This is what winter hiking in the PNW looks like for the most part. Lots of trees, the deciduous trees are bare. It’s usually wet and cold, kind of gray. You can either consider it desolate and boring, lacking the greenery and flowers of the spring and summer and the colorful leaves in the fall. Or you can appreciate the beauty of the winter. You can often see the view much more clearly through the bare limbs. The fog and low clouds frame gorgeous landscapes.
My family of four took a hike recently at Mount Talbert Nature Park on a cold but reasonably dry winter morning. It’s mostly forest with some varied spots like meadows and some steep inclines. We enjoyed the park and want to return to try out the other trails and also see what it’s like in other seasons. The signage talks about wild flowers in spring and lots of different wildlife like birds, deer and rubber boas, etc., that we’d love to encounter. I learned about restoration of Oregon white oak woodlands and savannas and about how indigenous people used to manage the white oak habitats by setting fire to them to burn off faster-growing trees like Douglas Firs that overtake the forest and block out the white oaks. Here’s the Mount Talbert Field Guide for more information. A word about this park for those interested in checking it out: the trails are just that- dirt trails. They are not paved. For those hiking with kids, leave your strollers at home, they won’t make it! Be aware that dogs and bikes are not allowed in order to protect habitat. My daughter who is 4 years old was able to hike about 1.5 miles (approximately half of our hike), and some spots I needed to hold her hand and help her over rocky or somewhat steep parts of the trail that she would have had a hard time on by herself. When she got tired I wore her in my Tula on my back (great workout!). My husband wore our 2 year old in the Deuter. Mount Talbert is not really an ideal toddler hiking spot on their own feet with the exception of a few wide, short, flat intervals. My son was happy chatting and looking around the whole time in the carrier on his daddy’s back.
This end of year hike had me looking back at the last couple months especially. In November 2016, as a mother to two young kids and working part time in a stressful field, I decided to put myself out there and start this blog. At the time my sense of urgency felt like a hammer coming down right after the election, an overwhelming feeling that I must do something, must contribute positively to public life in order to shape the world I’ll be handing off to my kids. Writing along with organizing and taking political action was my general plan to do something.
In the last days of this year, I’ve been considering the “what” and “how” for the long term. What am I going to do moving forward to make a difference? How can I maintain motivation to organize with others and take actions in ways I see necessary while also balancing my time and sanity and enjoyment in my own life? Is writing a necessary part of it? How am I going to do these things while still doing everything I need to do (parenting, working, etc.)?
Writing is going to continue for me. It’s a way for me to process the world around me, and I’ve gathered from the last couple months that it’s good for me whether anybody reads it or not. I’ve actually reached over 320 readers with 680 views, which is really cool to know people are reading. I’m kicking around ideas about how this blog might evolve and you should stay tuned for my looking ahead post coming soon.
Currently I continue working on She Should Run‘s incubator course. I am finishing my vision statement for why I’d want to run for public office which is the first lesson in the course. I’ve joined and signed up for various groups and email lists with information about how to resist the incoming administration and opportunities for organizing with others in this movement, mostly at the local level. I’m excited to meet some of these lovely people in the near future and to march in the Women’s March on Portland in January with friends and family.
I am reading the news still, but am much more discriminating in what I read and how much time I spend on it. I triage the most crucial and reliable news and set aside the rest. I don’t read and post every single thing the president- elect says nowadays, and I mention his name even less frequently than I used to. Almost never. I do not wish to spread his message. This is a much less anxiety provoking way for me to operate.
I read a list of ways to stay sane during the president-elect’s term in office that provided me with a handful of suggestions I keep coming back to. Maybe they’ll be helpful for someone out there. It’s providing me with a framework for how to resist the incoming political shift but how to live my life even better than I am now. This list included de-focusing from the president-elect and his messages except for precision resistance as part of an ongoing group effort. It also includes ideas like spending more time in nature and focusing on promoting a much more kind society. These are ideas I’ve already implemented that help me feel like this ongoing work can be sustainable for me.
Some of the ideas from that list that I mean to implement in the near future are: simplifying life in ways like slowing down and de-cluttering, growing some of our own food even if it’s just a few herbs on the windowsill, and supporting local farmers by shopping at farmers markets. I’m also thinking of getting a rain barrel to collect rain water to use for various purposes. This is a new idea I’m starting to research, here’s a site to peek at if you’re interested. These are ways to feel more grounded and resilient and and like I’ve got a solid home base. I’ve been meaning to grow a garden for years and just haven’t since having kids, so this was enough of a prompt for me to get back on track with things I want to do.
As 2016 closes out (thank goodness, how much more can we take?!), I want to thank you for reading and invite you to check back to look ahead to 2017 and what’s to come.