{Prehistoric Amber} The End.

Last Monday was an odd day.

The morning and afternoon were blissfully warm and breezy, and my mom made a comment that this was the last day that would feel like summer. I kind of huffed a little in response. We always say that, in the Northwoods. We are quick to make declarations on the weather – “It’s gonna be a long winter”…”Spring isn’t too far off, now”…”Fall has begun!”…and it never really ends up being true. There’s always some surprise, tucked down deep in nature’s pocket. Sometimes it’s a good one. Sometimes it makes you wanna tell Mother Nature to go fuck herself. But the lesson is usually just this: Don’t think you know what’s coming up next, because you never really do.

The skies were still sunny and clear when the thunderstorm warning rudely interrupted the show I was watching. I stared outside and sighed. A thunderstorm had not only ruined almost every meteor shower we were supposed to see this summer, but now it was going to ruin the Harvest Moon…and it didn’t even look bad outside! WTF.

It came during dinner – a sprinkling, then a breezy rain, then the wind. Hard wind. We sat at the table and watched, and then, as if on cue, all three of us jumped up and ran to different windows in the house. Hail. Balls of hail were plummeting down to the green ground and grey lake. The power went out, and within a few seconds the deck and ground were covered in white. The wind and pounding hail made the lake look like a rolling sea that was about to rise up and crest over the land.

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

When it was over, we took pictures of the hail, and I walked outside to see if there had been any huge damage. The first breath stopped me in my tracks: The hail had stripped the trees, leaving an overwhelming scent of pine mingled with the fresh chill of the hail. It was literally all I could do, to just stand there and breathe in and out.

For hours I laid on Daniel’s bed, holding up a book and a flashlight, waiting for the power to come on. When it finally did, around 9:30, I walked outside to see that the skies had cleared, leaving a few sparkling stars and the Harvest Moon, hanging in balance over the lake.

I pulled my wellies on, grabbed a plaid flannel, and walked down the little hill to the dock. The Harvest Moon is my favorite. It always feels more like a living, breathing thing than during any other phase. The light reflected off the chilly lake, and I stood on the dock, thinking about this summer. It was finally over, I thought.

When I first got here, I wrote this post about it, about making it into this magical thing. And it actually worked. Looking back at the things I wrote, the pictures I took, and the memories I created…I kind of want to cry. I was lucky, this summer. It wasn’t always awesome or perfect or exactly how I thought it would be, but it was definitely one kick-ass season in my life.

Here is a collection of sorts.

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

When I first got to the cabin in the beginning of May, it was flippin’ cold. I’m talking seeing-your-own-breath, hands-and-nose-cold, can’t-even-stand-to-be-there-for-longer-than-20-min cold. So I taught myself how to build fires in the fireplace. And I got pretty good, too…although my super sweet ARTCRANK volunteer t-shirt ended up laying victim to an ill-fated match-lighting session.

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

Every day, I would take my family’s dog, Dutch, for a walk with me in the woods. These became so beloved that I often did it twice a day – I’d throw on my plaid flannel, a pair of jeans, strap on boots, cue up the Nerdist podcast, and set out with Dutch down the snowmobile trails. Most of the time I would zone out on the podcast and start formulating plots to YA novels I wanted to write…seriously, where better to think up a kick-ass YA Fantasy than in the middle of the woods, right? And what better inspiration for one than an evil demonic tree:

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

The deck, dock, and lake were also a huge part of the summer. The deck, of course, was where I learned that my dream of being like Snow White had finally come true, and the forest animals had seen into my good, kind soul and decided to become friends with me. (“Forest animals” meaning “hummingbirds.”)

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

And, as often as I could, I took myself down to the dock to read, meditate, swim, flip off wave runners, stare at clouds, drink beer, watch the sunset/sunrise…

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

 

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

 

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

There was also a lot of stellar time on the pontoon with my family. And beer. But mostly, my family.

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

My friend Erica and my friends Katy and Melissa all made a trip up to the cabin, and we had an AMAZING time. Erica and I got up super early to watch the sunrise on the lake…

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

Photo Courtesy of Erica Cantoni | BeenThinking.tumblr.com

And Melissa and Katy and I learned how useful our Groucho Sports Supply water bottles could be for keeping bugs and other things of nature out of our wine when having a campfire.

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

If that’s not a stellar endorsement to buy one, I don’t know what else is.

In an effort to maintain my sparkling social skills and ensure that I did not become a crazy lady who wanders the woods at night, I participated in a writing group, made a few trips down to Minneapolis to see my friends…

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

Took on a barista job…

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

Met friends for stuff in the surrounding area…

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

With Jon Vick at Tom’s Burnt Down Cafe on Madeline Island

 

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com
With Dave at the 4onthefloor/Willie Nelson concert at Bayfront in Duluth 

And ended August with an amazing four days with the Bauschy crew up at their cabins in Longville, MN, where I proceeded to do nothing but take pictures of my niece-by-proxy Madelyn during her every waking hour.

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

{Prehistoric Amber} The End. | AmberLCarter.com

As for the things that I did not do this summer, the list is as follows:

Finish my book 
Get laid
Morph into Heidi Klum’s body double
Make a million dollars by sitting around on the internet 
Befriend a mystical wolf
Write a box-office-busting teen movie 
Get eaten by a demon from the Evil Tree 

So goodbye, summer adventure in the woods.

It was pretty magical, wasn’t it?

Written & published September 21st, 2011

// 

For more writing like this, check out An Amber Colored Life Book, available on pre-order now!

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About Amber L.

Hi! I'm Amber. I've been telling stories with books and blogs since 2004. I also spent 10 years working as a behavior therapist, which I now put to proper use by publishing thought pieces and dissertations on '80s pop music and the defining TV shows of our current times ('The Bachelor', 'Vanderpump Rules', etc). I can also be credited with single-handedly ruining the city of Portland, OR just by moving here.

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