Where we were.

February 23, 2015

Where we were.

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big cloud at buta

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buta

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sunset from the phonebooth

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evening clouds and horses

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seeds at buta

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leonidas

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Patagonia, Argentina.

Somewhere out there in the wind.

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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

Overwhelmed, overcome

Though sometimes there is foresight to cling to like a torch.

 

I knew before I went.

 

To escort.

 

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.

~

 

It’s personal.

 

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?

 

Escorting.

New life.

Old life.

The eternal powerful process.

Assisting, perhaps only observing

A woman through the greatest transformation of her own life.

 

Simply escorting.

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

eternal mother

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.

 

Intense.

~

 

Now.

 

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.

~

 

Before.

 

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.

~

 

Overwhelming.

 

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.

 

Grounded.

 

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

Wind.

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

run away.

 

Is that the land I am meant to be attached to?

Or the people.

People. That is what matters most.

You see?

Don’t you?

It was

Intense.

~

 

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.

 

Home.

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(for Forrest)

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leaf in ice

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cold cabin

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rose hip

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winter leaves

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Done.

November 14, 2014

Done!

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done1

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That’s all she wrote. At least, that’s it for this year.

Enough for now. Time for a change.

This morning we wake to a thick cover of snow.  Winter has come to the high country. Right on time.

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where the new house will be

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going loggin

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Ten and a half months ago…

We felled our first tree from across the frozen river.  Dead standing.  Beetle kill. Dragged it across the Rio Grande in the dark depths of winter.

Each one dragged, stockpiled, lifted, stacked, lifted again, milled, peeled, grinded, measured, cut, fit and fine tuned. Each a work of art.  A living museum. A tribute to the trees.  Our trees. Our home.

Now there’s a house. Built of love.  Not much blood, sweat and tears.  How about that.  Rather, this one’s made from good stuff. Dang, it feels good.

There’s a lot of love built into them there walls.

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finishing up

 

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details

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We did it.  Reached the goal of getting the new house closed in by winter.

The metal roof is on. Bring on the snow. It’s coming in plentitude. Fine by me.  Now, we’re outa here for a while. Forrest is back at the South Pole. And Bob and I are flying south as well.  We’re migrating again.

My goose, however, will be remaining here.

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evening up lost trail

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So much good stuff.  So many good things. So many good people.  All I need is some time to reflect. Time to appreciate it all.

Time.  Something we’ve not had enough of.  Maybe free time is over rated.  Love, gratitude, progress… these things remain plentiful.  Well then – how lucky indeed I am.

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on evening walk

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Passing the reins on here to a couple of good friends willing and able to take on the adventure that winter is here alone on the snowy mountain at 10,000 feet.

Us, well, we’re heading back into summer.  We’re done up here, at least for now, ready to take a break, take on a new challenge, head off for a new adventure. We’re ready to welcome a new life… with open arms and a heart so full and still growing bigger… this is indeed a wonderful life!

~

this morning

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I held my breath

As around me wind

Roared though

my silence could not hide

me and I found myself

captured enwrapped and

seduced once again by

the elements

lifting heaving and embracing

dancing in the wind

~

gvg

~

You can take the dog away from one wild mountain, but you better find another to put him in.  Some of us belong where the pavement ends. Far beyond.

And for those of you worried about the goose.. Rikki did not fly south, and we can’t take him (though Gunnar gets to go).  After months of wondering what best to do for him, I received this from a fellow goose lover:

“…Rikki is imprinted on you as his mom …He seems happy where’s he’s at.  Geese are incredibly hardy.  …  I definitely feel that he should remain…”

It felt I finally heard the right words. I listen to those feelings.

So, he’ll remain here with the cats, horses, hens and a caretaker who is going to have to see what works best for taking care of a semi-wild Canada goose in the high snowed in mountains through winter.

If you have any advice, please let me know. I want to do the right thing.  It’s been an interesting trip just having this bird a part of our lives.

~

rikki

~

On one hand, I’m exhausted, sore, splintered and sawdust covered.  On the other I’m bursting with joy and love and gratitude for all the good stuff and all the good people and new friends and new connections with old ones and love, dang it, so much love.  (Yes, I’m feeling sappy. Surely from all those trees…) Especially for my boys, my team. We built this house, this life, together.

And now my trees sit safely stacked into what is now our forever home.  Maybe we’ll stay here lots; maybe not so much; but it will always be ours. Always be home. Always be the nest we can return to. Comfort.  House.  Home.

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roof done

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That’s all she wrote.  For this chapter.  Onto the next.  Less than a year ago, these trees were still standing dead.  Now they take the stories they shared of the silence, wild and wind and pass them onto me, my family, a new lifetime, generations lasting less than it took these trees to grow.

Starting new stories of our own.

Together with the trees.

In the last eleven months, we built a house, starting with harvesting the raw materials on up, the three of us (and a few remarkable helpers from time to time, and I must say, at just the right time every time!).  I published two books and edited and started pitching a third, and writing a fourth.  I moved my family twice.  I dove in head first to learn the art and science of midwifery, the miracle of birthing, and the power of the woman. I ran a little business (our guest ranch) and still had time to make sure we ate fresh bread and watched the sunset and listened to each others silly stories and same old jokes.  And we smiled. And every morning I woke up excited to see what the day would bring, though a few mornings I was happy to have that day begin a little later.

My hands are sore and swollen; my eyes bloodshot from the sun, wind, sawdust; my muscles longing for a tub I don’t yet have.  The only day off I’ve had in months was the horse ride with Ellen in autumn color, and I’ve regretted none of it.  Once again I say:  if it wasn’t me living like this, I would wish it was.

May not see you for a while. But I’ll be thinking of you.  Hoping for the best.  Talk to you when we’re back, sometime before the snow melts.

And now, the page is turning.  I’m putting this book down for a while and picking up the next. Where will this one bring me?  Where am I off to next?

The wind is calling…

I’m going dancing in the wind!

~

leaf

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Fall rising.

September 22, 2014

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autumn on pole mountain

 

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horses on fall pasture

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If nothing else, a slide show for you, sharing progress on the house, fall color, and this beautiful world we live in with you.

Only you know me. There will be more.  I’ll get to writing, to words, to sharing, rambling… and then I’ll be here longer than I planned, when really, you know, what I should be doing is getting back to work…

(please click on individual photos to see them larger if you’d like)

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as if the trees were not enough color

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early fall behind the new cabin

 

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various shades of trees

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On building our home together.

Some days I’m tired.  I think we can’t do it. We’ll never get it closed in by serious snow fly.  We’re in over our head. What were we thinking and when will it be over.  Not another day of getting covered in sawdust and wood chips and beetle shells.

Most days, though I think this.  We’re doing it.  Ourselves.  This incredible, beautiful home on the cheapest budget you can imagine.  Yes, I’m actually very proud of that part.  I’m a cheapskate at heart, it’s true, but it’s more than that.  I’m proud that we harvested the main materials from our own land, used salvaged and surplus when we could, and are doing the work ourselves. The three of us. By us, for us.  The only paid labor was help with the foundation, a worthy start to this project.  Yes, the borrowed equipment and expert advice and occasional helping hand from good friends is always appreciated, a tremendous help, and at times, just what we need.

It’s an odd work site. Sure, there’s a dog, usually a cat, and always a goose hanging around so watch your step and check under your truck before you drive away.  Lots of visitors, which although they bring much distraction, usually bring much encouragement and support and appreciation for what we’re doing too. (And groceries, seriously, which are a blessing as we haven’t taken much time to get to town to stock up!) And I come to realize realize that it is not in spite of these kind and caring visitors and distractions, but because of them at times, that we are inspired, fueled and lightened.

I tell one that this will be the first permanent home Forrest ever had. He’s twenty one.  That’s a lot of years of fluctuation. Twelve moves in his first three years; then he lived at a kids camp, then a guest ranch.  Finally, his own place.  He’ll just have to share it with us. After all, for me, there were ten years before Forrest came into my life that I too had my fair share of stories of being homeless or a vagabond and moving around at least once a year… so I must say, having a solid foundation that we can call ours is a thrill for me too.  Interesting to note that these roots do not tie one down, but give one greater to strength to fly.  But that too is another story.

Will we make it?  Get the roof on, windows in, sealed up by serious snow fly?

Wait and see.  We’re only a month away…

(Hey Al – That beautiful bottle of champagne your brought us is already on ice!)

~

construction progress to date

 

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vega fest

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brayden milling

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boys working

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log wizard

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Autumn falls heavy.  Shorter days, cooler air, longer shadows, crisper light. Wool sweaters and warm work gloves and hot coffee at lunch break. For this fleeting season our world turns  so brief but fiercely to contrasting shades of vibrant gold with earthen browns and grays.

I’m ready to move on.  We’ve been camped out since the end of May. Down by the work site in a one room cabin without plumbing or power for a light, and finally I’m ready for running water, an indoor toilet and hot shower, a kitchen sink, an electric light that all you have to do is flick a switch to get results. Sure, I love my candles, oil lamps, outhouse with a view, the sound of rain on the uninsulated tin roof of the Little Cabin, and song of the ever present Rio Grande, but it’s time. Almost. Soon, I start to hope. Maybe I’ll miss standing under the stars and the brilliant swath of the Milky Way to brush my teeth, but I won’t miss having to run out into the rain in the middle of the night to squat in the cold wet grass.

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horses on fall pasture 2

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canella

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tres

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bob and bayjura

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As you walk down the dirt drive to the cabin, the silence of the mountain embraces you, hills rise on all side like a visual symphony glowing in the autumn glory of turning aspen blending with the browning beetle killed trees, rising to the golden grasses of the late season high country above tree line and the sharp contrast before steel grey sky portending another storm.

Suddenly you are there, and you hear it. You have arrived. The Rio Grande. You are swallowed and consumed and it’s not with fear or loathing but clarity and purity and a sense of old wild ways knowing this river has been cutting its path so long before you were there, so long after you leave. And still you are seduced by the song of the river and absorbed by the eternal hum of autumn’s swollen course painted with dirt from higher grounds, blending our world with that of some place I have never been, so many places, down river, eight miles away, a hundred, or down to the Gulf of Mexico.

This is not the angry roar of spring melt out you hear but heavy rich milky waters bringing a melancholy song of primordial longings as the geese fly over head in formation in the early morning, and my meant to be wild one but oh-so-tame Rikki remains firmly planted in my front yard.

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rikki and forrest

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rikki on slabs

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gunnar

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Heavy rains in an early fall storm.  Finally some time to sit and catch up on correspondence and business and never enough time to write before heading back out there in between storms, grateful it’s only rain.  Winter is coming…

Between early mornings and those blessed rain storms, I managed time to reach my personal goal/deadline of finishing a revised copy of my third manuscript.  I am pleased. Now onto the next!

Meanwhile, the guest cabins are full, main camp is bustling, some wonderful folks around enjoying the fall color, to be followed by the camaraderie and excitement of hunting season, followed by the late season calm for the select few tourist game enough to give it a go before our world turns white… And then… Oh, don’t ask. Not now.  One thing at a time.  Today presents plenty.  More than enough.  Better yet, just right!

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grass seed

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cinquefoil

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aspen leaves

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untouched fall color

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As for book business…

I just received the good news that Barnes and Nobles has accepted The Last of the Living Blue.  This is a thrill and honor.  From what I understand, unlike Amazon who accepts all books (and sells the most too), B&N carefully review all books and watch progress of sales and interest before taking you on.  So this is great news for me, and I hope you might help by checking to see if your local B&N might be one of the select stores to carry my books – and if they do not, perhaps with your request, they will!

Much gratitude for the wonderful review of The Last of the Living Blue shared on Amazon and Goodreads by acclaimed author Gwendolyn Plano.

Finally, special thanks to friend and fellow horseman and blogger, Julian of White Horse Pilgrim, for actually coming (over the ocean and through one enlightening journey across this country) to visit us and our wild mountain.  As you can imagine, the world seemed a little smaller, closer and more comfortable when shared with good friends, good horses, and good food together!  Here are some of the photos Julian took of our work and shared. Thank you, my friend!

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julian 1

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julian 3

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julian 8

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julian 2

 

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julian 4

~

 

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