Sunday, October 26, 2014

Application Season

Today is October 26. The word on everyone's tongues--or in the backs of everyone's haunted brains-- is "college." For seniors applying early, this upcoming week will be perhaps the most stressful week of the year. I include myself in the legion of stressed students, because while I have been working on my essays since the summer, I'm still not satisfied with where they are. I will have to be satisfied soon; they're due on Saturday.

Even though I spent this morning and yesterday morning writing for my applications, I'm not burned out. My essays are essentially stories about myself. I journal and write this blog, so clearly I enjoy writing about myself (how narcissistic), but college essays are different. They're more focused; whereas my journal entries aim to record for my future self what I've been up to, a college essay asks me to tell a story that I find important, and then tell the world--in this case, an admissions committee--how the events of the story impact me. I have written many.

I wrote about cleaning stalls.

View from the barn towards the Richard Odman Memorial Manure Shed (right of wheelbarrow)
I wrote about Kate, a horse at the NMH farm who died this summer.

I wrote about The Phantom Stallion series.

My not-so-phantom gelding and I pose for the camera
I wrote about mountains.

Scene at the trailhead of the hike which I wrote about: 5 AM.
Afternoon thunderstorm over Buck Mountain
I wrote about how I convinced my parents to adopt three kittens.

One of the three kittens, Veronica
Except for the last one, which is part of a writing supplement, I'm still not sure which story tells the most about me. I have yet to decide which essay I will end up using. And part of the equation is how well I express what's important about the story I choose.

Despite my indecision,  and even though the deadline has me stressed, I'm confident I'll finish up with time to spare. I have every A block off this week, and my time management skills have grown so solid this year that I'm not really worried about getting my homework done, either. I might even sleep!

Writing this post has cost me half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes. I don't regret using my time this way, as I did need a break from telling an unknown admissions committee about my experiences hiking with an ice ax during a thunderstorm, but it is time for me to get back to work.

Happy birthday, Mommy!

Evening photography by Lake Solitude, featuring my mother.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

October Again

'Tis the season for fall leaves and warmer clothing! Fall is my favorite time of year. Here in Western Mass autumn is particularly beautiful, but even in Austin the cooler days and pumpkin sales that fall brings are more than welcome. (That's not to say that fall has arrived in Austin yet. If I'm to believe the Weather app on my phone, temperatures are still in the 90s.)

Autumn colors were quick to arrive at NMH; since about two weeks ago, trees have been turning various shades of yellow, red, and orange. It's during this transition that I think fall colors are most beautiful. Not many leaves have fallen yet, and many are still green, which means that the bright new colors are juxtaposed against the dark, late-summer shade.

In the past few years at NMH, I've told myself at the start of leaf season that I'd go out and get pictures at some point. Of course, work and all sorts of other preoccupations intervened. As a consequence, I've never been happy with my fall pictures. So lately I've made it a priority to take my camera everywhere! I'm happier with this set than I have been in the past.

Not only have I shot more this fall, but I've also looked through my enormous Lightroom catalog to find lost photos from past autumns. I found two that I like from Family Days last year--at the time, I wrote them off.

Stormy day along a lake on the way up to Mount Washington

A few more recent shots:

Leaves in front of Crossley during the USC Endless Summer Party
Abe, Tim, and Ben
Liam and Tim Tyler prepare to hitch up the farm's new Belgians (donated recently by Tim)
 More to come in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


The hot topic on campus these days is a cold one. That is to say that everyone is talking about the weather, which has been very cold. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, much higher than it has been the past few days. The Nordic ski team has a Classic skiing sprint relay in the afternoon--fingers crossed we don't get too chilled! We'll be working hard.

About a month ago, Isabel and I were in Austin. The weather was much nicer there and we both got to ride several times over break.

Jones was good for me. We had a pretty high number of stops at fences but worked through it pretty well. Over the course of those several lessons I got back my feel for him, which was nice. I also worked in some of what I've been learning at Stoneleigh. Stoneleigh is where I learn effective riding. Then I can put it into practice in Austin. I still have a lot of stuff to work on but my seat is way better and I think more clearly in the saddle.

As I said, it's cold up at school. And once again, I miss Austin. I've been going through old photos on my hard drive and finding shots from over the summer. At this time in the Northeast, one doesn't get much sunlight, so it's nice to look at pictures shot in the heat and remember how it feels to be sunburnt and sweaty in short shorts and a tank top.

Rusty and Pepper's pasture is a great example of grazed-down Texas grassland. Pretty, but the grass doesn't grow back very fast.
That's almost enough wishful thinking for today, but I also do miss Jackson. Thinking about summer too much can be very dangerous, as I'm finding out now. It can distract you from whatever you're doing. In my case, homework. It's had to find the motivation to work hard when the prospect of spring and sun is so tantalizingly close.

Isabel has been thinking about trail running next summer when we're in Jackson. There are several trail running groups in the area, of course, and many of them cater to people of all experience levels. And there is nowhere else where I'd rather run. Last summer on one particular hike, she and I double-timed down the trail from Phelps Lake into Teton Village in an attempt to beat our parents, who were set to pick us up there. We did beat them, and the most fun we had was when we were running, despite the fact that we both had on backpacking boots and heavy packs.To prepare for that possibility, I'm planning to run track again this spring. Depending on how my shins feel during the season, I should be in good shape to trail run with Isabel in summer. Last time I ran on the track team, I did not have a good experience. But this time should be better.

At this point, I think most people are ready for the sun to come again. Sugaring is around the corner! After that, it'll be spring. Ben T. is going to be here in mid-February. The Nordic ski season won't last too much longer, and then the team will start helping at the farm. I haven't been able to get down there much lately; probably I've gone twice since winter break ended. That's a little crazy. Soon! This Sunday will be a good day for it.

Ben picking up sap along the Northfield main road sugaring route, my personal favorite