one day in the woods :: january

I’ve thought long and hard about ways to share my life in the woods on this space, but all I’ve come up with is a ragtag melange of random photos… interesting trees I’ve seen, roads I’ve traveled, yadda yadda yadda. And then it hit me, like a a 16-foot long bridge decking timber – why not start a blog series dedicated to these woodsy goings on? My tasks are ever-changing and always interesting (to me), and the landscape around me is a shifting backdrop of beauty.

So here for you is my first installment of what I’ve chosen to call One Day in the Woods :: the January edition.

Date: January 8th, 2014
Location: Clayton Lake, Maine

5:30am. My work day begins at 6, so I am always up way too early. I halt in my morning preparations to adore my shifty-eyed cat, who I brought out into the woods with me for the week. Taking her on the woods roads is always a challenge, as she tends to experience violent motion sickness. But she makes up for it with her ability to sit adorably on wool sweaters.

8:03am. Clayton Lake is a logging camp. We had a post office, but it closed in 2007. Nowadays, our only amenity is this shed filled with gasoline. Or as the locals pronounce it, “gazzzzzzzzzz.”

8:31am. A dastardly chill morning for watching the final stages of bridge construction. And yet every time I top a ridge and see the scenery splayed out before me all pretty like, I feel a pang of heartwarming gladness.

8:49am. I have been (not single-handedly) building a road throughout the late fall and early winter. Part of the road includes a bridge built over a small, but wide, stream. It rained heavily earlier in the week, so all the bridge decking material, to be put on today, is sheathed in a thick coat of ice. That’s what ice scrapers and chainsaws were made for.
morning bridge work

9:58am. How many loggers does it take to pound in a 12-inch nail? I’ve done the research, and can report with confidence (statistical margin of error ±1 logger) that the number is four.

10:29am. Near-frozen ice looks like agates. Or an oil spill.
agate water

12:12pm. The comedy of errors in which I attempt to carry four 16′ bridge decking timbers underneath the weight of a spare tire and a box of nails. The timbers have been shaved at either end so as to provide minimal within-pickup stability. Note that only three timbers made it for this photo; so much for no decking timber left behind.
long load

12:54pm. One stream stepped into, one boot soaked, one foot nearly frostbit, two pairs of socks changed frantically, one bridge built.

1:36pm. Back at the office for a quick lunch. Another perfect day in sub-zero conditions.

1:40pm. A well-heaped pile of linguine with alfredo sauce makes for a late lunch. This is the meal I could eat every day – and therefore the reason I don’t blog about savory food. My cabin’s kitchen currently features three boxes of whole wheat linguine. For when one box is not enough, duh.

2:52pm. Back in the woods. SNOWSHOEING SELFIE!
snowshoe selfie

2:56pm. It might not look like much of a hill, but believe me, it sure feels like one. Nothing makes me question my fitness like having to stop and catch my breath / cough / snot rocket every hundred feet while snowshoeing.

3:12pm. I made it up the hill and achieved my singular goal of hanging this one piece of flagging.

3:15pm. Off on a hillside, a mug of tea grows complacent and cold.
tea time

3:27pm. Sunset. already.

3:42pm. Waiting on the sidelines, the dozer is poised to seek out my aforementioned pink flagging, in order to open up an old road for a timber harvesting job this winter.

3:47pm. The morning’s wet socks rest upon an impromptu drying rack – the first moose antler of the season. The antler is still bloody and has a large chunk of skull attached BTW.
antler drying rack

3:57pm. Finishing off the last of the holiday cookies. Almond-flavored sandbakkels, one of my favorites.
holiday cookies

4:52pm. Six months after ordering it, I am overjoyed upon my return to the office to see that our new work computer has finally arrived. Joy turns to dismay as I am told that my copy of Windows is not genuine. I then learn that I may be a victim of software counterfeiting. Turns out the new computer is just playing jokes on me.
tech failure

7:46pm. I finally call it quits from work for the night around 7pm. Back at the cabin, I have a choice selection of beverages. The water is frequently unsafe to drink out here, so I run on Pabst. Just kidding.
stay hydrated

7:49pm. Eating a primo dinner of homemade pizza (pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, fresh tomato, mucho queso). Shortly after, I hightail it to bed, to bring on the next day, and with it, the next set of unforeseen challenges.


34 thoughts on “one day in the woods :: january

    1. Aw man, I know. Days are indeed very long.

      Kitty! It’s a special week when she comes out with me, it doesn’t happen to often – I mean, how much stress should she be forced to take?!

  1. Whew! I can’t imagine being out there that early anymore. Kudos to you! Sandbakkels. How wonderful :) I didn’t have any here for my ND Christmas as the Norwegians are scarce in these parts. Stay warm out there, Emma.

    1. Some days are tougher than others, I will admit.

      You must be so bereft of your Nordic roots! I will have to send you some sandbakkels next Christmas:)

  2. Aside from the fact that the missed opportunity to call this series “Into The Woods” (#sondheim4lyfe) wrenches my heart, please do these always and forever because the combination of your words/spirit and the glimpse into another way of living, so different to all I’ve yet known, is wondrous true. xoxo

    1. You make a good point! How did I miss that one??

      So glad you liked this Hannah! I know that I live a life that is ridiculously different from those of my blogging chums, and since I love seeing glimpses of all y’all’s city life, I figured it’s my turn to share a bit!

      1. You live a life of magic and it makes my heart beat wildly.

        PS Speaking of city life… my housemate and I decided to get Netflix (the Canadian one, of course) last night, and I pretty much burst into tears when I discovered the first season of Dance Academy is on there. I thought you’d understand. OMG I WONDER IF IT HAS HEARTLAND TOO

        1. I wonder if I can run an internet pipeline to Canada so that I can get Canadian Netflix, and therefore Heartland too OMG!

  3. You’re so badass. You built a damn bridge! And you rock old school snowshoes! You’re a brave woman bringing Miss Beata out to camp. This is a bit bittersweet as you have what was once my dream job. Though perhaps not in subzero times. I look forward to seeing more of these!


      I love my wooden snowshoes. Love them to bits, except not, because I’m convinced they hold up better than aluminum shoes. So what if they’re a little heavier, gives me a better workout!

      I’m so pleased to hear that you enjoyed this. I’ll try to keep things more sweet, less bitter, for ya;)

  4. 1 – Who knew cats get motion sickness? Learn something new everyday, and ew.
    2 – I went running this morning and forgot to steal some gloves from my kids. The 39º ( which is chilly here, VERY chilly) that I experienced was terrible. My little fingers were numb and achy. I think I would just curl in a fetal position where you live and refuse to ever go outside. I am a super wuss now. You ROCK.

    1. 1 – I do! I do! I wish I didn’t!
      2 – So your hands didn’t warm up after a few minutes of running? I hope so much that they didn’t. Chilly hands are something I can’t abide, so when spring and fall roll around and I’m out in the rain, that is when I get cold and wussy. And really unhappy. When things are chilly, I can at least stay dry, and therefore, warm!

  5. Just another woodsy rhymeland day, eh? I see the full moon tonite, and I imagine you and the kitty looking at it also, framed by your surrounding woods, so many miles away. Love you so.

    1. Hop to it, it’s just another woodsy rhymeland day!

      Kitty is out here with me again this week, and I can’t wait to get back to her, to pet her nose and rub her ears and feed her LOTS OF MEAT!

      Love YOU so!

  6. i am super stoked about this new series: you know i love hearing about your forest adventures from time to time, and to have an entire series focused on it means i can actually live it with you. in my mind. also through photos.

    did i immediately go to ebay to look for those cookie molds. yes i did. because now i must have them.

    1. Sandbakkels are awesome! They make such a great chewy/crunchy holiday cookie! Can’t wait to see what you do with those molds:)

      Also can’t wait to share more of this series with you – get ready!

    1. And despite the fact that you probably hate just about every aspect of my job! Jesus christ would you believe I have to touch nature every damn day? ;)

  7. Great photos. I especially loved the one of the pink flagger and your snowshoes! I have spent a few summers planting trees in remote BC forests, it’s a pretty great place to work, and forest air tastes so good! Cute kitty too!

    1. The forest air is delicious, I agree. Tree planting is hard work, although hopefully the soil out your way was nice and deep, without too many rocks!

  8. I like this! It’s really interesting. Can’t believe how much you achieve in one day. Also I like how your cat coordinates itself to the cardigan it sits on. (Also 12 inch nails OMG I would be terrified to have to hammer one of those – although to be fair I’m not so good with regular sized nails either)

    1. They were going all over the place with those 12 inch nails – no matter how hard you tried to get them to go in straight, they would wind up heading at a 30 degree angle sideways or worse, what a nail nightmare. I’m glad you’re interested in this series! Hopefully I do something compelling in February.

  9. Every time you post on Instagram, I feel a little forlorn, thinking about how badass you are and how adventurous your profession is… Truly. Snowshoeing? Building roads? Eating linguine? Also. I think that if your cat could talk, he would say that the motion sickness is worth the lap time. I speak as a fellow motion sick traveler: the adventure is always worth the misery :)

    1. It might be badass, but it’s also pretty tiring! Not stressful in the way that your job is stressful, but there are definitely moments of confrontation. I try to be as easy going as I can, and most of the time it works out alright for everyone.

      I get car sick too, it’s funny to be driving in to work some Monday mornings and the cat and I are both feeling ill, hah.

  10. Hi Emma – this is so fascinating! I am amazed by how you live and all you do – partly because it’s so different from my life. I feel entirely too sedentary and unproductive now but I have much admiration for you! Do you ever watch the Pioneer Woman’s show? You probably don’t have time but I love watching her show to see a different way of life, ranching/homeschooling, etc. Reading and seeing the pics in your post gives me such a glimpse into a totally different lifestyle. You are one powerful girl! Keep on! : )

    1. Thanks Monica! It’s all relative, and I find that the days when I’m chained to my desk are the most exhausting of days:)

      I’ve never seen the Pioneer Woman’s show, is that on cable? We don’t have television. Well, we have a television, but we live in “one of the smallest television markets in the country,” and as such, we can’t get any free channels to come in.

      Love love love getting glimpses into the lives of others. New experiences man, that’s what it’s all about.

  11. Wow, I had no idea what you do out in the Maine woods, Emma, but now I have a bit of a better understanding. It sounds like hard work! Thank goodness you at least have a nice view :)

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