Desiderata

I want a dog.

I want to live where the color of summer is green.

I want a quiet dirt road where I can feel the mountains in the air.

Where the spring snows cling to the shadows.

I want a place on this road that will always feel like home.

And in it, a room full of books.

I want to work hard.

But, I will find joy in that labor. To write words that will – in some small way – help. To rake mountains of leaves in the fall and cut wood for the fire that will – on some winter nights – feel like a treasure stolen from the gods.

I want to play.

By this I mean to be in motion. To climb trees and behind their leaves pantomime hide and seek until I am very, very old and very, very gray.

I want the freedom to wander away, to disappear for days on end.

It may not always matter where or when, but simply that I can and, most of all, that I can always, always come home to warm my fingers on a cup of black coffee…

With a dala horse watching from the windowsill.

––

These are my desired things.

That which I will seek until I find.

Everything else is negotiable.

∆∆

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In Between Home

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Have you ever experienced the feeling of being not-quite-home?

I’ve been in this place a lot, at the intersection of one life and the next.

Where the place I am doesn’t feel familiar enough, but the place I’ve left feels just as strange.

It’s been more than six months since I packed up my world and moved to Boulder. 

But, Boulder doesn’t feel like home yet, either. I step through my routine of sleep, coffee, work, run/bike/hike, repeat. Write a little. Read a little. Call my mother. Send love notes to my friends.

And yet, Boulder isn’t quite home yet.

The landscape (dry, even after weeks of rain) is so foreign to me. The flora (sequoia pines that smell like butterscotch when you press your nose against their bark, sage growing wild by the trail). The fauna (rattlesnakes, mountain lions, magpies).

I hike and sit on the rocks, slowing turning bright red from sunburn, looking out over the plains with something akin to confusion. Then, I turn my back and look west toward the mountains, bravely white-capped against the warming world.

In the city I make small talk at the coffee bar. I bike along the creek to and from work. The living is easy here. Easier, I think, than what I’m used to. Even having a food allergy is impossibly easy. “I have a soy allergy–“ “Oh, we don’t use soy in this restaurant.” “What? No soy in anything? Not even the chocolate cake?” “That’s right.” “Give me six of the chocolate cake, then!”

I learned to make Cuban coffee in a moka pot, although I use less than half the normal amount of sugar. I learned, too, how to stuff herbed butter under the skin of a Cornish Game Hen and how to trim climbing skins and how beautiful the Flatirons are when illuminated by alpenglow.

The beer’s not as good here. But the mixed drinks are much better.

I’ll make it back to Vermont next summer, I hope. Right now, I’m on my way to Baltimore for my cousin’s wedding and I wonder, I can’t help but wonder: what will it feel like to come… home?

Climber’s Faith

Now here is something worth writing about:

In all sports, you must learn to trust your body. In skiing, you place your trust in the power of your legs, the pressure of your shins against the front of the boot, the angle of your hips. You trust your body to control your speed and propel you forward, to absorb impact and launch you into flight.

But I think… In one sport, it’s less about trust and more about faith. Trust has a logical basis. Faith is at least a little illogical. Faith requires a willful denial of logic. Which sport is this? Climbing.

In climbing, you must have faith that your hand will not slide and that the strength in your fingers is enough to hold steady. You must have faith that your reach will expand that extra inch, that your jump will bring you just a little bit farther than seems possible.

More than anything, you must have faith in your feet. Faith in the ability of your feet to find a hold where none exists, to turn rock crystals into a perch that will bear your weight just long enough to follow your momentum to the next hand hold, the next foothold-that-isn’t-there, anything to move forward.

Can you tell that I just went climbing after a hiatus of years?

Climbing near Stratton
Climbing near Stratton

I was very rusty. It was awesome.

Out with the old, in with the new.

I don’t know about your ski resort, but it’s definitely been a busy summer at mine. Here I was worried that I wouldn’t have anything to do. I couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a different kind of busy than it is in the ski season, but it definitely is busy.

Like today.

Today, Stratton welcomed the first shipment of new gondola cabins. If you are familiar with the original cabins, you’ll know that this upgrade is long overdo.

Why, hello there, you sexy thing.
Why hello, Gorgeous.

I am roundly and soundly exhausted.

Wanderesolutions

This is Megan, a performer from Quixotic. She and her team were absolutely amazing. Awe-inspiring & delighting. I'm also really, really proud of this photo. http://quixoticfusion.com/
This is Megan, a performer from Quixotic. She and her team were absolutely amazing. Awe-inspiring & delighting.
I’m also really, really proud of this photo. http://quixoticfusion.com/

I’m coming down from the high of Wanderlust-Stratton. While I’ve worked every day since the 16th, supporting the festival was hardly labor. As my first festival experience, I spent the entire four-day period wrapped in wonder, exploring. I’m sad to say I didn’t suck the marrow from the festival, but I’m also not surprised. I didn’t know how much I would be needed in the office, so didn’t sign up for many classes or lectures. I popped in on a few, but found that my body was so out of yoga shape that I was nearly crippled by day four, conveniently when I decided I wanted to do a Chi Running workshop.

Suffice to say I did not make it to the workshop.

But, even without the Chi Running coaching, I still feel kicked out of a weird little funk. See, I was not built for sitting still or windowless rooms. To remind myself of this, I want to write down my Wanderesolutions.

  • Move every day.
  • Explore, with wonder.
  • Write where someone else can see.
  • Appreciate the wealth in simplicity.
I totally posed this photo.
I totally posed this photo.

The first two points need no explanation. They come from Wanderlust directly. To move one’s body and explore everything, inside and out.

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Om shanti shanti shanti.

The second two merit, I think, some introduction. To write where someone else can see is to write bravely. Which means, mostly, writing here. But also, I’d like to write for publication. I’ve said this for years. Now that I’ve claimed my quiet places in both the woods and our house, it’s time to make time for that. To do it, perhaps with shyness, but to do it anyway.

As to simplicity. In middle school, I bought a copy of “Walden.” I started reading it, as evidenced by a few underlined passages. Past the pencil lines, I see a self-conscious un-understanding; knowing these things were personally significant while being uncomfortably aware that the words were not really significant yet. Like an premonition. It makes way more sense now.

In short, between now and next year, I have an awful lot of Wanderlusting to do. Let’s go.

Numbering Nature

Last night I held a firefly in my hands. I held it and marveled at how something so light could possibly shine so brightly, so fiercely, and for so short a time. Ever helpful, I scooped it off of the outside door and carried it to the side of the house within sight of the rest of his brethren. Fireflies, lighting up the yard under a canopy of stars. This is why I like living in the country.

Last week I caught frogs and crayfish with my nephews. This week, I caught fireflies and bottle flies and several mice of varying sizes. I’ll be honest. The bottle flies and mice did not survive the encounters.

I’ve seen deer illuminated by headlights and turkeys stirred into motion only by the honk of a horn. I almost stepped on a garter snake, have seen painted turtles on the side of the road. I said hello to the neighborhood fox on one of my runs, but I haven’t seen the lynx since November. When I sat with myself in the woods, I closed my eyes and wondered what I’d do if I found myself eye-to-nose with a black bear.

No moose or ticks yet, either, but plenty of spiders, crickets, and flies of various biting capabilities.

A luna moth with a bent wing. Chickadees and crows and small birds I don’t know the names for. Hawks with their heads turned regally away – I’m not worthy of their notice.

Minnows around my toes. Gypsy moth caterpillars. Ants. So many ants.

These are all of the reasons I live in the country.

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Take pleasure in the rain

You know those rainy days when you find yourself questioning?

Your work. Your play. Your relationship with other human beings. Your relationship with yourself. Come on. You know what I’m talking about. The days when one question tumbles into ten, a hundred, more than you care to count.

On that day, I highly recommend going out to enjoy the rain. Stand in the parking lot with your head tilted back, face to the sky. Close your eyes and feel the spaces between the rain. Feel the impact of the air, feel the comforting coolness of the water as it slides into your eyes and runs from jaw to clavicle.rain

Forget for a moment to pull your rain coat over your head. Forget that you’re supposed to be inside cooking dinner or returning phone calls. Forget the spreadsheets, the grocery list, the laundry piled in a disheveled heap on the bed. Forget.

And take a minute’s pleasure in the rain.

Rinse. Repeat until you feel clean.