Check out my new place. Nothing like a little swim first thing in the morning.

Check out my new place. Nothing like a little swim first thing in the morning.

(via apple-pie-moonshine)

28 March 2014 ·

Waste

I’m very bummed. I just wrote a long post and it was deleted somehow, with a flick of this damned mouse. The universe does not want me to write. I give up. I will gaze at Aven’s beautiful face instead of this frickin’ computer. 

1 October 2013 ·

Marriage Boot Camp

Weeks after completing the Trail and days after discovering that I was pregnant, I attempted to describe our AT experience as a couple in one little essay. It was actually a contest for Glamour Magazine (one of my guilty pleasures). Write about a challenging experience, the guidelines said. I didn’t win, of course, but it was good motivation to gather my thoughts about what Clark and I had learned together on the Appalachian Trail. I’ll always be grateful that we had such a grandiose opportunity to strengthen our marriage before becoming parents. Yes, we learned how to fight!

7 September 2013 ·

Aven Marie summited Katahdin at a very young age! Our souvenir from the Appalachian Trail could not be more beautiful. 

7 September 2013 ·

"We conceive our children in deepest night, in blazing sun, outdoors, in barns and alleys and minivans. We have no rules, no ceremonies, we don’t even need a driver’s license. Conception is often something of a by-product of sex, a candle in a one-room studio, pure brute chance, a wonder. To make love with the desire for a child is to move the act of out its singularity, to make the need of the moment an eternal wish. But of all passing notions, that of a human being for a child is perhaps the purest in the abstract, and the most complicated in reality. Growing, bearing, mothering or fathering, supporting, and at last letting go of an infant is a powerful and mundane creative act that rapturously sucks up whole chunks of life."

~

Louise Erdrich, from The Blue Jay’s Dance: A Memoir of Early Motherhood.


I have been reading Erdrich’s memoir while breastfeeding over the course of the last five weeks, since I became a mother. Her words are making me feel less of a blur. She articulates what I am feeling through the fog of new motherhood. Her words are also making me itch to write.

My baby is asleep on a pillow on my lap. I reach over her to my laptop. It is rare I have the use of my two hands—victory! They are ready at any moment to abandon the keyboard and tend to the little creature who is a part of me and depends on me for every need.

If Louise could find time to write dozens of award-winning novels, while raising three biological children and three adopted children, then maybe I can at least jot down a few words during my baby’s naps. If I managed to maintain a blog using thumbs on an iPhone with one bar of signal from hostels and pubs on the Appalachian Trail, then maybe, just maybe, I can maintain a blog using moments I steal from motherhood, from work, from friends and family, from procrastination, from sleep, from peace. It feels like a necessity, like drinking water. But really it’s a luxury, tinged with guilt, like drinking San Pellegrino and watching the piles of bottles accumulate in the recycling bin. 

My goal with this blog—which first existed to describe our 2012 Appalachian Trail thru-hike— is to process and share our humble experience of parenthood. “A powerful and mundane creative act” it is indeed, much like putting one foot in front of the other every day for eight months to hike 2,182.4 miles. But I’m afraid parenthood is even more powerful than summiting a mountain. Even more mundane than cleaning a camping pot with frozen fingers in the pitch dark. And I’m quite aware that parenthood lasts longer than eight months. 

If my analogies are trite, if my writing is poor, I blame it on the fact that my brain has been divided in two, that my senses are peering at the world behind a haze of love and anxiety for my child, that I have no more than forty-five minutes at a time without interruption. So I am letting go, accepting imperfection, surrendering to the chaos. I will write! Because I don’t want to forget the A.T. or what I learned or our desire to simplify even as our lives grow more complicated. Because I don’t want to forget a moment of this parenthood ride, even as already the demands and joys of the present—she just smiled!—obscure its still brief history—the hilarious explosive diaper change at 5:08 this morning, or yesterday’s excruciating feeding, or the way her father held her like a folded-up flower last Saturday. A wish pure in the abstract, and complicated in reality.

7 September 2013 ·

"One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art in conducting oneself in lower regions by memory of what one has seen higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least know."

~ Rene Daumal. This quote struck me right where I am, as I reminisce about our AT experience daily, and as I face the challenge of maintaining balance in a complicated world. The secret seems to be remembering the highs when you’re in the lows. Trusting that soon the feeling of perspective, gratitude, and joy will be back. You just have to climb another mountain. 

14 March 2013 ·

What is a wiplstix?

It’s the brilliant travel-sized violin, designed and crafted by Bill Whipple of Asheville, NC, that brought me so much happiness on the Appalachian Trail. Bill asked me to send him a picture from both Springer and Katahdin and told me the pressure was on to finish. He posts photos on his site of people all around the world playing the wiplstix in the most remote and unusual places. It’s an honor to be included in the ranks of other nomad fiddlers!

3 January 2013 ·

One of the newer Appalachian Trail traditions is to make a youtube video of your hike, complete with heartstring-tugging music. Here it is! Clark, I mean Vicegrip, did a wonderful job! Happy New Year to all.

1 January 2013 ·

Finding spirituality on culturally-rich Appalachian Trail

My sister, Clelia Jane, shared this CNN article with me. The history of the sacred on the AT is palpable.

24 November 2012 ·

Here is the last batch of summit photos. 

We were told by the ranger at Baxter State Park that most likely we would be the last thru-hikers to summit this year. Last one to Katahdin wins!

P.S. It was me. I really worked for this title. I am an expert dilly-dallyer. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade any of the moments in which I smelled the proverbial roses. Stopping to understand and enjoy where you are and who you’re with is what makes the journey worthwhile. 

23 November 2012 ·

About Us

For eight months in 2012, my husband Clark and I, known in some savory circles as Vicegrip and Sap, hiked on the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Marriage boot camp, the trip of a lifetime, financial suicide, spiritual rebirth. Whatever you want to call it, we survived it, all 2,184.2 miles. On November 1, we summited Mount Katahdin, and left our long home in the woods with an eternal souvenir: a tiny life, an original person, who would be in our arms exactly nine months later. On August 1, 2013, Aven Marie Lovelady was born, and so was a family. Now the new adventure begins.

We loved sharing our AT experience through blogging, and appreciate the chance to stay in touch in the same unobtrusive way during our new–dare I say, even more challenging!—adventure.