"A" and I arrive at the farm on a quiet and cloudy morning with just the lightest touch of wind, a day for shirtsleeves as long as one is moving. For all her time at the farm, A has not yet seen the squatter's cabin and she is eager to find out what this is all about.
We stop once, as I always do, near the river gauge. There is a fine sand shore here that records particularly clear animal tracks. But, this time, we find nothing new since Monday when I was last here. Rain has eroded the sharp edges of the old tracks, including my own. We can move on.
To find the turn into the woods, I tell A how many strides to count. It will be close enough, even with our different pacing distance. We hear a woodpecker before we leave the road. I let A continue up ahead of me so that she can have the cabin emerge from the brush as her own. When I catch up, she is standing, watching. A pileated woodpecker is down low on an old alder working away. Thunk thunk thunk, a colorful crow sized bird throwing large chips of rotten wood. It seems unworried to our presence. We watch.
When our movements become too much, it leaves, flying directly and closely over A and nearly crapping on her. Then we examine and discuss the cabin.
When we move off, we bushwack in a clockwise direction around the DNR hill. I don't expect to get too far, but I want to see the lay of the land farther in this direction. We have a lot of salmon berry thrashing to do, but it does go easier when we can stay under the cedars. Eventually, we begin to follow deer trails up the side of the hill, getting higher than planned, probably within 200 ft of the hilltop. But, we also find that we have an excellent view of the first valley north of the Stillaguamish. It is a perspective of the land that will anchor the wanderings with a reference to the planned world.
We make our way home. We are both tired, but more than that, we are relaxed. We talk about naps, when we talk at all.