Posts tagged ‘Outdoors’

5 May, 2011

Mystery Maggy

Maggy, Prom?


Why did this never happen to me in high school? Why does Maggy get to have all the fun?

Fun fact: The request was signed ♥N+G. Friends? Two boys? Hmmm…Maggy intrigues me.

What we all want to know: did she say yes?

Spotted and phone-photographed upside down in the West End by yours truly.

10 November, 2010

I am sorry there are trees in my name.

The Hula Valley Wildlife Birdwatching Nature Preserve Desperate Attempt to Make Israel Green and Welcoming and Lush: early Zionists drained the native marshlands to make the land arable, realized they f***ed up, and tried to reconstitute the marsh, so you can go look at birds. But that’s okay, because now you can see a heron in Israel.

It was sort of vague and unclear as to whether we were supposed to pay an admissions fee – we didn’t. But a sign on the door and again on the tour-ticket window asked for a 3 NIS donation per person to support the crane project…and the JNF. Oh, JNF. You wily old bastards. You make yourselves seem all friendly and green and nice, trying to save the environment and plant trees where there should be no trees (like in the desert…seriously guys?) and on other people’s private property. Private. Property. And you do it on behalf of me! Me! And every other unsuspecting nice Jewish girl and boy who has a bar or bat mitzvah and some well-meaning but not-entirely-completely-informed relative donates a tree in Israel in your name. A tree of life, or a tree of appropriation? Seeing that sign made me want to go hunt down all the “Audrey Farber” trees and dig them up. Take that, JNF! As if there are little plaques denoting which trees are mine. Too easy, too easy.

Also, I want someone to explain to me how it is that the JNF and not the Israeli government is accepting payments at an Israeli National Park. Isn’t that the job of the park service? The JNF is headquartered in New York. Not Israel. Would we be okay with it if a non-American non-governmental organization was accepting admissions fees at our National Parks, parks which our tax dollars (should) go to support?

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20 October, 2010

Writing sunset

Nafplio, Greece

It’s almost sunset and this is almost an island. I stare across crystal clear glass-topped turquoise at drop-scene peaks draped in cumulus fog. Catamarans – no sail – drift by and minnows dart underneath. I am outside – below- the protection of the fortified battlements off the end of pier (long walk). Birds skate effortlessly overhead and I remember a time on a dock with a 6-pack of Geary’s summer and weighty take-out containers from Whole Foods.

I enter where it is forbidden to pedestrians and find and abandoned? stairway curving down to the water and a solar-powered lighthouse. And two power-walkers out for their evening stroll.

There is nothing but jagged edges and rippled contours as far as I can see, as long as Eye don’t look back.

The atelier of the gods falls away into the realm of the underworld, and ante-sunset breeze brings with it a particular magic and calm. Almost. Again. The water is tears in my eye. From salt to salt, vibrations from a world away. I forgot I stuck this flower in my hear, hippie child that I am. Or, rather, that I want to be. Hoping I can pull off the careless effortlessly. Mountains are half of me, salt the other. Here they are one but here I am alone and far far far away. I want a part of it – find it, somehow. All over the world and the phantasy of the enigmatic idyllic mountain-farming-seaside-fishing remains. Just that.

The clouds turn titanium and platinum as Helios sinks behind, mountains line up from dark to grey to light to land ho, barely visible on that horizon.

I have two friends now, hard-shelled eight-legged creatures munching snacks off the rocks. I want to share this, lie on our stomachs, our chins in our hands, fascinated by the slow and methodical process of crab-eats-rock. Side scuttle, side scuttle, mother may I? to higher ground and greener pastures. We would watch them get bullied by the tide, scramble to recover but eight legs never fails. We’d debate whether or not to pick them up, chase them back into hiding, but in the end humanitarianism (crabitarianism?) lets us let them be, remarking on their oddities and their funny mannerisms, as they finish their meal and head back into the sea, maybe we watch the minnows or maybe we just be. The sun still sinking slowly leaves a trail of fire across the glass. Look, burn, look away.

(Another crab crawls up right next to me, just inches from my bright blue laces. Nature fascination interrupts my elaborate daydream, and the cool evening breeze interrupts my warm reverie.) The sun – by some witchcraft of atmospheric meteorologic karma – aligns perfectly behind a small cloud pillar (divine manifestation). Its rays jet upwards and wind turbines dot the crest of the farthest mountain, silhouetted. Sky, sun, cloud, mountains falling down into the sea. Taking on shades of blue and gray, 90° away a half moon waxing peeks o’er the ramparts ready to play. Divinity, divinity. Water laps my toes. And in but a moment, the day is gone.

And still the turbines spin against these last warm rays of night. Light.

25 September, 2010

Land like milk and honey

I really didn’t know or forgot that Israel could look like this

We hiked down into a valley and up the other side, across the top with views to all sides. What is this place? It was so far away, in every sense, from what life is normally like here. And … amazing. Need more nature in my life, stat.

22 August, 2010

Painting the Sky

Atlit. Sunrise. FML.

20 July, 2010

How to Start a Fight

Every neighborhood has its back alleys and dead ends. Scratch that: every neighborhood has its race tracks and soccer pitches.

The boys:
Barra! Barra! (Outside! Outside!)
Shoo btehki? (What are you saying?)
Barra! Barra!

The girls:
B’sur’ah! B’sur’ah! (Quickly! Quickly!)
(Run and hide, someone’s coming!)

Crazy kids on bikes…a boy almost gets hit by a car, and I almost get sandwiched between the two of them.

Here is the approximate trajectory of the ball:


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17 June, 2010

Mt. Adams

Welcome to the Alpine Zone

9 June, 2010


North Shore of Lake Superior, Minnesota.

I can imagine growing up here was much like growing up next to the creek and arboretum, only bigger and better. Real rivers, real woods, real waterfalls. We meandered up another creekbed (which inevitably led to me slipping on a rock and falling into a split) to a waterfall. Its cliffs were tempting, but after a couple of vertical feet I decided I did not want to slide down wet granite. Bummer. Ian showed me columbine: a small reddish flower that looks kind of like a crown and hangs like a bluebell. It grows in the woods and on cliffsides, and you bite off the back and suck out the nectar, like honeysuckle.

We swam in infinitely deep swimming holes in glacial rivers, climbed up the granite cliff sides (smoother than anything on the East Coast, granite-wise) and fell backwards into the water. We jumped off rocks and plunged into the rapid river, pulled along towards the next mini-waterfall, swimming against the current to lather, rinse, repeat.

26 May, 2010

Geysers Still Work in the Snow

Y-Stone. Monday. The National Park Service at Yellowstone is very good at protecting its customers. Signs abound enumerating the dangers of abandoning the paved walkways and boardwalks in favor of the earth which is invariably referred to as a “thermal area.” This seems reasonable – spots that look almost stable are, upon closer inspection, littered with small holes spewing sulfuric steam, belying the volcanic turmoil beneath. Hot springs and thermal pools, with their bubbling surfaces and Caribbean-blue depths are sirens (Greek sense) of the oft-barren and acid-scarred terrain, tempting gullible explorers into their cavernous depths. But half covered by thin shells of rock and luring one into seeming never-ending depth the temptation is tempered by wariness of what lies beneath. Undulations of rock continue as the blue get darker, evidence of their violent and tumultuous nature. Red-rimmed circles surround their surface, the presence of organisms so extreme they can only survive in the most unwelcoming of conditions, or possible denoting the presence of some mineral, uniquely harmful to life as we know it. What lies beneath this surface?

The best signs are those discouraging trespassing on Thermal Areas. There is evidently a high likelihood of falling through thin crust into vast inescapable pools of superheated and highly acidic (it can, apparently, burn through boots) volcanic geothermal outgassing. Death is imminent. This would, of course, be far easier to believe if the amount of buffalo excrement didn’t almost surpass said evidence of Earth’s indigestion. I don’t see any buffalo sticking out of geysers. But then, I suppose that’s what the woolly mammoths in the tar pits said, too. I suspect buffalo are good at figuring out which parts are Thermal Areas and which are just ground. After all, they live here, and are animals (and therefore have instincts), and walk (lumber?) really really slowly. And we, humans, are just dumb enough that if we were allowed to walk outside of tightly constrained areas we would just go get ourselves boiled and burned.

It does seem, though, that “we” (species) are just that stupid. Some car (which you are inevitably behind) always has to stop every time they see bison. Granted, they are very cool animals. They have evolved so that they can stand in deep snow and swing their giant heads back and forth to dig deep enough to feed on the grass underneath. Plus they look really cool because they don’t seem to give a shit that so many tourists drive slowly by gawking at them. Anyway – why this makes people stupid – upon park entry you receive a little 5×8 bright yellow flier alerting you to the dangers of being gored by a buffalo. It seems to me that incessant staring and pointing and picture-taking would agitate these otherwise cool-as-a-moose characters and set them on a gore-the-tourist rampage. This seems like a far more violent – at least bloodier – death than the vague possibility of treading across the thin crust concealing a volcanic sinkhole. Certainly it seems likelier than the latter since I have in the last three hours seen more buffalo within goring proximity than I have new sinkholes spontaneously appearing in the sulfur-scarred landscape of the caldera. Henceforth, I believe buffalo are a more relevant threat to one’s livelihood than the volcano burping gaseously beneath your feet.

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19 May, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle

The first stop on Part Two of Epic Journey was Hood River, OR and the Columbia Gorge. What to do in this renowned rainforest of the Pacific Northwest? Thanks to the Curious Gorge guidebook and our boundless adventurousness, we did one of the cooler things there is to do in the area with a limited time-frame (that is, with a post-getting-out-of-bed-at-noon-hangover-recovery afternoon with thunderstorms looming on the horizon).

The book pointed us towards a gorge (that shall remain nameless) whose creek bed one could follow through the slot canyon about half a mile to a waterfall. Frankly, warmer weather may have been somewhat more comfortable. The expedition required walking through waist-deep, fresh-off-the-cliff water (read: COLD) and clambering over a precarious log-jam that extended from canyon wall to canyon wall. It was worth the trek, however, mostly for the fact that the several other cars we encounter in the parking lot were filled with middle-aged camera-toting waterfall-hunting clothing-wearing tourists in the classic sense, and we were just cool enough to be the ones in bathing suits ignoring the Logjam Danger signs. Take that, scenic area patrons. (And no, I didn’t bring my camera, since I didn’t want it to drown.)

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