Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Glitter Redux

Current AT mileage: 1,517.7 miles

We have crossed the border into Massachusetts! Huzzah! We've met a lot of great day hikers. We also had to say goodbye to one of the awesome-est hikers ever: Lost. He was here from Germany on a 3 month visa and had to go back home because his visa will soon be expired. He is hysterical, and I will miss him terribly.

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I lay on my back on a stone bench, tapping out a rhythm with my bare feet. Staring up at the sun filtering through green leaves, I sang softly to myself and waited patiently. I was outside the library in Falls Village, Connecticut, and the small building evoked the feeling of a cozy castle. Dirt was caked on my sun-browned skin and I smelled like an apple long forgotten in the back of a 7th grader's school locker. In spite of this, when the librarian showed up some time later to open the library, she welcomed me inside with promises of air conditioning and water. It never ceases to amaze me, the spectrum of reactions we get from the general public. It ranges from awe and respect, to mild interest, to ill-disguised revulsion. We never really know how people are going to react, but we do know one thing: they are going to react. 

It was a Friday afternoon, another impossibly hot and sticky day, and we'd made it to Falls Village, CT. We were scheduled to be picked up by Whistle's mom's cousin, Maryann. I think this means Maryann is Whistle's first cousin once removed. When I was a child I thought this meant that the person had been kicked out of the family. If they were twice removed, they had been kicked out once, let back in, and then kicked out AGAIN. Don't even get me started on three times removed. I was not disabused of this notion until I was 12 or 13, which gave me plenty of years to privately wonder what sort of shenanigans had led to so many of my dad's cousins being booted out of the family. I imagined that most of it had to do with losing bets while playing Hearts.

Maryann brought the 4 of us to her incredible home, where she raises sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys. With Maryann's encouragement, we jumped in the pond in the back yard and swam with a squadron of green frogs that Maryann and Mark call "Jason and the Frogonauts." We lounged on the back porch and watched a distant mountain range that, for a moment, looked simple and calm. Whistle bottle-fed a pair of exuberant lambs. We ate golden beets from the garden and fell asleep in guest rooms so perfectly beautiful they could have been from a magazine. Everything evoked the feeling of a well-loved old farm house, and it reminded me of my parent's home in Maine. It was one of the most stunningly beautiful properties I've ever been to. Nothing too big, nothing too small. Just right. 

Inspired by the closeness of piped water, it occurred to Whistle to wash her cooking pot. She had eaten couscous in it 2 nights previously and packed away the little set without washing it. I was outside when I heard Dumptruck's gagging horror as Whistle unearthed the metal nesting doll of cooking supplies. In the green house of Whistle's backpack, an entire species of flora had been left to flourish and multiply. In the darkness of the cooking pot, the couscous turned into something else altogether. A fuzzy white mold, like fluffy cotton, clustered around everything. A new species of nightmare, born of neglect, was then summarily destroyed by some boiling hot water and steel wool. Leave it to Whistle to play god with bacteria. 

Leaving the next morning felt like tearing velcro. The soft fibers of the beautiful house reaching out while the coarse loops of my fingers clutched at the door frame. I like to imagine that I was torn bodily from the house, Dumptruck holding my feet aloft and pulling me back while I held on to the perfectly antiqued door handle and hollered about true happiness. Don't get me wrong: I was perfectly happy to go back to the woods and hiking. But it was just so cozy and wonderful there that it was hard to leave.

We were brought back to Falls Village in the midst of a thunderstorm, the sky crashing down, a marching band of wetness to welcome us back to the woods.  We took refuge in the kitschy Toymaker's Cafe, waiting for the storm to stomp its way by. When we made our way back out to the wilderness, the mosquitos were partying. The damp evening air was the frat house and our bodies were the kegs. We hiked ever onward, not thwarted by the omnipresent Bacchanals of Bug-dom.

Around 1am I sat bolt upright in my tent and then immediately regretted the decision. My jaw was aching in that tell-tale way, and I knew that GLITTER! wasn't far behind. It didn't feel like hiker flu, but it did feel like misery. I wrapped my fore-arms around my roiling belly, muttering to myself and questioning the judgment of the trail gods. What had I done this time to deserve this punishment? Had I not been digging my cat holes to appropriate depths? Had I unwittingly relieved myself near a water source? Had I killed some rare specimen of insect? Dumptruck woke up and got me a large Ziploc bag to hold so I wouldn't get pony beads all over the tent.

Nearby, in Grim's hammock, his phone went off to remind him to take his Lyme disease antibiotic. I had never been awake before to hear his 1am alarm, and it was a short burst of country music, some lonely hearted man crooning about "the last drug." He snoozed the alarm a few times, and thus it was that my upchucks were punctuated by sudden peals of twanging guitar and Southern earnestness. 

Meanwhile, in Whistle's tent, she suddenly awoke to a face-full of freezing cold water. She had unwisely stored her small purple squirt gun in the ceiling pouch of her tent, and in the middle of the night, the stopper had decided to open itself and empty its contents onto Whistle's sweet, sleeping face. Whistle spluttered and tried to find something to dry her face with, but her hands in the darkness could find only sweat-soaked clothing.

And Dumptruck sat, uncomplaining, as an orchestra of vomiting, country music and wet gasping swirled around him in the darkness. He patted my back in a resigned sort of way, and occupied himself with the comforting thought that had there been any bears in the vicinity, they were now far, far away.

Love,
Clever Girl

P.S.
Margaret!! Thank you for the care package! Loved it :)

P.P.S.
We figured out that the glittering was just mild food poisoning. I was better within 12 hours. Probably because I breathed in the air that came out of Whistle's cooking pot.

Whistle and the squirt gun that turned on her

Maryann teaching Whistle to spin!


Grim looking awesome








HORROR

Bubble pipe from Margaret!






14 comments:

  1. Hi Guys, After reading this post my first thought was, "I want to go to there". We are following another hiker via blog named Karma, although we don't love her as nearly as much as we do you all, no matter what she might say I wrote to her. Anyway, she's heading your way now, if you meet her don't mention us...kidding....we kid because we love. Tell her hey and ask her about the moose. Happy, glitter free trails. Beth

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    1. I'll keep an eye out for her! Thanks for the heads up. We know you love us all equally ;-)

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  2. Great stories. I was sorry I did not get to meet you all. Apple Butter said you checked into the hotel we had just checked out of. So our paths did not cross. It was amazing to be a small part of the adventure you are all living. Looking forward to more stories from the trail.

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    1. Bummer, I would have loved to meet you! You must be awesome because Apple Butter is a superb lady, and she must come from great stock! She's just a day ahead of us now, I'm sure we'll see her again soon!

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  3. What surprises me is that this is the first time you've seen horror in Phoebe's cooking pot:-) I'm pretty sure that she used to hide things in our kitchen just to give them a a chance to grow. I'm glad that your personal misery was shortlived; Dumptruck is an awesome tent mate. Hugs to all,
    Mama Whistle

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    1. That is not surprising at all, she has a good green thumb. She showed me that photo of yout guys' potatoes that started growing a forest!

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  4. Sorry to hear that Arts & Crafts time came back for another round. I thought it was over for good by the time you got to the mid-Atlantic states.

    Thanks for the updates. Each new one is like a little nugget of happiness and freedom for me while I sit, jealous, in my cube all day, wishing I were out on the Trail. Seriously, I need more updates. It's like pizza night on death row for those of us chained to our desks. We've got nothing else to look forward to while waiting for a call from the governor... Ah well, keep up the good work, enjoy the experience, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. When you bump into a southbounder named Pryzm next month, give her a big stinky hug for me!

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    1. Stinky hug comin' up! Thanks for the encouragement and great compliments, it really means a lot to me :) You're awesome!! You'll be the one out here hikin' soon enough, I know it.

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  5. So happy to hear more great stories...glad the glitter was short lived. Whistle's pot was managed the fine balance between disgust and awe. Great pics per norm. Dumptruck remains our hero! MaryAnn sounds wonderful; thanks to her for taking such good care of all of you. We miss and love you...so glad you're getting closer. Hooray! Love, Mom and Dad

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    1. We're getting so close!! I can't wait to see you guys. We keep meeting trail dogs, and I can't help but brag about Dodger. I'm excited for people to meet him, too!

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  6. Let me know when you are in Williamstown! I am living within walking distance of the trail! Love, Adrienne.

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  7. Love reading your blog! Enjoy New England! From here, everyday gets more beautiful than the last! We are picking up the trail at Mt Washington on Monday. Hope we cross paths up north. Btw, we share the same home state. We live on Long Island... Not many of us "nature folk" around here :)

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    1. I saw on your blog that you guys are getting ready to go!! I can't wait to cross paths. I'm so excited for you!

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