Nature In the Raw

I don’t often get true adventures any more because my life is quite tame. I get the day-to-day adventures, of course, such as getting up in the morning (it’s not something everyone can do), or going out to shovel snow, or seeing the changes in my yard during the different seasons. But compared to the adventures I once had, such as hiking in the woods or taking long road trips, my adventures are small.

I certainly don’t deal with nature in the raw very often, generally out of laziness. I mean, when the weather gets wild (and yes, weather is considered nature), I could go outside but . . . well, I don’t.

Walking to and from work is the one time where I go out no matter what the weather is. For a while, I got to walk in the dark (well, quasi dark — there are plenty of streetlights between our two houses, and I carried a flashlight for the darkest nights), and I truly enjoyed that. I don’t drive at night, and I generally don’t like going for a walk in the dark, and being out in the dark in the summer is more “nature” than I want to deal with. Too many mosquitoes! Though maybe, before the mosquitoes come this summer, I’ll spend some dark time out in my yard.

Last night was a treat, a real adventure, short though it may have been. We got a huge amount of snow, and it was COLD! The women I work for wanted to drive me home, and were almost insistent, so I agreed, but when I got outside, I simply could not forgo the small adventure of walking home in the crackling cold. The temperature was close to zero, and what appeared to be a few flurries of snow was actually the humidity in the air freezing.

It was lovely — so quiet and still, with only the muffled sound of an occasional vehicle in the distance.

There will come a time, I am sure, when I couldn’t trust that I would be okay even for such a short time in extreme weather, so I especially enjoyed last night’s experience of nature in the raw.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive? Would you even want to?

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Good Cheer

I unpacked my light bowls today to set around the house. I’ve always enjoyed the extra light — especially the colored lights — during this time of creeping darkness because they help dispel the gloom.

Oddly, I don’t mind the creeping darkness so much this year, probably because I’ve been walking home from work in the dark. The shock came the first night of darkness. The week before, it was light when I left the woman’s house, and suddenly, there I was, walking in the dark. More like a curtain than a creeping.

I was a little nervous at the idea of walking in the dark even though it’s only two short blocks, but surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed it. Well, except the part where the dogs with owners who are too lazy to take them for a walk let them run loose after the code enforcer goes off duty. The first few days were fine, then one night I felt a tug on my pants, and there was a horrid little dog trying to grab hold of the back of my knee. The next night, a different dog tried to engage me in combat, but I shined my flashlight in its direction, and it ran away.

I know who owns the second dog — a neighbor who won’t leash the dog or fence it. In fact, she once told me, back when she owned a different dog, that if she were a dog, she’d rather run free and take a chance on getting run over by a car. Well, the inevitable happened, and now there is a different dog with a guaranteed ending.

Still, despite the wild life (tame life?), the walk has been pleasant, even on the coldest days.

Except for the nights I camped during my various trips, I seldom go out at night, so I tend to become intimidated by the dark. Since I don’t drive at night, there’s really no reason for me to go out, so that intimidation can become almost a phobia.

But that’s not my problem this year. I get out in the dark quite often now. Despite that, I’m still looking forward to plugging in my bowls of light. A person can always use an extra bit of good cheer.


“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Walking in the Cemetery

A friend invited me to go walking with her in the cemetery yesterday, and I jumped at the chance. It’s a pretty place — at least in the daytime — and even historic, containing, as it does, graves of some early settlers. It’s also free of dogs, which are becoming more of a problem all the time.

I found it interesting that yesterday was also All Souls Day, which made the trek apropos. We didn’t encounter a soul — dead or alive — as we meandered along the roads, searching for the grave of someone she knew who had recently died. Many of the graves were decorated with fake flowers. With the advent of silk flowers, I’ve wondered why there is still a market for plastic flowers, and now I know the answer — they are the flower of choice to decorate graves.

As my friend promised, there were no dogs.

With daylight savings time ended, it gets dark early here, and will continue to get darker for the next several weeks. I am so not a fan of the creeping darkness, but it’s even worse now because of working. My shift ends after sunset, and though I don’t worry about walking in the dark — it’s only two blocks on a quiet street. Besides, there’s a streetlight, and I carry a flashlight, so I’m not worried about the darkness as such. What does worry me are the dogs running loose. It’s one thing when it’s light enough for me to see them coming, another to have them approach out of nowhere.

I’ll have a stick, and even some pepper spray that someone gave me, so I should be okay. I’d heard that spraying water is even more effective, but for now, I’ll just stick with what I have and worry about other deterrents later if necessary.

I hope I remember to leave a light on in the house to make it more inviting — somehow it seems so lonely coming home to a dark house, even though I don’t notice any problem in the day.

Despite my reservations, it might be nice walking in the dark. I don’t often do that anymore — mostly because there’s no reason to. It’s too bad that there are just enough lights in town to obscure the stars because I do enjoy walking under the stars. I’ve heard that a vast number of stars are visible just outside of town, but since I don’t like driving at night (or maybe it’s that the night doesn’t like me driving), I haven’t yet explored the possibility.

I hope I don’t sound cranky. Despite unpleasant dogs roaming loose and the creeping darkness, I feel grateful for all I have — a job, a house to come home to, and friends who invite me to go walking in the cemetery.


Bob, The Right Hand of God is now published! Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God. Or you can buy the Kindle version by clicking here: Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

What if God decided to re-create the world and turn it into a galactic theme park for galactic tourists? What then?

Overcoming Inertia

You’d think, after all these years of doing things by myself, I wouldn’t have a problem with motivating myself, but I do. Ever since Jeff died, I’ve tried to be more spontaneous, but sometimes I simply cannot overcome inertia to just . . . go.

The Union Pacific Big Boy steam engine passed within seventy-five miles of here, and I sort of wanted to see it. But the time for leaving came, and I didn’t go. Apparently, “sort of wanting” is not enough motivation. If I had really, really wanted to see it, I might have gone — after all, I did go searching (in vain) for tarantulas. But maybe not. My days of simply hopping into my car and taking off seem to be diminishing — not just because of no motivation, but because the thought of pulling the cover off my vintage Beetle and folding it up seems too much of a big deal. Also, because I’m not driving all the time, I tend to worry.

Luckily, I can walk most places around here and save driving for the days when the ritual of uncovering and recovering my car doesn’t seem so daunting or if I simply want to drive, worry or no. It might be easier to go somewhere on a whim when (if?) my garage is done, but I doubt it. I won’t have to uncover the car (though a neighbor car guy recommends still covering it), but I will have to unlock and open the garage door and gates, then get out of the car and close them once I’m on the street. Just the thought makes me weary! It’s not an immediate problem, though, since my contractor has disappeared on me again.

Now that it’s getting dark so early, my activities are a bit curtailed — I’m not used to walking in the dark around here, and to be honest, I’m not sure it’s all that safe of a place to be on foot at night — so I don’t attend evening events by myself.

Although all this makes it seem as if I don’t do much anymore, that’s not true. There are many scheduled events I attend during the day, such as the art guild meetings. The meetings are on my calendar, so there’s no need to overcome inertia — I just go. Other times, I hitch a ride with a friend. For example, there was a community dinner last night, and a friend invited me to go with her. It was a wonderful meal, a full turkey dinner, though it amused me — there I was in a Baptist church, eating dinner with my friend and the Presbyterian minister. Only in a small town . . .)

And that won’t be my only Thanksgiving dinner. The senior center will be hosting a potluck dinner for all of us strays. They will provide the turkey; we will provide everything else. (My contribution will be my own creation — a cranberry/apple compote.) Although Thanksgiving as a holiday doesn’t hold the emotional hazards for me that it does for many who have lost their mates, it’s nice knowing I’ll won’t be missing out on anything (except maybe the contention that sometimes come with family get-togethers).

The dinner is already scheduled and circled on my calendar. I’m committed to bringing the compote, It’s during the day. And I can walk. So there won’t be any inertia to overcome.

But it’s not exactly spontaneous, either.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.