The Old Pine Tree
It finally rained

I’m trying to time my long run with the radar, hoping to find those perfect two hours that are supposed to be thunderstorm free with just a light drizzle. 8am feels more like 6am, dark and quiet and slightly unknown.

I dare not be so selfish as to wish the rain away completely, it has been weeks since the garden had a good honest drink (my neglect hasn’t helped). Just as I think the weather has really lightened up the sky begins its fierce and utter descent. It reminds me of a snowstorm, when all you can do is sit back and appreciate how beautiful it is.

At least I’ve got all day.

Check the oven

Last week I came home from work tired with a little stomach ache and decided to forgo my run. I felt guilty about it but I reminded myself that it was better than burnout, especially as I’m about to embark on the 20 milers.

I cut up some yellow and sweet potato and tossed them in the usual before putting them in the oven to roast.

I should have anticipated it. It was cool and gray and I was comfortable in leggings. I had to turn off the ceiling fan, out of place on such an evening. And then I turned the oven on, which is maybe when I really should have known.

But it wasn’t for another 15 minutes. I opened the oven to check the potatoes and it hit me like an eighteen wheeler, the smell bringing back the memory of last fall. I could see the old apartment, that cozy little kitchen, the light barely hanging onto the darkening sky, feel the comfort of a warm oven, the satisfaction of roasted root vegetables.

Few things grip me as tightly as the changing of the seasons.

Local Hops 

I recently ran by Elm Hill Farm in midcoast Maine (I can vouch for their claim that they are situated among “rolling hills”). It’s such a treat to see their hops climbing up to the top of the poles each summer. Their hops are used at Sebago Brewing and Peak Organic.

“I was really amazed at the vibrant agricultural culture in this area,” he said. “In Waldo County, it’s really unbelievable, what people are doing up here. I wanted to be part of that, but I really didn’t know how to do it. I wasn’t into growing garlic or tomatoes. I knew I wanted to do something different.”
    -Arthur Lewis, 60, Bangor Daily News

life lately

You may have noticed that things are slowly getting a little fancier/classier/sharp/thoughtful over here at The Old Pine Tree. I’m hoping that maybe I can put a little more umphf into it and find my stride. Stay tuned (and also, feel free to reach out if you’d like to partner, comment - nicely -, have some inspiration you think I should see, or have advice on how to really do this “blogging” thing). So far it has paid off. I like the OPT product better, and it seems to be getting a good response. Thanks for being along for the ride, guys! 

Training is going well and so I officially registered for MDI. Having said/done that, I will probably get injured tomorrow. I had great long run last week which has me feeling hopeful, but then I took it kind of lightly this week, so I need to go hard soon. Luckily, the runs are only getting longer for a while (luckily?!). 

I recently read a short article about things that women do at work that might make it harder for them to be taken seriously (I looked and looked but can’t seem to find the article now). They were little things, but I’ve been thinking and acting on them because I realized I do all most of them. I can think of four things I do off the top of my head: 1. fidget, a lot, all the time, with my jewelry, my clothes, my hair, etc. 2. I stand with my hands clasped in front of my hips 3. I cross my ankles when I stand 4. I tilt my head when I’m listening. DO NOT DO THESE LADIES! Apparently it looks unprofessional. I only agree by about 50%, but I think it is interesting to think about. Take me seriously, world!

The past couple of weekends I’ve been in the woods (at camp, backpacking, and at my parents’). Last Sunday when I got back into town it was unexpectedly jarring: the smell of cigarettes, the noise, the pavement. I’ve fallen so in love with this City that recently I’ve worried I wouldn’t want to leave when it comes time to buy that land I’ve always dreamed about, but now I know for sure, that getting out to the country is still very much what I want.

I wish LL Bean would go back to their roots a little and stop partnering with such douchy blogs. However, this collaboration was really classy. Also, the new Signature line logo is wicked sharp. Did you know that LL Bean used to just use employees for models? That’s pretty Maine if you ask me. 

So that’s that. Hope you’re well.

Baldface Circle Trail: My first experience backpacking

Backpacking is one of those things that seems like so much fun. And then you put a pack on and start climbing uphill and realize that you have to carry all that weight for the next 10 miles. The only relief is knowing that the longer you hike the less water you’ll be carrying.

The shelter and campsites on Baldface Circle Trail (in New Hampshire) are about 3 miles from the trail head, and the trail up until that point is completely manageable. It was a quick hike and then I got to drop my pack (and the 4 liters of water in it) and help set up camp. 

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I was in charge of the meal planning, and for dinner I brought cous cous (cooked over a backpacking camp stove) and Trader Joe’s indian food packets that had a great curry sauce and lots of chickpeas. The sauce was served over the rice. The indian sauce could have been served at room (or outdoor) temperature, but they heated up so nicely and quickly next to the fire. Who needs electricity? 

The weather was calling for a forty+ degree night but it must have stayed in the 50s because I was too warm. I slept well though and awoke ready to take on my pack and the trail. The overlook from the shelter showed that the mist was burning off the mountains.

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Breakfast was instant oatmeal with banana chips and chocolate chips. All the right ingredients for the long, active day ahead.

Once the bear bag was brought down and the pack was back on (and the four liters refilled after drinking some the night before) it wasn’t long before the trail went above tree line.

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And then the next hour was basically rock climbing over terrain like this:

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Here is another view:

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You get the idea. Lunch was at the top of South Baldface Mountain (peanut butter and Nutella. I love how hiking can be so indulgent like it’s nothing). Then it was about 45 minutes over to North Baldface. After a picture or two, it was time to head down, opting for the Bicknell Ridge Trail, with its two lovely river crossings.

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Not only was my pack about 4 liters of water lighter at this point, but I literally ate handfuls and handfuls of these:

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So there was that. Also, the rock climbing was behind me. You can see the rock face here:

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All in all it was a really nice hike, and a good experience. It was great to spend a full 24 hours in the woods and disconnected from (most of) the world. I think I might enjoy having a flatter trail for my next backpacking excursion, but this was an adventure and that’s what it’s all about.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately

What would you do each day if you didn’t have to work, or worry about money (I’m not talking about being rich, just having enough money so you didn’t have to work)?

I still read books 
(at Stone Soup Books, Camden, Maine)

I still read books 

(at Stone Soup Books, Camden, Maine)

Mason jars
Mason, or Ball, jars have so many practical uses, but when it comes down to it, they’re made for canning food to preserve it and line it on dusty, dark shelves for the winter. Being able to stock your own shelves with food you grew is a pretty fantastic, simple pleasure.

Mason jars

Mason, or Ball, jars have so many practical uses, but when it comes down to it, they’re made for canning food to preserve it and line it on dusty, dark shelves for the winter. Being able to stock your own shelves with food you grew is a pretty fantastic, simple pleasure.

A dozen peaches

The neighbor was nice enough to let me come pick some peaches the other day. Add these to the list of things I must grow when I have land.

Making dilly beans

Canned goods make great thank you gifts and Christmas presents, and are perfect little delicacies to squirrel away for the long winter. Dilly beans are sort of the cream of the crop when it comes to canned goods, especially if you know the family secret.

Yesterday’s long run

Yesterday morning I ran 16.5 miles through the back roads of small towns. These are the roads one only knows if they live there. Wide open fields, soggy marshes and bogs, views at the top of every gentle dirt hill, secrets to how people live in a land where there isn’t much money but more beauty than the heart can stand.

It was a good run. I tackled some massive hills - a climb of over 270 feet in elevation at mile 13. I almost got run over by about 20 logging trucks, and by the time I got to the top of that big hill a dog was chasing me in an attempt to put me out of business.

On runs like that I feel more like an explorer, more in tune with the world around me than the grumblings of my body.

August evening

August evening

I just can’t get enough of the country this summer.

I just can’t get enough of the country this summer.

Enjoy this August night

Because it is warm and breezy and effortless. Because there’s little to worry about. Because the sun went down at 7:30pm and somehow that feels early. Because you’ve got many imperfect months ahead of you. Because you can picture what August will feel like a year from now and it seems just as sweet. Because the peaches and raspberries and blackberries were all fresh, right from the source today. Because after August everything changes, and this is the nectar of the year.

Official

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From the roots on up.