Monday, July 27, 2015

Breathe, stop, listen

There is something wonderful about having driven the same road over and over many times, and suddenly one day you come around the bend and you are surprised by the late afternoon sky, the newly baled hay, the freshly mown field,   Breathe deep, stop, listen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fourth of July Hiking

Between the cool, rainy weather patterns and our overfilled schedules this summer, there has been little time for hiking.  Because the Fourth of July holiday fell on a Saturday boasting a warm, sunny forecast, we decided to pull out our hiking gear and head to Cowles Bog for our maiden hike through this lush, sandy, landscape.  Our yellow labrador mix, Cooper, was ready for adventure, and literally dragged his owners at the end of his leash to the trailhead around 7:30 am, backpacks stocked with water bottles, cliff bars, fruit and dog treats. Except for a group of energetic runners that disappeared down the trail ahead of us, we had the peaceful solitude of the trail to ourselves. Our workweek-worn senses were met with the welcome call of a bluejay in the canopy, the rustle of chipmunks in the brush and the sun-dappled trail before us.

We consider the Cowles Bog trail, a five-mile loop through thick forest, marshy bogs, sandy dunes and a solitary Lake Michigan beach, one of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's finest hikes.   The trail required just the right amount of physical exertion to get our blood pumping, climbing higher and spilling out suddenly at the top of a sand dune to a wide view of the lake below us.

 We settled down on the quiet lakeshore for a snack of cliff bars and cherries for us and treats for Cooper.   Morning mist was still hanging low over the water farther out.  A single boat was anchored off the shore, the owners of whom probably had enjoyed the smoldering remains of a nearby campfire.

We finished our hike and completed the loop well before mid-day.  On the day set aside to celebrate our nation's birthday, the hike was a fitting way to celebrate its natural habitat and beauty.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Women Build

When I was a little girl I once said that when I grew up, I was going to be a carpenter like my father.   My dad had apprenticed as a cabinet maker in Switzerland in the 1950's.  After he married my mother, they moved to Chicago to begin a new life together, and since there weren't many opportunities for cabinet makers, he became a carpenter - a profession he continued for the rest of his life.

My sisters and I grew up around the sound of hammers and circular saws.  We knew the difference between slotted flat and phillips screwdrivers. We played with wooden folding rulers.  Chunky, flat carpenters pencils were normal in our house. We knew what a plumb line was and our father's old chicken house-turned-carpenter's shop was a treasure trove of sawdust piles, saw horses, stacks of discarded wood pieces and drill bits of every size.

When Habitat for Humanity was looking for  photographers to spend some time taking photos of their recent home building project, I jumped at the chance for several reasons.
This was a unique project because it was called a "women's build" where much of the work was completed by women. Having been the oldest of three girls to grow up as carpenter's daughters, I knew that this work could most certainly be done by capable women and I was thrilled to be able to capture their progress.   It had been a long time since I'd been around a building site and it felt good to wander in and out of the skeletal wood framing, picking my way around two-by-fours, ladders and tool boxes on the unfinished floor.   I was fortunate to meet the young woman whose home they were building.  Although she didn't have carpentry skills to offer, she was there to lend a hand, carry tools, deliver fresh cut wood sections where they were needed and sweep up as she watched her future home rise up around her.  

I drive by the site every now and then to check on the progress and I look forward to one day soon seeing a finished home. And I still love the smell of sawdust.