Friday, December 24, 2021

Born to Wander

     Bye, Bye Bernice was my 2015 farewell post to a remarkable woman. Bernice Ende (aka Lady Long Rider) had spent the winter of 2014-2015 in Fort Edward and was preparing to leave as spring approached. Her time here was but a brief chapter in a long sea to shining sea journey that covered some 8000 miles over two and a half years ... all on horseback.

     Now it's time to say a final farewell. Bernice Ende passed away on October 2, 2021 at her sister's house in New Mexico. Over her lifetime she logged more than 30,000 miles with a number of horses and her beloved dog Claire. For more on her extraordinary travels you can read her book, watch a movie about her and visit a website which remains up for the time being. 

     Gwenne, Holly and I visited her several times in the winter she spent here. What always struck me was how she was more interested in our lives, in what we were doing, than in talking about herself. She was a thoughtful, contemplative person but couldn't easily explain why she spent days in the saddle, nights on the ground. On her website she does mention four reasons for her travels: To encourage female leadership. To discover, learn and grow. It's her personal version of the oft repeated justification for climbing mountains: "Because it's there".

     We all develop our own individual relationship with place. For most it's about finding somewhere secure and nurturing to live out our lives, to raise our families. But not for everyone. Somewhere deep in our DNA is the nomad gene that urges us to wander, to see what is beyond the next hill. It's what lead us out of Africa, to explore every nook and cranny of our world and even to venture into space. It may someday be the end of us as our travels are now fueled by spewing carbon into the air and have become so efficiently globe-spanning that we can spread deadly virus's in a matter of days.

     That's why I'm thankful for those who show us how to scratch the wandering itch simply, quietly while doing no harm. Thankful for people like Bernice Ende. 

     * Joni Mitchell's poetic sensibility touches on the deep stirrings that send us roaming. Here's a link to her Urge For Going.   

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Shushan Shining Bright


     I've been to Eagleville a few times in recent days, tidying up our woodlot before hard winter sets in. Strange to be working in a tee-shirt in mid-December with temps in the 60's. I usually keep busy until it gets too dark to see. That's around 4:30 pm (right about the time I would start baling hay in the summer!). As dusk fades into night I relax with some coffee and watch the Moon rise over Snake Ridge, listening for the hoot of an owl above the quiet murmur of the Battenkill.

     It's a monochrome world as I start the drive home. A patchwork of fields and woods washed in pale moonlight. Then it's down the hill into Shushan where things get a bit more colorful. For the unfamiliar, Shushan is a 'blink and you missed it' gathering of a few dozen homes at the spot where two county roads cross paths. It's a place where you can momentarily forget what century you're in. There's a certain timeless coziness about it and I make sure I don't blink when passing thru because it never fails to put a smile on my face. 

     In a world that seems slowly wobbling out of control, I savor Shushan's quiet steadiness. And in the holiday season there's the bonus of cheery Christmas lights. They lured me to stop the other night and snap a few shots. Unfortunately my dime store point and shoot doesn't do the scenes justice. But maybe they're enough to inspire your own ramble thru the winter hills, with their hidden treasure of sparkling color.