Meg Noble Peterson

Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia

Search results: "Jon Pollack" Page 1 of 3

JON POLLACK – THIS WAS A MAN!

Jon Pollack, my dearest friend and hiking partner, died on January 13, 2018, leaving a huge void in my life that can never be filled. You may remember that I’ve written extensively in this blog of our adventures over the past nineteen years, and know that he was instrumental in introducing me to the beauty of both the Olympic and the Cascade mountains.

Jon at Cedar Creek, Olympic National Park, 1992

2011 Together at the Lewis River

Jon was a truly versatile human being. His musical talent ranged from early dancing and singing in musical comedy to longtime participation in the Seattle Men’s Chorus. After graduating from Columbia College in NYC, while at the same time devouring every play, opera, or art show that graced the city, he returned to the Northwest and spent every fall and summer backpacking. How he loved the forests of the great Northwest!

Jon at Shi-Shi with the Yellow Line Club 1995

Over the years he hiked every trail in the Olympics and tackled the Cascades, summiting some of the highest peaks in both ranges. In the nineties he and his friends, Dennis Larsen and Pat Ziobron, teamed up to form the yellow line club, adding another friend, Kathy Kelleher, halfway into the game. They used the map handed out to tourists, and every time they finished a trail segment it was marked by a yellow highlighter, thus the name. Yes, they did all 628 plus miles over five years of weekends and vacations, rain or shine.

Summitting Mt. St. Helens 1991

1991 Jon on summit of Glacier Peak, 10,500 ft

In the late ‘90’s Jon started leading difficult backpacking trips in the Cascades and Canada with a close group of friends. He was a strong leader and, especially in my case, an accepting friend. There were several times when he dealt patiently with my fear of exposure on some of the cliff-side trails, especially when we would get lost and have to scramble up a scree-laden incline. I remember his shouting, “Stand up, Meg, for God’s sake stand up!” as he reached for my hand, finally accepting the fact that I was going to crawl up the side of a steep incline because I was too afraid to stand and risk falling backwards.

Machapuchare

Jon and I met in 1999 while trekking on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. From the time he helped me remember the final lyrics to De Lovely, I knew we were kindred spirits. We spent the rest of the trail annoying our fellow climbers with show tunes!

Like me, Jon was a theater, opera, and New Yorker addict. We went to the Seattle opera, together, often with two close friends, Christy Korrow and Barry North.  We discussed theater for hours and Jon’s knowledge was encyclopedic. Yes, our interests dovetailed. We were in synch.

At the Seattle Opera 2016

In the summer we hiked from the Olympics to Vancouver Island, and from Assiniboine to Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. I’ve written many blog posts of our glorious sojourns into the wilderness, whether backpacking or just hiking from our campsite. You can read about some of them HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.  Jon is mentioned in so many places on my blog: you can find them HERE.

Click to start slideshow.

Jon was a rare man. He faced his imminent death like my son, Christopher. He saw what was coming, he fought it, but in the end he accepted it with grace and gratitude for the varied and rich life he had experienced. At 61 he still had a lot of exploring and living to do. But a virulent cancer consumed him and within eight months he was gone.

It was Jon’s inclusive spirit, his joie de vivre, his hilarious sense of humor, his optimism, and his ability to help all those who were fortunate enough to cross his path that drew us to him and will live on within us.

Some years ago I introduced Jon to the beauty of New England—Maine, Vermont, and the vagaries of hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On our first  climb up the Randolph side of Mt. Washington to Crag Camp, he got his first taste of the rough and boulder-strewn trails in the Whites. They weren’t the predictable switchbacks of the Olympics. In frustration he turned back to me and yelled, “Meg, where the hell is the bloody trail?”

“You’re on the trail, Jon. You’re on the bloody trail….”

And from now on you will be with me on every step of any future trail I tackle in your beloved Northwest. I could never find my way without you.

 

GUESS WHAT? IT’S BACK TO NEPAL WE GO!

I’m sure this comes as no surprise that Cary and I are resuming our yearly sojourn to Nepal, adding a week in South Korea at the end of December. There we will visit Shawo, a Tibetan student we first met ten years ago at the TCV (Tibetan Children’s Village) school in Suja, India, and have been in touch with ever since. He is studying at Dongguk University in Gyeongju, and has planned an exciting few days to acquaint us with this country, its culture, and terrain.

Our time in Nepal is more unstructured than usual, by choice. We may visit Lumbini, where the Buddha was born, and we certainly will visit Dhulikhel and our old friend, B.P. Shresta. We have a ten-day trek in the Annapurna region, but it will be much shorter than the full circuit I took in 1999 when I met my friend, Jon Pollack. We decided not to go the usual route by Poon Hill, but head over the Khopra Ridge. Our guide tells us that it’s not so crowded and more laid back. We’ll fly to Pokhara, drive to Kimche and hike to Ghandruk. From there we go by way of Isharu, Bayeli, and Christibung up to the ridge. I have a new Sony camera, so I expect to dazzle you with my creations. That is, once I learn how to use it! Cameras are better and better these days, as well as more and more complicated. But I’m told it’s good for the brain, so I soldier on!

As we reach the end of the growing season and wrap up the farm activities until early spring, I’d like to share with you the end of the year festivities at the fabulous school farm that Cary started here on the island. For me the ending is always a bit poignant, since I will have to forego fresh produce for these upcoming winter months. But, selfishness aside, the season went out with a bang—the school Harvest Feast. Friends and family enjoyed a sumptuous repast of kale salad, mashed potatoes, carrot sticks, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream, all made by the students from veggies grown at the farm. You can read the school farm blog HERE, with new end-of-the-year and Harvest Feast posts coming soon.

And now it’s off to Asia, wishing you a wonderful holiday season and glorious New Year.

A FAMILY SUMMER

Family can mean so many things and be expressed in so many ways. Happiness, struggle, warmth, disagreement, and unconditional love. It can be long lost friends who brave the ferry lines at Mukilteo to pay a visit and share the joys of a jaunt up Ebey’s Landing.  It can be relatives—aunts, uncles, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, you name it—who touch base at the cottage or on a woodland hike to remind me that we are still family. And then there is the ever-changing and growing Whidbey Island family that moves throughout the myriad summer festivities and barbecues with the promise not to lose touch when the rain and cold of winter arrive. And this year I found a new family at our Island Shakespeare Festival, feeding my love of language and theater. I feasted on Twelfth Night, Sense and Sensibility, and Othello, over and over, again, starting in the warmth and late sun of June and ending in the chilly nights of September. These accomplished young actors became my family, and helped fill the void that has persisted since I left New York City. And is there anything better than open-air theater?

Twelfth Night cast members after the closing show of the Island Shakespeare Festival season

And then there was that one last look at beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee before the summer ended.

You knew I couldn’t resist mentioning my yearly sojourn to New Hampshire, even though I have inundated you over the years with my reminiscences of time at the family summer cottage. (See my blog post THIS OLD COTTAGE.)  This year I enjoyed the best weather of my lifetime—temperate, sunny, clear—with only one rainy day, which didn’t spoil swimming, but added a touch of mystery to an overcast lake.

You can imagine how special this was for a Northwest transplant who spent weeks this summer dealing with a blanket of smoke blowing in from the Canadian fires up north, the direct result of global warming. Some days it looked to me like Delhi or Beijing, and four weeks ago I drove my daughter, Martha, to Vancouver, B.C., because there were no planes, large or small, flying out of Seattle. Not even a small seaplane. She had arrived from Denver early in the morning and had twenty students waiting for her at a destination that looked almost impossible to reach. It was strange to speed north through forests of fir, which stretched high into the gray sky like misplaced ghosts. Fortunately, however, Martha caught a small plane flying to Campbell River, and connected with a water taxi to Cortes Island, where she taught a course, Move Without Pain, at the Hollyhock Lifetime Learning Center.

I think the best description of what is happening here on the entire West Coast appeared in an article written by my niece-in-law, Jessica Plumb of Port Townsend, for the Seattle Times.

Meanwhile, back in New Hampshire: My two youngest sons, Robert and Tom, joined me during my two weeks. But before Robert arrived, Tom and I spent a pleasant afternoon at the historic Castle in the Clouds, a 16-room mountaintop estate in Moultonborough, NH, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and the Ossippee Mountains. We walked through its woodland paths and enjoyed the falls, in an area very reminiscent of The Flume.

(Click on photo to start slide show)

Naturally, no summer is complete without at least one strenuous hike. This summer it was Moat Mountain in Conway. I had no climbing shoes or poles, but I survived. Good practice for the upcoming trip to Nepal this November!

When Rob arrived, he and Tom decided to break all records in a killer climb up Boott Spur trail on Mt. Washington in the White Mountains. I found this clip on YouTube that gives you some idea of the trail. When Rob was taking shots of the summit with his iPhone, it was blown out of his hand by a fierce wind! Fortunately he had used his new Sony a6000 for the photos of their climb.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The day was long, but they arrived back at the cottage in time to grab a few artsy photos around the cottage and some stunning shots of the sunset. Rob is quite a photographic artist!

Ready for a swim

My photography tends to be more muted, but I love these shots of the sun going down behind Rattlesnake Island, taken before Rob arrived.

At the end of our stay, we were treated to a short visit from my niece, Rebecca Magill, her husband, Paul Benzaquin, and their daughter, Amaya, They had just returned from one month in Ethiopia and treated us to a slide show of their work and travels in the country of Amaya’s birth.

On the way home, I left my sons at the Manchester airport and headed for Peterborough to visit my older sister, Anne Magill, and her husband, Frank.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit my younger sister, Cary Santoro, in Harrison, NY. Will save that for my next visit East.

Then it was on to West Hartford, CT, to visit Judy Wyman-Kelly, a longtime honorary member of the Peterson family, her husband, John Kelly, and daughters Leah and Sarah. She had generously lent me a car for two weeks, and now gave me a great send-off from Bradley Field, the airport where I started my first overseas travel, leaving on a World War II DC-3 propeller plane for a 22-hour journey to Paris by way of Gander, Newfoundland…in 1949. Can you believe how long it took? I was part of a student group with the AFSC (American Friends Service Committee), heading for three countries to help in rebuilding war-town Europe.

This is the second year that I haven’t hiked and camped in the Northwest with Jon Pollack. His death ended our nineteen-year exploration of the Olympics and the Cascades and has robbed me of one of my most treasured and simpatico companions. His buoyant spirit, humor, and love of nature filled my summers with delight, and it will take me a long time to recapture, if ever, the joy of exploration into the wild that I enjoyed with Jon.

I spent a lot of time roaming the beaches on Whidbey Island this summer, and especially enjoyed low tide on the Langley waterfront, when I can walk all the way to the marina.

The tide came in and it was dusk.

And then came the sunset over Puget Sound.

The following day I visited friends living high on the bluff off Sills Rd., and got another view of the Sound at sunset.

And so, until next year, I say goodbye to summer and welcome the autumn, with its own special beauty.

MT. BAKER, THE DEFINING JEWEL OF THE CASCADES

P1100548No matter how many times I return to this majestic peak, I find subtle nuances I had overlooked before. Walking around our campsites, deep in the woods, I found hidden trails, shady alcoves blanketed in pine needles, varied ground cover, and ferns—some delicate, some enormous, each with its individual, intricate pattern. At night I would sit on the outskirts and watch the waning sun cast its brilliance through the branches, covering everything in a mystical glow. No photo can possibly substitute for nature’s real colors, but I tried.

(Click any photo to start slide show.)

The North Cascades are a wilderness defined by giant fir trees and native woody cousins whose lateral branches slope downwards, pulled by masses of bright green moss. Sometimes the burden is round, sometimes tubular, but always magical to me as I wander through the untouched forest. To be sure, some of the larger blow-downs are sliced in half by volunteer repair groups to let the hikers by, but most of the woods are left in a natural state.

My camp partner as usual was Jon Pollack, whom I met trekking on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal in 1999. Our usual campsite in the Cascades over the years has been Silver Fir, which we visited in 2015 and 2013, but this year we chose one about 30 minutes off the beaten track deep in the wilderness, not far from Cascade Pass—Mineral Creek Campground—recommended by Steve Austin, the most charming, helpful camp host we’ve encountered. The fact that I offered my kingdom for a campsite might have helped. He was curious as to what my kingdom might comprise!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Near the campsite was a roaring river, one of several we would encounter over the next ten days.

P1100377And hovering above us was the ever-present Mt. Shuksun.  Here it is as seen from the south side.

Bears are a big topic in the Cascades. Here I am conversing with one at the North Cascades Visitors Center on our way to Washington Pass.

And, of course, we were surrounded by views on every side. Too bad I don’t know how to upload the video I took of the entire panorama. Still cameras just can’t do the job, although I tried!

The next ten days were filled with hikes, swimming in Baker Lake, and relaxing at our new campsite, Panorama Point. We were incredibly lucky to find the last unreserved site and, we think, the largest and the most beautiful. From now on we’re going to reserve a long way ahead of time! Fishing was a big sport at the lake, but it did nothing to disturb the peaceful area surrounding our favorite swimming hole.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are a few slide shows of our hikes. Pictures tell the story far better than my attempts to describe the Northwest wilderness—from old growth to temperate rain forest—mountain ridges too numerous to name, and the ever-present mountain streams and waterfalls, forded by bridges of varying quality.

Through Washington Pass to Diablo Lake trailhead, down to Ross Dam and Ross Lake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our campsite was on the unpaved road not far from Cascade Pass, which we had climbed a few years ago. This time we only went to the pass after getting a late start. It wasn’t difficult for me to forego going up and over Sahale Arm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Our most strenuous hike was to Park Butte, reached by driving nine miles over an unpaved road. The trail was varied—winding switchbacks with lumber-reinforced banks (a bit too much exposure for me), trenches of white rocks that looked like abandoned river beds, steep rocky sections reminiscent of the White Mountains, and stretches of scree, making downhills slippery and challenging. And who could forget the variety of rustic bridges along the way? We reached a fire tower with panoramic views, but getting there really freaked me out, since we had to scale sheer rock to reach the steps. I think I’ve had it with fire towers!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One final hurrah was the Anderson Butte trail.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A farewell gift from the master fire builder….P1100695

 

THOSE LAZY-HAZY-CRAZY DAYS OF SUMMER….

Oh, yes, Nat King Cole, there was a time when that song warmed and thrilled me. That is, until I realized that living on Whidbey Island in the summer is anything but lazy or hazy. Crazy is the only thing that fits! Shakespeare in repertory graces our open-air theater, the wind blows over Puget Sound, and I don my polar fleece watching the sun set from my deck. And there is enough music and dancing to wear out the most avid teenager on any night of the week.  Given our demographic, however, you can be sure that a lot of healthy adults are also gracing the streets, halls, and fields where the revelry takes place. Choose your poison: bluegrass, country, folk, jazz, classical, Baroque. And before the evening begins, wander through endless art exhibits from Greenbank to Langley. There’s no time to be lazy!

I do bless this weather when I hear from friends in St. Louis, Florida, or Texas, who are sweltering, while we look up at a blue sky with whipped cream clouds, and enjoy cool breezes that make us forget the dark, damp days of January and February.

orchids mom june 2016I arrived home from my three-week sojourn on the East Coast to find my orchids waiting to embrace me and the gardens in peak production, giving me the fresh produce I had so missed while away. And I looked forward to the frequent strolls I take along the shore at dusk. langley sea view june2016

maxwelton fourth july 2016 Tom_7566maxwelton fourth july 2016 Cary_7549

The very next day was the annual Maxwelton 4th of July parade with outrageous costumes and themes ranging from children riding red, white and blue decorated tricycles to politicians campaigning to local non-profits promoting their cause and locals just promoting a cause… my daughter Cary was distributing snap peas on behalf of the School Farm and Garden Program, and son Tom was part of a group bringing awareness to climate change, with humor.

New construction is going on all around Langley, and the utility company is having a ball in front of my apartment, where a small lake has been growing for two weeks, the result of a major glitch in the stormwater system.  I told the engineers that I wouldn’t swim in it until they removed the mosquitoes. (Actually, I have yet to see one out here, but something is germinating!). If I were six year old, I’d really love to watch dozens of burly men digging up the street and painting patterns on the pavement where an underground labyrinth waits to be discovered, thus reducing my lake to a mere duck pond. Yes, there’s activity everywhere!

Upper Langley, the new affordable housing community started by daughter, Cary, and three like-minded friends, is now in full swing, with builders digging foundations and homes arising right in front of our eyes. There’s excitement and anticipation in the air—an understatement to be sure.

My trip to the East Coast was divided into the New Jersey/New York City experience, the Pennsylvania rustic Mt. Laurel Autoharp Gathering (MLAG), and a visit to family, ending at our summer cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee near Wolfeboro, NH. Driving a rental car for seven hours, two days in a row, flanked by trucks going 70 mph or more, is quite a change from my quiet island. Even Seattle traffic takes a back seat to the highways of New York and Pennsylvania and New England. But I lived to tell the tale. It’s one of those “adventures” I don’t care to repeat anytime soon.

I was able to overlap, briefly, with daughter Martha, in Maplewood, NJ, at the home of a dear friend, Cheryl Galante, the world’s most hospitable human being. Martha sold her home a year ago and is now relocating in Denver, CO. She started her cross-country drive the next day, and shortly after arriving in Denver, headed for Australia and a full teaching schedule (website: www.essentialsomatics.com).  But not, I hasten to add, before visiting her grandson and MY great grandson.

This trip, rich in the rekindling of old friendships, started with a visit to my grandson, Adam Bixler, who lives in a charming community in the East Village. The rest of the week I stayed in the West Village apartment of James Wilson, with whom I had traveled to Myanmar and Ladakh, and, happily, I did not swelter as I had last year. Wonder of wonders! The weather was marvelous. I got lucky before the “heat dome” moved in! And just picture me walking down the quaint streets past small historic houses and courtyards with Barry Hamilton, an actor and theater director, and his wife, Ruth Klukoff, a violin teacher in New York and Connecticut, to be treated to fabulous Middle Eastern cuisine and an afternoon by the Hudson looking across the water at the old Lackawanna terminal. Yes, New York has its pastoral settings, its park benches, and its flowering trees, and we enjoyed them all. I will not enumerate all the friends I enjoyed, nor the great restaurants I experienced, but I will grace you with a list of the superb plays and musicals I attended. Give the addict her due!

I took the family to An American in Paris. It was a repeat, since I had been wowed by it last year. Next came a special evening with Phyllis Bitow and Terri Pedone at the Tony Award musical Fun Home, and a reunion with Paul Sharar at The Father, to be mesmerized by the Tony Award winning performance of Frank Langella. James and I indulged in Something Rotten and the superb revival of She Loves Me, and Phyllis returned for the ABT production of Prokoviev’s ballet, Romeo and Juliet at Lincoln Center.

It was a heady visit and the next week at MLAG just kept the ball rolling with more superb musicianship, concerts, and visits with old friends, masters of the autoharp. The days were packed with workshops and performances by small group ensembles and headliners such as the laid back Tom Chapin, who brings an audience together in the spirit of Pete Seeger. Thanks so much to the new director, Gregg Averett, and the program directors, Neal and Coleen Walters. And thanks to George Orthey for the use of his lovely home away from home!

On my last week in the East, the three Noble sisters, of whom I am the middle, met in Peterborough, NH, and traveled on to our cottage, where nothing, except actual icebergs, keeps me from the water. Within a week I had defrosted and felt like a million dollars. I just can’t get enough of the spectacular sunsets over Lake Winnipesaukee.cottage sunset 2016b cottage sunset 2016a

mt washington 2016aAnd I never miss the opportunity to return to Wolfeboro and enjoy watching the “Old Mount” pull up to the dock as I indulge in a double dip ice cream from Bailey’s Bubble.

It was with lots of great feelings that I returned to Whidbey Island, to then head off to another cold lake at the base of Mt. Baker, as Jon Pollack and I start our annual ten-day hiking trip into the Cascades.

This will be a total escape from the craziness, which is not just summer, but which has spread throughout this nation for almost two years during the most unusual, deeply disturbing presidential campaign of my long life. Gird your loins, folks.

I HADN’T LET GO OF SUMMER, YET, WHEN THE AUTUMN FOG BEGAN ROLLING IN….

Where did all that glorious sunshine go? One day I’m photographing the bright yellows and reds of Autumn from my front deck, and an hour later the rains come with hurricane force to strip the trees of color. Ah, but they can’t hurt the firs in their variegated green coats. They will not leave me!

I rushed out front to get that last gasp of sun, just in time….

P1080234  P1080235

P1080233Music has charms to soothe the savage breast, but so does nature and, especially, mountains. I treasure the memory of my days in late August with Jon Pollack and a mutual friend, Carol Johnson, on Mt. Rainier. I’ve written about my hikes in this region before, but each time we explore a different area, so there’s always something new. This year we stayed at White River campground. It’s rich in woodland trails and scenic views, but because of the lack of rainfall, the normally rushing river was down to a trickle and many lakes were reduced to struggling puddles. Frozen Lake on Rainier was anything but frozen for the first time in recent memory. Add to this the smoke-laden, heavy haze that engulfed the peaks, and you become aware of the tenuousness of nature’s balance and how dependant the health of any habitat is on the global community. Nowhere can you see this more than when you get down into the heart of the natural world.

This year we did the three peaks of Burroughs mountain and a day at Owyhigh Lakes. The lakes were really low and very hot, but the entire trip, even on the ridges, called for plenty of sunscreen!

For more Mt. Rainier photos, click Here, Here and Here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

THERE IS A HARMONY IN AUTUMN, AND A LUSTER IN ITS SKY….

…so said Percy Bysshe Shelley. And I add to that the ghosts of summer past…one full of beauty, drama, sunshine, and tumultuous events that we, in the computer age, cannot escape. It’s almost too much for one human. So, into this crazy-quilt world I shall weave the threads of my life and tick off the weeks since June with short tales of my summer explorations.

July was a whirlwind trip to my old stomping ground on the East Coast, starting with three weeks at the family cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee…swimming in the world’s most beautiful lake and enjoying the White Mountains, of New Hampshire…and ending up with daughter, Martha, in Summit, New Jersey, where I enjoyed old friends and my fill of theater. For you aficionados I left very few stones unturned. Here’s a partial list: An American in Paris; Wonderful Town; The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night (amazing!); Wicked; and Hand to God. Except for the 98 degree heat, reminiscent of south India, it was marvelous.

Immediately, upon my return to the Northwest in August, Jon Pollack and I headed for a husky hike around Mt. Baker followed by a ridge run around Damfino Lake. During this time we stayed at our favorite campground, Silver Fir.

We had taken a big chance on this weekend, for heavy rain was predicted. Guess what? It couldn’t have been more glorious. Sunshine in the morning over the Nooksack River next to our campsite and clear skies for three days. Hallelujah! We were so sure of possible rain that we even visited Artist Point the night before the hike, just so we could see it in good weather. And we took photos where I had stood next to the snowbank on two previous years. This was the first time in three years that Ptarmigan Ridge wasn’t covered with ice and snow! It was also very interesting that on our way to the climb we encountered more than 65 cyclists heading up the mountain road…laboriously! They, too, were enjoying the balmy weather.

Follow us on the slide show below, from the Austin Pass Visitor Center over the Chain Lakes Loop Trail, which includes Bagley Lake, Herman saddle, Hayes Lake, Mazama Lake, and Iceberg Lake. This is the first year Iceberg hasn’t been frozen during the summer months…rather worrisome to those who depend on snow melt for water. In fact, we were appalled at the way the lakes had receded this past year.

We continued on around Ptarmigan Ridge, encircling Table Mountain and making our way over the Wild Goose Trail. Once at the visitor’s area we walked the two miles downhill to our car through the woods by way of a steep trail of wooden logs. That was the scariest part of the trip for me!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

CRASHING ON THE PAVEMENT IN TACOMA….BIG TIME!

I’m an expert crasher. I try to average at least one major dive a year. Seems pretty frivolous to mention after all of the important news from Nepal. But this is not like an earthquake. It’s preventable. Just ask my children, who feel that if I’m trying to kill myself, this is an unceremonious way to die and needs serious addressing. So I hasten to remind them that I have never, repeat never, fallen on a trek or a mountain (except once on the top of Mt. Washington, where I understandably tripped over my new, unfamiliar hiking poles) or even on the sidewalks of Asian countries like Myanmar, where one misstep can land you in an open sewer with a broken leg. I specialize in monasteries, trains of questionable quality, and city streets where the pavement is supposed to be smooth. And where you don’t expect potholes or crooked pavement. If only my recent mishap had occurred in New York City I could have sued for a million dollars and been on easy street. But, alas, I had to pick Tacoma, Washington, unfamiliar territory for my Guardian Angel, who was probably snoozing, anyway, while my own thoughts were on the hike I was about to take with my buddy, Jon Pollack, of Annapurna fame. And therein lies the rub.

I’m always amazed at how few Good Samaritans there are at such times. There I was, having smacked my head on the pavement and scraped myself to a fare-thee-well from top to bottom, and in the process of wiping the blood from my clothes, when a man walked by, cigarette dangling from his mouth. “Are you OK?” he asked, desultorily.

“Oh, sure,” I replied. “I sit on the ground every Friday and bleed. It’s a religious ritual.”

“Hrrumpff,” and off he went leaving me to pick myself up and move my car to the garage where Jon and I continued packing. Forty Band Aids later we took off, and in seven hours were in beautiful Columbia River territory setting up camp for a three day hike in the woods.

Three weeks later, the hiking having been superb and my purple shiner almost gone, I started to have numbness in my left hand. When it moved to the face and my speech started slurring I got scared. Thus began a series of tests…CAT scan, MRI, and MRA. It was an education for me, and not one I care to repeat. Seems I sustained a small subdural hematoma which was attempting to re-absorb into my head, while poking into my right brain and causing me to babble. That’s all you need to know, except that all is well and I promise never to fall, again. It just ain’t worth it!

Here is the beginning of my summer hikes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

TECHNOLOGY! TECHNOLOGY! TECHNOLOGY!

How many people over 65 (and that includes me) are roaming around the halls of mental asylums, clicking on every doorknob and cutting and pasting their inmates as they search for old photographs and lost documents, repeating, hysterically, pdf. mpf, hypertext,.doc.? I have come up with a solution: a new organization,Technology Anonymous for Technotards (TAT). It may not sound politically correct, but it will save your sanity. Who would like to join me? It meets every Wednesday at 6 PM at the Langley Marina on Puget Sound. Come dressed in your diving gear. It will be a long, dark night, but it sure beats Bedlam.

All of which is to announce that at long last I have had my website upgraded with new photos, incredible insights (just ask my children if you don’t believe it), and a clickable map of my travels that exhausts even me. It will be launched by the middle of May (cross your fingers), so watch for it! If my erstwhile webmaster, Matt McDowell (www.screenthumb.com), survives the ordeal, he has very kindly agreed to be the premier advisor to TAT. That’s the first split infinitive I’ve used in years, but Matt deserves it!

As a heralding of spring I want to share this beautiful African lily, the rare yellow clivia, which my son, Tom, brought me a few weeks ago when he moved to Langley. And there is another orange one just getting ready to bloom. Doesn’t it make you want to dance? P1070339 On the first day of March, Jon Pollack and I celebrated the beginning of the hiking season with a day trip to Park Forest near Eatonville. We were accompanied by old friends, the prolific historical writer, Dennis Larsen, and his wife, Pat Ziobron. Mt. Rainier was overpowering, with views all along the trail. I was unable to get a photo on the winding road back, but I did catch some beautiful shots at the marina in Tacoma near where Jon lives.

P1070297

The closer you get the more beautiful it is!

P1070291 Life continues in Langley, with enthusiastic Art Walks, excellent theater–a superb production of Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz–and an original musical, Pasture-ized, by Whidbey’s own Ken Merrell and Eileen Soskin, which could well start, immediately, Off-Broadway. And, of course, volunteering in the garden is in full sway as the fresh produce has returned in abundance, thanks to the tireless work of the garden experts  and their apprentices. I haven’t forgotten about Yolmo/Helambu. Just had a little detour, but it’s on its way….

“YOU’RE GOOD TO GO, MEG….SEE YOU IN TWO YEARS!”

How cool is that coming from the world’s best hip surgeon, Dr. James Pritchett of the Swedish Orthopedic Institute in Seattle?

I knew he was the doctor for me way back in June, shortly before my operation, when I asked him if he thought I could climb in the Himalayas by November.

“Why not?” he answered. And guess what, that’s exactly what I intend to do! (Stay tuned)

He did such a perfect job installing a ceramic ball and hammering some fearsome, fancy metal device into my femur, that I walked right through security three weeks ago on my visit to the East Coast and didn’t even set off the alarm. I fairly danced my way through two airports and arrived in Newark, bionic and elated, and ready to take on the Big Apple with a vengeance.

What you discover, as you tell every stranger in sight that you can squat like never before and run up flights of stairs like a gazelle, is that, if they don’t yawn and roll their eyes, 50% have had a similar operation and are eager to share their own success with you. Even the man operating the Xray machine in the Denver airport told of his numerous replaced joints. He did everything but show me his scars. It’s like a brand new fraternity/sorority that I’ve never experienced. Get a replacement—pick any limb—and you’ll find yourself in good company! Bravo for modern orthopedic medicine…and Dr. Pritchett.

My visit started with a whirlwind trip to Rhinecliff, NY, where two close friends, Louise Vitello and Richard Adams were married. What a gala celebration it was with three close families and their respective children enjoying the happiness of a very special couple. I danced for three hours to music that allowed me to show off my expertise in the Lindy, known in the “olden days” as jitterbugging. I think the grandchildren were impressed, which is always gratifying.

My daughter, Martha, whose house in Maplewood, NJ, had just been put on the market, left the next day for a month of teaching Hannah Somatics in England, whereupon I headed for NYCity.

Knowing my penchant for the theater, it won’t come as a surprise that I took in four shows, three while camping out at my buddy James Wilson’s pad in the West Village, and one with my old friend, Paul Sharar, from New Jersey. In all that time I made my way by subway and on foot. Not once did I use a taxi. A quick rundown includes the amazing Jefferson Mays in The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, where Mays plays seven parts. Totally fabulous! The inimitable Matilda, Roald Dahl’s story of every child’s nightmare. Fabulous as well. If/Then, a new musical that was a bit too predictable, but had good singing and dancing, and the long-awaited Indian Ink by one of my favorite playwrights, Tom Stoppard, starring Rosemary Harris and a marvelous young English actress, Romola Garai.

New York was lovely as it always is in autumn, and I was able to catch up with friends Jackie Herships, Grace Polk, and Barry Hamilton and enjoy strolling around what to me are still magical sections of the Village. I also spent a somber, thoughtful hour at the World Trade Center Memorial, now open so the public can enjoy the beautiful fountains and the new tower. The photos show some of the construction for the new subway station being built.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I cut my stay in the City short to head for Northfield, MA, with my sister, Cary Santoro, to visit my other sister, Anne Magill, before attending a memorial for a dear friend, Lynne Warrin. She and I had been friends for forty-five years and co-authored the play, Thank You, Dear, which was performed in Deerfield, MA. The loss of such a close friend is devastating, especially one who has been so instrumental in my work and has shared so many common interests in the field of summer camping, writing, education, and music. Lynne had been a longtime teacher at Eaglebrook School. Among her many students over the years was King Abdullah II of Jordan, whose country she had visited recently, as his guest.

Lynne Warrin, 1932-2014

Lynne Warrin, 1932-2014

After the memorial, Cary and I drove to our family cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee near Alton, NH. We spent the evening around a blazing fire and left early the next morning just as the mist was rising from the dock and outlining the shoreline and distant islands. As we wended our way back home we experienced the turning of the leaves, that banquet of color that defines New England as it hunkers down for winter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What better way to know that you’re back in the Northwest than to see Mt. Rainier looming on the horizon from the plane?

photo

Footnote: Lest I sell my home town short, let me say that there have been two superb productions in Langley over the past two months; one at the Outcast Theater which mounted the moving drama, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness, and the WICA (Whidbey Island Center for the Arts) production of the challenging Sondheim musical, Into The Woods. You couldn’t ask for better performances.

Jon Pollack, Christy Korrow (who, you may remember, went to Nepal with Cary and me two years ago and whose husband, Chris Korrow, has just completed a splendid documentary entitled, Dancing With Thoreau), and I are also availing ourselves of the several performances of operas streamed from the Metropolitan Opera in NYCity to Seattle theaters. It’s challenging, for it means an early ferry ride for us on Saturday morning, to catch a 1 PM matinee from New York. Jon, too, has a bit of a commute from Tacoma. But it’s worth it!

I’ve also become acquainted with gypsy jazz as I marveled at the DJANGO FEST NORTHWEST, which is held every year for a week in September. This is a style of music that was introduced by Django Reinhardt in the late 20’s and 30’s. Langley is besieged at this time by players from around the world. All day long you can hear musicians playing guitars, bass, fiddle, percussion, and wind instruments, as they serenade the public in every possible venue. And in the evening are the concerts at WICA. It opened a whole new world of music for me! 

Next up: Plans for a return to India, Nepal, and possibly Sikkim this November. And I haven’t forgotten about those photos of my Bhutan trip a year ago.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, or, if you’re a purist, HAPPY ALL HALLOWS’ EVE!

Page 1 of 3

© 2019 Meg Noble Peterson & Site by Matt McDowell