Andy

finding peace on the Highbanks Trail

November 15, 2015

Opening day. Shots ring out at daylight and continue through the day. The next two weeks are not the best time to muck about in the park woods beyond our property.

We decide to hike on the Highbanks Trail from Lumberman’s Monument, along the mighty AuSable River.

A from above view of a glass-like river, flowing around a jutting of land from left to right. A pine tree is in the foreground on the left, a scrubby sand dune dips to the river on the right. The river is bluer than the clear sky. In the far background, as far as you can see, are pine forests and leaf-less hardwood trees.

The AuSable.

We weren’t the only one with this idea, but most of the walk Gus was free to run.

A black lab dog is running toward the camera on a leaf-strewn path. His ears are floppy and his eyes are a golden brown.

Gun runs back to make sure we’re still coming.

The water was glass, the air still. The sun was too warm for base layers.

Something about this water calms my soul.

A view from the top of a sand dune. The calm blue water of the river is in the distance, with pine trees reflecting from the far shore.

Sand dune to the water.

We share an old joke, that we’ve found the Appalachian Trail, a throw-back to our first adventure. Back then, naive as we were, we anticipated that trail to be like this one, with gentle hills, a leaf and pine needle covered walkway with no roots to catch our toes.

A man wearing blue jeans, a blue-checked shirt and a blue vest, with a green tilly hat on his head, walks away from the camera on a leaf-strewn trail, using a walking stick in his right hand. The man is looking down at the trail. A black lab dog walks along on his right side, head down sniffing the trail, tail wagging. On both sides are pine trees.

A man and his dog. At 71, he paces easily with his walking stick.

Gus barges ahead to scout.

The siloquette of a black lab dog looking right on a shadowed trail under pine trees.

Checking out the trail ahead.

He never lingers out of sight, and covers twice the ground that we do.

A black lab stands in the distance on a wooded trail, looking back toward the camera. He is standing near to a large pine tree on the right.

“Come on!”

My soul finds peace here, among the pines, joy embodied in a dog’s pant.

Gus gallantly leads the way…

The same man is walking up a hill, with the black lab walking just ahead of him. The sun is shinging through the trees above the man's head.

Into the sun.

…but pauses to make sure I’m still in sight.

The man is still walking ahead, the black lab has stopped to look back, he is facing right.

“You still coming?”

Yes, I am.

It reassures me to know that no matter what happens in our busy, human world, the river flows.

Between several tall trees is a glimpse of the river far below.

A window to the mystical AuSable.

Who cannot be happy here?

A close shot of a black lab standing with his front feet on a stump, his head is close to the camera and he is looking to the left with his mouth open.

Happy dog.

On the way back, I take the less-worn path, up along a ridge. Andy takes the lower path.

Gus is torn. He follows me. At first. He races back to find Andy. Seconds later he returns, ever vigilant as to where Andy walks below. At the crest of the dune, Gus sees him. He races down and back.

A black lab stands facing left, his head held high and his tail straight out. He is standing on a sandy path that leads up to a sand dune. Two tree turnks are on the left.

Gus knows that Andy is near.

Somehow, Gus and I get ahead. “Find Andy,” I say, and Gus turns back.

The man is walking toward the camera on the wide leaf-strewn path. On the left are pine trees, on the right is a stone wall winding off into the distance.

Andy meets us along the trail.

Lumberman’s Monument honors the hard-working men who came before.

The sun shines through tall pine trees on the right. To the left, some distance away is a large statue of three lumberman.

The Lumberman.

We are glad for our packed lunch after the hike, on this rare and warm November afternoon.

A woman wearing a blue fleece top is standing behind a picnic table where a man is sitting. He is wearing a blue checked shirt and a blue vest. Both are wearing glasses. On the table in front of them is a water bottle, hats, and some sandwiches. Large pine trees are in the background.

Andy and I.

A good idea.

Categories: Andy, dogs | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

birds of a feather…

In the foreground an 8-week old Golden Retriever male puppy is sleeping on his back, legs splayed and head turned to his right side. He is lying on a soft pad in an x-pen. In the background my husband is sleeping on a LazyBoy chair, his hands folded on his chest and his head turned to his left side.

…sleep alike

Categories: Andy, dogs | 4 Comments

And why did we wait so long?

 

Christmas, 2010. Our Wisconsin family gave us a long, square box to unwrap. It contained a woven hammock.

Today we strung it up between two oak trees in our front yard.

Andy was the first to take a nap in it.

He said, “It’s an anti-productivity device.”

My turn!

A picture of me sprawled in a hammock between two oak trees in our front yard. I am laughing because my career-changed Gus jumped in and is laying on my stomach. He didn't flip us over!

Gus took one look at me lying in the “anti-productivity device” and promptly flew through the air to join me. Without flipping it!

 

This is a closeup shot of me and Gus relaxing in the hammock. I have my hands behind my head and he is looking at the camera like it shouldn't be any big deal that a large black lab decides that a hammock is a comfy place to be.

Gus looks like he’d just as soon have the hammock to himself!

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Blue tenants

After a mild winter, Andy checks the propane level on the pig tank.

A close up of the blue lid of our propane tank in our backyard behind our potting shed. Andy is just visible in the background, walking over.

Something is under the cap.

He calls me over.

“Isn’t the sky the most amazing blue?” I say. “It’s like we’re wearing polarizing lenses over our eyes.”

Shot of a soaring turkey buzzard high in a deep blue sky.

Turkey buzzard looking for lunch.

“Talk about blue,” he responds, and lifts the peeling and somewhat rusty blue lid of the propane tank.

The blue lid of the propane tank is lifted to expose a large bird's nest filled with five blue robin's eggs!

Five new tenants.

Smart momma-robin to build her nest under a roof!

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Lumberman Andy

Andy poses in front of our wood shed (which is filling up with newly cut wood). He balances our cant hook on his left shoulder, gloved right hand on his hip, in a regal stance, looking off into the distance.

Lumberman Andy, with his cant hook.

Andy says, “Do I look like the Monument?”

(He refers to the Lumberman’s Monument along the AuSable River.)

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Surviving

One day before my story about wildfires is published in the Ogemaw County Voice, Andy sits working at his desk. The phone rings. It’s the conference call from Habitat International that he’s been expecting. As he eases back for what he knows will be an extended conversation, a flicker outside the window catches his eye.

“I’m going to have to drop off here for a minute,” he says dryly to the group, as dry as the brush in our rain-deprived woods. “My backyard is filled with smoke and fire.”

Drew replies, “That’s more creative than ‘my dog ate my homework.'”

Click.

A 9-1-1 call later and Andy gets back into the call while the Lupton Fire Department puts out a fire at the edge of our woods.

Is this irony?

A picture of the edge of our woods where a brush fired scorched the ground in an area of about 150 feet. The trees are not fully budded and the sky is a deep cobalt blue.

The edge of our woods.

The cause of the fire was ashes from our outdoor wood boiler that I dumped out earlier that morning. Turns out they were still smoldering, even after cooling in a covered trash can overnight.

The fireman said, “I put mine in a cement bunker for a week before dumping them.”

Or stupidity?

A closeup shot of the scorched bark of a tree, close to the ground. The black melted thing hanging from it is a deer feeder tube left by the previous owners. The oak leaves on the ground from last fall are all burned away.

Scorched.

I prefer calling it experience.

In other words: surviving stupidity.

A near-the-ground shot of a baby fir tree that was licked by the fire, but hopefully still alive. Some of the needles are brown, but many are still green. It's like a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree." The burned ground behind is just out of focus.

Survivor.

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