Back down from the mountain

Eight days ago, I came back down from the mountain, where I'd been hiding to work on the project. It was a great week. Reentry was bumpy, but I've got enough momentum to take a quick moment for a catch-up blog post.

I got lots done, although most of it was research and not spinning: both have to be completed, but I'm running hard and needing to short-circuit my usual, and ideal, process right now. I spun a little right before I left, just so I wouldn't have hauled all
the equipment and fibers . . . as well as the books and magazine files
. . . up the mountain for nothing.

Fortunately, by the end of my second week on the mountain my assistants had become much more proficient at their tasks, especially predrafting.



With the expanded scope of the project, I've felt a bit like this tree:


Scorched, but still growing vigorously toward the sky. I'm looking forward to feeling more like this:


Balanced, and with a variety of ideas in various stages of growth.

But the project is fascinating, and if it weren't hard it wouldn't be worth doing. I just hope I can do it well enough, given the time. I'll talk in a bit (after I've completed the current work) about exactly what it is. The current code name at home for this expanded portion is Voldemort. Its true name cannot be spoken until it's vanquished.

Back to the mountain, where it was time to pack the car. . . .


And say goodbye to a number of comforting sights. . . .


The gray sky and snowflakes encouraged efficient movement. The roads up there are challenging on a good day, and getting down ahead of any snow accumulation seemed like the best idea of the week.

Here's what the roads looked like, in the sun (not the day I left):

At the sides of the road are soft shoulders, quite happy to eat tires EVEN when they are not partially saturated with the "melt" part of spring's freeze/melt cycles, as they definitely were this week. This caused some adventure on the way back down.

The first step involved getting out of the driveway, which goes steeply from where you see the cabin on the left to where its end intersects this road, just at the right of the photo. There's a lip to pop up over at the top—you need to gun the car from the bottom and leap up onto the road with a burst of faith, because you can't see the road while you're doing that. You assess whether anybody's coming in another car before you take action (probably, but not certainly, the answer is "no"), and then you commit to the accelerator, hoping you make it past the ice sheet and don't slow down enough to slide back into the mud ruts where someone got stuck for more than an hour just a couple of days earlier.

At the top, I stopped for a moment and consciously thought, "One down. But
you're not home until you're home." So true.

I'm an exceptionally careful driver, comfortable in the mountains, and
within a half mile of that point I almost lost my car twice. In both cases, I would have come out okay, and in the first instance the car would have been fine (although I would have needed a tow truck) but in the second instance it probably would have been totaled; at the very least, the undercarriage would have been in really bad shape.

Look at that road photo again, and imagine that the dirt portion at the right side of it, where the tire tracks are, has been saturated with water and suddenly starts eating both tires on the passenger side of the car up to the axles. As the road sucked at the tires, I thought I was for sure going to need to walk somewhere and have someone call for a tow (yes, I have a cell, but the chances any cell will work in the mountains are slim to none). But I've only had to leave a car beside the road in winter and get home another way twice, and both of those times were in New England. My initial driving training also included excitement like 360-degree intentional skids. So I accelerated gently, steered firmly against that nasty quicksand feeling, and prayed.

And popped out of the mud! Only to discover I was catapulting toward a curve in the road, on ice, with a drop-off on the left hand side, which I was within inches of going over when I got the car straightened out without fishtailing and I was in what was (miraculously) an apparently solid middle of the road again, heading the direction I meant to be going, with traction on all four corners.

The drop-off was between six and eight feet down, along a gradual incline that would likely have kept the car from rolling, but I was really glad to find myself not there.

This was not a time to stop and celebrate, much less take a picture of my tracks (although that would have been interesting), so I kept up the yoga breathing I'd been doing and kept going, blessing my
Subaru for being a fine, responsive, surefooted car. Not many cars
(I've driven a lot of pickups) would have let me recover from those situations. The AWD and evenly placed weight on the wheels saved
the day. I have always liked this car. At that moment, I realized that I really like this car. More than words can describe.

And here's what the trip down looked like, pretty much, although this was after I got onto the paved part of the road—there are mountains out there, they were just hidden:


Fortunately, you only need to be able to see the piece of road you're driving at the time.

I'm reminding myself of that as I work on this expanded project. And this morning, I need to focus just on the next bit.

But here are two visuals from late last week—I've finished this section:

Pretty fascinating. I have to keep remembering "one step at a time" and "KEEP MOVING!"


10 thoughts on “Back down from the mountain”

  1. Yikes! What a story. I’m glad that your driving and the Subaru’s AWD kept you on the road and going in the right direction. (That’s why we love our Subarus….)

    The photos of the yak yarn are gorgeous–what beautiful stuff!

    But the best is your comment about only needing to see the road where you are at any moment. That’s a powerful realization, and one it’s tough to hold onto. But you’ve got yoga breathing and a Subaru, so you’ll be fine.

  2. Love the yak!

    You’re the second creative professional (or professional creative!) person I know who swears by her Subaru. Think I’ll definitely put them on the list for when we upgrade our vehicle.

    (That being said, with having to up-sticks shortly, having a large pick-up with a cap will come in pretty darned handy too….)

  3. My daughter drives my old Ford Explorer, which is the one that can carry the whole Glimakra loom. Handy. Although it's truly amazing what I can get into the Subaru.

  4. Susan, I'm finding international disagreements on the topics I'm writing about that I need to sort through and summarize before I can even start these additional bits of writing. Keeping my eye on the road in front of me is the only way I'm not ending up stuck in a ditch!

  5. As I was reading your description of the driving conditions, I was thinking I wouldn’t want to be driving anything else either. I still think my Outback is the best thing I’ve ever driven. Glad you made it OK!

  6. As I was reading your post–and yes, I’ve also had those kind of scary driving moments… and thanked my car later–I thought “you just got to keep on keepin’ on.” A silly cliche, but that, deep breathing and a few others (don’t let the turkeys get you down) are very comforting in a crisis. You are going to do a stellar job on this project, and your hard work and steadfast consistency will shine. I know it!

  7. Thanks for your faith, Joanne. And your locks of fiber! I'm keepin' on keepin' on. The good news is that I'm learning TONS. Really fast {grin}. About things I've been studying already for decades. 

  8. Joy, I worked hard on selecting a car when I needed to replace my old one–which I would happily have driven forever. You never know until you are using the results of your decision in everyday life (which can include staying on the road under adverse conditions). The Outback definitely was the right choice.

  9. OMG, living in the woods in Vermont I relate to that drive! However, my Caravan saw me safely home thru an hour-long ride in a white-out last month (should have been 20 mins!)from a day of spinning with friends. Visibility about 6ft, couldn’t see either shoulder for the quick foot of snow. Some stop signs were just ignored! 4×4 fishtailing in front of me up the last hill the icing on the cake. Trusty Caravan kept moving, slowly, and when we reached our driveway the snow stopped…and now it is Mud Season.

  10. Good for your Caravan! I had to leave my truck by the side of the road three times when I lived in Massachusetts: once in snow season, once in ice season, once in mud season. Very glad you got home safely.

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