Tagged: #PhotoFriday

Photo Friday: Mossy kingdom

A rotted stump covered in moss and lichen.

I chose to spend the beginning of my 33rd revolution around the sun hiking Mt. Davis, Pennsylvania’s tallest natural point. It was chilly and foggy, and we were alone on the trail for most of the 7 miles we hiked. I thought a little about my goals and plans for the coming year, but mostly I inhaled the smell of ferns and fall, ran my fingers along the mossy rocks, and felt the simple joy of being present.

A stream at Mt. Davis.

Mt. Davis isn’t much of a summit—it’s really just a large rock on top of a mountain ridge. Still, I liked the symbolism of starting my year up high. There’s a rickety-looking observation tower, but the fog had settled so thick on the ridge I could barely see the trees beneath me. The future is obscure like that, too. But we march on, seeing only a few feet in front of us at a time, and we make it to the end, whatever that might be.

Jaina on the trail at Mt. Davis.

Jaina is a country dog at heart, I think. She took the lead on the trail, looking back every so often to confirm we were still lagging behind her, slow on our two feet. We descended the ridge past springs and gentle waterfalls, tumbles of rocks sometimes making the trail and sometimes blocking the way.

Lichens with little red flowers.

A fungus bloom or spore.

We hiked past (and over) dozens of mosses and lichens, tiny fungi and large fungi, a microcosm of the forest around us. A mossy kingdom, we the invaders. Everything, I knew, had a name, but I did not know them. I knew only their softness, the springiness, the tiny red flowers stretching out from green beds. Touch is the language we all speak.


#PhotoFriday: Clematis in full bloom

Growing up, my mom had a purple clematis in our front yard. Every year it would grow up our porch railing. Along with the johnny jump-ups that popped up every spring, the clematis was my favorite flower.

When I rented my first house, I bought a clematis bulb and grew it in a pot for a few years. It did okay, and I transplanted it to my yard when we bought our house. It’s grown exponentially over the past three years! It’s now a very happy plant, and every spring when it blooms it reminds me of home.

a purple clematis vine

What flowers or plants remind you of home?

#PhotoFriday: Happy 14th Birthday, Lexi!

Lexi was born on April 4, 2004. She’s my lucky 04/04/04 dog. On Wednesday, she turned 14. Maybe I’m being superstitious, but that, too, seems lucky.

My family adopted Lexi shortly after my childhood dog Maverick passed away. She was six weeks old, a little young but already weaned and spunky as anything. I’d taken Maverick’s death the hardest, I think, and was angry at my parents for not doing more to help him (as an adult I realize my anger was misplaced and that my parents did every reasonable thing they could and ultimately made the right decision). We had two young German shepherds, but my mom decided we’d adopt a Welsh corgi puppy for me–even though I’d be heading off to college soon.

Me holding Lexi as a puppy.

Me and Lexi in 2004, the summer before my senior year of high school. I demanded she be in my official photos.

Lexi has always been an adventurous dog. We went on lots of walks together, and when I did go off to college my mom took her to agility classes. When I graduated I found a place that would let me have pets, and Lexi moved to Pittsburgh with me.

Lexi, Kelly, D.J., and Ruby

Lexi and Ruby were ring bearers at my handfasting ceremony in 2010.

We’ve hiked and climbed mountains together in National Parks, gone on long road trips, and done a fair bit of just hanging out at various coffee shops in Pittsburgh. She knows me better than anyone—she can sense my moods before I even know what I’m feeling. She’s quick to draw my attention to her with a “grr” or a nudge when she knows I’m sad or distressed. I can (and do) set my clock by her.


Lexi a few days before her 14th birthday.

Our time left together is getting short, but we’re celebrating every moment of it. Lexi is my girl, and I love her to the ends of the earth and back.

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