Monday, 11 August 2014

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

I wouldn't say my midlife crisis is over. No, there's still shit to work out/on ... but in the Hollywood version of my life, the three days Freddie and I just spent with Leah and her pups at her family's cabin near Mt. Baker will quite possibly serve as the Turning Point, the Transformative Experience from which I (or, rather, the slimmer, more attractive screen star who will play me) will emerge enlightened, re-invigorated, ready to try new things and re-discover old favourites. (I'm not sure what Celluloid Paul will be doing; the real one was invigilating exams — and wants to be played by a young Alan Arkin.)

The weekend forecast was for SUN. Friday morning we filled Leah's car with food and gear and dogs and headed (a couple of degrees latitude) south for Washington State. Over the previous few days, I'd been thinking about going back to school in September 2015 — doing a PhD in Comp Lit or English or Interdisciplinary Studies (not for any career-related reason, just for the stimulation of academic pursuits) — and the idea built up some momentum as we sat roasting in the barely-moving border lineup for more than an hour.


Then we reached the charming little town of Glacier, WA, very near Mount Baker, and our thoughts and conversations turned to more immediate and concrete concerns ...

 "Simulated Luxury"?

Hot Dawgs Fetch 'n' Swim in the Nooksack River!

We settled in at Leah and John's (classic, woodsy) cabin, where, by design and good fortune, no WiFi waves mingled with the coffee vapours.

While not exactly traditional or rustic (we cooked with electricity, showered in hot water, lounged in the warmth of a gas fireplace in the evenings), our existence those three days was much closer to Nature, to the way things used to be, than is life in the big city.

On Saturday we did something I haven't done in far too long: a hike that involves serious climbing. OK, not the kind of climbing that requires baffling bits of equipment that hardcore outdoorsy types purchase at MEC — I mean the kind that's like going up 300 flights of stairs.

The trail we took was the "Skyline Divide" — elevation gain 457 m/1500 feet, 7.2 km/4.5 miles round trip. (The view below looks flat, but that's because we're finally nearing the mountain ridge. I was working too hard in the earlier part to think about taking pictures!)

Alpine Meadow

The biggest walk Freddie and I have ever done together!

Mi hermana

We figured out it's been more than 15 years since Leah and I last went on a getaway together. Three solid days with my best friend of ~35 years ... just what the Dogter ordered!

 The hills are aliiiiive!!!

(Note the unimpressed position of Freddie's tail and ears!)

Almost at the ridge ...

Just a few more meters, Freddie ...

Et voilà! Mount Baker!

Grassy expanses for young dawgs to roam free ...

... even patches of snow for cooling off.
A Change in Perspective
 (is good)

I'd like to spend more time in nature. Maybe go on a multi-day walking/hiking trip with Paul and Freddie. Maybe one of those deals where a vehicle transports our stuff while we walk (though maybe now that I no longer use an insulin pump and all its space-hogging equipment, I could actually pack light!). The UK ... the South of France ... somewhere closer to home?

I'd like to go away for three weeks or so sans dawg (shh ... don't tell Freddie). Maybe somewhere I've been before — Italy, Istanbul, Indochina, Île d'Orléans ... Or somewhere I've never been — Inuvik, Iran, Ireland, Israel ...

I'd like to deepen my understanding of the Earth and the Universe, of people and animals.

I'd like to do something helpful for any of the above through my words or actions.

I'd like to figure out how the buttons on my camera work.

These were some of the thoughts going through my head as we relaxed on the deck in the late afternoon.

We spent most of Sunday close to the cabin and took a couple of long walks on spectacular river trails.

The photos don't do justice.

Maybe if I knew how to operate all the buttons on my camera?

Or maybe not.


We had americanos on the deck of the Wake 'n' Bakery, which sells cheeky fridge magnets.

I was excited to find the very one I wanted (which Leah has, in button form, pinned in her car): "Drink coffee! Do stupid things faster with more energy!"

I suspect the town of Glacier is a bit more lively in winter. (And here's something else I want to do more of: x-country skiing!)

I took a dorky picture of myself on our afternoon walk ...
 ... then noticed that Freddie was waiting for me up ahead.

I'm not so sure anymore that I want to do a PhD. I haven't ditched the possibility altogether ... but there are other possibilities out there — newer/ stranger things ... ways of understanding that don't involve my trusty stand-bys (sitting in a classroom, doing research, writing papers) and that could ultimately be more beneficial (for me? for others?) ... possibilities that might just push round #2 of grad school over the horizon.

In the meantime, I have a partly finished novel manuscript that I don't intend to abandon. The 3-month teaching marathon is done (already!), and after a little bit more therapeutic R&R I shall be getting back to it.

On that note, let the movie of my life dissolve to the next scene, 
accompanied by Jimmy Buffett, hip with his hearing aid, 


  1. Thanks for that Heather, it's a refreshing bit of life to hear about while stationed here in Nigeria.

    1. That's an awesome photo of you, Johnny T! Stay safe over there (and have fun, too)!

  2. I can sooooo relate to all of that! And also, I need a friend Leah with a cabin in the woods. Just sayin.

    1. And Freddie and I would love to join you and Charlie on one of your camping adventures. :) I wish there weren't so much geography between us!

  3. I would not recommend a Ph.D. in English literature. You have the job. What need? Are you into trauma studies or post-human studies or poco? More school, sure, but there are so many things to learn about... my two bits. --AHB


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