I Took My First Breath Today…

…in over two years.

It’s been that long since I’ve gone to the woods. When I lived on the twenty-five acre farm in New York, the woods was literally right outside my door. And go I would…with all the dogs.

When I moved to southeast Michigan, that luxury was suddenly gone. The dogs could run without leashes only in the pastures, and there wasn’t the expanse of unoccupied woods within walking distance that we once had the freedom to roam. Metro parks abound here, but the trails have to be shared with other dogs (and they have to be leashed), bikers and runners.

So today, Leika and I took a walk. It began along a narrow dirt road lined with houses. Some are so close you could stand on the property line and touch the other with an outstretched arm. Others stand maybe fifty feet from their neighbor. We walked to the end of that road and considered what to do. Numerous trucks and cars whizzed by me on the adjoining paved road. I could have turned back right then and there, but something in me urged me to turn right and brave the traffic. Thankfully Leika didn’t mind. We were walking and that was fine by her.

A power line crossed over the road about a mile down. I paused, albeit briefly before cutting into the low brush that quickly opened up to a fairly clear trail. Powerline-8800I unsnapped the leash from Leika’s collar. She looked at me and I said, “Go. Run!” She did a little jump sideways, walked a few steps ahead, turned back to see if I was serious, and then trotted along the trail. Leika on trail-8816

The road ran parallel to the trail, so the traffic noise cancelled out any other sounds I might have heard. I couldn’t even hear the leaves crunching under my boots as I walked, let alone any bird song. As soon as I could, I diverted my direction and moved deeper into the woods. I eventually popped out onto an old logging trail.

Maple, cherry, shagbark hickory, and others interrupted the endless blue sky with their towering, leafless branches above me. A subtle light green aura filled the woods at eye level as infant leaves begin to emerge from their protective buds. I know in a few short weeks this trail will become nearly impassable. The briars will thicken and grow thorny leafed branches, quite like tentacles, that intertwine with one another.  They have no manners and spread into as much space as possible. The tips reach out and grab at clothing and unprotected flesh, quickly drawing blood. The runners on the ground are very adept at tripping up a careless step.

It wasn’t too long before the trees absorbed all noises of human intrusion. Gone were the sounds of engines and tires on the road, replaced by a entirely different living host. The woods. Towhees, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, blue jays, and wrens sang, peeped and flitted on either side of me as I walked. Leika bounced from side to side, exploring, smelling, listening, settling. Leika Point-8818 Cross trail-8803The deeper I walked, the more centered I became. My chest loosened and I took a deep cleansing breath. Gone was the tension, anxiety, and suffocating feeling I’d had for so long. Gone was the claustrophobia, the insecurity of putting one foot in front of the other, and the self doubt. I tipped my head back and inhaled again. In fact once I took that first cleansing breath, I wanted more. It was like a drug I couldn’t get enough of.

A deer bounded from one side of the trail to the other, disappearing just as silently as she appeared. If I hadn’t seen the movement, I would have believed it my imagination. Leika stopped in her tracks and waited for my signal to continue. A quiet rustle was all I heard to the right of me. But I couldn’t be sure if it was the deer or a squirrel picking its way through the brush. I crested and descended an easy hill. The upward rush of wind lifted the hair from my scalp. Eventually I came to a T in the road. The river was just beyond. By then I figured Leika needed a drink, so I climbed over the windfall, slid down a bank and walked the final twenty feet to the bank. While Leika drank, I looked around and saw something white sticking out from a shallow cover of leaves. As suspected, it was a bone. I looked beyond and picked out more. I waited until Leika finished before meandering over to what I discovered to be the final resting place of a doe. The remainder of her skeleton lay nearly intact. Doe skeleton-2

Loud cawing from a murder of crows told me they’d discovered something and were now harassing the living hell out of it. Intent on seeing what it was, I took the southern route. Downed trees crisscrossed the trail. Leika cleared them easily…I had to go around the larger ones, or fling one leg over, followed by the other. Leika Jumping-8820

The closer I got to the white pine tree, the louder the crows got. Whatever was perched deep within the thick needle-filled branches was probably getting nervous with my approach, which enticed the crows to a higher pitch. Suddenly a red-tailed hawk flushed with the black demons right behind it. Silence filled that part of the woods again…even as a solitary brown streaked white feather floated softly to the ground. The Woods-2It was at that point I turned around and followed the same trail back. The sun had warmed  considerably. I tasted salt on my lips from where I’d rubbed the back of my hand against them. Leika’s tongue lolled as she walked ahead of me. Her gait had slowed considerably. Instead of darting around, smelling what she could smell, she took on an easy ground covering trot.Leika smile-8832

On the way back, as is the usual case, I saw things I hadn’t noticed on the way in. A maple tree split by unseen forces, but still clinging to life…
Split Maple-8835Another scattering of deer bones…
Deer Bones-8813

…and I wondered…did the woods seem more alive now than when I first entered? Or was it me?Briar sprout-8836

 

 

 

 

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Positive Lightning

I am proud to announce my latest book, Positive Lightning was released today. Look for your print copy and/or e-book version at BlueFeatherBooks.com, Bellabooks.com or Amazon.com.

 

Kate Winter teaches dog owners how to train their canine companions. During her spare time, accompanied by her Lab, Dakota, she explores the woods and beaches on foot or horseback. She’s worried that something’s happening in her relationship, but she can’t get her girlfriend to talk to her about it.

Faith Hutchins recently lost her sight after a terrible outdoor accident. She’s dealt with anger, depression, and her blindness primarily on her own. A seeing-eye dog would help alleviate her reliance on anyone else, but the guide dog school has been unsuccessful in providing her with one. On a mission to find someone who will train a dog specifically for her, she ultimately zeroes in on Kate.

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice. But positive lightning is notoriously unpredictable and can ignite a fire when and where least expected… no matter who’s in its path.Image

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Some Things That Make me Tick

Fellow author and friend, AJ Adaire, took a particular liking to one of my photos and asked to interview me. Please follow this link to some very intriguing questions and answers.

http://www.ajadaire.com/AJ_Interviews_Laurie_Salzler.phpImage

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Provincetown or Bust

Women’s Week in Provincetown, MA, located out on the far tip of Cape Cod, starts on Columbus Day every year. This year’s dates are October 14th through the 20th.

This will be my second trip out there as a published author. Last year I was proud to have my debut book, A Kiss Before Dawn in hand for everybody to see….including singer, songwriter Cris Williamson.

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My second book, Right Out of Nowhere was released earlier this year and I will be bringing copies of that as well.

So here’s my appearance schedule….but don’t let that keep you from stopping to say hello if you happen to see me wandering around.

Thursday, October 17th:

9:30am. to 11am. The Breakfast Club Readings, Napi’s Restaurant Upstairs, 7 Freeman Street. Bring your breakfast to go and coffee. This group of best selling authors will include Lynn Ames, Marianne Martin, Sally Bellerose, Rachel Spangler, Melissa Brayden, and myself. We’ll be reading from current works and probably telling stories…which may or may not be true. You can never tell with this group.

11:45am. to 12:30pm. The Sage Inn, 336 Commercial Street. The Golden Crown Literary Society Author Chat. Sally Bellerose will be moderating (yeah, right) Rachel Spangler, Karen Badger, ,Sophia Kell Hagin and myself. Bring your questions…we can handle it!

4pm. to 6pm. Fairbanks Inn, 90 Bradford Street. Book signing with Lynn Ames, Rachel Spangler, Sally Bellerose, Marianne Martin, and myself. Bring your books and we’ll sign them…whether we’ve written them or not. I will have books available for purchase.

Friday, October 18th:

10:30am. to 11:15am. Womencraft, 376 Commercial Street. Meet the Blue Feather Books Authors. I’ll be joined by Karen Badger, Gato Timberlake, and debut author, Barb Valletto. Stop by and say hi…there’ll be books for sale, and of course we’ll sign them.

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Hold Them Closer

Four days ago I received a call from a fellow horsewoman.  I met Kate years ago when I bought a horse from her, a dog (Sadie) from her sister, and attended one of her horsemanship clinics. Kate didn’t call to socialize, although in normal circumstances, she is a riot to talk to. We weren’t close, but beyond the above, we did share one very good friend: Jim Lubig.

Jim had been Kate’s farrier for twenty years and mine for seventeen. He was the first man to put a hand on every foal born on this farm. When he first started working on my horses, he had a loud voice and would address the horses in same. But as we slowly crossed the line of a client/farrier relationship into friendship, that changed. He taught me a lot about hoof trimming (he actually supplied me with all of my shoeing tools) and he watched how I treated my horses. His voice suddenly became less boisterous and he had more patience with them.

Kate called to tell me that Jim had had a massive heart attack. His doctors put him in a medically induced coma to prevent further damage to his heart. The news was a shock of course. He’d appeared healthy and full of energy when I’d last saw him.

Over the years, we exchanged Christmas cards, recipes, wild game. On days he was scheduled to do my horses, he more often than not would bring me something he’d cooked up and I’d bring him a mug of coffee to drink in between trimming hooves. He’d get out of his truck and say, “Hi, kiddo!” We used to laugh about how when he was here, it was more therapy for us and he just worked on my horses for something to do while we laughed and talked. He always signed his receipts, “Jim, farrier dude.” I always wrote “client/therapist” on the check memo line.

Today…today Kate called me again….this time to tell me Jim had passed away this morning. We both cried while holding the phones to our ears. We had not only lost an excellent farrier, but a helluva friend.

What the fuck, Jim! You didn’t even give us a chance to say goodbye. If I’d known you weren’t going to be here today for your scheduled appointment, I would’ve given you a hug six weeks ago when you put me on your schedule.

When I ended the call with Kate, I wiped my tears, gathered the dogs and went for a walk in the fields. I realized there was so much I didn’t know about my friend. I never met Pam, his partner of almost twenty years. I’d never been to his house, or invited him for dinner here. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because we always had that scheduled appointment when he’d always show up on time and get me laughing straight away.

Jim taught me a couple of very valuable lessons with his passing. Hold your friends closer and be a better friend and partner. I just wish he hadn’t left this world before I showed him that myself.

Giant Swallowtail-4330

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It’s Not Just US.

I had one of the most wonderful weekends ever. My partner, wife, and bestest friend, Linda and I had an “us” weekend. We kayaked (in brand new boats she surprised me with), read, went to the movies with friends, walked the dogs, napped, went out to lunch, talked, all the while reconnecting. I fell in love with her for about the million gazillionth time.

Laurie in kayak-3119

We were in our own little world, oblivious to what was happening in the far out reaches of humanity…..until I found out that someone I met on Facebook and have grown very fond of was shot. Twice. By a child in Afghanistan. Fortunately the wounds aren’t serious and she is expected to make a full recovery and continue her work in the military.

So while we were relaxing and having fun, she was on patrol, all senses on extreme alert. As we enjoyed our glasses of cold beer and wine, she rationed warm water from a canteen. We lounged in shorts, t-shirts and sandals. She wore a military uniform, helmet and army boots. We sat in air-conditioning. She sweated under a fierce desert sun. We reclined and read books. She held her weapon at the ready with orders to carry it everywhere and sleep with one hand on it. Linda and I were together. She was separated from loved ones. We ate fresh corn-on-the-cob. No doubt she scooped a commercially prepared meal from a can.

Linda and I are only two of the millions who may have spent the weekend having fun and relaxing. At the same time, troops countless miles away worked to stay alert, stay safe, and stay alive. My friend who I fondly call Soldier Girl is one of them.

There are few days where we don’t hear of one of our own having been wounded or killed overseas. But let’s enlarge the picture here. There are several countries who have troops stationed in the Middle East other than the US: France, Italy, Canada, Australia, Poland, Romania, the UK, just to name a few. Each member of those troops, woman or man, is doing the exact same thing. Serving in their country’s military.

I’m not trying to make a political statement. Anybody who knows me, knows I avoid politics like plague. The point I am trying to make is this. True, each of those troops was sent to protect their country. But as a combined entity, aren’t their efforts protecting the world? I believe they are. And for that, I’d like to extend my most heartfelt and humble thank you to Soldier Girl and all the troops, whatever country’s uniform you wear. You’re in my thoughts every single day. Stay safe and watch your back. Bluebird-3752

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Have a listen!

I was a guest on the Liz McMullen show and we talked in detail about Right Out of Nowhere. http://www.thelizmcmullenshow.com/episode25/

Leave a comment on her website for a chance to win a book of your choice.Image

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