In which the deer mock me

Made it through another night, this one easier than the last, partly because I was more tired, partly because I’m getting used to how things sound here, and partly because I was hugely entertained with reading all of the comments on yesterday’s post. It was pretty gripping reading, hearing about the differences in people and how they feel about being alone. To answer a few questions:

1. No. I don’t have a firearm and dude, do I feel good about that.

2. Yes, I thought about bringing the chainsaw and axe into the bedroom, but considering that I don’t know how to use a chainsaw and (as I proved yesterday as I attempted to cut up some wood for the fire) I have no talent for the axe (I hit the log about 1 time out of 10, and even then, never in the same spot) bringing those items into the bedroom only arms the axe murderer. (Who I presume would have not gone into this line of work did he not have pretty mad axe skills.) I left ’em in the shed, where there is at least a locked door between me and them.

3. Yes. I agree. Zombies do not rampage in the freezing temperatures. Far more of a summer risk.

4. Yes. Braving the night and the cold and my fear to see how many stars there are? Totally worth the angst.


I spent the better part of yesterday writing, but was so interested in the woods that I took a bunch of hikes. This place sits on part of the Canadian Shield and the ground is mostly made up of huge rocky outcroppings, crevices and slides. (It’s Precambrian Rock, some of the oldest on earth, been here for somewhere between 4.5 billion and 540 million years.) In the summer, it’s treacherous to walk on, you wouldn’t do it in the dark for sure, and in the wintertime it’s extra dangerous, since the places that are good to walk on are hidden by snow, and so are the bad places. A section that looks like billowy soft snow is actually rocks, and It would be very easy to step into a rocky crevice or off the edge of a big rock with it’s edges disguised by snowdrift.


Luckily for me, this place is filthy with deer (and something else that I keep seeing the tracks of. Maybe bobcat?) and the deer know way more than I do. To walk in the woods I just get on a deer track and don’t step off. I walk where they walk.


I was out several times, because temperatures were so low yesterday that I had to be careful not to be outside for more than 20 minutes. (The weather station actually said 15 minutes, but I didn’t think that they allowed for my layer of alpaca and wool.) I would hike out 10 minutes, then turn around and come back, warm up and try again.

On one walk I tried to make it to a ridge I could see, one that overlooked the river, but I couldn’t go straight there (the deer are apparently not plotting their routes for efficiency.) I stood there in the woods, with the light of the day fading, my feet and cheeks starting to get very cold, and I looked for deer track that would take me where I wanted to go. Over to my left I could see the track of one deer who had gone off on her own, and I stepped off of the broader deer track (it’s like a deer highway there are so many footprints) and went that way. I hadn’t taken more than ten steps when I came to a place where the deer had taken a long stride, and I (with my legs that are not quite as long as a deer’s) stepped between her hoofprints.

Instantly, my leg shot down into a crack in the rock, and in the beat of a heart I’d thrown myself forward (just like if you fall through the ice. LIE DOWN.) and stopped falling. I crawled forward, my heart pounding and looked back at the crack. It wasn’t very big at all and I felt immediately stupid for having been so scared. I sat there for just a few minutes, gathering myself and looked back at the deer track. There, right before the crack, were two deer prints exactly side by side. That’s not a step. That’s a jump. The deer, in her infinite wisdom, had jumped over the crack, and I had failed to notice. I could have easily broken an ankle or gotten my foot caught, which is a bonehead move at the best of times, but could be deadly in temperatures like this.

I picked myself up and brushed most of the snow off so I didn’t get colder faster, and I started to walk back to the house, following the deer track precisely, stepping exactly where they had stepped. As soon as I could, I got back on the big deer track and I stayed there.

Back in the house I made tea and knit for a bit, while I watched night come, and I thought about what it’s like to be isolated like this in weather like this. It just won’t suffer fools, and I can see how it would be pretty easy to kill yourself just by getting lost. I’m sure that given an unlimited amount of time I could always find my way back, but when it’s cold you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to apply your intellect to the problem. If I get lost up here I’ve got twenty minutes to solve the thing and after that it could cost me a toe or two. I think this must make you smart, because if you’re not smart enough to realize that there’s no way to really get the upper hand on nature, then natural selection is going to take you out….


and I’m pretty sure the last thing you’re going to hear is deer laughing at you.

268 thoughts on “In which the deer mock me

  1. Dude, you are so making me want to go to the cottage right now!
    And yes, the deer are not only pretty, they are smart enough to know where the crevices are.
    By the way, I’m glad you’re doing another book of essays. I do think they are my favourites.

  2. You could try tying one end of a skein of yarn to the front door and unwinding it as you go…

  3. Ahhh looks so pretty! I am glad that you are getting some good writing time in. If you have to work it might as well be in a beautiful place.
    Be careful out there!

  4. Perhaps if deer were able to use a camera, they would “kinnear” you in their natural space.I’m certain they would NEVER laugh at you though.

  5. That deer picture is really pretty… but I now have the desperate desire to go shopping for alpaca sock yarn. We’d kind of play the same “follow the deer track” game when we got lost in the woods walking the dog – it was generally a decent way to get around the mud that pervades every part of the Ohio woods that’s not frozen or a paved hiking path πŸ™‚ Apparently even deer are afraid of getting their feet muddy.

  6. I’m pretty jealous right now – even if the deer are mocking you! I want a cabin in the woods! Somehow sitting on my back deck with all the lights out and the dogs snuffling around behind the apple trees doesn’t quite seem the same thing.

  7. Presbytera said: You could try tying one end of a skein of yarn to the front door and unwinding it as you go…
    Just make sure its some really crappy $3 yarn…. πŸ™‚
    Be careful out there. Just as you said…if you misjudge a step and falter, nature wins.

  8. I knew you’d get the hang of it. I’m not really a happy camper-type person (I prefer things like heat & plumbing), but am used to living where it gets really cold, really snowy and there are many deer. Sometimes they come right up to our house and I just bet they laugh when they peek in (especially when they wake the dog, who barks, wakes us, we grumpily tell her to go back to bed, it’s only deer).
    Site to check out:
    Where you can get forecasts for the aurora, I’m pretty sure this qualifies me as a dork.

  9. I think I once heard that deer laugh very quietly. So you’d definitely see the shaking of laughter…but you might not hear them as you died!

  10. It sounds as though you’re calming down and beginning to enjoy yourself. I hope this means the book is coming along.
    By the way, all those paths the deer are making? Those are part of the deer yard. A deer yard means a whole big area where the deer wander, rather than a single flattened area where they stand. So now you can say you walked through a deer yard. . .

  11. Next time use yarn “skat” to mark your trail and remember, the Ents are with you (all around you, towering above you, reacing out with their…never mind, Ents are supposed to be good)!

  12. You had my heart in my throat there. Wow. Have a lovely stay–carefully.
    I still say it would make a great late honeymoon with Joe there, if you can sneak him out there.

  13. @Presbytera
    I can just picture 1400yds of Cherry Tree Hill lace-weight being used as breadcrumbs in the middle of nowhere πŸ™‚

  14. You know you’re safe, though, if the deer are still hanging out. Animals are extremely sensitive to axe murderer scent. So as long as they are keeping you company you are safe. I live in the middle of my 40 acres and my nearest neighbors are quite a long way from me. My husband used to travel all the time and for the last couple of years was only home 6 weeks out of the year. I still love being that alone, and actually, when he came home for good, miss it very much. I guess I kind of got used to doing things my way and not having to cook or any of the things you have to do when there is someone else in the home. Having someone else to snuggle up to on a cold night, well that’s something else entirely!

  15. The first time I visited a friend in the “far north” (Montana) in the winter, I went for a walk in the woods with her 3-yr old daughter, Anna. They had lots of deer around their house and my friend said to just follow the deer tracks. As we went out the door she also said, “Don’t let her eat the raisins.” An odd remark, but I discovered what she meant as we wandered off and I found out that all the trails were marked with raisins in the snow. Anna pointed them out to me and said, “Look raisins, but we can’t eat them.” Your trails have gotten enough fresh snow to cover up the raisins….

  16. I’m laughing my rear off here reading how you’re placing your faith in deer. I spend most of my evening commute dodging them, as they seem to like standing in the middle of the road. The kicker was last year, when a deer ran into my car in broad daylight, backed up, took a good long look at my car, and then ran into it again. Fortunately, we both survived the encounter.
    But geez, only 20 minutes outside? That is seriously cold.

  17. Actually, I think the deer might take exception to your comment that they are not efficient. Just because you wanted to get to the Rocky Outcropping doesn’t mean that they had any interest in it at all. I have a feeling that they took the most direct route to wherever it was that they wanted to go.
    That being said, I always look forward to your posts, but these last two have been especially intriguing. Isn’t it amazing how much we find to do when we’re a million miles from nowhere, alone, and without anything to do?

  18. Deer laughing must be what we hear everytime something is missing from our porch or deck in the late winter and early spring. They will walk right up to the house to eat anything green or that is not covered in snow. They are almost as bad as those thieving squirrels in your “neck of the woods”. And I think Presbytera has something there with tying a skein of yarn to the door so you have a life line back to the house…

  19. Stephanie – it is so much fun to go on these adventures with you. Falling through the snow – reminds me again of hiking in the Adirondacks, up in the High Peaks, where we have to be careful not to fall into wells created by the snow-covered branches of pine trees. Oh, I so envy your walks in the woods! It sounds just beautiful. I think I am going to have to drive out to that nature center and take a walk! Now. If you leave the chain saw and axe in the shed – are you a heavy sleeper? Maybe you will be alerted by someone breaking into the shed?

  20. Solitude helps one to know oneself better, and that’s a really great thing, reflectively speaking.

  21. Be careful in the woods! Deer laughing sounds much like a rapid snort snort, huff snort huf.
    Don’t ask me how I know this.

  22. Your posts are usually funny and educational, but these two last posts are the most exotic thing for me, a person who comes from a country where it seldom snows and lives in another country where itΒ΄s actually summer now.
    I have no idea what kind of cold that is, the one that allows you to stay out 20 minutes max.
    By the way, iΒ΄m now knitting your one-row-scarf. Thank you for the pattern, itΒ΄s both beautiful and easy enough for a novice knitter! πŸ™‚

  23. Hey Stephanie, if you start feeling like its getting too cold for you I found a video on YouTube that might make you feel better: Now THAT’S cold. And the cold would have worked towards your advantage had you broken the ankle…slowing swelling and numbing the foot. Just joking. Please be more careful, we all enjoy reading your stuff…hate to think of you confined to a bed for a couple of weeks while the bones did the knitting. [sorry, couldn’t resist]

  24. Reading about your adventures in the woods is the highlight of my day. I can almost imagine being there. It brings me peace.

  25. When I think of deer laughing I see the demonic deer from Evil Dead. Not so much cute as it is disturbing.
    I would love to see the aerial shot after a knitter has gone on a hike using her yarn as breadcrumbs!

  26. Nothing like a near disaster to make you appreciate a warm little cottage, even in the dark at night! I once fell in a puddle on my way in to work and was laughed at by a chorus of ducks. Humiliation is not the word. Looks very brrrrr, but pretty!

  27. Glad you’re wearing alpaca, it’s good stuff!
    Be careful – stupid mis-steps will be the death of us I say to myself as I think about asking the tractor to do something it shouldn’t. Don’t you find when you ignore the little warning voice either through haste or simple ignorance there’s frequently a steep price to pay? My little voice is a lot smarter than the loud one that usually drives my day.
    Be very careful with the axe too, chopping wood isn’t easy but the wicked cold does make it easier to split the logs. I hope you have an alternate heat source.
    I have to wonder if you’re any where near us although northern Southern Ontario is a big place.
    Be safe,

  28. Glad you made it through another night. I was thinking, too, that it is way too cold for zombies and axe murderers πŸ™‚ Thanks for the crochet lesson earlier this week – I put a crochet seam in my too-slouchy sweater and it gave it the perfect amount of stability. You’re so very clever!

  29. OK, I know this sounds crappy and selfish, but now that I am thoroughly addicted to reading “my harlot” everyday, I would appreciate it if you didn’t run ’round getting yourself frozen!!
    What would I read? Honestly, I’d be lost.

  30. Long time reader, first time commenter. I just wnated to say that I think it is great that you doing this and keeping a record. Dude, to have the opportunity to be in this snowy, wonderful place and able to be clear enough to write. I think it is fantastic.

  31. My daughter is two and keeps asking me what noises different animals make. Now when she asks me what deer say I can tell her, “ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

  32. Lucky you! It looks beautiful (beauty is often treacherous).
    Just don’t open the door in your underwear (the cold should help you remember this one). The ax murderer always goes after the girl in her underwear. I am one for scaring myself terribly so I have all the thwart-the-ax-murderer-rules memorized.

  33. God, I’m so jealous now! Lived in the Arctic and sub-arctic for years. Now I’m really ‘home-sick’. Once you get the north and cold in your blood, you’re never the same. Enjoy it while you can! Oh, and the deer…I’m a vegan, but if they laugh at you too much, feel free to eat them. They are nothing if not yummy (what…you didn’t think I was a vegan up north, did you???)

  34. I’ve travelled around the Canadian Shield in Northern ON. Have you seen any inukshuks? I seem to recall them all over! I’m really enjoying reading about your adventures. Do you have a car up there with you?

  35. I’ve been vicariously enjoying snow through your photos this winter since New York has only had one serious snowfall thus far. There is still hope, though. Your solitary writing in the cabin adventure is painting images of The Shining in my mind – if you start seeing twin girls get in the car fast!

  36. After pondering the idea of alone time I have decided that it would be great, but mine would have to be on an isolated beach somewhere on the Gulf of Mexico. Probably Cape San Blas Florida.
    Snow is for looking at, not going out in.

  37. Hmmmm… I imagine if you made a trail of breadcrumbs with which to find your way home, you’d turn around and there’d be a whole gang of deer following you licking up the crumbs! Be careful, Harlot, we need you safe and sound, with all ten toes. :O)

  38. Stephanie, pretty please stay on the deer roads. Your blog is one of my days’ bright spots. I lived for a time in the interior of BC, and remember snow like that. Lots of bobcat tracks too. Beautiful but chilly, mighty chilly. Makes that wood fire all the more pleasant.

  39. OK city girl, listen up.
    First, the 15-20 mins maximum is not only for your outsides ( I agree, alpaca was born for this), but also for your insides. Lungs freeze. With or without outer insulating layers.When I used to run in the mornings, I’d breathe thru a scarf; not much help, but it does do something. Aside from allowing me to inhale my daily fiber allotment on the go.
    following deer tracks would be fine, but they often have a different game plan than you- and in deep snow that can land you in deep sneakers, as you discovered. Did you notice that you left tracks as you walked? that by definition you were making your own breadcrumb trail in the snow?
    You scare me. Please don’t venture out until the book is finished. It would be bad enough if it were posthumous; let it not be incomplete as well!
    Seriously, have fun, but be careful. Where you are is gorgeous (maybe you can trade again in the summer?) but enjoy it with care.

  40. Don’t feel stupid for the scare! There’s no telling how big the crack was, and you played it safe!
    Keep up the faith! You can master this alone time… it may be a while until you get more!
    Thanks for the great pictures. For a moment, I can get lost in it and forget about everything else… then reality comes flooding back, but I’m thankful for the moment.

  41. I bet that hot tea hit the spot after following deer tracks in the cold! Be careful! I’d really miss your blog and books if anything happened to you. Seriosly, stay on the deer tracks.

  42. I think I know just how you felt when you stepped into the crevice. Sometime when you have 20 minutes, I’ll tell you about the time I stepped over a rattlesnake while I was hiking alone. Ice and snow are never a problem in LA, but we have other challenges.
    Enjoy the rest of your solitude, and say “Hi” to the stars for me.

  43. That is beautiful. I am so jealous. Here in Seattle, it is almost not coat weather any more. I love snow and cold. And alone.
    I don’t have any snow stories as scary as falling through invisible cracks, but once when my cousins lived up in the foothills of the Cascades, we decided to go for a picnic. We were all wearing shorts and hiked about 45 minutes up. About 30 minutes into it, it started to rain and the smart cousin decided to head back before the weather got bad (She actually just got into Berklee!). But we kept hiking and it started to snow as we got to our picnic spot. We were determined to have our lunch, so we sat in the falling snow at the base of an uprooted tree in our shorts and ate our sandwiches before heading back. The hills there were almost all clear-cut so the snow fell right on us, too. There were already a few inches of snow on the ground by the time we got back. And we must have snuck back in because I don’t remember even getting in trouble. I got lost in the snow with those guys a couple times when I was little. I guess we weren’t too bright when we got together.

  44. Stephanie.
    Showshoes,girl. Showshoes. Trekking poles.
    What good Canadian or Alaskan (in my case) doesn’t have snowshoes to avoid moments like these? πŸ˜‰

  45. Finally, finally I got my Street Smart book! If I were there, I’d totally have my MH cardigan done in six days. Want some company? I’ll bring wine, chocolate, and I won’t even bother you while you write. I’ll just throw logs onto the fire.

  46. LOOOOOOOOOng time lurker here, but I am SO enthralled with these Stephanie-in-the-wild episodes I just had to comment!
    Doncha know… you not cannot miss one day of posting now, or we’ll all be in fear that you’ve wandered off a deer track and broken your ankle and ….. well, you can just let our imaginations wander from there. Please – Be sure to post daily, or more often, so we know we don’t have to send out Search and Rescued.
    PS – you are the bravest person I “know” ;o)

  47. You should hear the guffaws of deer at the end of hunting season. Sort of a “ha ha we won and you’re the smarty pants with the powerful rifle” kind of thing.

  48. Oh Steph you are a dear! bwhahaha
    I just returned to town from our farm in the woods, now mind you they’re not Canadian woods and not nearly so cold. By tonight you should have the darkness as a friend. And if so, take a few minutes outside in the dark – bundle up like a maniac but do it. You’ll love it as much as the day or maybe more.
    Share a bit of yourself – toss out a few bright pieces of yarn while your visiting, in a few days you may spot it in a birdnest.
    Oh and if there’s scratching at night – not zombies – just mice. Or raccoons. Or skunks.
    Have a tranquil getaway. Solitude can be addictive. Maybe the dude will need another record made next year. Or maybe it can be a seasonal retreat???

  49. You need to be careful what you post. If we don’t see a post from you every day there’s going to be a lot of people thinking you have fallen down a hole.
    I feel very envious of your surroundings at the moment but I don’t think I would be getting my excercise out doors if I was there. Tooooo cold. Brrrrr!

  50. listen to your inner voice.
    that’s what i learned when i was doing hardwood for a living… listen to the whisper, and take breaks to re-think.
    it sounds like you’re doing much better!

  51. Wow, that’s a cool thing to know about deer trails. Don’t you feel like Sacajawea? I have to bundle up and go climb the hill to fill my bird and squirrel feeders. But since I’m walking across snow covered lawn I won’t be watching for any ankle breaking crevices. Your visit to the big ALONE has inspired me to spend the day in my office/bedroom with the door closed to pretend my husband’s not in the kitchen watching television and eating popcorn. Smells good though.

  52. These last two posts are extraordinary. You are so fortunate in so many ways, but you already knew that, yes?

  53. I have some fairly mad axe skills. Not good enough to give up the day job and take up axe murdering as a career, mind you.

  54. Ah, yes, falling through ice. Been there, done that. Again with the Minnesota memories! Despite (because of?) the danger, that sounds like an awesome working vacation you’re having. Are you reading Thoreau? (
    Your post reminds me of something a friend said about Amsterdam. Everyone there rides bikes with little bells on them. He said if you step into the street without looking, that “ching-ching” will be the last thing you hear before you die!

  55. I’m sure the deer are just jealous of all the knitting/writing time. Be careful and enjoy your retreat.

  56. Okay, yesterday I wasn’t at all worried about the bump-in-the-night stuff, although I did feel sorry you were having an uncomfortable adjustment to your temporary digs. BUT. Today, as soon as you mentioned “proving” that you don’t know how to use a chainsaw, the hair went up on the back of my neck. Then when you got to the part about stepping between the deer tracks, I said something maybe not blog-able right out loud, before you even got to the part about your foot going into the gap. Dude. You are SO RIGHT about the absolute necessity of using your head to prevent things from going badly – there just aren’t many other options. C’est tout.
    Be careful, willya? oh wait. I’ll say something frontier-sy.
    “Keep yer powder dry.”

  57. That’s great — I can imagine the Ontario Mounties or Forest Rangers or Search and Rescue personnel or whomever is in charge of bailing out city folk in the woods, getting hundreds of phone calls and e-mails from all over the world: “She hasn’t blogged today; you’d better go find her. Look for the laughing deer.”
    Actually, the Laughing Deer sounds like a pub — a nice one, too, with wood paneling.

  58. Deer secretly laugh at people all the time.
    The university I work at has many deer, the other day I slipped and almost fell on some black ice. I looked at where I would have landed had I fallen and there was a pile of deer poo. I am sure they were waiting in the woods for someone to fall and land. Very sneaky animals.

  59. I absolutely LOVE your blog! I save it for last everyday because it is my favorite! I feel your cold…I just went to Quebec City and spent the night in the Ice Hotel where it was 15 degrees in our room.
    I don’t know if I could stay 5 nights THAT alone…but one or two sure would be great. I will stay out here in cyberspace and keep you company.

  60. Okay, when you see that all you have typed is pages and pages of “All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl” don’t go and get the axe out of the shed.
    I think you need to be worried about Jennifer of Vintage Sock Fame – Dude, she is seriously swamped. The least you could do is head on over her way and help her dye up some of the bajillion or so pounds of yarn she has coming. I am sure she’d appreciate it, especially since I got an email today letting me know it was all your fault! πŸ˜‰
    Stay warm, stay sane and keep writing!

  61. It’s days like the one you describe (we live in Minnesota) that I think, why in the name of all that is holy did anyone settle here?!? And why did I, a fairly smart person with access to weather reports, averages, and history, move myself here?
    And yet, I stay. Way more opportunities to wear the wool.

  62. Joe must be freaking out reading this, because I sure am! Yikes! Be careful, girl!
    It sounds like heaven except for the almost getting killed part, though.

  63. Your lack of success with an ax may be dependent on the type of ax you have. If you’re trying to cut wood with a splitting ax, you’re really going to struggle.
    If you’re splitting, which I’m certain you can do, look for a sledge hammer. Wedge the ax into the grain, then hit the back with the hammer. Always focus your eyes on the spot you want to hit, not the ax or the hammer.

  64. Oh, Bravo! Well done, adventurer. Now about that writing project… “What writing project?” you ask??

  65. Thank you for the lovely photos and equally lovely prose describing your experience. Also, thank you for not damaging yourself while taking the short hikes.

  66. First rule of winter hiking/cross country skiing is supposed to be don’t go alone. OK so I ognore that one too. But after having the cr.p scared out of me in my wilderness first aid course, I take a small daypack with a water bottle, space blanket, my tiny camp stove and fuel (and a lighter), a pot to heat the water in, some hot chocolate mix and jello mix, a cup, and some munchies, chocolate filled trail mix is good, just in case.
    I’ve never needed it for an emergency, but a hot cup of chocolate in the snow surrounded by the quiet woods is really wonderful.

  67. I am glad that you are using your womanly common sense and staying safe where it is so cold. I have taken lots of classes on hypothermia, frostbite, mountain rescue, etc. and have had more than one male lecturer admit that many people have gotten into trouble in the snow and cold because they let their male egos get in the way of using their common sense.
    I also just read an article in the Boston Globe about how New Hampshire is hoping to change the current law about charging people for their own rescue so that it will apply to more fools who go charging up the mountains badly prepared and then end up in some kind of trouble (GPS and cell phones don’t work very well with all that rock in the way).
    But our Harlot is too smart and too busy writing and knitting for that to happen.

  68. city living and country living take whole different sets of skill (you are a wise woman to know some of each.)
    Speeding cars, downed power lines, grade level crossing of RR’s… all of these are killers –just as cracks and creaves are.
    I like the idea of country all lot more than i like the reality.. and while i don’t fear zombies or ax murderers, i am scared of the pitch black of deep country. if you stay up late enough, you can go out by the light of waning moon…(but me, i always have a flashlight with me.. and frequently extra batteries, and i live in a night light rich NYC!

  69. You could always keep a few knitting needles tucked just under the mattress for SPIKING the intruders during the night. could run some crappy feather yarn across the room from side to side..up and down from the window to the a spider web…trap em before they can reach you in the bed with the knitting needle at the ready !

  70. Can you imagine what it what like for those first Pioneers that came to settle in early Upper/Lower Canada years. (Catherine Parr Trail, Susanna Moodie).
    Happy Pioneering? Keep warm, write lots,

  71. I speak from sad, shivery experience when I assure you that having frostbitten toes only makes one appreciate hand-knit socks all the more. And felted slippers. So, see? You’d be set. However, the whole -getting- frostbite bit is completely sucky, and the sensitivity to cold that comes afterwards would mean you’d have to forever yield in the furnace wars! Can’t have that, so stay well-bundled and warm.
    (Deer are usually too self-absorbed to laugh. The raccoons, though, they’ll heckle you for days…)

  72. Dude. At least you are smart enough to follow the deer. Lots of city slickers wouldn’t even get that far. Take a photo of the non-deer tracks. I might be able to tell you what they are (oh, and measure length and width too).

  73. Oh but these are some of the themes I love in Canadian literature. There’s cold and snow, and then there’s cold and snow. I’m going to sound like an uber geek here, but have you ever read _Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (Clarendon Lectures in English Literature)_ by Margaret Atwood? Maybe not the best reading material while you’re alone in an isolated cabin surrounded by north that at times seems malevolent, but… well… I thought it was enjoyable, anyway. And then I decided that yes, I really DID need to go back to school for that English degree.

  74. Oh man… I did something similar last weekend– right up to my hip in snow by stepping off the trail. At least I had snowshoes on. And I was stepping off the trail to get out of the way of snowmobile riders, so I wasn’t going to freeze to death.
    Do you have snowshoes? They’re lots of fun…

  75. The deer may be laughing, but take comfort in knowing that the AXE MURDERERS would be far too stupid to walk where the deer tread… so they would die in the woods, not you! πŸ˜€ Enjoy the moment. πŸ™‚

  76. GAHHHHH!! God, I would have peed myself all the way down in abject terror. Perception Of Death doesn’t care how tiny the crack is.
    That’s some old rock. Also, between 540 million and 4.5 billion years? Hell of a margin.

  77. I agree with the person above me: ax murderers are too dumb to walk in the deer tracks. And if it makes you feel any better, you can knit, you can drive a car, and you can eat the damned deer, except you choose not to. The deer? Gets to eat shoots, leaves, and grass and very little else.

  78. I’m sorry to break this to you, but you know while zombies are more of a summer’s thing, vampires like dark and don’t mind the cold. And werewolves should enjoy the wilderness too.
    (Yep. I’m afraid of the dark. What do you mean by “too much roleplaying”?)

  79. Oh my! Your nature commentary was way too funny. Sorry, didn’t really mean to laugh at you, more like laughing with you. And deer don’t laugh out loud, they give you a mocking stare, then bend back to eat the tender leaves off of your carefully tended roses while the dogs act like nothing is happening. I think the deer pay off the dogs to look the other way. These are dogs who protect us from butterflies and bees, but not deer.

  80. The deer will be laughing richly because they will know that you said the land was filthy with them. They will be arch.
    Luckily you are way too smart for them.

  81. I am with all others, no Popsicle-Harlot please. Snowshoes and limited time outside, close to cabin, sounds good to me. Through last night I was thinking of you up there…can you imagine all the good wooly energy surrounding that cabin from your readers. I lived in snow for awhile and I do miss all the planning and interaction it required. One felt alive.

  82. Hi Stephanie, I thought you had something being published in March; is this so or is it my imagination?
    Love your blog; I found it after you had an article published in the Toronto Star. And now you are world-famous! a girl from little old TO.

  83. There is a difference between “alone” and “lonely”. Alone is quiet; a cup of tea; knitting with the cat in your lap; eating what you want for dinner; even going out to dinner alone; a fine bottle of wine; ignoring the phone. Lonely is a fast food meal washed down with a 6-pack of cheap beer followed by hours of TV watching waiting to be tired enough to sleep, jumping up when the phone rings and talking to sales people.
    I treasure my alone time. I also like time with friends and family. Both times nourish me – but the alone time feeds my soul.
    My ideal cabin in the woods would also have to have some sort of delivery system to make sure all my internet yarn purchases arrived.

  84. Think about how really abysmally stupid your behavior has to be, for something that has a brain the size of a walnut to snigger at you.
    (Because it *is* sniggering. Quietly but audibly.)

  85. Glad to see the Yeti and Zombies didn’t get you…. and you’re right don’t let the pretty “doe eyes” fool you- deer are not like dolphins they do not come upon poor struggling hikers and help them ashore or home…
    They laugh hysterically and then turn to run— the last thing you see? Their bright white tail – the deer equivelent of flipping you the bird.
    Stay warm- wear knits- be well;)
    PS will send you sock yarn and tea if you take a pic of yourself, outside doing yoga while knitting in the snow. (bundled up- of course) Cause I can just about picture it– )

  86. Thing one: this whole series of entries makes me ache for backpacking in Ontario…Lake Superior Provincial park has a lot of the Canadian Sheild geography…and I ache for it right now. But maybe not enough to brave the cold. πŸ™‚
    Thing two: Bobcat tracks might be as large as your palm or larger, no claws. If you see claws it is more likely a wolf (if palm sized or larger) or coyote (if small like a domestic dog).
    Not that you needed to think about wolves while alone up there in the woods…..

  87. That walking is much easier if you are wearing snowshoes. So did you have on snowshoes or just hiking shoes?
    Enjoy your solitude but do be wary of those other tracks. Could be something that likes to eat the deer, you know.

  88. And I had just been thinking, based on your last post, about how “maybe a 14K round trip hike to town wouldn’t be so bad if I wanted the exercise and fresh air”, except then with the tripping and deer-mocking factor, I might think twice πŸ˜‰
    The “zombies as summer risk” think is going to make me laugh for a while.

  89. I don’t know what the Canadian Shield is, but it does not sound like it is there to protect you. I am from then middle of the US, so it’s not my fault I am not up on my Canadian geography.
    Thanks for the survival tip, I didn’t know falling down could help you, but it makes such perfect sense. Just think of all the lives you saved today!

  90. hey stephanie!
    sounds like you need a walking stick. find a dead tree branch or better yet, a whole dead sapling tree. break off or saw off branchlets and cut it to length, a bit longer than you are tall. hold it by the thicker end. use it to probe in front of you when you go out walking. you’ll find the crevasses and soft spots before they find you. use it for balance and stability.
    i’ve spent a lot of time alone in the woods. it was a bit eerie at first, but when i realized i had everything i needed to stay alive and secure, i found it very satisfying.

  91. Didn’t Goldie Hawn use a knitting needle on an intruder in Foul Play? Stephanie, you need GPS! or the navigation system usually available on your cell phone. Great photos and it’s so interesting and humerous to read your thoughts on being “lonely” after all the posts about needing peace and quiet! Your blog makes the day brighter.

  92. Next time out, please bring your cell phone – I hope it’s dual mode, you’re more likely to be on analog up there.
    Like I say to my friend who camps solo in Algonquin Park – bring the cell phone and a GPS, you’re only one broken or badly sprained ankle away from dieing of exposure.
    Love your deer photo – I spent most of my 6th year drawing deer, right after I read Felix Salten’s Bambi.

  93. Dude, when the deer are laughing at you, it’s time to stay inside!!!
    (Okay…from my temperate little corner of the world, it’s just wierd to think of weather like that…just crazy silly weird!!!!)

  94. I just got home, so haven’t read the comments yet, but I’m sure some of them probably go like this: Please don’t get too exploratory out there in the woods. The deer are friendly, but whatever made those other footprints probably aren’t (and may be ravenously hungry after hibernation.) You are welcome to visit my website,,to read about my experiences last summer with deer at my cottage. I so envy you your peace and solitude, and I imagine your hands typing, knitting or wrapped around a warm mug of tea. Enjoy.

  95. I’m sorta surprised that your pesky squirrels haven’t followed you to your snowy, wintry retreat! I mean, you’re alone in the woods—perhaps not as well-armed as you are in town with your crafty defense mechanisms….perhaps that’s why the deer are laughing–they know the squirrels are coming!
    Seriously, you do realize as others have said you must, must, must post daily so we don’t tie up the Canadian Mounties and all Search and Rescue teams as they look for you! I think however we’re all telling you–make sure you write about this in your book! Which of course we can’t wait for!

  96. thank you fro some perfect examples for my English class on the conflict of Man/knitter v nature.
    Now if you could just go a bit mad then i could also incorporate man v himself or at least man v society.

  97. Haven’t seen it mentioned, but you’re carrying your cell phone when you go hiking, right? (Assuming you can get service out there.) Following the deer tracks is excellent, and I’m glad you came to no harm trying to cross the “empty” space. I’m envious of your idyllic location, and getting out in the snow even a little bit can help chase away cabin fever. I hope you’re able to enjoy the silence and solitude, and fulfill your intended writing quota.

  98. Welllllllll, I do think I’d like to be that alone – for awhile. I do think it would be erie for awhile, but I tend to be a loner (don’t tell my husband that). It is definitely beautiful.
    Remember when you’d have to wait until you got home and THEN wait until the processor finished your prints before you’d have photos like that? Wow!
    Enjoy yourself and try to be easy, girl!

  99. Oh.DEAR.DEER. Whatever. Please be careful.
    You would be so terribly missed by not just family and friends but crazy Internet Knitters!

  100. What an adventure! Good for you for getting out in the woods despite the cold — and for being careful. I love the woods in the winter.

  101. Snowshoes or not? The picture almost looks like you were wearing them.
    I am so jealous of being in a cabin in the middle of the woods in the snow. Alone or not, it would be a dream come true!

  102. Enjoy that lovely cabin. As a person of Scandinavian heritage, I can smell the fire and look for the sauna! Thanks for sharing, and giving us another reason to snuggle into our knitted wonders!

  103. Stephanie, when dusk is falling is the very best time to see deer moving. They bed down during the day and eat or move largely in the evening or as the sun is rising. Dawn and dusk are their favourite times.
    You can hear a deer call if you know what to listen for. Form your lips as if you are going to say the word ‘who’, and and expel air in a short sharp burst. Very short very sharp burst of air.
    This is the call they make when they are saying ‘watch for the idiot knitter, she walking off the well marked path’ (their language is short and concise)(Not that anyone would consider you an idiot knitter, but, they’re deer, and don’t have the digits to knit. They are jealous).
    Once you make the sound yourself a few times, you’ll start picking it up there in your quiet world.

  104. Out here in the Outback, people who get lost would kill for all that snow. Instead they dehydrate and end up as dessicated corpses in the middle of the desert. (Probably still clutching their knitting.Only it would be cotton, not alpaca.)
    I can’t imagine being in a place where you would only have 20 minutes before you were in serious trouble. I’m amazed that anyone survives in climates like that. I’m from a temperate zone, myself. In the bush, we follow wombat trails to avoid the drop bears falling on us or the hoop snakes getting us.)

  105. I have a sneaking suspicion you’re not working as much on the book as you thought you would. But just in case the guilt is starting to get to you, any woman who has 3 teenaged girls, a work-at-home husband, and keeps the schedule you do, deserves a time of solitude. Enjoy! You’ll make the deadline anyway and you’ll have these 6 days to think back on while “the critic” is stomping through your brain later.

  106. wow you are a very brave woman! i could not stay on my own in the middle of nowhere. but then i am ridiculously scared of things like that……enjoy your stay and take good care when you go out, mara

  107. Almost forgot to add that I hope this just reinforces to you how much we all love your blog! I agree with the others who’ve written that this is my favorite blog I read. Period. Hands down! Can’t wait til you’re back in the Seattle in April!!!!

  108. I’m enjoying your adventure so much!! Can’t wait to read your post everyday. I’ve always wanted to try a few days away like you’re doing but think I would be scared crapless!!! You are so very brave!!!

  109. Deer are diabolical. You just can’t tell cause they have Disney’s Bambi eyes. And they eat everything in sight, you know, like the chard that was for dinner. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you weren’t hurt and know enough about the cold to respect it.

  110. Next time you go out make yourself a walking stick, so when you “have” to go “off road” (you know you will, we all do :-P) you can test the ground as you go. Let’s see those deer do that! Although that might be what they’re up to out there at night, just so they’ll look all psychic in the morning.
    First time commenting, so I have to note that I read your blog daily and love it dearly.
    Greatings from California!

  111. When you go for a walk, take a walking stick with you to poke holes in the snow when/if you go off trail again.
    Looks like a lovely place to be.

  112. No, no – don’t use yarn for your back trail – those thieving little squirrels will follow along behind you, and take it all for bedding just to prove they’re smarter than you. πŸ™‚
    Seriously, I’d give a lot to have that much alone time. I haven’t figured out how to break it to DH, whom I love *very much*, that a vacation without *anyone* would be a big help in keeping me sane.
    The best description I ever heard to rationalize that kind of retreat is “my people-bucket is full.”
    Relish the feelings – all of them – and get reacquainted with the silence and yourself. It’s all too rare an experience, these days.
    Be safe.

  113. Ohhh, I’m jealous – I’d love to be out in the woods. And it may well have been a bobcat. There was just an article in the Chicago Tribune the other day that bobcats have actually been spotted in southern Wisconsin (ie within 100 miles of Chicago). So surely they’re up by you. When I was a tiny girl (in the 50’s), I went up to the North Woods area of Wisconsin for vacations with various relatives – usually 5 or 6 adults & a similar number of children. One time (I was about 4Β½ or 5), we got there after dark (during the summer but, pre-expressways it took a very long time to get there from Chicago) & the men went out to fish (I think it’s good after dark in the summer), leaving the women & children to unpack. The cabin we were renting was on the side of a hill – door in the front faced downhill toward the lake & the windows opposite were at ground level. One of the women said something to the effect of “What are those guys doing goofing around shining that flashlight in the windows like that – trying to scare us?” Just then the guys came in the door. Yep, it was a bobcat looking in the window at us -its’ eyes reflected the light (lantern since the cabin had no electricity or indoor plumbing) & looked just like flashlights. We kids thought it was really neat! We also loved watching the racoons try to get at the trash & a highlight of our vacation each year was to go to the dump & watch the bears. It was especially fun when they climbed on top of peoples’ cars (there were always several cars full of folks watching the bears.) And there are coyotes in the Chicago area (actually they have been sighted along the Lakefront in the heart of the city.) Good to see nature fighting back!

  114. You have any Screech up there with you? I’d need a big shot of Screech after *that* crevice falling adventure. Stay safe!

  115. When I was a teenager, my dad would take me bow hunting with him when we lived in Michigan. I was pretty sure that I was emotionally incapable of shooting anything, but it was fun being in the woods with Dad. Anyway, one day in the afternoon he plunked me down in a spot and then went off. I sat there really still, and after a while I suddenly saw a buck. He was too far away and too obscured by brush to take a shot at (bow hunters are much smarter than gun hunters, and won’t just take a pot shot at anything that moves because good arrows cost upwards of $8 each), and I wasn’t much inclined to shoot him anyway, as I mentioned before. Then I started hearing this grinding noise, somewhat like metal grinding. I sat watching this buck and wondering if we were somewhere near a wrecking yard, and when it was getting too dark to see my dad came up and the buck ran away. Apparently Dad only been about 30 yards away in a spot where he could keep an eye on me. I asked him what the noise had been, and he said that the buck had been aware that there might be something around the spot where I was, but wasn’t exactly sure so he was hissing at me to see if he could startle me into moving and giving myself away. Up until that moment I hadn’t been aware that deer made any kind of noise.
    Fun fact: If you find a hoof print, draw a line around it, following the contours. If it makes a heart shape, it’s a deer. If it makes a circular shape, it’s a wild pig. Of course, I don’t know if you have any wild pigs in your area.
    If you were in the States, I would warn you not to carry anything white into the woods with you either. Hunters have been shot pulling out a white hanky to blow their noses, because some dumb-ass mistook it for a deer flag (white-tailed deer use their white tails to signal each other). I know Canada has stricter gun laws, so I don’t know if you have that sort of problem.

  116. Thanks for sharing that (even at the risk of a stern cyber scolding) it was scary yet funny =) I think it’s amazing that the deer have the area so memorized that they know when to jump something you can’t see. (why are we at the top of the food chain again?)

  117. 4.5 billion years old! Sounds like (yup, BAD joke coming) an excellent running mate for the Republican ticket here in the U.S. (hey, Jon Stewart started it when he said that Oscar was 80 and that made him the front runner for the Republican nomination).
    Your story about the walk immediately made me think of Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.” Ack.

  118. What about the Northern Lights? That was always my pay off when I had to bundle up and trudge out to the outhouse at 35 below in Fairbanks. Wish they had a warning system so they would wake you up when they are dancing.
    Enjoy the peace.

  119. I love the Canadian Shield for it’s crazy landscape, but I have never seen it in the winter. I follow animal tracks with students a lot in the winter time and it’s great fun. I love being able to follow how the animals move through the landscape and see how they navigate obstacles and what things they are drawn to.
    On the mystery tracks you were wondering about; If the prints are circular shaped, and have no claw marks it is probably a cat. If the prints are big and the hind foot is elongated (more like a human foot print) it could be a bear, if it has a roundish shape but all the prints have clawmarks in them then it’s likely some sort of dog or coyote if they’re in that area. Another thing to look at is the pattern of the tracks, a cats hind feet will usually step into the same place as their front feet so you only see one set of tracks and the pattern is similar to the one humans leave behind when they walk.
    If you’re really curious (or just you know, bored) there’s a fabulous website on identifying tracks here.

  120. You should take a picture of the other print. I’m in a wildlife class on carnivores, and it would be really cool to see what is tracking the deer!

  121. Please tell us that your pockets at least are stuffed with survival type stuff. And I am not talking yarn. Matches, candle, whistle, power bar, water bottle, dare we hope for cell phone. And even better, a little pack that will hold even more. Be a good scout.

  122. Good grief woman!! Take care of yourself…it was awful when you went so long after the Vintage sock i-cord/leaf episode to blog…we’ll go freakin’ crazy now if you don’t post every day!!

  123. She says: “If I get lost up here I’ve got twenty minutes to solve the thing and after that it could cost me a toe or two.” I’d say you have an equal chance of it costing you a finger or two. I know you could get voice recognition software for the blog, but knitting, well it may take a while to get the speed back up. You be careful out there!

  124. For what it’s worth, I think you are pretty darned smart to have figured out that it’s best to follow the deer tracks in the first place.
    Also, I just thought you’d like to know that this adventure of yours is making for some gripping blog reading. Really, this is my favorite series of Harlot posts in a long time. I’ll be tuning in tomorrow! Be careful out there.

  125. Diane gave you the Aurora forecast site–in Interior Alaska, there are many nerds, including me. We even call each other on the phone to say Go Outside Now and look at the sky!
    You didn’t say how cold it was. πŸ™ We just put on more clothing, Bunny Boots, balaclavas–more and more wool! Thank goodness for Ibex, Smartwool, IceBreaker–so I don’t have to knit my own tights, too! My dogs need the walk, even at -40 and below… A person could stay out all day as long as they’re moving.

  126. I think you need to feed the deer a treat for helping to take care of you! Without their tracks you couldn’t take even a mini-hike outside that cabin. Do be careful, but… it sounds as if you’ve had your warning already in a more attention-getting way than I can express.

  127. Here’s my smart deer story for you. Besides knowing where to step (I mean, what is that?? Sonar or something??) I also think they know morse code. I went off a road and was dangling by a guard rail into a ditch where nobody could see me. I was there for two hours, basically bleeding to death, but totally awake and alert. Finally a deer came right up to the window of the car, and so I blinked “go get help” to him/her, a few minutes later, someone finally spotted the car πŸ˜‰
    Maybe deer are psychic.
    PS…glad you are okay and still have all yer toes.

  128. See, what you need to realize is that to deer, “efficient” translates to “don’t fall down the big crack between here and there”. Just a slightly different perspective, that’s all. Stay safe!!

  129. I am reminded of a line from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ – but with the words changed a little.
    “Tell me, Stephanie – have the deer stopped laughing?”

  130. Dear City Girl,
    It is not the outside which usually freezed first-it can be your lungs(why heart patients wear masks in freezing weather) so even if your outside is encased in alpaca or Quiviet your lungs can be damaged. Also, deer are not cute cuddley little animals. They have sharp hooves which can kill-antlers too but those have fallen off by now. They are beautiful from afar only.
    They also eat everything in site!!! Farmers hate them as do many people who live in the country.
    We feed our herd corn in the winter and keep a spot open on our pond for them to drink from but they still suck the birdfeeders dry, eat our bushes and plants and make a mess of the grass.
    Because we love watching them,we put up with the critters but most farmers will tell you a deer can eat an acre of corn in a day!
    Be careful hiking in unfamiliar areas. Take water-if you get lost don’t eat snow(brings your temp down ) and stay on the deer trails to make sure you can find your way back.
    Our deer actually go on the tracks my husband keeps up for the four wheeler-they are so lazy they don’t make their own.
    And there is nothing more beautiful than fresh snow in the country-pristine,white,fluffy and I have had enough of it this year,thank you very much!!!!!!!!!!

  131. You’re certainly onto something with the phrase “nature doesn’t suffer fools”. No she doesn’t. We should all take a page from Mother Nature’s book more often.

  132. I’m from Minnesota and hate cold weather so after shivering along with you on your hike for a bit, I decided to change the season to late spring but soon I was madly swatting at mosquitoes and black flies. Forget that! So I switched your whole adventure to a South Sea Island. Yikes! Bugs of all descriptions. Creepy crawly things that I just don’t care for. I guess everyone’s idea of paradise has a snake in the grass somewhere. Now where’s that cabana boy when I need him? And forget the drink. He can bring me about 1400 yds. of buttery-soft yarn on a silver platter, please.

  133. You go grrrl! Very clever thinking to watch and follow the deer tracks. I have been camping in some remote areas but never alone. I have stayed at our cabin in the Adirondacks alone but not in the midst of heavy winter. At that cabin the electricity fails with every storm so we tend to stay home until the weather gets more stable. At least in warmer months I don’t need to worry about heat. You are doing so well. The first night is always the hardest. And all that quiet beauty is splendiferous to watch and have around you. BTW deer don’t laugh at others. I believe that is strictly a human trait. Namaste, Susan

  134. Just think, the ax murderer would have to hike all the way over there to attempt murder. Though from horror movies, they’re pretty hard working at what they do.
    Is it just me that finds “time alone” ironic when you have so many comments? Or even wilderness with an internet connection? Life sure is good. Tell me you packed some Peets.

  135. I moved from NYC to Northern Maine (pop. 75) when I was 24 yrs. old. I lived completely alone with not tv, radio, etc. I made a friend with a guy who had a stash of old Japanese movies. I know what you mean by really alone. What I would say, is this (in hindsight) became a really important time in my life. I believe there is an important reason why the Native Americans and no doubt Canadians made a solitary journey part of the rite of passage. We are so constantly bombarded with technology that it becomes soul sucking. Of course (also in hindsight) I often rationalized the chance of bear or psycho attack as being really really low. My parents were so worried when I moved to NYC but so relieved when I moved to the wilderness! Fear is bad!

  136. how scary to fall like that! Your writing about being in the woods (and getting to know what’s out there) is so fantastic. I really wish I were out in the woods too.

  137. I’ll continue the echo of “please be careful” and definitely reinforce the idea of a walking stick. Forget Thoreau, you are in serious Darwin territory.
    As for the cold, the old Mainers where I grew up used to say that when you breathed in through your nose, it was “cold enough to make your boogers crispy.”

  138. Glad also that you are ok and that you are, like any sensible far north person, are giving the cold the respect it deserves.
    Until today we’ve been having the same sort of cold in the upper Midwest. Have you seen any icebows? I’d never seen one before this winter, but on two days it was so cold that you could see ice crystals floating in the air even with the sun shining; hence the winter rainbows (though I’ll admit the term icebow makes more sense when there’s no liquid rain).
    Icebow searching can be done safely near the cabin (unless there’s some seriously odd crevasse nearby no deer has warned you of). πŸ™‚
    Be safe and thanks for the pics of nowheresville; they are just what now urban me needs!

  139. So perhaps a new tv series, “Deertracker” …good tracking loved the leaping tracks, good eye and yes, the cold north is a great equalizer, men and women could equally freeze to death if stupid. I always follow the deer trails in the woods when I walk, as they take the trail of least resistance…which works for a lazy person like me…not so much slashing through the forest…sounds like you are adapting well…keep on tracking

  140. What is that wilderness story about the experienced trapper who makes one tiny mistake (he steps in a puddle, I think) that ends up resulting in his death? Or am I the only one who’s read that?
    I am trying hard to imagine cold so cold that it is actually dangerous to go out for more than 15 minutes, but since I spent the afternoon at the beach with the dog, I’m having some trouble visualizing it. Shudder.

  141. Oh man, I totally just combined scenes from two different movies: The first being “The Parent Trap” where the two evil girls convince their potential step-mother that clacking some sticks together will keep the mountain lions away, and the second being “Songcatcher” (great movie, if you haven’t seen it) where the musicologist is convinced that if she hears a sound like a woman screaming (apparently the sound that mountain lions make right before they eat you with a side of ketchup), she should run away while stripping off as much of her clothing as possible. I suppose the latter option is really unappealing in frigid temperatures like you have at the cabin.
    I guess the thing to take away from this post is that any time you are alone and afraid in the woods, imagine yourself running naked through the trees while banging two sticks together. It’s at least good for a laugh!

  142. I’m so glad your having such an exciting time getting bored. I am seriously covetous of your cabin week. I have 2 small people who can’t bear the thought of me stepping outside to take out the trash let alone Alone time. I have no camping words of wisdom to leave you as I live in Orange County. I could teach you a great hair flip next time your down here though….

  143. Funny how you can manage a P3TOG after a YO on 0000 needles in laceweight, but you can’t hit a block of wood with an axe. It’s all about motivation, I guess.
    Being extra careful in your outdoor outings is perfectly reasonable in cold that extreme with no one within hollering distance. I’ve never been anywhere that cold. I think it justifies you in buying even more wool and alpaca!

  144. Hey, Steph! We’ve had that bone-rattling cold here off and on the last few weeks. We’re about 65 miles south of the Canadian border. What is the Canadian Shield?
    I recall cross-country skiing with my son once (he was 15 at the time) after we’d moved to MN from Chicago. I went down a small hill, hit my head on a tree, and wound up just buried in the snow. When I sat up I couldn’t see, and cried out “I can’t see! I can’t see!” DS calmly said, “Mom, your glasses are covered with snow.” Dumbbell me.
    We follow the deer tracks in our 10 acres of woods, too.

  145. I house sat for a summer when I was about 20 – way the heck out in the woods, big old house down a long dirt road, all by itself. It was gorgeous, there were deer and bunnies and a couple of chickens who hung around (and would come in the house if you left the door open and they noticed). Porcupines. That was the summer I read both Helter Skelter (about the Manson family) and The Shining. Slept with a knife under my pillow the whole summer.
    You know, if I were going to go on a writing retreat (which sounds heavenly, being a single mom and all), I would find a hotel with heat and room service.

  146. Now, any good paranoiac knows that the real reason you bring the axes & chainsaw indoors is to keep them out of the clutches of the bad ones who, not finding them, will wander off and …do whatever bad ones do when they don’t get anybody.

  147. You’re a brave, brave woman….I wouldn’t be in that cabin in the middle of nowhere for love or money – the banjo music would just keep playing in my mind until I ran screaming into the night.
    Down here in The South (we always capitalize The South), our natural selection has banjo music accompanying it and Burt Reynolds in a canoe:)
    Good luck and God Speed;)

  148. I’ve never heard a deer laugh, but once in the middle of a snowy night I was standing at the window and saw a bunny hop across our lawn. He stopped right in front of the window and sneezed, then hopped on. So I don’t know what deer laughter sounds like, but I do know how a bunny sounds when he sneezes. Have fun!

  149. Pleeeeeeeeze be careful!!!!!!!! Living most of my life in the central valley of California, I cannot get my brain around that kind of cold. I lived on the southern coast of Oregon when I was a girl, and sure, it rained a lot, and even snowed once, but dude, that is the scariest kind of cold I have ever heard of. I guess you have to be tough to live there. “To build a fire” was a story I did not enjoy reading.
    Seriously, we depend on you Stephanie. What would we do if something happened to you?
    Please be very careful so the deer don’t get the last laugh!
    ps you need your fingers to knit

  150. De-lurking to say how much I appreciate this post and at this particular time! I’ve been feeling a bit of cabin fever with all the ugly weather we’ve had lately, so since Sunday was sunny and above freezing I talked my dad into a afternoon hike. His definition of a trail turned out to be “anything with a track on it” – regardless of what said track was (yep, we followed deer tracks) That was manageable…until we had to cut across the woods back to the road as the sun was doing this suspicious setting thing and to cut back we had to cross this not quite frozen stream. Not being the greatest of leapers, I found myself hands first in a thorn bush. Knitting was on hold for a bit…

  151. All right Steph – from a born-and-raised Northern Ontarian (who worked in a provincial park):
    – Smart move following the deer tracks, but ALWAYS stop anywhere they do – you might find a stream underneath insulated by the snow, and get a hot foot (aka booter)
    -Bobcats are gorgeous animals, and very shy. I hope you get to see one! Their tracks are huge, the size of your hand, and will show a light furry impression all around the track because the extra fur acts as snowshoes for them.
    -Ditto on carying some sort of fire-making apparatus with you, even on short hikes if you’re alone. My Grandpa (of good Swedish stock) always carries a tin can with waterproof matches in it, and tea and sugar in a pocket.
    -After every hike, take out your boot liners and dry them by the fire. I got some serious frostnip on a day long snowmachine ride because my bootliners were wet.
    I am so jealous! Have fun and stay warm!

  152. Dear God that scares me to death! I would be next to useless in the snow. I live in a place where we “might” get an inch of snow the entire year. I think I’ve seen too many horror movies and read too much in the news about people getting injured when off by themselves in the snow. You can have your cabin in the winter. Me, I’ll stay where it’s fairly warm (got up to 57F today) and much safer. Now cabin by the lake in the summer? That’s a whole nother story.
    BTW, I’m so bummed. I tried to sign up to see you when you come to Atlanta in April and they were all out of tickets.

  153. Funny thing about literary tension. As I’m reading your account – which is obviously after the fact that you returned to the cabin – I worried you wouldn’t be ok. So either I’m pretty silly or you’re pretty effective at this writing thing. Enjoy, but take care, k?

  154. Let me see, alone,to knit, do whatever, whenever, in a winterized cabin, with a fireplace that you can use internet, alone, beautiful scenery, alone, nobody asking where is? Mom I need a ride? can you help me with this? Can I? alone, up north, where I would love to live and watch deer and moose etc out my window…..OMG girl most of us can only dream of such a wonderful experience, the whole alone thing…sigh….living vicariously

  155. I can tell you from personal experience that deer do laugh, and it is terrifying. I was camping in eastern California this summer, eating a delicious STEAK burrito when two deer came up to me and the fiance and proceeded to try to eat our food! When I went into defense posture (hunched shoulders, tears streaming down face) the one nearest me started snorting and butting his head! Those of course were deer who were far too used to people, but they are scary nonetheless! My advice is to not take any steak burritos on your hikes!

  156. So, as it turns out, you are not only knit-smart, you also possess survival skills. Long years of knitting has taught you to follow the pattern, and if you decide to take off on your own, understand there are consequences to that action, and know when to quit, unravel and start over.

  157. I didn’t plow thru all the comments, so if I’m copying somebody, I’m sorry.
    If a Harlot falls in the woods, does she make a sound?
    Holy cow woman, be careful out there! We want to see you all in one piece down here in Charlotte! Enjoy the solitude, can’t wait to meet you.

  158. My question is –
    How do the deer know where the crevices are so they can jump before they get to the edge?
    I am so jealous! Did you bring your wheel?

  159. i went on a winter hike in my area once, i got a nervous feeling and turned back. later in the summer i went back to the area, and it was just as you described, big crevices, and ledges to fall from. never saw them in the snow. glad you are ok. btw what does a deer laugh sound like? and if a der laughs in the woods, and no one is around, does it make a sound?

  160. this is an intimate moments
    book i am reading correct
    it is about time for the hooded
    figure to walk in the front door
    nod then walk through the back door
    next chapter please handsome doctor
    sees you out walking etc etc
    sell a million of them

  161. Your adventure sounds scary and beautiful at the same time. I keep going back and forth on wanting an experience like that of my own.

  162. You are totally living my fantasy, Stephanie. Time to myself in a cabin in the woods with my knitting, books, laptop with weaving draft software, and lots of coffee. No kids. Husband arriving only at the end of the week for a nice dinner and to “warm me up a little” and drive me home so I can knit on the way. Or is this only a Minnesota girl fantasy?

  163. Didn’t comment last night – but you are living my dream. I can’t imagine a nicer way to spend a week.
    I am located on the other end of the Canadian Shield – in Minnesota – where the rock outcroppings are everywhere, but are made up of basalt flows that overlie the precambrian rock. Still, love the feel of a billion year old rock underfoot!
    I have been spending a lot of time outside this winter – running, walking the dog, photographing the eclipse….
    Liner mittens knit of silky wool topped off with worsted weight wool mittens have been the key even on the runs in the minus teens F (not counting windchill). The power of wool (alpaca, silk) cannot be overestimated.
    Ask Jamie the Wonder Publicist to bring you to Duluth, MN. Good microbrew, nice yarn shop, big lake, 5 mile long beach….. what more can a knitter want?

  164. I have heard deer talk. They come right up to my house to nibble the plants and sound like snorts. Watch out for their ‘trumpeting’. That’s when a predator is stalking them & they’re scared. That’s usually followed by the coyote laughing. Now that’s a scary sound, bone-chilling in the deepest dark of night. (Sorry to scare you, no problem if you just keep your door shut.)
    Don’t bother using yarn to make a track home; deer love to break it to get through wherever they want. I know; that’s how we mark our land (using orange poly twine) & every week or so in the summer we have to re-mark. Better to just keep close to home.

  165. Yep, nature can be a cold and frigid bitch with a heart of stone.
    My Mr. taught me a trick to chopping wood. It works best on the dry stuff though. Get the axe good and stuck in the top of the log, then turn the whole thing over and bang the back of the axe on the floor. Gravity will add it’s force to the log on top of the axe and it will split a touch easier. Just try not to be leaning over the axe when the log splits. You could get a nice knock on the noggin.

  166. You are too funny! I remember when my girlfriend and I, both from the city, spent the weekend in Maine right off a lake. It was summer…everything was beautiful, in bloom, birds tweeting…ahh, just the thing we needed. Then night-time came…and the dark. The dark with no street lights. I never knew it could even be that dark. We kept unlocking the door and using the broom to hit the area light every time we heard something move. I, in my infinite city-folk wisdom, got a butter knife and went out on the porch and announced to all of the squirrels that I was armed and was prepared to use it. I said a lot more threatening things to my imaginary lake-creepers…and, while I felt like such an ass, and while my girlfriend giggled…I still felt better. Not surprisingly…now, when I go to Maine, I take my huge dog with me…or my husband. The dog barks at noise, and the hubby has a flashlight and is willing to go check suspicious noises. Anyway, until that experience, I never realized I was such a wuss. Could be that my ability to maneuver through a dark city night without incident fooled me…but a place without street lights, in my humble opinion, just isn’t natural…lol.

  167. I have lived in many a cold place, and never, ever, have I been told to lie down if I fell through ice. You learn something new every day!

  168. You were very lucky. I’m glad you got to learn your lesson safely.
    I had an incident in a snow storm this winter where I was driving faster than I should have given the conditions. There was no traffic in my lane, so I thought I could risk it. Well, I lost control, couldn’t steer out of it and ended up pointing in the opposite direction in the other lane of traffic. Fortunately the drivers in the oncoming traffic were smarter than I and had slowed down well before I came near. No one was hurt and I felt that I was very lucky to get taught my lesson so cheaply.
    I think your story is like that.

  169. Well, the deer may not be laughing at you, but your post gave me and my husband a good laugh. Extreme cold and extreme heat (we live near a desert) definitely cut down on the time you’ve got to be stupid in the outdoors. Hang in there, and be careful!

  170. Now I’m even more nervous about you being there all alone then I was yesterday when I caught up on your blog. OIY!! I’m going between being jealous and being scared. I’d love to see those stars…

  171. Just a warning–deer snort. They just kind of walk around making sounds like somebody snoring, or like a pig. I worked at an outdoor education program and was warned about this, but didn’t believe it. Then I nearly freaked out when I was in my shelter alone one night and I heard the snorting sounds.

  172. whew! i was SO worried when you recounted that tale (even though you obviously survived if you returned to write about it!!). it’s like when you’re watching a film and muttering madly to the star of the movie, “No! No! Don’t go in the basement!” Yet, she does anyway, oblivious to your pleas! My heart was kinda in my throat thinking about you out hiking in the woods with no one to notice if you were late getting back! Nature may be of awe-inspiring beauty and splendour, but you hit the nail on the head with the “does not suffer fools” quote. Please: continue in your odyssey of aloneness and creative-depth-plumbing pursuit… but! at least proceed with caution! πŸ™‚
    from your cyber friend: THE OBSESSIVE WORRIER!!!

  173. You can probably improve your outside time length by a small bit by adding hot baked potatoes to your pockets. Helps keep your hands toasty. Deer also meow like cats. Your haven has a whole lot more amenitys than my haven, which has a privy, but lacks running water electricity or internet. It lacks a furnace and is nine k back on a jeep road. once you hit the road you have 24k to go for a town. Perhaps next time, you can maroon the girls and Joe at the remote cabin and take over the house.
    If you intend to do something supremely stupid and need rescuing, wear something bright so your rescuers can see you. Unless you have some reason not to be seen, earth colors and camo is a really bad idea. It would also be nice if you took a photo of your shoe sole so that the heroic trackers knew what they were looking for.

  174. I can tell that you haven’t read one of my favorite books, ‘Keturah and Lord Death’. Keturah follows a legendary hart (in your case a deer) deep into the forest and becomes lost. After days of wandering aimlessly she is found by Lord Death (it helps that he’s a strong, handsome lord!) Keturah spins a story that she leaves unfinished thus Lord Death gives her a reprieve for one day. (I’m sure with your storytelling gifts you should be safe wandering in the woods!)

  175. I have been told that a way of dealing with something you fear, is to do what it is you are afraid of. You are doing just that, by not sending smoke signals up & getting rescued! On top of that you are talking about it, confessing, joking…that is a sure sign you are close to conquering your fear. Notice I said ‘close to’…
    I am sooo with you when you shared you were afraid of the aloneness, darkness, ect….as you were describing your setting, yesterday, the seclusion, the distant to the road, I was horrified, thinking “no way”….I have read one too many Stephen King novels for my active imagination.
    more power to you for sticking it out and having someone(s) to report to….congrats!

  176. My parents’ summer cabin was only 1 mile from the nearest cafe-grocery-gas-station, and there were neighbors, although I didn’t know them and usually never saw them. At an altitude of 6600 feet, the weather is dicey even in the summer. And it’s really, really, really dark. I never really felt afraid there, except once. I had to walk from the road to the back door of the cabin — a distance of about 200 ft — on a dark, moonless night. I didn’t even have a flashlight. Did I mention it was dark? I knew where I was going and wasn’t afraid of getting lost. But there were times during that brief journey when I held my hands out in front of me, feeling my way, and praying that I wouldn’t touch anything… furry. I’ve never been so glad to get inside.

  177. Every time Mr. Happy and I stay at the family property on Glasgow Mountain (outside Parrsboro, NS), we spend our first evening sitting on the step watching the stars over Cape Split… amazed at the satellites streaming past… then we crawl into bed and listen to the sound of our hearts beating. It is quiet and loud at the same time. Hearing a noise on a midnight trip to the outhouse is enough to send you running with your pants hastily pulled up.
    Sigh, I think we’re about due for some silence in our lives.
    Be careful in the woods, young lady…

  178. Um. I hereby swear, most solemly, never again to complain about how freakin’ cold it is when the temperature drops to the low 40’s here! I do reserve the right to complain bitterly about the cold, though, on the one day a year we get frost. That’s cool, isn’t it?

  179. Wow. I am so envious-it looks so lovely and in my mind I am certain that a couple of weeks there and I could finish all my spinning, all my ufos and everything on my “to be read” shelves.
    Of course, I always said that if I were laid up for a bit I would get all of that done. Then a few years ago I was unable to do much beyond sit in bed or shuffle to a comfy chair across the room and sit there. For 6 weeks. I think I finished a pair of socks…I KNOW I watched the entire oevre of John Cusack…twice.
    Who knows though? Maybe a week or two in the wilderness would do the trick.

  180. That was just enough of a scary situation to make all of us a little smarter in the woods! Glad you are OK.

  181. I don’t know if anyone else has said this (because damnit there are a lot of comments to read), but next time you go out you should find a big ass walking stick so you can prod the ground in front of you for holes. You could put a ball of yarn on the top and it can be your scepter.

  182. We need to get you some Thornton Burgess for night time reading. I think Lightfoot the Deer or Mother West Wind’s Children would be great company.

  183. Stephanie,
    Please stay near the cabin, write and knit. Wandering around in the woods in that cold is more dangerous than a pickup full of axes and chainsaws. You’re a long way from the doc. And we like you. Lots. So be safe.

  184. but the last think YOU would be thinking is, gee, I wonder if theres some way to spin deer?bobcat hair!

  185. I am loving this adventure. Its making me very nostalgic and wishing for my own cabin in the woods. /sigh and Presbytera’s comment made me spit coffee at 5 a.m.

  186. Put the beer in the snow and the kettle on. We are all on our way. About 600 of us, I reckon. hehe. We’ll even help you write your book. πŸ˜€

  187. I’m dying with envy. The girl told me one morning after a getting-to-school-reasonably-on-time battle, “Mama, why don’t you quit work and I’ll quit school, and we’ll go live in a cabin in the woods.” 20,000 books. Why not, indeed.

  188. You can spare a toe or two but please don’t let the cold affect your fingers! (Selfish comment on my part I know. I am not ashamed)

  189. I’m envious, too. Thanks for letting me live one of my dreams vicariously!! Enjoy and stay safe. Namaste.

  190. See, the Evil Dead reference from yesterday only made me think of Evil Dead 2 when you talked about the deer laughing at you. If you haven’t seen the second one and the first one got to you, though, don’t.
    Otherwise, good idea following their tracks- they obviously know what they’re doing. If you do start taking longer hikes maybe bring a small backpack with “just in case” things in it.

  191. at least you know to follow deer tracks! I’m a big city girl and would have never known to do that. Bet the deer want you to knit them alpaca scarves.

  192. Can you do me a favor and just stay near the house? I don’t need a heart attack.

  193. Wow, this is a fascinating post – it’s fun to see the learning curve operating here. Awesome pictures too – thank you!!

  194. When we went to Yellowstone, the Rangers told us to follow buffalo tracks if we got lost, in order to avoid falling through the earth’s crust! Thanks for the armchair adventure; I’m about to go oput into the snowstorm to hold a sign for a political candidate. Only the motorists will be laughing….

  195. I am really enjoying your adventure. I am looking out my window in Maine and it is snowing yet again. So many storms this winter. However, I am not alone in the woods but you can actually be more alone in a huge crowd. Are you listening to the quiet??

  196. Wonderful sharing. I’m concerned that you are chopping firewood without having the usual ax skills needed. Please be careful. Deer may laugh, but I don’t think they know how to use a cell phone to call for help.

  197. I’m glad you are enjoying the woods more and getting a lot of writing done. I am living through you this week.

  198. Being within calling distance of people in almost every aspect of our daily lives allows us to take risks and do some pretty stupid things. Admittedly, I’m topping the stupid list for climbing on the roof to retrieve toys, etc. Thank heavens you’re taking precautions and staying aware of your surroundings, etc. Keep posting daily… if you don’t then knitters worldwide will mount a massive search and rescue effort. And wouldn’t you be embarrassed to be discovered dancing naked in the cabin by a bunch of wool-clad, needle-bearing throngs (we’d need the needles to poke snowdrifts to see if they squealed or said, “Ouch!”). Laughing deer… I really need a cup of coffee in order wrap my brain around that and create a visual. Cheers!

  199. wow, what a great place to be alone (though dangerous, as you’ve found).
    closest i get to such solitude is when my two 20something-but-still-sharing-the-house (don’t ask) kids and grandgirl go to my x’s for a wkend. then i’m blissfully alone . . . except for a big dog, a 6-y.o. cat and a 6-mo-old kitten who delights in chasing and fighting the big cat.
    of course, i’m not laboring over a steaming kettle of prose, either, just struggling to finish an afghan before friends move to their lake home. (and the only good thing about them moving is that, a couple of times a year, i’ll probably house-sit for them — looking after their 3 dogs, who insist on sharing the king-size bed with me).
    as an added bonus to the solitude, you may find that huz and kids appreciate you more when you return.

  200. I stand by my statement about the meanness of deer. But that picture- pretty much melted my heart.

  201. I see the next book title coming…”Knitting in the wilds of Canada.” Can’t wait!

  202. Hey – my husband just got here, and I asked him what it’s called when the trees are covered with snow and the branches make wells, or pockets, that people can fall into – they are called ‘spruce traps’. He fell in one once in the High Peaks/Adirondacks, and his friend had to help him out, otherwise I guess he would still be there. I mentioned this in my earlier post, and I knew there was a name for it and it’s been bugging me! So now we know. I’m looking forward to your next post and more of your adventure!

  203. Day two and you’re already honing your mountain man skills, very impessive indeed. Pretty soon you’ll be going by the name of “Grizzly McPhee”.

  204. Something I posted yesterday that Stumbling over Chaos Chris suggested I share with you.
    There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.
    ~Quentin Crisp

  205. City Mouse – welcome to the country! Your entries about life at the cabin have made our everyday life, here in the wilds of Saskabush look pretty risky! Believe it or not, eventually it gets boring (read ‘not life and death exciting’). I couldn’t imagine it NOT being completely dark and wonderfully quiet at night! Funny, you don’t realize how your country life looks to city folk until they try it on their own. It makes me think that we come from entirely different worlds and are complete strangers – except yarn and fiber are the ties that bind and then the world shrinks again…. Thanks for a peek at ourselves from the outside…. it’s been really entertaining πŸ˜€ If you get really really scared come and visit Chronicles of the Lazy Knitter (my blog)- it’s so boring you’ll fall asleep in no time! LOL!!

  206. I read all the comment *pat on back for me* and I must admit there are some very amusing stories. I agree with most everyone that a stick is a good idea. Just make sure its taller than you and you know about where the “knee line” is on it. Then you poke the snow and you’ll know how far you will sink. Also very handy for beating back thing that freak you out a little too much.
    I vote the following as the most amusing “stick related” comment. =)
    “You could put a ball of yarn on the top and it can be your scepter.”

  207. Yeah, winter is always out to get you. Natural selection is hard on people who believe the ice will take the weight of their snowmobile when it’s only been below freezing for a couple of days.

  208. Your first post sounded like something I’ve wanted to do for years and years – and wondered if I could. I live alone (except for cats and a dog), so that part is easy, but the axe murderer would bug me. Now I realize I’m not going as far north as you are – 20 minutes is too close to disaster for me.
    Also, I have felt kind of guilty for wanting that much isolation – seems abnormal in the world I live in. But it also sounds WONDERFUL!
    P.S. Are you wearing your snowshoes on your hikes?

  209. I am so enjoying your solitary nature adventure! I always have fun with your posts, but these past few days have been especially entertaining. By the look at the number of comments posted, others agree. Do you really read all these posts?

  210. Oh my my, holy moley. I cannot imagine that kind of cold, let alone solitude. My heart was pounding for you! But it looks so lovely and sounds so peaceful. Stay warm as you can and good luck on the book.

  211. Are you 100% sure steeking isn’t some evil knitting joke??? Cause I’ve cast on for a Kauni and I’d hate to have to kill people…
    or dissolve into tears over my knitting (again)

  212. What, no TV? I’d be dead already. Good luck with the adventure. What have you been knitting while you have been in the frozen north?

  213. I’ve lived in Wisconsin, Southern California, Indiana and Nevada. People think I’m either silly or paranoid for having a jacket, sweater, shoes and a flat of bottled water riding around in my car all the time, but it’s insurance. If that stuff’s in the car, I won’t get stuck in the snow or have a flat in the desert. Soon as I leave them behind–blammo! Murphy’s law rules, and I’m darn glad you got back from that misstep okay. Don’t know how deer laugh, but they used to snicker while eating birdseed out of the feeder. Buggers!

  214. Please don’t go out by yourself again. It’s way too dangerous, as you’ve said, and you won’t get many more chances to thumb your nose at fate (and crevasses).

  215. Ya know, I was getting really scared there until it occured to me that if you wrote the blog post about this you had to have survived. I’m not that bright sometimes…. =^)
    I LOVE being alone. I’m what Florence King dubbed a “Tourette’s Misanthrope- idealistic, with a VERY short fuse.” I get WAY too stressed when I spend too much time with other people. It’s fun for me to watch them, but I get very drained having to interact with them. I learned a trick from my also misanthropic uncle. At parties, all you have to do is do the dishes. No ones will bother you b/c they’ll be afraid that if they do they’ll be asked to help. Works EVERY time!
    I too am SO happy about the essays. Humor essays are my fave. You, Florence King, and Mike Ford are what get me through a day of work. One of my cubicle buddies at work who always watches me knit and read knitting mags and books once asked me what all there was to WRITE about knitting. (He didn’t understand that mags had patterns in them, he thought EVERYTHING was articles). I explained about the patterns and told him all articles would only be possible if they were all written by the yarn harlot. You need a syndicated column. You obviously have the sustaining material for one. BTW! =^)

  216. It’s hard to believe that Canadian deer are any less polite than the Canadian humans, so I don’t think they were mocking you. I’m sure if they were laughing they were just sharing a joke.
    Dude, this whole “walking in snow” and “falling through ice” stuff is very National Geographic for this city girl. I feel like you’re giving me life skills. Thanks πŸ™‚

  217. Hey…I bet if you took a photo of the tracks you don’t recognize someone here would know what it is…..Did you pack your Foxfire books??????

  218. Steph-are you near Algonquin Park? Maybe some of those “deer” tracks are Moose tracks. I heard the best time to see Moose up close is in the spring when they come to the roadside for salt left from winter plowing. Anyway, I LOVE that park and that area!

  219. OMG! I’m scared for you!!! What would you do if you got hurt/broke a leg/got your foot stuck in a crevice and couldn’t get back to your cabin? Do you carry a cell phone or a flare when you go outside away from the cabin? How would you let anyone know you needed help?

  220. Common sense (warm mittens, source of fire, dry feet, dry underlayers) will always save the day in the cold weather we have here in the north. Layering is the key. Enjoy the inspiration and mind-clearing that can happen on walks in the woods – even in extreme cold.
    I mentioned yesterday that I have been out running, hiking and skiing a lot this winter. Did I mention that I have a photo of myself with snow caked a quarter inch or more thick on my eyebrows after running five miles the morning a blizzard blew into town.
    Being outdoors is good for the soul. Allows you time to focus on the basics, free the mind. Sometimes it happens best at the extremes of temperatures.
    As much as I have tired of the below zero F. temps and winds this winter I have found that I am really enjoying my 1- 2 hour outings in the cold. Layers. They are truly the key. And keeping moving = generating heat.
    I am still so envious of your week. Makes me dream of the next trip to Isle Royale and 7 days of living out of a backpack. Quiet, no lights, no distractions….
    Enjoy. Look for the bobcat. Come to Duluth.

  221. The deer are always laughing. πŸ˜›
    But watch out for the bobcat. I hear that they’re just hungry. πŸ™‚

  222. If a deer laughs in the woods and no one is alive to hear it, does it make a sound?

  223. My favourite headline last winter from the local paper where we have our farm up in the Canadian Shield –
    “Wolves running rampant in Restoule” (a small village) Apparently, the wolves (which are protected, no hunting) are getting so numerous and bold, that they are trotting though the village in daylight, to the horror of local residents. However, nothing about it this winter, so maybe they have moved on, hopefully not to your area, LOL.

  224. Oh… You really shouldn’t follow a single deer track. The deer usually stay with their herds and the ones that are by themselves are the ones that the herd has kicked out as they are sick or lost! Stay safe and follow the big herd if you do go hiking. We don’t want to loose you!

  225. Okay. I can’t help it. I’m going to put on my lecturing-and-pontificating hat and be a bit of a winter snob for a moment. (I don’t think I can help it; I’m from Saskatchewan.) Firstly, your lungs won’t freeze. It’s not terribly comfortable to breathe frigid air, but it’s not inherently dangerous. (See this:
    Secondly, you can stay out in that blissful, undisturbed snowy silence for as long as you like, so long as YOUR body bits are all still feeling okay. Don’t let the weather station tell you how long you’re allowed to enjoy being outside!
    Thirdly, it’s true. Wool is on your side. (How could it not be?) I think it’s what makes winter as marvellous as it is. The miracle fibre!

  226. Would a walking stick help the next time you take a single deer track?
    I’m glad you braved to cold to see the stars!

  227. Stephanie, for the love of spun wool, girl please please please carry a cell phone. I’d hate to have you lost among all that beauty and frozen solid, away from all civilization and any yarn shop. Who would be out there for the knitted cause? What would we do without your daily thoughts and inspiration? Now, drink your tea, knit a few rows, look out at the nightfall, and start typing.

  228. Thank you for sharing your tales – and beautiful pictures – from the woods. What a lovely place!

  229. I can almost hear the quiet of your snowy wonderland. As an early years snow baby, listening to the ice drips melt and following the bird tracks through the snow is deeply inbedding in my memory. Gaze out tommorrow morning through a southern Californian’s eyes.
    What a treasure you are beholding! Of course being clothed in wool as you are beholding extends the enjoyment a bit! Thanks for sharing!!

  230. I grew up in Ontario and clearly remember helping tunnel through snow to the street one year. Does every Canadian kid still learn to skate?
    You may have covered this previously, but I’d love to hear (read?) your sock preference re top down or toes up (“toes up” in a good way). I love toes up with short-row heels–such a no-brainer, and if one might be a bit short of yarn you just knit until you run out. However, maybe I’m missing something not doing top down?

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