Eagle Harbor Saturday

Just a quick note that the kids and I will be working as honorary booksellers at Eagle Harbor Books this Saturday, November 29th. Our shift is from noon to 1:00pm. This is part of the Indies First promotion to encourage support of local, independent bookstores. (What, exactly, my presence there will do to encourage support remains to be seen.) But it’s a fun event, and fortunately, there will be lots of other writers–David Guterson, Jonathan Evison, Lance Weller among them–throughout the day as well.

I will be there pushing Closer to the Ground…er, I mean…suggesting good books from other authors for holiday gift giving, and will be happy to sign or inscribe books as well. Even the ones I didn’t write. Did I mention what a great gift Closer to the Ground makes? Skyla and Weston will be on hand to consult with parents or grandparents about books their kids or grandkids would enjoy.

Come on by, shop for gifts, buy something for yourself, or just say hi.

Giving Thanks


In many ways, it’s been kind of a tough year for us. And yet, there is still so much to be thankful for. Good health, good family, good friends. Countless delicious meals shared with loved ones. Some big adventures. People in our lives who have been there with a generosity of spirit I can’t even begin to describe. A community of warm and thoughtful neighbors. Wild places near and far. The miracle of kids, salmon, weather, seasons.

This morning, as I walked along our road, there was a tiny flutter of wings in the salal. I stopped walking. A ruby-crowned kinglet hopped out of the brush and landed on a twig an arms-length from where I crouched. It cocked it’s head and looked me directly in the eye, then swung around the branch to hang upside down, searching for food.

I watched the little bird for a long time, then walked home filled with gratitude.

Wild Duck: The Other Red Meat


Best way to deal with freezing weather is complete gluttony with good friends. Or at least that’s my working theory, and it worked great this week. In this case, it was a massive duck feed at Smarty’s house. And when I say “massive,” I’m referring only to the amount of ducks we ate, not the size of the gathering. Above, just a few of the dozen or so birds we consumed, ready for the oven.


While we were waiting for the oven to heat up, we ate six ducks’ worth of barbecued-rare, thinly sliced breasts dipped in hot mustard and sesame seeds. Awesome appetizer. The main course went into a very hot oven for a short time, unstuffed, of course, and was served blood rare with crisped skin and a very Russell Chatham-esque sauce that included current jelly, worcestershire and wine. If you’ve ever read Chatham’s “The Great Duck Misunderstanding” (perhaps my favorite piece of  outdoor writing ever) you’ll have a pretty good idea of the meal and its preparation. That’s Smarty starting the carving process.


But since Smarty is a vegetables are what food eats kind of guy, when he said “duck dinner,” he meant it literally.We had duck and more duck. With a little duck. And for dessert, duck. Those are a few carcasses shortly before I dove in to gnaw all the drumsticks down to the bone. I could barely walk back to my car, but I went to sleep dreaming of more ducks. Sometime during the night, a front rolled in and broke our arctic chill. I woke to 50 degrees and light rain. See…duck dinner, perfect cure for freezing weather. Thanks, Smarty.

Big Chill


This is probably proof to all the Mid-Westers and East Coasters out there that those of us living in the Maritime Northwest are soft, but here goes: I’m freezing! The backyard hasn’t thawed in a week now, and each day, the frost just keeps getting thicker. From a distance, it looks like snow, only without all the fun. The upside is clear blue skies and these amazing frost crystals.

Downside? It’s been averaging about 38 degrees in my unheated office, and even with a space heater blowing directly on me, my fingers keep getting too stiff to type.

That and the alarming rate at which we’re burning through an already light wood supply. This time of year, this side of the shed should have four full rows, and we’re already down to three. Yikes! But the stove feels so good…


Whatever The Weather


The last few weeks a convergence of factors has kept us indoors more than usual. Weather, for starters. When I was going to put the boat in the water and fish, it was blowing 35. When we were going to pick mushrooms, the rain came down in black sheets. Etc, etc. But it isn’t just rain and wind…usually we can work around those.

The windows of opportunity have been squeezed tighter than usual this year, with work, kid sports, school and homework, some travel, and for full disclosure, a little laziness as well.

So it’s good to have the option of an indoor climbing gym here on the Island. The kids love it, and I love watching them climb. It’s not exactly getting outdoors, but when a window of time opens and it’s blowing and spitting rain, we still have something to get excited about. Good stuff.