Steve Madewell

Pedestrian Ramblings

Friday Night I went out to the Conneaut Creek Club cabin and spent the evening by myself.

Saturday was the opening day of muzzle loading rifle deer season.

The cabin is a rustic Adirondack style, with propane lights and stove, no running water, a barrel wood burning stove, two wonderful porches and many great memories.

I got out there around 8:30 and it was about 15 degrees with ten inches of snow on the ground and it was lightly snowing.

Tomorrow I was intending to walk up a deer, that is slowly and quietly walk through the woods until I either came up on bedded or feeding deer.

With the particular muzzle-loading rifle that I would be using, this would require getting within 80 yards and with the cover and habitat around the cabin, this more than likely would be something like 15 to forty yards.

In order to pull this off, the big deal is moving extremely slow.  All the old hunting books I used to read when I was a kid called this still-hunting.  I never understood why the authors would use this term and not stick with using “stalking” as the common descriptor.

As I got older and realized what was involved, I began to get it.

To really do this right you are moving through the woods while being as still as you can.

I was taking a Thai Chi class a few years ago when the instructor introduced me to meditative walking.

It is a process where you consciously transfer weight through your body from one leg up through your hips then down to the other as you walk in a slow determined way.

I recognized instantly this was an excellent method of mental training for still-hunting.

That fall I tried it and what I observed was pretty remarkable.

I consider my self to be fairly observant when I am “on my game, in myself, in the moment” or whatever you call it going through the woods.

I have noticed that generally when I am going through the woods, I will occasionally see squirrels out 60 yards or so moving away from me, and song-birds occasional twittering in front of me maybe twenty yards more or less.

When I tried the meditative walking approach, I found that I was often moving through the fall woods with a small mixed flock of chickadees, junco’s and titmice immediately around me and I would seeing squirrels moving in front of me maybe ten to fifteen yards.

So needless to say, this is an excellent method of moving through the forest with hunting intentions.

One other dimension to this approach to moving is the incredible mental focus it takes.   The easy and regular thing to do is revert back to normal “walking” in addition there is an substantial amount of focus required for deer hunting anyway.

 So I was planning on going out alone and walking up a deer.

It had been a long time since I had used the CCC cabin as a personal retreat.  Most outings over the years had been with a number of family or friends, which of course were great in there own right, but being by myself was a little different.

I needed a little solitude to strip away the layers of mental chatter that have been building for the past several months.

I had a great time dealing with the simple challenge of getting a fire going with no kindling, making a pot of tea, getting my muzzle loading stuff together, which is an interesting task unto it own. 

In spite of great technological advances, these guns are still primitive weapons.   To load one, you take an amount of carefully measured gunpowder, pour it down the barrel of the gun, tamp that in place then push a bullet down the barrel and tamp that into place.

At the other end of the barrel, there is a small opening where the a spark will flash from a primer or cap.  Ideally this will happen when the trigger is pulled, igniting the powder causing a contain explosion pushing the bullet out and toward the target.

Before bed I got my muzzle loading stuff out, checked over and loaded into appropriate pockets located on the exterior of my hunting clothing.

In the morning I set off about forty-five minutes before sunrise in the 8 degree morning air.

After a executing a slow circuitous ¾ of a mile route down the valley, through the hemlock thickets, across the oak flats and skirting the grapevine tangles I was back at the cabin for a cup of tea and a bit of lunch.

Snow was still falling off and on but in brief periods it was nearly white out conditions.  After my morning hike I assumed the deer would be lying under the hemlocks and out of the weather.  My challenge would be approaching them in a manner to get close enough to get a clear shot.

My afternoon, mosey began would be on the other side of the cabin.

I immediately saw where deer had been pawing through the snow to get to grass on the dam of the pond and had more than likely bedded up in the hemlocks on the point of a keen ridge overlooking the Conneaut Creek Valley.

This is a great nearly fail safe bedding strategy, if any threat is coming they merely stand up and bound down the 45-60 degree one hundred plus foot descent down in the valley.

So how I approached the hemlock thickets was very important if I expected to get a shot.

I figured that this deer were probably conditioned to watching for people coming from the pond so I decided I would approach them from the edge of the valley ridge as best as I could.

I put up the first two deer in a few minutes.  I had walked to within twenty yards of two lying under the hemlocks, and we saw each other at about the same time and they made their move as I was making mine and no shot was fired.

In a short distance in the same thicket I walked up on another lying behind a log.  The deer jumped up when I was about 15 yards away and started to go over into the valley but the wall was too steep, nearly vertical and instead was force to turn and come straight toward me.

I pulled up, aimed, pulled the trigger, the hammer fell and the percussion cap didn’t ignite.  Evidently moisture from the heavy snow had dampened the cap.

The deer turned within a few feet of me and bounded away.

And out of the day I had gotten everything that I had needed, several hours solitude, emersion in the elements, several hours of meditative walking, and incredible rush of adrenalin in the thrill of the moment. 

There have been reasons why I haven't posted any Pedestrian Ramblings and it hasn't had anything to do with an absence of events happening, inspirations coming etc., it has had more to do with being entirely consumed with existing day to day and not having the space to capture inspirations when they come.

This was a great inspirational moment, reminding me I am still who I am and still able to interact in the many dimsions of the world around me. 

This weekend I enjoyed watching the creek thaw.

We had snow on the ground since the first of December and several weeks of below freezing temperatures.

 

When it heated up to the mid fifties something had to give.

 

It is very fascinating to watch the creek release, just like it is very cool to watch it freeze.

 

When the melt waters start flowing over the frozen surface of the creek it may be a matter of minutes or days before the ice breaks up but once it starts to release it happens very quickly.

 

And the ice begins to move and break and the force of the water breaks it apart into smaller and smaller pieces.

 

As the ice gets carried down stream it sometimes gets caught up and this is the beginning of an ice dam.

 

Friday I watched several ice dams form and break apart. It is mesmerizing to watch.

 

In witnessing this, it reminded me that I haven’t taken much time to see the world around me consequently I have suffered for it.

 

It is easy to forget how much clutter we allow in our schedule and into our mind.

 

It is also easy to forget how much I enjoy taking time to stop and just see things, to find the essence of what I do and to live what I am doing.

 

And I suppose this is my New Years Resolution.

 

Stop and do more.

 

A wonderful juxtaposition.

 

August 10 there was a very talented young lady passing through Cleveland, Emily Erin. She was hoping to pick up a gig at the Beachland Ballroom on her way back to New York. One of my buds Dan Best with the Swamp Rattlers called and asked if I would do a set to round out the evening with Emily and I did. There was a fellow there who flip filmed the show and this version of me doing Stan Rogers' Mary Ellen Carter wound up on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev-Bbnlt7TQ This has always been one of my favorites. I first heard his work perfomred by a dear friend in Dayton, Dave Gordon. He and his wife Kay did several of Stan's tunes, including Barrettes Privateers. Unfortunately I never knew who wrote the songs. When I moved to NE Ohio, a friend used to tell me I should do some Stan Rogers. Roland would go on and on about how great Stans tunes were and how much he would appreciate it if I learned a few. One day I heard Barrett's Privateers blarring out of my son Phil's room, and I instantly recognized the song from years ago when I used to live in Dayton. I went charging in there asking who was singing, and Phil told me Stan Rogers. Interestingly Roland and Dave had both passed away by the time I learned who Stan Rogers was and before I learned any of his songs. I think of them both whenever I play any of his material. very nice
I just took a day off of work. Yes it was an “Honest to God” day off. Well after I went in for two hours. But still I bought and installed a bike rack went to a movie. So I think this day counts as personal time. Whoa, don’t get too crazy. It has been a blitzkrieg of a year and I really haven’t had much time to do any thing beyond taking one step at a time. That being said there have been some very good moments so far this summer. Although I didn’t have time to do any promotion this year I have had several gigs at venues that I have always enjoyed. They either called me or held dates for me including the Lake House, the Old Fire House, several house concerts and that sort of thing. One of the most enjoyable was a return to the Burning River Fest. This worked out great as a gang from Western College of Miami came into town and we all had a big time of it, including the after party gig at Zocalo’s on east fourth. Big fun had by all and I am still recovering.
Let's see, Work has been exceptionally busy. Gigs have been a great diversion and great fun. Eating some watermelon after the first Zocalo's gig and having an adult beverage. Life is good.

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March 2nd, MJ and I drove down to the Pittsburg area to do a show with Tom Breiding and Sara Mcquaid.

I met Tom last year at the Barking Spider where I was doing the early show with Bruce the Bassman.

Tom invited me to open up for Sara Mcquaid and after listening to Tom's show I was sure I wanted to do it.

I was certainly glad I did.

Not only did Tom treat us to dinner he also turned us on to a great music place, Cefalo's!

Cefalo's is old Church that has been converted into a wonderful space for music and dinner.

To top it off Sara was wonderful.

While the crowd was a little light, everyone had a great time.

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Had great time in New York City a few weeks back.

In addition to seeing Stephanie and Sean in there new digs and having lunch with my old college roomie, Sean and I went knocking around one day.

We were able to take in Chelsea guitars where a couple snobbish kids reminded me that all the guitars hanging on the walls were expensive. So much for buying that '63 rosewood neck sunburst strat to replace the one I used to have from those guys. However I did discover the mose wonderful Music Inn right in the village. What a sweet store.

Reminded me of my mind. Cluttered up with all sorts of things... Items with great potential, some clearly broken, and some that I have no idea what they are or might be. The guys that were working down the basement have been building electric sarods, which are very cool fretless mideastern instruments.

They also had a very cool software package that they had developed to bring out all of the overtones and sympathic scales. And if that isn't enough they had a huge collection of singing bowls and all sorts of hand percussion stuff. It is on the return to NYC to do list. All and all the city was wonderfully vibrant and full of good energy.

I'm in.

Actually my flying squirrel trapping was all confined to the barn attic so there isn’t much involved there in keeping warm other than poking up the stove. And if you don't know what I am talking about you should sign up for my emails! I have a fair number of people ask me about how I keep warm while I am poking about outside, so here we go. I put together just a few observations that might be handy if keeping warm in the winter is an issue for you and if not…. Well gee I don’t expect you’ll get much out of this. In January I was deer hunting and it was 11 below zero. It wasn’t that cold when I left my house but by golly it was when I got to where I was going. I have to admit I wasn’t properly prepared and it was not only close to miserable but could have easily been dangerous. I was generally OK except I didn’t have proper hand and face protection, which can be a big deal when it comes to little things like frost bite and comfort. I should have had a heavier hat, face mask or scarf and a heavy set of mittens or multilayered gloves. I actually did have those things nicely stored in a backpack in my brother in laws’ truck… Good move. Compared to most folks I spend a considerable amount of time outdoors and when I am out often times it is in fairly extreme conditions. Consider the situation I mentioned above or things like steelhead fishing, which involves standing around in cold moving water between the months of October and April. Not so bad in October and April, it’s those time in the middle! Anyhow my dear friend Lisa was one of the several folks who I have shared some “how to keep warm advice” with this year and I thought why not just put something on the page about it. Lisa was specifically asking about keeping her hands warm, and doing so in a practical and cost effective manner. When ever possible I am all about practicality and cost. I am a big fan of wool glove liners. You can buy these at army navy surplus stores and by their selves they do have utility but put them inside a larger glove as a shell and you are on to something. The liners are really in expensive and any leather or canvass/leather work glove will work as a shell. Of course there are all manner of shell/liner combinations available if you don’t mind plunking down the cash to buy them and some work better than others, but it is hard to beat the above for cost and effectiveness. You can also cut the fingertips out of this wool liner and make in expensive fingerless gloves too and for fishing this is pretty handy. Again there are all manner of fishing gloves available but if your looking to go on the cheap those wool liners are great. I am not going to get into the “how this stuff works” unless you email me and really want to know but here goes the rest of the way I get ready for the out of doors. Base Layers Most people are aware of the notion of layering clothing but not everybody really gets it. One of the most important components of my winter wardrobe is my base layer, and when I say winter I mean late fall through mid spring. It is a rare day during this period that I do not have on Patagonia Capilene tops and bottoms. The Cap 1 or what they used to call silk weight is simply great. While the newer stuff isn’t as slinky as the original silk weights it is still really nice. It is not cheap but what a difference it makes. There are a number of companies making light weight base layers and often times you can find this stuff at discount outlets like Marshalls. The key is to start thin and get bulkier then add a shell. So it all starts with a silky base layer as the foundation (and that includes liner socks too) and after that I get bulky. Fleece God what did we do before fleece? I wear fleece all the time. And there are all kinds of fleece out there. What I have discovered is if you have good base layer, even inexpensive fleece is greatly enhanced. It is not worth a darn in the wind unless like some of the higher end fleece it incorporates a windproof inner layer. Most fleece have doesn’t have wind guard and that is why an outer shell is very important. When I am steelhead fishing I generally have a layer of fleece, pants and pull over, over my capilene. I have on waders as a shell and a short rain jacket as an upper shell. If I am hunting I generally have wool or heavy canvass pants on over my capilene bottoms and they serve as a shell. And my upper shell depends entirely on what kind of hunting I am doing. If I am sitting still and it is really cold I use a muti-layer parka that basically consists of a big wind and waterproof shell over a down parka. If it isn’t that cold or I am going to be walking a fair amount I have a water and wind resistant shell that goes over a fleece of work shirt. Boots…. That is another story.
Time Passages. People mark the passage of time in a number of different ways, birthdays, seasons and holidays and of course the beginning of a new calendar year. Happy New Year by the way. The first time I went deer hunting I was 13. Pop and Uncle Marvin had been going to the border of Pike and Jackson counties for a couple years and they decided that my cousin Keith and I were old enough to come along. We borrowed someone’s camper and had a great time. And so that adventure began and believe me there are more that a few hilarious stories associated with some of those trips. The first few years that I went I was surely a hindrance to Pop’s hunting. He had to keep an eye on me making sure I didn’t get “turned around in the woods”, which is the Madewell term for slightly lost. He was generally concerned about me keeping warm, dry and having enough to eat. You can go on a hunting trip with someone but it is not the same as hunting with someone. Hunting with someone is a partnership. In my early years in the field I didn’t have a clue what this really meant but I am sure that I really wasn’t much of a partner. As time progressed I became surer of myself in the deer woods as I also began to physically mature finding strength and confidence and all those attributes that often come with young adulthood. Somehow there was a passage of time and suddenly I found myself keeping an eye on Pop. He was slowing down a bit and I found myself doing more and more of the simple things around our camp like lighting a Coleman lantern because he couldn’t see the hole to put the match in. But I would also slow myself down to keep pace with him while we were hunting. Of course on occasions this was more than a bit frustrating and I was oblivious to the fact that just a few years earlier the roles were reversed and it was he that was altering his preferred hunting plans to accommodate my abilities. As time continues to pass I can say that all and all Pop and I have had many good hunting trips with countless memories and a sea of faces of relatives and friends that have jointed us somewhere along the way. This included my son and son in law and nephew who are all fine hunters and strong young men. It was always a great pleasure to tell them to help their Grandpa drag his deer back to camp. This was the first year Dad didn’t go deer hunting in 42 years. Some family concerns and sever arthritis in his right hand convinced him that he should stay close to Mom. But this wasn’t the only mile marker that occurred this year. My son Phil is at the point where he is physically in the prime of his life is an avid hunter and has a remarkable set of shooting skills. This deer season Philip passed up a shot at a huge buck and allowed the deer to walk past him to come to me. The long story short is I missed it. For many years I enjoyed a reputation of being a deadly shot and have certainly had my share of good fortune in this regard. However in the past few years shifts in my vision and physical condition have resulted in a world that is not quite a clear and not nearly as steady. And while it was a remarkable deer that I missed it was an even larger gift that Philip gave acknowledging another passage of time.
Last night MJ and I went down to the Rock Hall’s “Kozmic Blues: the Life and Music of Janis Joplin” Tribute Concert. The folks at the Rock Hall hit a homer. I have been to Rock Hall Tribute shows and I can tell you they are a great time. Last night’s show featured a great line up of performers and some wonderful video clips including a very touching interview with Kristofferson regarding the day he was told about Janet’s death. This coincided with the conclusion of the final mixing from the recording of Bobby McGee. The whole show was really enjoyable including the sound and production. Nice job Robby! The house band was great and the guitarist embraced and played with a tremendous array of tones fitting each performer and each representative tune from across Janis’ career. My appreciation of her art and performance goes back to the late 60’s, so last night was a real treat. I recall hearing Combination of the 2 and Piece of My Heart on the radio while riding around with my older brothers. And for years did a version of Summer Time that was more inspired by Janis than the musical, and I haven’t even a clue how many times I have sang or backed someone up who was singing Bobby McGee. For me the highlights of the show were Susan Tedeschi and Carolyn Wonderland. Both of these ladies are smoking guitarists and delivered wonderful vocal renditions of Joplin’s tunes. Lucinda Williams closed the show. I have seen her perform before and she consistently makes me feel like she is playing for me in her living room. It was a very personal way to wind up the night. You can read more about it by going to: http://www.rockhall.com/janisjoplinamm

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