Night Apostles

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for the soft and murky forms in the silence of the dark
the apostles of the night
the winged and pawed and taloned and clawed
as they blaze their dusky trails on powdered scales and padded feet

for the limited
soft
language
of their eyes and wings

their tenderly rendered commitments written in the ancient lexicon of light:
to the stars
to the moon
to the black gardens where they cry their tears (don’t sleep don’t sleep
stay awake with me until dawn)

to the short and teetering span of their lives
guided by the low and looping rise of night
the lighter side of distant upturned stones
the intuitive hearts

to their cocked antennae
tide streaming
trade wind riding
desperate souls

to their steady navigation
their confusion
their death by candle
their birth by fire

to their mastery of blundering flight on thin
paper
wings
to the adaptations of the compass in their soft
young
bones
to their thrumming flight apparatus bearing
them
carefully
home

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Now in the shop.

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Would they be as splendid and lovely if they could last forever?IMG_9771

A Vision Of Trout — And An Orvis Partnership

IMG_9314I cannot believe my ears and mind were able to isolate the sound in the first place.  It’s a miracle that I heard it.  I was running on a single track, my footsteps driving me forward through the woods in rhythmic, soft thumps.  The wind was in the scrub maple and aspen, the dogs were crashing through underbrush on the hunt for voles, chipmunks and grouse.  In the swirling ocean of sound around me, I heard a still, small noise — the soft licking tone of a trout nose breaking the surface of water.  I stopped as soon as I heard it, my upper body and knees objecting to inertia, and I slowly turned my head to the right, to look down into the clear, cold waters of City Creek.  My eyes adjusted to the play of shadow and light on the surface of the water and there, in the rapidly moving translucence strewn with twigs and last summers leaves, I saw the speckled back of a native cutthroat trout, busy with the calm and stabilizing flutter of fins and tail; treading space and time.

I gasped aloud to myself!  It was a nice little fish, I estimate it was eight inches in length which sounds like nothing to write home about, I know, but allow me to tell you about City Creek.  City Creek is a spring creek that flows, year round, off the West Bench of the Portneuf Valley.  It runs cold, clear and bright, as spring creeks do.  At its widest, it might measure four feet in width.  While there are some deeper pools on it’s course, it is, for the most part, roughly three inches deep.  It is precious to me because Robert and I are the sole owners of water rights to this creek and its waters have fed and grown our property here in Pocatello since it was first established as a fruit orchard 117 years ago.  Our water rights are historic and deeded to our property.  Water rights in the West are a holy thing, people use to kill each other over water here and there’s still a lot of fighting that goes on regarding every drop that comes out of the sky and off the mountains in the interior West.  The water is our lifeblood, our livelihood, the thing that dictates the quality of our existence in many ways; it’s also the stuff we stalk in search of some of the most beautiful critters on God’s green earth: trout.

Beyond the actual implications of basically owning the water in City Creek, I view this water as one of the crown jewels of our home.  The West bench rises up from our property here in Pocatello and I view the mountains I see out the front windows of my home as my front yard — a space I play in every single day and take great delight in exploring.  To have seen, for the first time in my seven years of life in this valley, a native trout in what I consider to be my creek, was nothing short of a miracle.  A miracle!

Furthermore, just past our home, City Creek plunges off a nine foot tall cement wall that was installed in 1965 to help control flooding in the heart of Oldtown.  This is the other reason why seeing this fish shocked me out of my skin — it’s old stock.  I consider it impossible for any fish to have recently made its way up City Creek from the Portneuf River!

As I stood there on the bank of my creek and looked down into the water at my miracle trout, I heard him rise to kiss the air a few more times and marveled at the music of the sound that plucks at the heartstrings of fly fishermen and fisherwomen around the world.  Is there any music quite like trout rising up against the thinness of the sky to simply touch the air with a blunt nose or slurp a bug off the seam that stitches the heavens to the waters?  I think not.  It’s a sound I live for, it’s a sound that drives me mad, it’s a sound that calms the senses.  I crouched down and stayed there, watching my fish skitter about the shallows, until he hit a splashy pocket of water beside a large stone and was carried away by the current, down the mountain, closer to the sea.  I sighed aloud, stayed there a while longer, in the absence of time, in the shade of the woods, on the edge of a trout home, on the narrow and rippling shoreline of a speckled life lesson.

Eventually, I picked myself up off the creek bank and kept on running up the trail, passing in and out of light and shadows, feeling my skin warm in the sunshine as the wind combed my hair.  I was thinking hard about that trout and pulling forth the life lessons and truths from his appearance in my life that afternoon.  I thought about how steadily that fish approached life no matter the strength of the current or the depth of the water.  He simply navigated, to the very best of his abilities, the waters he found himself in.  I thought about persistence, longevity, survival, simplicity, legacy and as always, the notion of home.

My feet carried me higher up the mountain, into the arms of the wind and the warm spice of the juniper stands.  I felt my mind relax as I fell into the space and calm that comes to me when I run big distances — the place where the world around me seems to pause and pulse with delicate details and infinite opportunity, the place I physically, emotionally and mentally break free of my shackles.  I covered many miles, pushed up and over switchbacks built of mafic rubble, entered deeper into the sunshine and bluebird sky, and somewhere along the way I felt my true, free-self, gently press up against the smooth surface of the world around me and I know I made that same music the trout makes when it reaches up to touch the sky.

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I’m pairing up with Orvis for the next while to help them celebrate women and men who love the outdoors.  They are currently holding a photo contest with plenty of great, quality prizes.  You can enter images in the contest with your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts using the hashtags #orvis and #findyourpause .

The photo contest is for USA-icans only and is open until May 20th — so hurry up, submit a few photos and get inspired for the summer months and that good old outdoor living.

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A Roundup!

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IMG_9056IMG_9199IMG_5049 IMG_5069Lately, it feels a little like everyone owns me — and that’s ok.  There are times to work and times to play; right now, I’m working really, tremendously hard.  I am working my hardest.  I love being able to say that!  I value hard work so much.  It’s like diesel in a big truck — it will take you places!

As of tomorrow afternoon, I will have all current projects finished and will be ready to begin fresh on some new things both with my camera and in the studio.  Yes!  The studio!  I am hanging on to every last second I have in there and will not begin to break it down and pack it up until Rob arrives home from Washington on Friday — and even then, while packing, I’m going to be singing a joyful song because I get to go with him this summer and that’s the only thing that really matters to me right now.

Meanwhile, it is 9:37PM and I have the kettle on the stove; I’m about to make a french press, it’s going to be a long night.

Life has been more full than usual lately.  I suppose I am adjusting to Robert’s current absence, an inundation of work, a continuously growing property that needs to be snipped, clipped, pruned and mowed, three neurotic dogs that require my constant attention…the list goes on and on but to be frank, I wouldn’t have any other list.  I mean, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Even on the most overwhelming days, help comes to me in mysterious ways (thank you for mowing my lawn today, Griffon) and I know I’m being taken care of, no matter how much I say yes to, no matter how much I take on.

I think of you all so often and cannot wait to resume a more regular schedule here of sharing and interaction.

Until then,

The Plume

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IMG_5946I’m just home from the backcountry of Utah where I was on a jaunt and a shoot with a pair of girls I am blessed to call friends.  It was a wild old trip.  The night sky gave me vertigo.  The canyons blew my mind.  Carrying a 60ish pound pack (which was, in part, 9L of filtered water) didn’t kill me, it just made me stronger.  The 45mph boat wreck we survived on the Colorado River on our way back to civilization gave me a gentle case of whiplash (wish I could say I’m joking, but I’m not).  When I wasn’t perishing of thirst I felt like I was starving to death.  It was a proper adventure, the whole thing, from start to finish.  I always say it’s the most dire times that make the best stories and I look forward to writing out the official story of this trip.

I keep telling myself this, these days, “It’s a hell of a life.”  Because it is, my friends, it is.  There’s really no other way to word it.

We’re now finished with a batch of renovations at our little abode and will be listing the house for sale quite soon.  I have mixed feelings about it.  This has been such a wonderful home for us but there is more life calling and we want a bigger patch of land to call our own.  I have to leave again on Wednesday for Wyoming where I’ll be working hard with my camera on a fairly exciting project — one of my biggest and most official jobs yet, as a photographer — wish me luck!  Once home again, I’ll be able to fit one more week of work into the studio here before I begin to pack everything up for our move to the Methow Valley for the duration of the fire season.  After that, everything is grey matter.  We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know where we’ll be living next winter and life details will shake out as they do.  If I’m even harder than usual to get ahold of between now and June it’s because I’m dug up, dangling in thin air with my roots exposed to the wind and sunshine.

I hope you’re all well.  Spring, here, has been such a hoot!

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