Kiwi crate obsession

“When is my Kiwi Crate going to come?”

“I don’t know, Milo.”

“Dad got the email that it was coming three weeks ago–WHEN will it be here??”

“It’s really hard to tell, Milo.”

“Grrr!”

We had this exchange, verbatim, EVERY DAY, for the last three weeks.

Each day he’d come home from school, and ever-hopeful, and peer into letterbox….only to be disappointed.  “When is my…….”  “Don’t know…”  “three weeks!….”  “Grrr!”

Until today, when the long-awaited orange cardboard box finally arrived. 

 

20190328_194301.jpgBuilding the kiwi crate project took precedent over afternoon snack, over rugby practice, over dinner….though sadly not over watching netflix.

Milo has gotten some genuinely cool projects the last couple months involving electronics, hydraulics, and mechanics.  He’s good at following the instructions and perseveres to get it right.  An engineer in the making.

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Christmas on the Otago Rail Trail

“We are now on Christmas Vacation!  That means fun times, laughs, and treats,” Jeremiah declared.  He believes in optimism.  The car clock read 9:52 a.m.

The morning had been hectic with last minute packing and cleaning.  The kids had been “helpful” in the typical way 5 and 7 year old siblings can be: Harass–Squawk–Sent away to room–Emerge to tease again.  I emptied the trash, wiped counters, sent Milo over to the neighbor’s with surplus plums, and squeezed Naomi’s hair into a pony tail.  Jeremiah packed the roof rack, strapped on the bikes, and ate the last waffle before starting the dish washer.  Doors locked.  Garage closed.  “Hold tight, garden,” I said to the unmown lawn ringed with cheerfully untidy flowers.

30 minutes later we were zooming down Route 1 when Naomi quavered “Maaahm, I’m going to throw up!”  I scrabbled frantically for the barf bucket, shoving it under her chin half a second too late, and felt the pink liquid cascade down my wrist and shower the car seat.  She must have had berries on her waffle.

We stopped at Rakaia and stripped down Naomi and the car seat, using the RV wash station to hose out the car seat.  The kids played on the playground.  Soggy car seat lined with plastic bags, we buckled up again.  “I’m hungry!” Naomi declared.

The kids slept through Geraldine so we set our sites for lunch at Tekapo, where a new playground was recently installed at the lakefront.

Milo rejected the pb+j that we’d packed, and opted to spend his own money on bacon and egg pie at the cafe.  “This is The BEST bacon egg pie I’ve ever had!” he declared.  Autonomy from parental food choices tastes fantastic.

We drove through Twizel through heavy thundershowers.  I checked the forecast nervously; just scattered showers clearing predicted for tomorrow, our first biking day.  We could handle that.

The track started at Clyde Railway Station, appropriately enough for a Rail Trail, and it was dead flat.

The Rail Trail has boxes at all the former stations where you can stamp your Otago Railtrail Passport. Most of the time there wasn’t much left to see at the site of the former rail stations, but there are little red shelters with historical info inside. We stopped at all of them.

Naomi petered along for a kilometer or two, stopping to adjust her backpack, take off her jersey, take off her gloves, look at the flowers, adjust her helmet…  I acquiesced, a model of maternal patience.  Glancing at my watch, then at the ominous white haze I could see on the distant hills, I decided it was time for rapid movement.  “Come on Naomi!”  Not a budge.  I couldn’t see Jeremiah and Milo ahead anymore.  “Do you want a tow?” I offered.  Nod.  The pattern was set for the trip; towing over tantrumming.  Pretty good deal, we decided.

Here’s one of the former train stations. We have our coats on, which means we just made it through a shower.

Our first day was the only one where we saw rain, thankfully. Clear spells and rain showers, which became increasingly rainy toward evening. The last leg towards Omakau was the only time we towed Milo on the whole trip. The kids were troopers, keeping up a brave face despite cold hands. Maybe the fists full of gummy bears helped.

Next morning dawned bright and crisp, and we cracked on.  Here was voiced the most memorable complaint of the whole journey, when I asked Milo to brush his hair:  “Ug! When am I going to lose my hair?!”  Now, that’s a pessimistic way of expressing the optimistic side of an aging process about which most men feel negatively!

It was a quick downhill ride to the first treat stop, a nice little cafe at the Lauder cross roads.  I don’t think we’ve ever patronized cafes quite as frequently as we did on this trip.  

Tricycle riding looked like more fun to Naomi than bicycle riding.

With hand rails added and some extra boards chucked into the deck between the train sleepers, the old bridges are still being used for the cycleway.

There are two long (~200 meter) tunnels on the second day of riding. It took a crew of something like 40 men two years with wheel barrows and picks to carve out this tunnel. Old photographs from the later 1800s showed a crew of bearded men staring morosely into the camera, leaning on their shovels.  Just imagine the drudgery of their lives.

Here are the remnants of one of the tunneler’s huts.  The huts were roofed in canvas. Otago is the coldest part of NZ in the winter, with regular frosty nights.  While cheerful on a summer sunny afternoon, in winter it would be abysmal.  We read a newspaper clipping from the times with two politicians complaining against each other’s management of the rail project.  “The work is proceeding heroically with men working tirelessly to open the pass, the government should support it with more money” versus “The work is proceeding over-budget and over-schedule; they should use horses and drays instead of hand labor to rectify this wasteful situation.”  Half truths and one-sided stories aimed at damaging the other’s reputation.  Nothing has changed in 125 years.  

Oturehau is the hamlet where we stayed that second night, and it boasts the oldest general store still operational in NZ. The friendly proprietress/historian served us ice creams, despite being technically closed for the day.

We had been encouraged to book accommodation well ahead because the Christmas season is busy, but the days preceding the holiday were actually very quiet. We were the sole occupants of this humble hostel.

On the road again…..to the tune of Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s and what felt like dozens of renditions of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. A mild hill, then it was mostly down or flat for the next couple days.

The rail trail doubles as a scale model of the solar system. One step equals 75,000 km. As we got closer to Ranfurly (where the sun was housed) we passed planets with more frequency.

Somewhere near the trail high point was a sign for 45 degrees South latitude. It was light until after 10:00 p.m.

We got ice creams and stocked up on groceries at Ranfurly, for the next couple days food was self-catered. Just outside Ranfurly was this hillbilly’s idea of comical fence decor–dozens of pig skins (and heads) left to dry over barbed wire in the sun.

We stayed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Peter’s Farm in Waipiata.  One brother runs the sheep and cattle farm, while the other runs the guest lodgings in the historic mud brick farm house. The sister returned with her family for Christmas, and the grandparents, retired and in their 90s, came up for the day. It could have been quite awkward, as we were the only non-family staying there, but it was actually lovely. It was like borrowing an extended family for the holiday, and we enjoyed laughs over their white elephant gift exchange as if it was our own.

We stayed at the sleep out next to the old farm house, kids and parents in separate huts. Luxury.

Merry Christmas! We haven’t preserved many Christmas traditions, but stockings is one of them. We had a box with a few treats sent to the farm.

Sand banks are hours of fun.

Boxing Day we resumed our ride.

Leaving the farm, Milo got to “heard” sheep along the driveway. I thought this might be the most memorable part of the trip to him–the power of one small human to move hundreds of sheep is amazing–but the next day the rabbit chase was even better. You’d think a rabbit being approached by a bike would duck into the nearby grasses, right? This silly individual scampered straight ahead on the road for well over a kilometer, until Milo, on his bike actually gave up chasing it.

Yum, cool-aid tongue in the shade for lunch.

Train cars….an excuse to stop for a diversion.

Milo had a little bike computer that told him the distance we’d traveled and the time it took. “22 kilometers and 1 hour 52 minutes biking,” he’d announce, impressively. I’d glance at my watch; 2:00 p.m. We’d departed at 9:30. Ah, MOVING time. We made a lot of stops. And the kids did great, really they did. It was just the last day or so when patience was wearing thin, on all sides.

Oddly, if one kid was throwing a wobbly, the other seemed to behave like a saint. Naomi had increasingly frequent stuck spells where she didn’t want to get on the bike or get towed, and Milo was usually the one to coax her forward again. Here she is, in full pout, hackles up, with Milo ready to go in for the rescue.

We spent five days biking, in total, and one rest day at Christmas, and covered about 150 kilometers. 158 if you count the jaunt up to Peter’s Farm, Milo reminds me. Mission accomplished.

Wobbly ballerina

Naomi had her second ballet recital yesterday. She doesn’t seem nervous performing at all.

First came the “baby ballerinas,” in their long white snowman dresses, gleeful at the novelty of being on stage.  There were the furious wavers, proudly making sure their parents were noticing them.  There were the ones who stood chewing on the tulle on their dresses, twiddling their ballerina buns, poking their fingers into their nose, or staring absently out into the audience.  When the leaping part of the song came they jumped enthusiastically, hair bobbing, faces grinning.

The levels paraded up in their christmas costumes, at least a dozen little girls in each.  Red sequence gowns, reindeer, angels, snowmen, and Naomi’s group with their bright green dresses.  The teacher, Miss Amelia, smiling relentlessly, gave us a whole new appreciation for the term “herding cats,” and for the level of coordination that it takes to make a dozen five year olds flutter gracefully in a circle, landing back on the line where they started.

I remember feeling quite nervous about being on stage as a young kid, during our annual school christmas concerts.  Naomi didn’t exhibit an once of nervousness; she’s made of sterner stuff than I!

Garden nostalgia

At the end of May we moved house.  It was just a move around the block, essentially, but now we own the house instead of rent.  Ok, technically the BANK owns most of the house….but we can install lights and closet shelving, even move around walls if we wanted to (not that we’re in that phase of life at the moment).

We had been house hunting for about two years.  It’s a discouraging process, full of lousy expensive houses, failed attempts at purchases, and compromises that we didn’t want to make.  In the end we have a smaller yard than we ever thought we’d cope with, but it’s chocker with garden and well screened from neighbors by plants.  The windows face the sun (a significant source of heat in a NZ winter), and it’s walkable to school.  Oh, and we can afford it.

Jeremiah wanted more land.  Milo wanted to be closer to school.  Naomi is generally happy, and so am I.

We moved at the perfect time, just before three weeks of cold grey wet weather, the type of winter weather where I used to test to see if my breath was visible indoors at the other house. 

Rather than introduce you to the house itself, which is a rather unexciting modern three bedroom (though very functional and practical), let me showcase the garden.  We moved in the dead of winter, so the garden was mostly dormant or heading that way.  Spring has turned it into a botanical treasure hunt.

Forgive me if a wax a bit poetic.

There are old friends—the bare bushy branches have leafed out into a lilac and a dogwood, transporting me back to New York springs of my youth. The rhododendrons ae starting to open their flowers now, and I remember my grandparents’ massive bushes they could see from their kitchen window, with the myrtle underneath.

Every bare patch of soil has been colonized by forget-me-nots, which remind me of how my mom used to shake the drying seed pods over her own garden to inoculate it for the spring to come.  Then there’s a lemon tree, just to remind me that I’m NOT in NY.

And freesias of various colors, which seem very exotic.

There are frumpy finnicky plants that probably won’t stand my laissez faire style of gardening. To heck with those standard roses with their mean thorns and healthy aphid colonies. Of course they haven’t bloomed yet, I do reserve the right to adjust my attitude in future.

There’s a magnolia, like on the cover of my university biology book. It came out white, to my disappointment—who would plant white when they could have pink?

And there are various other plants that I don’t know. These fantastic sprigs of red berries make a tapestry window behind our bed, and seem to last all year.

These lipstick pink sprigs are sure to be Naomi’s favorites.

There’s a generous (for Christchurch standards) raised garden for vegetables, and I’m impressed with the quality of the soil. In back there’s even a bed of asparagus and rhubarb, with grapes along the fence.

Irises of varying types have come up in random patches. My neighbor has a color I don’t have, so I plan to do a swap. When I first worked for the veggie guys one summer in the Capital district I had big dreams of being an extension agent, driving all over the state, and collecting irises while I was about. That dream never materialized, but I can start a mini collection now.

Wisteria seems like such an elegantly fancy plant. They weren’t hardy in most of NY so we never had them growing up, but I remember an English gentleman in Owego carefully cultivating one around his front porch. Now I have one of my own, and it came out in fancy purple frilly flowers. It’ll be the summer shade for the patio, dropping its leaves and letting the sun in again for winter.

Oh, I must spare a paragraph for the kitchen. One of my non-negotiable points for house hunting was that the kitchen had to have good windows, and be near the living space. The last place had good cabinets and cook top, but it was internal. It was dim even on the sunniest summer day. I wanted light and windows, a nice view from the kitchen where I spend so many hours of my life. And this new house has this! A big window over a counter looks out to the veggie garden, and the rest of the counters look out over the dining area to the beautiful green of the rest of the garden. The cabinet fit-out isn’t fancy, but I still feel I’ve moved from the galley to the captains quarters.

The big windows in the house face northwest, which means in the winter, when the sun is low, it comes in and makes warm patches where we sit and play games (when there’s any time to sit).  As the season has turned, the sun is higher and it doesn’t shine into the windows as much, instead traveling up and over the roof.  I’m impressed with whoever designed that beautiful feature.

The garden was originally laid out with lots of love and care, but over the years there are plants that have been swallowed up in the shade, and others that have spread in haphazard profusion among the weeds.  That’s ok.  That means there’s scope to move stuff around.  I’m reminded of my Aunt Cheryl who moves plants every year like they’re furniture.

Because we live in summer-dry Christchurch, the first step has been to get the irrigation back up and running.  Over the years it’s been cut in dozens of places, or squeezed closed by plant roots, but that’s all redeemable.  Maybe I feel a bit like my father, who doesn’t love a house until he’s worked on it.  The garden work this summer will be my way to love this home.

Woman-of-Leisure Day

Naomi started school this week.  She loves her teacher (pictured), and she’s rocking the big girl style.

Her starting school also means that, for the first time, I experienced what it was like to drop off  two kids to school and have a free day (or free five hours at least). And I was resolved to not do any –no vaccuuming cobwebs, no grocery shopping; No Household Jobs.  It was amazing. The weather cooperated beautifully with the momentous occasion, so I went biking. 

Part way along the bike ride I stopped for a cafe brunch (“I’ll have the LARGE coffee, please”) at the Sign of the Kiwi.

I sat in the sun in front of the renovated cafe (finally open again after earthquake repairs) and watched the other people who didn’t have kids or work on a Tuesday morning come and go. Then I jumped on the bike again and sailed down through the weekday-quiet trails in the Adventure Park, and on towards home.  Even the quiet shower in the normal bathroom (that needs cleaning) seemed luxurious.  

I imagine if every Tuesday was like this I’d get used to it and start to take it for granted….a tragedy of under-appreciation.

That won’t happen though, since in two weeks I’ll start working more days, trying out the five day work week until Christmas.

I’m excited about that too.

Sometimes Motherhood is Sweet

There are plenty of disadvantages to being the primary care giver for kids, but a few days ago even I had to admit that I had a pretty sweet deal.

It’s school holidays right now, the two week break between each quarter of the school year.  It’s always a juggle with working parents, but this time some friends and I decided to take a day or two off, pack up the kids, and head into Rod Donald hut for an overnight.

It’s a hut that you have to book, so we took a gamble on the weather.  Last time we walked in there it was wet and misty, but the hut has a nice cozy pot-belly stove and the walk is so short that we could bring luxury food and games; even a hut-bound overnight is fun.  And these two friends happen to be English, where any weather is good weather, so I knew we’d be ok.

Look at that blue sky! We “lucked out” with the weather. That’s a term I never really contemplated,, but the Kiwis find it really confusing….and for good reason. I don’t mean that I was out of luck, but rather that I got lucky!
It doesn’t look like we’re on our way to a hut in the hills, but we kinda are. We stopped at Birdlings Flat on the way to Little River, where we admired the stones and searched for agates.

Sally is a geologist, so you can see why she’s happy.
The little gem and mineral museum at the end of the dead end road is really worth a stop. The book there said that agates are formed in the voids left by gas pockets in lava. Water laced with minerals finds its way into these bubbles and slowly deposits crystals. The resulting agates wash up at Birdlings Flat as they are eroded out of the mountains, washed down the Rakaia River and tossed up on the beach. I love them almost as much as the kids do.

The hut is perched on the side of a hill overlooking the town of Little River, but the track to it actually starts above, at the pass. Since we were driving past the hut access road on the way there, us mommies hopped out of the car and carried the bulk of the overnight gear up the steep drive to the hut. That way the hike with the kiddos was really more of a stroll through pasture than a tramp.

Look at these hooligans! We were three moms and six kids, a passel of noise to be sure.  The boys walked along brandishing sticks at imaginary zombies and kicking a rugby ball, while two girls tied themselves together with a tow rope and sauntered along in a pair.

The hill top trees are warped by the prevailing wind into grotesque shapes, nice to contemplate on a pleasant sunny day, but fearsome if you were faced with the prospect of an exposed overnight in bad weather.

There’s our hut. Such a lovely site.

The kids made themselves at home with games….

…and with drawing

The mommies played on the slack line.  It’s a funny thing when I stop to think about it–why do I find this balancing game so fun?  I’m not sure.  Balance is a skill, it takes practice, and every time I make it to the other end I feel accomplished.  Yeah, I probably just crave gratification.   

What a friendly view. Last time we were here we just had to imagine it, swathed as we were in mist. This time the kids played hide and seek for hours in the grass outside the hut.

It’s interesting sharing kids with other moms, watching their styles. Milo spent–no joking–45 minutes trying to get this 2 meter long domino train of cards to work. They’re very touchy, and he kept knocking them down before he was finished. Emma took pity on him and used a pencil to make a safety stop so he wouldn’t lose the whole thing if a section fell over, a well as fended off the rest of the gang from coming too close and accidentally setting them off. I was ready to call it an exercise in futility and move on at the 15 minute mark, but both Milo and Emma were determined, and they eventually got it. Boy, are they pleased with themselves!

Failed attempt number 572:

Success at last:

School holidays end this weekend, and Naomi’s sojourn at school starts on Monday.  The times: they are are a-changing.

 

Brilliance of winter mountain tops

Her brows are lowered, glowering.  Her lower lip is thrust out, railing against a reality that’s standing in her way.  She’s expressing a full-on scowly pout.

Sounds like Naomi, yes?

Close, but not exactly.  I’m ashamed to admit that’s me.  That apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

It’s amazing how visceral the bodily reaction is, how perfectly I mirror my daughter’s expression.  It gives me more sympathy for her plight.  How often is her autonomy has been threatened or her will thwarted?  Kids often get told that their plans are rubbish, or not well thought out, or needing adjustment….wherever along the spectrum of positivity the parent happens to be that day; it all means they don’t get to do what they want.  I know what that’s like.

I had planned a hike last weekend with a friend, but on Thursday the text came: “I’m still snotty and grotty with a cold that just won’t go away.  Sorry for the late notice, but I was hoping it would disappear….”

Bummer.

But the forecast was superb for the mountains, and I like hiking alone.  I was still keen to go.  I was definitely NOT keen to stay home.  “I’m hell-bent on going hiking this weekend!” I declared to Jeremiah.  I’m practicing clear spousal communication, can you tell?  He cocked his brow at the rashness of my decision.

The only problem is that we hadn’t decided where we were going to go, and it was Thursday night, and I hate trip planning…..which unfortunately is part of any trip. Sigh.

I looked at Pfiefer bivvy, working out if I was gutsy enough to find my own way up a creek bed, over a trail-less ridge, and down a scree run.  Maybe not this weekend.

Then I noticed Mt Aiken on the map.  I had been wanting to hike that one for a while now, and the calm wind and sunny forecast made it a tempting prospect.

“I think I’ll hike Mt. Aiken,” I announced.

“How far is it?” Jeremiah queried.

“I don’t know….it’s a day hike.  Starts right at Punchbowl Falls, and splits off from there.”

Jeremiah scrutinized the map.  “That ridge looks a little narrow,” he noted, zooming in on the aerial.  “It might be icy.”  He checked the forecast.  “25 kph wind,” he announced.  “That doesn’t sound very nice.”  His critical view was discouraging.  That’s when my involuntary glower started.  “Well, ‘hell-bent’ as you are on hiking, I think you might get up there and make a bad decision,” he stated, my hyperbole coming back to bite me.

I stared at the laptop screen.  Maps.  I toggled between the aerial view and the topo map, struggling to figure out which were the ridges and which were the valleys.  Ach.  I poured us a beer to see if that would help.  It didn’t, so I went back to the comfortingly tangible job of pulling together hiking food.

Jeremiah started looking at other routes.  Unlike for me, maps are his friends.  “How about Mt Bealey,” he suggested, showing me the features.  There was a big shallow bowl behind the ridge that would make a decent alternative route if the ridge proved to be too sketchy.

Reluctantly I considered it.  I’d feel rather foolish if I got into trouble on a route that I had insisted on taking against my husband’s advice, I was forced to admit.  But I think I can decide for myself when a climb is becoming unsafe, and turn back.  Darn.  Caution and frustrating rationality were winning over autonomy and spontaneity, as always, and I resigned myself to taking Jeremiah’s suggestion.

Thankfully we already owned a good topo map of Arthur’s pass, so I quickly finished tossing my stuff in my backpack and went to bed.

It was sunny by the time I arrived in Arthur’s pass the next morning.  Cold, but a steep climb soon fixed that.  I heard a kea’s screechy call, and admired the long waterfalls coming off the snow-capped peaks.  The route description had said that there was no other safe way down this side than the ridge, and looking at the bluffs, I believed it.

Popping out of the trees, I could see the road far below, and hear the train’s whistle.  Not exactly back country, but the views were panoramic nevertheless.  I climbed through the tussock and reached the first bit of the rocky ridge.  The drop down to the right was a startlingly steep scree slope, so I kept left as much as possible.  Patches of snow began to appear, but they were soft and safe in the sun.  I reached a high point after a cautiously poking my way along a cornice, comfortingly solid under my stick.  I checked my phone—reception, and data too.  I sent Jeremiah a text.  “I’m on the small peak before bealey, going well.  I’m going to tootle along a bit more and check out the next ridge.”  I might as well keep him updated, he was probably afraid of being left to raise two young kids on his own.

I didn’t like that next ridge, as it turns out, so I backtracked a bit, stopped to put on my microspikes and went down and across the big white clean expanse of the bowl behind the ridge. I could see old tracks where someone had gone down on skis, and tracks of a lone hare, but otherwise it was clear and bright, the deep snow smoothing out all the rocks and grass and streams. It’s amazing, gliding along the crusty top of the snow—like what I imagine moon walking to be, but in a much more hospitable environment.

Part way up the next side I put on my snow shoes, climbing a bit of softer snow tipped towards the afternoon sun. It was lunch time when I popped up to the last ridge and trudged up to the summit. The view was exhilarating. Avalanche peak was there to the west, with Mt Rolleston glimmering behind it. In the summer I’m going to come back to the valley beyond Avalanche and walk out the Waimakariri valley I could see below to the south.

Tea time with the Waimakariri river far below.

On the way back down I gazed at Mt Aiken to the north across the valley where Arthur’s Pass village hunkered.  The rocks on the ridge line looked dry, with the snow in the shadier side just behind and below the ridge.  It had only taken me half a day to reach the summit of Mt Bealey; maybe tomorrow there would be time to try Mt Aiken.

It was before 2:00 when I reached the tree line again, and stopped for afternoon coffee. I was carrying that stove and gas can, I might as well use it to the max! The village below was already in the mountain shadow, so I decided to stay put for a while. I had phone reception, so I caught up on messages, thought about life, and lounged in the sun for nearly two hours before finishing the descent through the trees.

I stayed in the Alpine Club’s lodge Saturday night.  “Lodge” makes it sound fancy, but it’s not; more like a rough bach.  Passable and cheap.

Next morning I started up Mt Aiken. It was windy and chilly in the village, but as I climbed it got still.  Odd, but maybe the wind is funnelled over the pass and maybe the trail was sheltered by the mountain to the west?  Anyway, I wasn’t complaining.  I heard another kea.

This climb had less snow than the previous day, as the slope was facing the sun.  The ridge was dry, and wide enough to feel safe from the scree fall to the west and the snowy slope to the east.  These ridges are jagged, the mountain rock being easy to fracture and break apart, not smooth like the hard granite of the Adirondacks.

I picked my way cautiously over the ridgeline, even putting on my spikes for the snow on the last 5 meters before the first summit. A band of cloud hung just over the mountains to the west; I was on the east side of the divide, in the sun, while anyone just over in Otira would be swathed in cloud. I laughed out loud. It was spectacular, it wasn’t even windy, and no one else was up here!

Except a pair of tahr. Or chamois…or deer. I’m really not knowledgeable enough to guess who’s footprints these were, or why they were sidling along the mountain tops.

I looked along the next bit of ridge to the true summit, eyeing up a narrow spot where the snow had blown through the ridge and the possible falls to either side.  Nope, first summit was enough for me.  Jeremiah would be proud of that conservative choice.  I turned around and started back down.

It was a magnificent weekend. Enough risk to make me feel strong and independent, while not enough danger to be stupid. And it was surprisingly nice to be front country—to have time to communicate with some friends and also to think.