journal . stories . life

23 ~ February 2024

(journal while overnight backpacking:) Enjoying a very calm night on an overnight backpack trip. I have been wanting to do this for a long time. My schedule and the weather finally cooperated. Just me and the border collies. I've got all our food hung high between between two trees so no bears can get it.

Campfires take the edge off of cold nights when winter backpacking. (the 'rose of winter') I have plenty of firewood stacked to handle tomorrow morning's chill.

I like all parts of backpacking including picking up camp and loading the pack when I'm about to head back down to the truck. What makes it so great is spending all day out in nature and then through dusk, night, the early hours of the morning, and dawn. When you get over the uneasiness of being out at the edge of wilderness after dark, you began to understand how magical nighttime is, and beautiful

Also the fact that I have three kindred spirit companions out here with me makes it incredibly special. It really is a joy to see how much they love the whole experience. I start them when they're puppies and so they know what it's all about and they're more than ready after a long adventurous day to go into the tent and have a good night's sleep.

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More journal notes:

February 25:Every week I wear a pack with weights in it on one of our walks so I don’t lose my fitness for carrying a heavy pack. Of course it is work to climb uphill to a ridgetop or a rock outcropping where I usually set up camp. But it is worth it. After a good night’s sleep with my mountain companions it lifts my heart to see the sky lightening in the east, through the silhouettes of the trees.

February 15th: When I have found a good story to tell, and have practiced it well enough, what a joy it is to begin telling it on that first day, which has three tellings. My story this month is about a girl discovered alone in front of a bear's cave when she was two, (Yanka) and then was raised by a healer who came across little Yanka when out collecting seeds and plant for medicine. (Mamochka). Mamochka is a good mother to Yanka, but when Yanka turns 15, she wakes up one morning and her feet have become bear feet. Yanka goes into the forest to find a cure for her condition and along the way learns of her backstory. It is a story of wonder and magic, with a strong sense of place amidst the snow forest and a spirit tree hidden in the shadow of the blue mountain. My story is an adaptation of The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson.

The children in all three classes stayed with me even though it is a longer story with a lot of plot twists. They cheered at the end when Yanka finds out who her Father is, near the Spirit Tree.

What a fine day it has been on the first one of telling my February Story. I will have about 19 more tellings before the end of the month. Then I will take March off and finish up my school year stories in April and May.

I can't imagine any job in retirement that could be better than this one.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"