Spring Fever

Happy Vernal Equinox! Even though according to the flowers and trees here, spring sprang weeks ago, today we official usher in the Spring (and google celebrates spring-inspired designer marimekko).

I am captivated by the etherial pale pink blossom of the cherry trees, the electric green of tiny leaves, the shock of yellow forsythia bushes and the diminutive wildflowers. It’s so tempting to hit another trail…. or travel even further afield.20120320-230206.jpg

I just finished reading, Holding On by Jo Gambi, that chronicles their climb of the 7 highest summits on each continent. It’s the story of a husband and wife team who set off on an insane adventure, all while Rob is in remission from cancer. The book is more realistic about many of the challenges to mountaineering and living “life on the road,” than other mountaineering books I’ve read. Still the traveling and exploration, pushing yourself mentally and physically, and seeing the (literal) top of the continents has such appeal. Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to quit our jobs and travel, but we do need to plan some spring and summer holidays!

Thankfully, right now I want to stay right here in the beauty of spring.

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness—
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree—
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

for more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

— Mary Oliver, “Such Singing in the Wild Branches”
Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays

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Sun Salutations

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Wow, we seemed to have skipped spring and gone straight to summer. It’s mid-March and in the mid 80s! I love my job but it’s torture to head inside after a lovely lunch break sitting in the sun by the lake, with branches heavy laden with flowers quivering in the breeze. Plus, it’s not getting dark till 7:30pm! I wish I had an outdoor kitchen so I could cook outside. I wonder if we could BBQ on our chimnea! I am such a sun fiend!

Meanwhile, I’m taking advantage of a free week of yoga at Down Dog Studio in Herndon. It’s hot yoga (but, no, not Bikram) which is new to me, but other than the fact I’m slipping and sliding all over the mat in my own sweat, I’m really liking it! Plus my yoga teacher turns out to be my neighbor! She recognized me when she saw my bike since she’s seen me biking to work each day. It’s a small small world!

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A DC Wedding

In October my beautiful jet-setting friend Sara got married to her man Travis. The wedding was fun, gorgeous and a perfect expression of such a hip couple. The venue was a great gallery on 14th St NW in DC with an amazing roof top deck. Plus they had the most delicious ALL VEGETARIAN food. It was great not having to interrogate the waiters about ingredients!

Sara Window Portrait by Giarc80HC
Sara Window Portrait, a photo by Giarc80HC on Flickr.

The beautiful bride!

may flowers

Anna, Buddy & Clifton

The month of May we were delighted to have many visitors. First Yas from Japan, then a lazy day of picnics and wine in the countryside with Clifton, who’s working for the amazing NGO Wholesome Wave up in Connecticut.  And also a chance to catch up with fellow CDT thru-hiker, Stretch, who we hadn’t seen since hiking in Wyoming back in July.

Nat, Stretch, Buddy & Dan

But we saved the best for last – Dan’s sis, Nat, visited Memorial Day weekend. We had a brilliant time with her… Sticking our noses in wine at posh vineyards, strolling round the cobblestone streets of Waterford, mingling with huge leather-clad Harley riders in DC during Rolling Thunder, enjoying sushi and chili mango ice lollies at Lake Anne. But irregardless of what we were doing, everything was better with Nat. Even just biking round town and running errands was great. And she put up with the heat wave that struck like a champ (we were also saved by the opening of the pools).

Dan, Fala, Buddy & Nat

Nat’s charming and at ease whether she’s at a five star hotel in Cannes (yes, a few weeks back, and no, not on her dime) or being interrogated while dumpster diving at night (yes, no, yes of course, delicious). Buddy loved her immediately and it was so great chat chat chatting about EVERYTHING!  We’re going to have to get strategic with operation bring Pizzos west.

And to step #1 was to go see the brilliant Peeps dioramas at the Artisphere. Nothing says “US of A” quite like neon-colored sugar-coated marshmellows in the shape of bunnies.  Especially when they’re riding broken escalators on the metro!

Yas please!

A few weeks ago our amazing Japanese thru-hiking friend Yas came to visit. We first met Yas briefly on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) but we really got to know him while hiking hundreds of miles with him on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).  Here are some things you should know about Yas:

  • he’s a human GPS… seriously, this guy is a navigational miracle who does it all old school with a map and compass
  • he makes his own gear and is ultra/über/super lightweight
  • he’s fast as heck but also slowed waaaaaay down to finish the CDT with us
Now he’s thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) and is bombing it… he hiked from Georgia to West Virginia in just over a month. He’s a hiking celeb in Japan. His trail name on the CDT was “Rock Steady” and on the AT it’s “V8.”  We bought him a 1/2 gallon of V8 to welcome him to our home!
Anyhow, we had an amazing weekend visiting with Yas. It was definitely surreal to see him doing all the usual thru-hiker things – carrying all he needed for months on end in 1 backpack, resupplying on junk food for the next stretch of trail, showering only once a week – while we were doing the “normal life” routine of working 9-5, living in a house and showering daily. Even though Dan & I are both really happy with our jobs, our house and our life, hearing about Yas’ experinces made us long for the trail…. oh trail fever! 
But it was also fun being a tiny bit like Trail Angels and feeding Yas insane amounts of food, providing him with a shower & laundry, doing a whirlwind tour of DC, quizzing him about all his experiences and just generally soaking in all amazingness that is Yas…. until he had to head back to Harper’s Ferry 😦
P.S. We have to brag on Yas so much because he’s a little bit shy and absolutely modest about his many achievements!
We hope to host more friends hiking the AT in the future… if that’s you, please get in touch!

But for now, reminisce with us about our adventures with Yas here….

wild, wonderful west virginia

In the end of April, we were thrilled to enjoy a visit from M&P. We guzzled bubble tea at Pho 75, chatted round the chimnea, drank local wines, were dazzled by the blooming red bud and dogwood and then hit the wilds of West Virginia.

You don’t get much wilder than that hair!

We stayed at a charming farmhouse in Lost City, WV with a red tin roof complete with a clawfoot tub in a sunny turquoise bathroom and lots of classic kitchy 1950s decor (like the stuffed squirel bookends and paint by numbers cowboy paintings in our bedroom).  We enjoyed a lazy rainy day munching on (high fiber) muffins and doing a ridiculous cow puzzle.

The next day we hiked above the clouds in the rain, but later the sun shone till our skin flushed pink. In the evening we sang our hearts out at the Karaoke night at the local bar. It was country and western until we broke out with some Beyonce and Black Eyed Peas. But there was also a surprising & delightful middle-aged gay contingent from DC amidsts the local mullets and perms!

Then we were off again – Dan navigated our “fire truck” on some crazy dirt roads to the Big Scholss region on the West Virginia/Virgina border. There we left our wheels behind and introduced M&P to wilderness backpacking! They loved it… other than a thunderstorm when we headed out, we had AHHMAAZING weather and Buddy was in good form after Pete performed a mini-operation on him (he’d basically just broken a nail, but the poor dog was limping for days until Pete came to his rescue!).

After a night round the campfire and plenty of s’mores we woke up the next morning and summitted Big Schloss.  John Denver’s Country Roads played on loop during most of car ride home.  In the 4 days we’d been away our backyard had gone from a tiny bursts of lime to a lush jungle of emerald, jade and malachite.  But soon it was time for M&P to return to the other side of the pond again….. and once they’d left, the pond seemed as large as a great ocean.

Community Supported Agriculture

It’s January. The trees are brown and barren. Snow covers the ground. But now is the time to sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  Community Supported Agriculture works a bit like the stock market. You pay for a share of the farm and get a share of the harvest delivered to your home or to a nearby pick-up location weekly. (Sorry that’s where my knowledge of the stock market, and my simile, end.)  Many farms offer 1/2 shares or mini-shares for those worried they can’t eat a bushel of veggies in a week. Some CSAs also include visits to the farm and free pick-your-own berries.  The fruit and veggies you get are LOCAL, SEASONAL, often ORGANIC, SUSTAINABLY GROWN and from small FAMILY FARMS.

I know these are the buzz words of the moment. So go ahead, sign up for a CSA to be hip. But you could also sign up to:

  • support local farmers
  • get the freshest, tastiest produce
  • make sure you eat more fruit and veggies
  • learn more about cooking seasonally
  • try new healthy foods
  • minimize the carbon footprint of your food

DC Area farms that offer CSA

  1. Potomac Vegetable Farm – various NOVA pick-up points *registration opens 2/15
  2. Great Country Farms – NOVA home delivery *register now
  3. Waterpenny Farm – Arlington & Lorton delivery *registration opening soon
  4. Olin-Fox Farms – South NOVA & Chesapeake delivery *register now
  5. Virginia Green Grocer – NOVA home delivery *register now
  6. Graceland Farm – various NOVA pick-up points *register now
  7. Manahoac – various NOVA pick-up points *register now
  8. A Fresh & Local CSA – DC/Maryland pick up points *register now

There’s plenty more, too. Check out Local Harvest to search for CSA, farmers markets and more by zip code. But don’t delay, CSA usually give first dibs to previous members and then fill up any remaining slots FAST.