25 January 2017

Writer’s Block

I have not posted here since November, when I was still in the States.  I was getting heavily into fitness, hiking up and down the hills, and I really slowed down in all my reading and writing.  I am back in Thailand, and I hope to write more soon in this space. 


21 November 2016

Post-Halloween Autumn

(I have stayed in the USA much longer than expected, as I had originally planned to return to Thailand before Halloween.  And I have neglected posting here.)

On the last weekend of July we had a fantastic reunion of Barlow family first cousins, with all 12 cousins still alive and in attendance.  We all had a great time.  I haven’t written about it simply because I didn’t know where to start.  I’m still speechless with joy whenever I think back on it.

In August and September I did a lot of hiking and bivouacking, as I have mentioned in posts during that time.  I slowly regained my health after it had declined from the unusually intense tropical heat of Thailand’s last Hot Season earlier this year.  I continued exercise through October, although I recently stopped my lifting program due to backache.  As much as possible I have been in bivouac out in the fields of the farm under the Moon.

On Halloween day, late afternoon, I marched up Teal Hill Road doing “roadwork”, i.e., the old boxers’ routine to improve one’s wind.  I had shuffled up this hill in the summertime heat, and I knew its gradient and the psychological effort needed to make the climb with maximum intensity.  From first shuffling to walking and then to full-0ut marching it, I have made it a prime workout.  It gets you to breathing hard.  I feels so good, but it takes a lot of painful work to get to this level of fitness.  Now to maintain it!

The late afternoon Halloween sun was low and the wind was crisp.  I felt like a Viking in the northern wind.  I topped out at the high plateau junction with Swede Hollow Road in cold sun and fresh wind.

Two days later, I repeated the march with the same quick tempo and grim into-the-hill forward lean to the uphill stretches.  Now I have been repeating this roadwork at this same quick-step whenever I can.

I have been given a clean bill of health from the VA, so now I’m ready to get a ticket back to Thailand.  Last night and today was the first real snowstorm of this coming cold season in Sugar Grove, and the world is white.  Time to think about the Tropics.


16 September 2016

Sleeping Out in Open Air

Tai Chi in the Moonshadows.

Silver landscapes at midnight.

Ah, yes, the mountain poets would have smiled.

31 August 2016

Bivouac at Pine Tree Point

I like it here, nestled in an isolated little ravine with reliable water and the fire-circle I built over a decade ago.  Peaceful and quiet.

This is one of the last times I will wear my old hiking boots in the hills.  They are comfortable favorites – best damn hikers I ever owned, comfortable right out of the box – but they are over 20 years old and the inside stitching is coming undone, so I want to retire them to trusty work-boot status.  I just received a new pair of the identical model from L.L. Bean, and they fantastic.  These will take on the ruff duty from now on.

I brought portable music on this bivy.  Is this odd to bring such technology along when sojourning in a cool, quiet spot of natural paradise in the forest?  Maybe.  But when I played the Chinese “12 Girls Band”, their traditional Chinese instruments added additional Ch’an/Zen flavor to my bivy site.

At dark I heard a strange cry from the trail not far above.  Eerie.  It was a coyote, and another one further up the hill answered, as did another one further off.  The near one must have heard my music or seen my lighter, and the word went out to the others that there was a stranger in the ravine.

In the several bivouacs I’ve done here at Pine Tree Point this year, I’ve never yet built a fire in the fire circle.  Instead, I’ve brought along a candle lantern, and I haven’t done any cooking.

Soon, I’m hoping to do a long backpack and multi-day bivy out in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) at my more remote site I call Dharma Point – if and when I can find someone to drive me out there and drop me off, and later have someone pick me up a few days later.  I will need to plan a more serious menu with cooking gear.  I’ll need to do some shakedown bivies locally with the gear to test the systems.  It’s been a long time.

Got to get out to the back and beyond.


24 August 2016


00:00 hours.
Midnight bivy in the west orchard.
Doing Tai Chi in the moonbeams
and amidst hidden moon shadows.

I loosen up, flow, dance.
Alternately I shake out one foot
then the other, and
my movements start to quicken.
Deer, who had been resting in the
nearby thicket shadows which
border the orchard, take flight.
Who is this stranger in their midst?

Looking up, I see Lyra, the lyre.
Now, after over 40 years of mystery,
I finally see it and
know why it is so named.
Vega is both the brightest star
in tiny Lyra
and also one point of the larger
Summer Triangle.
I only now see the lyre as Vega passes
westward over the zenith,
leading the Triangle with it.
In this new, high westerly, orientation
the little stringed lyre is obvious.

Perseus is rising high in the NE.

01:00 hours.
Capella is moving up
in the NNE.
There is a lone star low in the south.
In Virgo?

02:00 hours.
I ramble through dewy grass
in the orchards and groves,
peeking up at patches of open sky.
Due east I see the Pleiades rising
with Taurus right behind.

02:30 hours.  Time to bivy.
I lie down in warm comfort,
but hear stomping of hooves
from the other side of the thicket.
A deer snorts strongly at my
mysterious presence.
I snap my fingers, not too loudly,
twice, and then there is silence.

05:30 hours.
Waking just before dawn
I see Orion and Sirius
in the SE.
Harbingers of new seasons.


20 August 2016

August Full Moon

Still damp after rains.
Fog starts near streams
and moves up through
moonlit fields.
The Moon chases Altair
as Vega leads
the Summer Triangle west.
Classical Guitar Alive on
radio fills the still night.
Warm bivouac gear
and a lawn chair
warm my heart.
Watching the Full Moon.
How many times
have I seen it?
How many more?
I will resolve
(second step of Path)
to seize more opportunities.

27 July 2016

Cousins Arriving

Our cousins have been arriving in the lead-up to our family reunion of first cousins this weekend. It is wonderful to see them.