April 13, 2015
There is an intense clarity found in springtime in the high mountains. It is not beautiful, but real and raw. It hides nothing. Like a truth you cannot escape. An inner stirring as the outer winds churn cold and biting from over the Divide.
It is not a stunning time, but one of stark realities. You are left to face yourself, your world, in all its plainness. Earthen tones and unadorned branches that may snap in the strong gusts if not full and plump with awakening life and the memory of remaining flexible. A time to weed out the weak, prepare for the upcoming unfurling. Last year’s brown grass strewn with grey branches like abandoned dreams. I pick them up as I walk by and stack them in burn piles to clean up when the wind dies down and we’re ready for a quiet evening.
There is no draw here for tourists now. Instead this is the time to drag the pasture and fix fences, repair gates and clean up back roads. It is a time for work, not for fun and pretty and light and laughter and languid appreciation of abundant natural beauty though there is always that too no matter. It is quiet at first tired breath, then exhilarating in its wild rapture with roaring river and winds that blend into their own inseparable harmony.
It is not a time to blatantly behold, but rather discretely observe, for what you are witness to now is her nakedness. Soon she shall dress, slowly, in preparation for what will be.
Some days you’re fooled into believing it’s all over or just begun and then you wake to temperatures in the teens and dig into frozen ground and remember where you are in spite of longing for longer days, warmer rays and shorter shadows. Shade cast from the remaining white high hills obscures hopes of lush and green and leaves and blossoms for some time to come.
It’s quieter around here without the goose. I confess I snuck down to Ute Creek to check on him. Only once. There was a big flock newly arrived of geese, ducks and smaller birds enjoying a warm brown open pool in the otherwise still ice covered expanse. And about a hundred yards away on a stretch of frozen mud, was one solitary goose looking back towards the others. What do you think? Yeah, that’s what I thought too.
In the meanwhile, there’s this independent hen… Ever hear of such a thing? In all my years of raising chickens, I never had. But sure enough. We got one here now. One of our free range hens decided she is not in need of flock nor rooster (though he’s quite in need of her and tries often to herd her home). Instead she prefers our porch, picnic table, the wood pile outside our front door. Go figure what’s worth scratching for in there. She’s outside our cabin at any given time of day. Though I’ve never been liberal in giving credit to a chicken’s sensitivities and insight, it’s as if she knows she’s in a bird friendly zone (it is indeed with my very active bird feeder) and a family in need of a feathered friend.
Yesterday we pass by the lake of open water miles down river below our ranch. Bob drives slowly as I have my head out the window and that wind is cold. I’m looking. Carefully.
No, that’s not him, I say and he drives on.
How do you know, he asks me. I just know.
Stop. Here. No, not that one… but that one there could be… slow down… pull over!
Rikki, I call.
The one with the big head and the low honk flies off to an island a short ways away and fights with another one before landing. Rikki never behaved like that, I note to self, and then I realize this: He is a she!
And there she is, with another female. Swimming this way from the far bank.
Listen, I tell Bob. I can hear her before I see her. I know her voice. My Rikki!
She is calling to me. We holler, back and forth across the cold grey water…
She remains in the water, closer but never too close, talking together all the time, back and forth, as the dog runs along the bank and I wonder which of us Rikki misses more, but I sense that she won’t come clear to us, and she shouldn’t, and she doesn’t. And although I’d love to sit next to her and stare into her warm brown eyes and just chatter as the two of us have done so many times before, her distance feels right. I am happy for her. She has found her place. And it is beautiful.
I am humbled to realize how wild the wilds shall always be, and how domesticated I remain.
I stand to leave in the brown grass along the bank and kick someone’s spent shotgun shells littered along the spring soil.
March 26, 2015
Crack open like a fragile white shell
pumped and swollen in the warm early
chewed the solid river free
ravage the lingering white surface
like an eager lover
Grey waters, grey sky and a land of ashen hillsides
to patches of brown
a random quilt torn and worn with age
drown out the calls of the newly arrived
And the beloved trees stand a silent cold still vigil
Of brown branches and pale needles
And eternal roots entangled roots
Powerful in their ethereal presence
That can not be erased by tiny beetles
nor chased by a changing climate
entangled with those roots within me
the breath of a new season
So… about the goose.
A wildlife success story.
The pursuit of happiness is hardly limited to the human mind. I have looked deep into his warm brown eyes enough to know. He has been lonely, longing, wondering. I hope he is happy now though we may question both the importance we place on the state of happiness and the impermanence of an emotional state. In any case…
Rikki flew the coop. Or rather, the ranch. He’s down at Ute Creek with… geese!
I want to ride down there now to call him, have him fly to me, look deep into my cold grey eyes and remind me that yes, he loves me, he is grateful for my having raised him with love, kindness, care. But these things I already know.
When we returned from Argentina, we watched the poor guy endure big snowstorms and fend off the fox (after nights of trying to wake in time to “eliminate” the fox problem, I actually saw the bushy red fellow run right by that goose, both uninterested in the other, so I suppose they worked their thing out). We watched him do his best to follow his two and four legged family everywhere (you should see how well he now climbs cliffs and hikes through the trees). And still looking out the window from the warmth of my cabin out to the little feathered football in the snow, I felt a sadness and loneliness in him. Yes, in a Canada goose. Go ahead and laugh, but it’s true.
A few evenings ago, we’re out cooking dinner in the fire pit and I hear geese flying by. The first of the season. There’s just this tiny sliver of a moon and they’re following the river. Rikki remained by the fire with us, seemingly unaffected. Then the next day, I hear them mid day. Bob hears them while working down by the new cabin. Rikki was out on pasture grazing with the horses. Decoy, Bob has called him there. That’s the last we’ve seen of him. No feathers. No chance of a predator with my big beast of a barking dog out there with him. In my heart, I understand.
I’m happy but sad at the same time. I’m tempted to go check on him but know I should not. I should let him be. He is where he belongs.
And so am I.
Some things to consider.
My Ted Talk to Self for the Season.
Growing up I wanted to change the world. Didn’t you?
The two of us did. Said we would. Different ways.
Both wanted to change the shape of the box. Or perhaps it was the contents.
You said from within. I said from without.
You told me you’d work with the system.
Me, I wanted to free those trapped inside.
Neither of us were wrong or right.
It takes both kinds. All kinds.
But have we changed it yet?
I’m still trying.
I told you working within was Old School. The box is bigger now. Different. Everything changes. There should be no boundaries. Autonomy and liberation and expansive ideas. Silly me, you said. Maybe you are right. Maybe not.
Remember when I studied art? I’m remembering how it wasn’t until the 15th Century that we figured out perspective. We played with it, mastered it, and moved on. Beyond perspective; beyond Realism; beyond painting only that which we can see though the art form is something we look at. From Classic to Impressionism, Abstraction to Minimalism, Modern and post Modern. Where are we now? Evolving, always evolving…
As human beings we are constantly evolving – as a society, as individuals.
Those that don’t get stuck in the mud.
Try something new.
Look at those who have changed the world.
Those you admire most.
Are they within the box or without?
Chances are you’ll most admire those standing on the side you do.
How do we change the world?
Take charge, take responsibility.
Here’s a quick three step program to get you going.
I’ll let you know how it works – I’m on it.
Let me know how it works for you too.
Question the box and its contents.
Take a good hard look at what’s in there.
Clarity is powerful stuff.
Don’t accept mediocrity. Is good enough good enough?
Don’t accept the truths you were given unless they feel right, down to your very core.
Don’t accept the way that was if you think there can be better. Is the way it was the way you want it to be?
Don’t demand it in others until you can do it yourself.
Figure out where you want it to go.
And since you’re just working on yourself here, where do you want to go?
Who do you want to be? Now.
Not certain? Join the crowd.
Then be willing to step out of it.
Look around. Who do you admire most?
Be that person. Now.
Admiration – yes, even envy – is a call to action.
It’s not a green monster, but a great motivator.
What is it about that person that you want more of?
Rather than hate them for having it, figure out how to have it too.
Don’t take it from them either; that’s bad Karma.
Better yet, create it anew for you.
You can do it, be it, have it.
But you have to work for it.
I just read an article that said no matter what you read from Freud, you really can change your personality.
So, see? You can change something within you.
And if you can do that… then…
Well, let’s just start with that.
The article said all it takes is 12 weeks.
First, figure out what you want to change.
Then, figure out how you want it to be.
Then, for twelve weeks:
Actively be it.
Fake it till you make it.
In 12 weeks, it will be yours.
Right, we have to be realistic here. In 12 weeks, I’m not going to be 20 again. (Don’t worry – I really don’t want to be 20 again!) But I could be more, say, social. (Or maybe not.) Yes, I could, but I don’t know it that’s on my list of things to change. Being socially inept isn’t that bad. There are other things I need to work on first.
Choose something that matters most. Something that will make you feel better about yourself.
And if you feel better about yourself, well, don’t you feel better about your world?
So you see… in 12 weeks, you can change the world.
Just a little bit.
It’s a start.
What are we waiting for?
February 23, 2015
Where we were.
Somewhere out there in the wind.
What were we there for?
Only in retrospect do we clearly see.
When at the time we may be lost in dark depths or blinded by brilliant light
Though sometimes there is foresight to cling to like a torch.
I knew before I went.
Along the way, maybe I lost sight. For a little while, at least. It is hard to see when you are in deep. Retrospect and a wild ride and the grounding love of my family and my tribe brought me back to center.
I’ll put this out there. Read it if you want. I’ll share what I can. I won’t expect you to read it all, though hope you’ll enjoy if you do.
What happened to the personal?
We’re too busy to take the time, make the time, a new set of priorities, an epidemic of cluttered time, personal value and social status placed on how busy we can appear.
We’ve got to the point where by if we put it out there, post it, we assume all will know. Maybe I don’t know. And no, I won’t assume. If you want me to know, write me. Personally. Crazy concept, I know. Old fashioned. You’ll find I usually write back. Likewise, if it matters that much to me, if I need you to know, I’ll write you too. Personally.
For I am learning maybe you’ll read this, maybe you won’t; maybe this is for you, and maybe this is just out there, for the general public, an entertainment service. You decide.
What was I there for?
The eternal powerful process.
Assisting, perhaps only observing
A woman through the greatest transformation of her own life.
Mother and child do the work while I hold tight to the burden and honor of bearing witness, and little more.
And then we let go, and leave the new life with that which is seemingly old and wise as ever a woman can be, all knowing and eternal and the most beautiful connection and spirit and energy and light, bonding of the truest love, and time no longer matters or can be told except the here and now of mother and baby in enduring bliss.
As midwife, the passage is not ours. Though we are there beside her, go there, deep, stand vigil, hold tight, strong, nurturing, bearing witness to the transformation of life, of girl to woman, primal and passionate movement, motion;, the tribal ritual; going down deep into the most intense space a woman can go. And then the instant creation of motherhood, vital love, this is what it’s all about. Everything. To be there, with her, if no more than watching over, and giving the gift of trust that she knows I will do all I can to ensure safe passage, see that she returns from that wild space no man may ever know, with a babe at her breast suckling. All so she can let go, and fully experience this enigmatic process.
As midwife, we serve as escort. The greatest of honors. The careful observer, at best empowering and encouraging and ensuring safe passage. If we can, for how much is beyond man and medicine, things they will never fully know, and the more I know the more I realize I don’t, but what can I do because this is not mine, it is her hers, what she wants, and it is natural, and it will happen, or it won’t, and what can we really do but trust.
This was not only intense (and at times, I reflect back and admit: a bit insane), it was intimate. Being there for another woman turned out to be even more intense that doing it myself. Back twenty something years ago when I birthed, my midwife had not been there before, and didn’t know how deep a woman can go. She was afraid. I scared her. It can be a frightening place, the depths that a woman can dive into. I am not afraid.
Diving deep… And not alone. And then, being certain of the unwavering strength and core belief in women; our collective body, mind and soul; and life and the primal, passionate act of birth. Belief in her, and in myself – strong enough to bring them back.
I can’t explain it better yet. If you’ve been there, you know. If you haven’t, go there. Somehow. Try.
How deep can you go?
Birth brings life so close to
death and we are hanging
on by tendons tied to some
as strong and sweet as a first breath.
Life changing. Life creating. The elemental woman’s Right of Passage. Primal, powerful, passionate, ecstatic. Yes, it can be. It is.
The intensity of a bath. The horse trough in the living room, beside the wood stove. Drinking spring water a degree above freezing. Sweating. Here so far from pavement, anything seeming like solid ground. In quiet laughter, we recall sweating in Buenos Aires. The purity of sweat; cleaning from the inside out. Raising the body temperature; cleansing the pores down deep from the soul. If I sweat, I don’t get sick. If I’m getting sick, I need to sweat. This is good medicine. Simple stuff. Old Man Brinker taught me that.
Sit back and sweat in the water by the wood stove…
It all comes back, rolls over me in a steamy embrace of hot water in a horse trough by the wood stove with my husband. I want a glass of wine, taste the sweet tart cool richness on my lips and in my throat, but know this is the last thing I really need. I’m already dizzy. It is the heat. The relaxation. The utter letting go.
Several moons ago. (Tonight I saw a sliver of a new moon tipped up like an empty bowl, waiting to be filled, or just having been emptied.)
Tomorrow will be a better day. Today I’m ready to cry. I don’t want to. I want to be strong and make it through this whole huge undertaking without breaking down and being all girlie like, you know? I can take it, tough it out like the guys and make it without a full day off, and I want to dress warm and play hearty and pretend the snow and wet and cold don’t bother me… but today they do. And I’m tired and I’m scared that we won’t get it done and I sort of just wish it was done and we could take a day off and talk about something besides logs.
As commitments unfold and plans become and the reality of all this work and time and money and fear of how hard it is on Gunnar and fear of my own unknowns and my dear friend’s birthing and how little I still know yet how much I innately trust… these things solidify, and yet I do not become stronger, but more confused. I don’t not want the adventure – and I don’t want to remain here for fear of trying something else. But I worry that I’m just spitting in the wind and will find the same discontentment there, everywhere… when really what I must be working on is the contentment in myself.
I fear I’m going down into a personal darkness and Now is not the time.
A time in between without boundaries. The fear of the un known. Nightmares of Gunnar, losing him, city streets, hearing him bark, knowing he is trying to find us; and waking fear of Rikki, worry for his coldness, loneliness, missing out on that which could have should have might have been but was missed of natural life for a wild being. Fear of my inability to write, or find a proper publisher, or… what is the purpose of writing if not to share my words?
And then. A new beginning.
It starts in the air. Most of the greatest adventures do. Often at night, flying though the endless black,
And then I was there.
And most days I wondered why.
Because I love and want
to give but sometimes give too much and am left with
Cold and harsh and biting,
Stripped naked and whipped, exposed
to the elements, beaten and broken down by
the earth and air and water that feeds me.
Too hot or too cold, and Gunnar’s broken foot
becomes my own shackles so I cannot
Is that the land I am meant to be attached to?
Or the people.
People. That is what matters most.
Intense. Yes. This is where we were.
I’m not ready to share the stories, not here, not now.
They are personal and private, though part of it should be shared. I want you to know. I want you to be there with me. You too may never be the same.
In the meanwhile, I am here, home, my wild white mountain and state of solitude and serenity. My husband and dog and goose on the deck and horses and crowing rooster in the morning and blinding white afternoons.
Don’t be afraid to go deep.
You must go where you have not been, and that place must be farther than you thought you could go. It may not be a pretty place. It may be harsh and raw and real. There is where you’ll find what you are seeking – that inner part of your self. The elusive secrets to the self, the soul, life. Only when you are truly lost, giving up and opening to guidance to get you out alive, only then will you understand direction.
If we don’t go deep we remain but on the still surface. Dive into the mud. You will find your way out. And in the meanwhile, you will learn to swim. Open your eyes and drink it in. You will not be alone – that is the biggest surprise. And sometimes, what you will find in those depths are the richest of waters. The waters of life.
Drink in the intensity.
And then, my friend, where will you go?
Not where you were yesterday.
But I may still be there. Or you will be. And no matter how deep we go, me or you, let’s promise each other this. We won’t leave each other too far behind. I’ll look for you, find you, and bring you back. Carry you, drag you, or walk by your side. Don’t forget that.
And if you truly believe that, you can go deep.
Because you know I’ll be there with you.
Or at the least, waiting for you with a big fat grin when you make it back.