Cookery Maven Blog


When my eighteen year old self imagined her bright and exotic future— there wasn't a chapter, a mention or even a whiff of small towns, five kids, Northern Wisconsin or a Unimog. Her version of home was a decent Manhattan apartment, a salon full of friends and snappy chatter, some grown-up amber liquid in a lowball glass and stacks of books and New Yorker magazines. 

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Lost Creek Falls With M & M

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?".....

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

This is water."

"This is water.”

David Foster Wallace, This Is Water

It snowed last night. Charlie was rejoicing, in the way only a snowboarding obsessed twelve-year-old can— with verve and volume. He was so disappointed when he woke up this morning and the snow had melted into the green grass. Thankfully, snow is on the menu for the next six months and Charlie will be bombing the hill in no time.

Last night, with the snow falling, I found these pictures in my Lightroom files and traveled back to this warm, sunny day in July. We hiked out to Lost Creek Falls with Mike and Mindy and these pictures are from that adventure. It was pretty amazing to have everyone together, in one place, for an afternoon and it made me so very happy to see Meg and Jack perched on rock, bathed in sunshine. Man, I miss that boy.

I'll never tire of sitting near, listening to or taking pictures of running water and waterfalls. They are the tether I grab when I need to find a way back to myself and towards, as Mary Oliver said, 'a silence where another voice may speak.'

Perched on a rock behind the waterfall, the 'awareness of what is so real and essential' settled into me like the water flowing over me. The lives we build with those we love are 'water', as essential as a heartbeat but easy to take for granted in the noise and busyness of life.

We spent a few hours in the company of Lost Creek, cedars, white and red pines, ancient rock and each other. It was about as good as it gets for an afternoon in July and I'll carry it with me until we all meet again among the trees and water at Lost Creek Falls.

Will's Birthday Lost Creek Walkabout

Will celebrated his fifteenth birthday on October 3rd and we headed out to Lost Creek Falls for a mid-week photo safari to mark his big day. I can't think of a better place to spend an afternoon, I was so excited to hit the road with the kids and hike out to the falls. It was a perfect fall afternoon— sunny, warm and the leaves were brilliant shades of red and yellow. Again, I was humbled by the mind-blowing beauty that surrounds us every day.

Meg was making chains with the leaves that were scattered everywhere you looked, she is a remarkably creative girl. We brought that particular specimen home. I saved it and will give it to her someday far in the future, when this walk is just a beautiful memory.

I had an incredibly hard time choosing pictures for this post, it was absolutely stunning that afternoon. Albert Camus said, 'autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower' and that certainly holds true up here. Autumn has always been my favorite season— I love the cooler temperatures, the viscous evening light, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot and the smell of wood smoke. I like the autumnal energy of endings— a bittersweet turning away and heading towards the quiet of winter.

I will never tire of walking in running water (in rain boots, of course). The feeling of the water rushing by reminds me that we all are on a journey towards our own big water and to savor the vistas and experiences along the way.

The leaves were strewn everywhere, the remnants of Nature's ticker tape parade.

I brought three maple leaves from my yard as an offering of gratitude for Will and the afternoon we spent exploring the forest, creek and falls. Spending a couple of hours taking pictures, building cairns and celebrating our lives among the pines, maples, oaks and waters of this area does more good for my spirit than anything I can imagine.

Charlie is learning how to use his camera and I love looking them over when we return home. It's clear after looking at his photos, he appreciates the nuance and small details of the natural world. I wonder if he knows when Nature reveals herself to us— in the light reflecting off a rock ledge, a lone red leaf in the stream or the dappled light through golden branches, we are in a state of grace. When I feel my spirit becoming ragged, I travel back to these afternoons at Lost Creek and feel my rough edges start to soften and my spirit restore itself.

Will, Charlie and Meghan built cairns in the basin, I think they were looking for a way to leave their mark and celebrate Will's birthday. I'd like to think the cairns were their way of making an offering of gratitude to the spectacular and nurturing energy that resides at Lost Creek. We all walked out of the forest feeling happy and sated by the dazzling light, water and leaves that enveloped us on Will's birthday.

Lost Creek Falls Revisited

We went back to Lost Creek Falls a few weeks ago. This time, Ted and our good friends, Jeannie and Eric, came along for the adventure. The hike back to the falls was breathtaking— countless shades of green leaves and lush ferns lined the path. It was also muddy but the kids had rain boots. They found great joy in slogging through the middle of each and every mud puddle. The adults, sans rain boots, opted to avoid the mud and seek higher ground along the trail.

Meghan and I took a detour and walked along the stream bed to the second falls. It turned out to be a fortuitous detour— we found yellow brain fungus on a dead limb. It certainly looks otherworldly in the forest, the bright yellow sticks out like a sore thumb.

The second Lost Falls is one of my favorite places on earth. When Meg and I walked down the hill to the basin, a sense of calm and gratitude washed over me. Standing alongside an ancient rock wall, I felt the healing power of water, trees and time spent with family and friends.

I was behind the waterfall and saw Charlie and Carver sitting in the sun through the veil of running water. I wondered how these experiences will impact my kids as they grow older and what they will carry forward into their lives. If even a little piece of an afternoon spent deep in the woods near a waterfall stays with them, I will be thrilled.

I never tire of the sound of rushing water and thanks to a couple good rainfalls, the water was vigorously flowing in the stream and over the falls. I could have spent hours there, it was a magical afternoon.

The light was amazing and I turned to take one last picture. I wanted to capture the love, nurturing and gratitude I felt that afternoon. In the chaotic course of my daily life, I can feel the cool rush of air near the falls, the sound of rushing water and see my family against the sacred backdrop of the forest that this photo captured. I will carry it with me forever.