today

Today I snowshoed for nine hours, and fell into a brook.

Yesterday, I found some chaga, spotted a fat grouse, and chased a coyote.

Everywhere I walk, I find that moose have been there before me.

trap

Two weeks ago, I started employment in what has been labeled “America’s most remote settlement east of the Mississippi.” Chew on that for a minute.

I am doing the work that I have been hoping to do for so long. I can now, finally, call myself a forester. I get to interact with wild French Canadian loggers. And as long as I don’t drink the water, everything will be alright.

I had to purchase a pickup truck for my job, so now I am one of those people.

Driving on back roads, listening to country music, saying 10-4 left and right… you know how it is. Hopefully I don’t take those country lyrics too much to heart and spend all of my paycheck on Wintergreen Skoal.

long lake

This afternoon, as I lay on top of the brook’s fragile snow crust (the -40 F windchill blowing gently through the fur of my coat hood), I dared myself to slowly move an inch or two in a feeble attempt to free my trapped foot. But instead of being frustrated with myself for being so stupid, I thought about how warm I felt inside.

I was warm temperature-wise, yes. Despite the cold, I am much warmer now than while I was unemployed, sitting in my frigid home watching cat videos all day long. But I also felt warm happypeacefulwarm. Happy to be spending my days exercising (for pay!), happy to be getting to know the land around me, happy to be doing work that I enjoy, and most of all, happy to be living life so fully, in vibrant shimmering flag-waving colors.

Now I just have to figure out how to stop making microwave cake mug brownies for dessert, and start making some blog-worthy recipes. I have ideas, but I don’t really have the time. Every night, I am exhausted. And you know what?

I love it.

shoes long lake truck

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41 thoughts on “today

  1. This is the BEST THING I have ever heard. I’m so happy that you’re happy!! You deserve it–I always admired your knowledge in school, and now you get to use it all! I’m so excited for you. It looks so gorgeous up there in your remote settlement (but where are the trees? I kid). What in the world are you doing outside in subzero temperatures?! I mean, I know you’re from the Northern latitudes. But being outside today?! Whoa. Kind of makes me glad I went the forestry on a computer route instead of the actual forestry route :P

    1. Silly Brianne – you don’t get cold if you keep moving! :) Days like today make stopping for lunch a ‘fun challenge.’

      I’m excited too. Hella excited. You couldn’t even keep me inside despite the cold, that’s how excited I am! And very very thankful that someone finally gave me a chance.

      Those pictures were taken up north of Caribou last weekend – fewer trees than out here, that’s for sure! Enjoy the warm computer;)

    1. Granted, I chased while inside my truck, but I honestly just wanted to see him up close! He wasn’t game for that:)

        1. I know plenty of people around here who shoot them, but I’m not into that. Like most wildlife, they’re fascinating to watch. Although I suppose you can make what you will of the ‘wild’ aspect.

          1. A lot of people here hunt them. Normally I am against that but the population has increased so much and they are running the fox out of the area. I actually saw one today…he was caught in a snare trap and shot. Michigan has so many Coyotes–I think most people attribute them to Arizona, but that’s not the case.

  2. 9 hours snowshoeing! I’m impressed you’re even able to manage the microwave cake. I think I’d be collapsing in a heap myself.

    Hooray and hooray and hooray for a real, honest to goodness forestry job!! It must be absolutely wonderful to be out there in the fresh air, working in and with nature (although for my part I’m not so sure I’d be warm in all of that cold).

    Looking at those photos of large expanses of white though I do have to ask – where is the forest part of this forestry job? :)

    1. OH MY GOODNESS … serious flip out moment there … I was looking at ‘Laura’s Birding Blog’ thinking I must click over to see and then I spotted ME two places down. You are a wonderful lovely lady and I now feel that I must live up to such a recommendation … (and, deep breath, calm down, back to the real world) … :D

      1. Girl, I gotta give props where props is due. And you’re my pal!

        Laura Erickson of Laura’s Birding Blog is not my pal, but gosh her accent is funny.

    2. 9 hours snowshoeing makes Emma tired. Really tired. Almost too tired to write this post, even though I’ve told myself for about a week that today would be the day. Not too tired to eat three plates of dinner!

      So much hoorays! I must respond to your message…. I will, I promise. Internet is hit and miss out here and sometimes I forget about things.

      You would be fine in the cold if you were snowshoeing. It makes you so warm you forget you were ever cold:)

      Oh, and right. I haven’t taken any pictures while on the job, since I only have a bulky DSLR. I carry five to ten pounds of other junk on me, and I’m beating my way through the bush. I don’t need a camera to worry about too…. hopefully, though, we’ll get a more compact camera at some point in the future!

  3. So glad to hear that you are enjoying life to the very fullest! We don’t always remember how great life is, but there are those eras in life when you just have to kick yourself and marvel at the jewels life bestows on you.

    I used to snowshoe for work on the ski mountain in Colorado, and it literally kicked my butt all the time, but building a fire at lunch, and going home to a warm and cozy home was always great. I’m so excited for you that it brings tears to my eyes (what silliness!).

    Microwave brownies? Wow! Sounds like you should take a look around a thrift shop for a microwave cookbook-not that neither you nor I would ever anticipate buying such a book, but you never know. Perhaps you’ll find some easy splendors to ease your tired limbs at the end of the day.

    Let’s chat sometime soon. Off to West Virginia on Sunday for 5 days of training. I’ve never been there, but I’m excited to be in the mountains so adorned by bluegrassers and hillbillies alike.

    1. Martha, so good to hear from you. I’d love to chat soon, although my chatting is limited to weekends because all we have out where I work is a satellite phone, and then on weekends I’m often out and about. Let me know when a good time is for you, and I’ll make myself available.

      Enjoy West Virginia! I loved it so much down there, that’s where I was hoping we would move after UMaine. Alas, it didn’t happen, but everything clearly worked out for the best!

      That’s they only thing I can think to say about snowshoeing right now – – it kicked my butt! I am so exhausted after four days straight of it! I’ll have to consider building a fire at lunch… maybe on top of my logger’s recent fuel spill;)

      The microwave brownies are amazing, they’re super easy and only take a minute to cook. Look them up… and I’ll try to come up with a more…. gourmet version:)

      I bet a microwave cookbook would have beautiful technicolor photos that I would adore. Enjoy the bluegrassers and hillbillies!

  4. It makes me so danged happy to read about you feeling happy! It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world to get to do the things that you’re good at and that make your heart sing. Who cares if you’re not making any exciting food right now? You’re out have exciting adventures as a part of your regular day, and that’s awesome.

    1. Alayna, I don’t care too much that I’m not making exciting food…. I love working my butt off and then indulging in a big bowl of mac n cheese! Oh yeah, yum. Hope you’re well!

  5. Your job sounds awesome! And it looks so freakin’ cold. It’s such a contrast. Here my vegetables are starting to grow. I don’t think my coat would even work there.

    I’m so glad you are happy with big trucks, snow shoes, and chasing a coyote.

    1. My job is most definitely awesome, although it is also intrinsically cold. Your vegetables are starting to whaaaaaaaaa?!?? No. way. I’ve spent the morning thinking about getting vegetables to grow (as I read through a seed catalog), but I’m also sitting under a blanket wearing two sweaters and a knit cap. It will be a while yet.

  6. Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. Love love love. All the love. All the yes. And some hugs. For you. I am so close yet so far from this myself. I am in love with my internship, and struggling with the knowledge that it is temporary and unpaid, and I have to find other work. But when I think that two weeks ago I felt utterly hopeless and lost about a great many things, my current life and hearing how much you have leaped forward to true joy in yours… these things give me hope.

    And the fact that your first few paragraphs and photos make me think of Laura Ingalls Wilder teaching in the frozen world so far from her family, being picked up every weekend by Almanzo, doesn’t hurt.

    Love love love my Emma!

    1. I never had the guts to even consider pursuing an unpaid internship, because, hello, SCARY! So very very good on you for doing what you’re doing. And major plus that you’re loving it and not currently feeling hopeless and lost. Having felt that way for approximately 14 months, I know how great it is to now have a bit of a comforting safety net surrounding you.

      And somehow, you made my lovely situation seem just a bit lovelier by likening me to one of my favorite realms of the Laura Ingalls Wilder saga:) Thank you!

  7. Wonderful insight into the life of a “misplaced Texan”…ha! Loved the reference to skoal. Congratulations on your dream job. What a job description that most people would know very little about…I am intrigued to learn more.

    1. Woot, I knew if anyone would comment on the Skoal reference, it would be the misplaced Texan! :D

      I am definitely going to be talking more about forestry on this blog – – it is one of my life goals to teach people about my career… why it is necessary, and why it shouldn’t be feared!

  8. here’s what: i miss you terribly because you’re not around as much, but that is WAY outshined by how thrilled i am for you and your new job! i’m so happy you love it, and that you’re getting to do what you most want to do (and get paid for it, yo!) it’s awesome; well-deserved. I can wait for posts because i know you’re snow-shoeing your way into something fantastic. Stay warm, girl.

    1. I do feel bad that I’m not able to keep up with blogs like I had been doing. I do(!) have internet out in my wee cabin, but it comes and goes as it pleases. Now that I’m settled in a bit, though, I hope that I can get back on track and stay up to date on what my pals are cooking:)

      Staying warm as I type! Thanks for the positive vibes, I’ll be thinking of you as I snowshoe my way through the quiet and peaceful woods.

  9. good for you, emma! when i worked on the farm and would come home at night after hauling logs on the tractor and stacking wood, all i could do was scarf down food and go to bed. and it felt soooooo good to be that tired.
    i’m happy you are enjoying your new venture, and your new truck! you ARE one of those people. and it’s awesome. :)

    1. It is wonderful to finally have something to do, and not so bad to have some income coming in either! It means that if I can ever leave the woods to make it to a post office (while they’re still open), I can stop being a bum and get a package headed your way;)

      Yep. I am one of those people!

      1. haha i thought maybe in all the excitement you’d forgot about it! and yet i keep coming and reading your fabulous blog. see how forgiving i am? ;)

  10. Yay for happy tired! Ain’t it grand? I’ve been so exhausted in recent months that I can barely stand it. Or stand up. But it. Is. Awesome. I’m so glad you’ve found a bit of paradise…

    1. Keep standing, movita! Otherwise, you might fall into a vat of buttercream. Which doesn’t sound half bad…. hmm. Well, stand if you need to!

  11. You are the best. Congrats on the job. It may be cold but it’s good to know you are doing something you love. And um, yes to the microwave cake mug brownies and cat videos! That would warm any soul.

    I can’t wait to see what wintery treats you have coming up om the blog!

    1. Thanks Adrian! Since you approve, I think it would be best for the soul if I spend the day eating microwave cake mug brownies… for blog inspiration, maybe? To keep warm despite the cold? To become roly poly like my kitty? These are all great reasons.

      Can’t wait to share some wintery treats!

  12. Emma! I couldn’t be happier for you. The fact that you are doing what you love and have that happypeacefulwarm feeling. Life is good. You so deserve it all.
    Don’t rush to share recipes with us. You’ll find time eventually. In the meantime, share more of these photos and experiences, we love them!
    xo
    E

    1. Erin, aww, thanks so much. I really appreciate it. And I will find the time, but you’re right, the key word is eventually:) More photos and experiences to come soon!

  13. I’m so pleased you’re in a place that makes you so happy (both in terms of state of mind and physical location)! While I love being a programmer, I am sometimes jealous of people like you who get to spend their days out and about in the outdoors…what a lovely experience!

    Beautiful pictures as always…hope the chocolate-venture is going well!

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