droplets as they zipped up, down, left and right as if to greet us as we arrived at the ramshackle ‘resort’, a collection of various dissimilar out buildings and cabins.

2009©myronunrau

We had reservations for one small one, one that looked like a stranded wooden rail caboose car with wooden porch. Quaint and just what we needed.

2009©myronunrau

So … this was the center of the Universe? Kind of anti climactic if you must know, no bright flashing signs or neon arrows pointing the way, no shuffling lines of burgundy robed monks along the long and dusty road leading to this place. No, not one single indicator.

The day was not done with us yet and after finding the owners and checking in as it were; very un-resort like but welcomingly down to earth surrounded by swarms of hummingbirds, and after our questions about this mysterious center of the universe, we were given directions to the top of a hill, more like a plateau to the immediate north and up out of the deep canyon that held the long thin lake. As soon as we’d unloaded what need to be unloaded from the car and had eaten our evening meal, we followed up the directions given, clambering up a steep trail away from the homestead like setup that was also once a gold mine and up onto the plateau.

Pine trees gave off their sweet dry warm summer scent, that pleasant almost incense like aroma I can’t get enough of when I smell it. I felt happy. We felt happy and excited to discover … we didn’t know what. But we were there. Where? A place on a map, a spot in a vast province in a huge country, but at a very special location, it turned out to be.

of the centre of the Universe at Vidette Lake

My girlfriend and I made our way up the gently sloping wild grass covered ground towards what seemed the top. For some reason we approached from the east and stepped between a low boulder and a short shrubby fir tree of some kind; the only two obstructions on otherwise clear ground. Later on, it was explained to us that we had intuitively entered the space/place through the ‘eastern gate’. Nice feelings followed that news.

The spot itself; if the center of the Universe can be marked by a physical spot on our planet (and why a certain spot on our planet should be home to that center is also a mystery to me), was indicated by an assortment of small things. Things that are generally carried in pockets, bags and the like. I saw rings, amulets, bracelets, feathers, stones, coins, flowers, candles, bandanas, sweet grasses, ear rings, crystals and tobacco. It did not look like a mini junk pile but the spot had been marked and duly noted by others who felt compelled, drawn to that particular spot.

As I stood there in the late afternoon sunshine under blue summer skies and looked around, tears began to trickle from my eyes and soon I was crying like a grown man cries. Perhaps it was all just a little too much, perhaps I was feeling something. I knew I was feeling something but I could not understand and still can not say what, but something touched and triggered my emotional core. I felt calm, even though I didn’t understand anything other than the landscape around me looked beautiful. No noise, just stillness and the rustling of the wind in nearby trees.

Someone had set a chair close to the spot an I took a seat and just sat there for a long while. My girlfriend sat on the rock we had passed by. We spent some time in contemplation, just being there. It felt good. As good as it would feel to hang out anywhere else that offered a calming view and silence perhaps, but we were there, in that moment, in time.

Sitting in the chair

2009©myronunrau

We were silent as we decided to head back to the cabin. I left the silver ear-ring I had worn since my mid teens … a token of appreciation, to mark the moment. It had had an effect. What this effect meant I do not know, still do not know, but I am thankful to have felt whatever it was.

The next day we explored the area beyond the resort. I was all wild flowers, poplar trees, birch trees and pines, scattered cattle and horses in lush treed fields, the dusty gravel road snaking this way and that. I could understand why someone would want to live there. I wanted to be there.

My girlfriend has a thing for horses, she loves them. Driving along we spotted three or four of these magnificent creatures at the far end of a big fenced field and stopped to look at the scene. We got out of the car and stood at the fence, just looking at the far away horses. Then one of them casually raised its head from where it had been feeding along the tree line of a sparse woods and looked in our direction. They were at least a couple of city blocks away. And then it made its leisurely way directly towards us. The other horses stayed put for a while and only followed suit when it had covered half the distance towards us. This horse walked right up to my girlfriend and extended its head towards her. She smiled. And then she told me that this was the horse she had been looking at. It was the horse that had made her stop the car to get out. It was another special moment.

blowing in the wind

2009©myronunrau

We spent two nights at the resort, the long, cool narrow lake nearly black in color; an inviting antidote to the hot summer temperatures. I didn’t much like paddling the rather wobbly canoe which wasn’t as ridgid as it could have been. Truth be told I wasn’t too keen on being plunged into the lakes dark waters should the flimsy shell of fiberglass decide to come apart mid lake. Ok, so I was a bit out of shape at the time and hadn’t kept my swimming muscles up to date.

The time we spent there together was a wonderful experience on many levels and I think that I will head back there sometime to check it out again. Knowing that there are places that touch us deeply is something wonderful, a gift. I know of several places that make me feel like that and try to connect when I can. Living in a city tends to disconnect us from what is real.

Vidette Lake Gold Mine Resort website: http://www.videttelake.com/

Quote of This Day

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”

Tennessee Williams (American Author 1911-1983)