Gifts from McCall

Did I mention yet that our 2017 fire season is already humming?  Robert reported for duty a few weeks ago and he’s already jumping out of airplanes.  We’ve been going back and forth between the farm and the Airstream in McCall.  From the moon, we probably look like bees buzzing back and forth between the hive and the wildflowers.

Last time I drove to our fire town it gave me a couple visual gifts in the forms of incredible squalls, an amazing moonrise and a den of kits.  The journey also gave me my first speeding ticket of my life which was extremely mortifying.  We bought a new car, the Volkswagen Alltrack, to be exact.  It’s as sporty as Serena Williams.  In fact, it’s been difficult for me to get used to the zippy-ness of this new rig after driving lumbering trucks for the past thirteen years of my life.  Every time I think about it I feel so grumpy at myself for marring my perfect driving record.  I’m usually so diligent about setting cruise control and I almost always go a little under the speed limit, too, because I drive like a grandpa and eat nuts and sip kombucha and look for elk and antelope and osprey while I mosey along.  We still have all our trucks but it’s nice to have something dependable and easy to drive when I need to run to the city — our trucks all have 250K miles on them (or more) and I was starting to feel scared about driving them on long haul trips.  This will be the third VW I’ve owned.  The first was a 1971 Bug that was Baja’ed out — I tore around it in while we lived in Arizona.  The second was a 1973 camper bus (Omnibus?) — it was so much fun to travel and camp with.  I guess we’ve been Volkswagen fans for years!  I didn’t realize it until now!

Anyway, look at those foxes, would ya?  I felt lucky to find them and watch them.  They weren’t especially shy so I had a good long look at them.  What beauties.



the river is a mirror

what does not flow away
past the canyon ramparts
sets down roots
or scurries between boulders in the waters deep
scouring stone in wake and in sleep

I stand on the bank to bear witness
to all that remains
to all that changes beneath the bright cut of the meadowlark’s song
as he whittles winter with his tune
turning ice to gold

these clouds are gizmos
whirring towards the East
chasing the past as the sun slips
into the hot chrome of the sea
somewhere else

the shore is edged with newness
the grass
so sudden to turn bright
rattles like rapiers in the breeze
and lower down
in the mist of the rapids
new growth branches
like antler fronds
born only to eat the sun before

am I born the same
to consume this light
to lean into the wind
to divide
and split
so as to catch the sun and feel
God on every surface
to not turn away but to reach deeper
into the sky


7I9A2645 7I9A2655 7I9A2663 7I9A2669 7I9A2674 7I9A2682 7I9A2691 7I9A2698 7I9A27067I9A2725 7I9A2728 7I9A2733I place my very soul

as if coin by coin

into the land

the wind

the fire of the sun descending.

The only way I can see to grow is to

throw my roots down deep into the loam

align my fate with the fate of the deer


and sage hen.

I hope I leave my own trail of treasures

a tuft of fur on barbed wire

a lost flight feather gripped by the bitterbrush

the glow of my eyes in a pair of headlights.

I left pavement years ago

preferring the meandering hare trails

the prowling habits the coyotes press (step by step) into the river bank in the early evening light

the wide open arms of this hard territory.

My song turns orchestral, a blend of

bug wings humming

dying rabbit


shedding snake skin

sleet on spring creek


and the rock off the point at echo canyon that giggles like a baby in the river current.

I feel the basalt bite at my boot soles

I squint against the light of the bunch grass glowing

we head further in

carried like seeds

on a wind of change.

Winter Fire

7I9A7811 7I9A7861 7I9A7864 7I9A7892I have many favorite memories from my childhood but some of my favorites of all are the times my family went snowmachine-ing into Riding Mountain National Park from where we were stationed at Sugarloaf Station.  My dad drove his park issued, double-skied Bombardier in classic plainsman style — standing with one knee up on the seat, the other foot down on the running board to steady his body while his beaver fur hat flapped about in the -30C weather.  My sisters, mum and I rode in a sled behind with the dog on our legs to keep us warm.  The sled was tarped so we were out of the wind but it didn’t matter, it was still cold.  I remember looking out the back of the sled at the blur of the ice season in the spruce and the pale skin of the aspen hanging on to ratty bird nests, everything dull and dark and grey as the frigid sky.  I remember the terrible moments when the wind gusted and blowing snow poured into the back of the sled as we rode.  I remember the feel of the snow crystals on my face — brusque and prickly.  We would get to where we were going and my dad would shut off the snow machine; the sudden quiet of the woods was like a roar in my ears.  We’d all crawl out of the sled and we’d poke about in the woods and eventually build a little fire under a lumbering spruce (which you’re never supposed to do) and we’d stay a while.

My mum would unpack a picnic that included a thermos of hot chocolate, cookies, hotdogs for roasting, whole wheat buns for our roasted dogs and ketchup and mustard for the trimmings…sometimes a jar of sauerkraut, too, which I didn’t like until I grew up and my tastebuds settled down a bit.

Ever since those times, I’ve always known there’s nothing so wonderful as stopping in a winterscape to have a hot fire, a snack and a thermos of tea.  I’m telling you, it’s the very best and in a world of humans who speak often in wild hyperbole I want you to understand that I mean that statement with all my heart.

A picnic fire in the frigid heart of winter is the very best.

I’m thinking so much lately about my younger years, those developmental times that built a sort of foundation for who I am now as a human, a lady, an outdoorswoman, a full time creative and small business owner.  I can tell you I’ve worked hard to be who I am, to develop what is good in me and weed out what is bad in me but my parents also worked hard to bring magic to my childhood whenever they could.  My mum strived to fill our lives with culture and a passion for the arts and she worked especially hard to make my sisters and I into cultured little ladies with rich imaginations though we spent so much of our young years in the backwoods of Canada.

I should have grown up to be a feral beastie because my childhood was largely barefoot, weird and wild.  But instead, I can tell you the names of classical pieces of music (so many of them I studied for piano), I can speak broken Quebecois style French (though it goes more and more to rust with the passing of years), I can tell you what I believe if you take the time to ask me and listen to me, I can set a beautiful table and throw an elegant dinner party, I can articulate my emotions and my physical pain, I can look out at the natural world and translate the lessons I learn from the land and the critters there so that they mean something to me as a human.

I’m not sure any of that is of value in the real world, but I value it in and of itself but also because my mum valued it.  It’s my delight to unfold myself for people who don’t know me well and to reveal, piece by piece, the residual magic of my upbringing — to present those ideas, those pieces of culture and grace and grit paired with my current skill set and simply surprise others.

It is also my delight to see the people I love unfold in a similar manner.  Just when I think I know everything about a friend or loved one, just when I think I have a tactile sense of their dimensions, they surprise me with an opinion, with a keen proclamation of faith, with a talent or skill, with a blinding humility or such a deep capacity for grace that I have to entirely rewrite my definition of them in my mind.  It’s thrilling.  Growing with people, changing alongside them, discovering them and re-discovering them is completely thrilling and the very true root of my notion of relationship.

I can’t remember what I set out to say when I began writing this blog post but I think it’s close to being finished now and sometimes (more often than not) finished is better than good and the fact is, I just need to get back on the blogging wagon…so with that said, may you get to know, even more, the people you love and the people you don’t love, and may you discover that you love the people you know you love even more than you thought you did and may you find yourself loving the people you thought you didn’t love with all your heart…and may you be curious about who they are, who they were, and who they will be…and may your winter fires be warming.
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7i9a7615 7i9a7623 7i9a7640On the day of our 13th elopement anniversary, we built a kitchen floor at our little farm of dreams.


Early this morning we put the final floor board in place and besides finishing details throughout the house, we are done!  The new floors in the kitchen, bedrooms and hallway are being sanded and sealed today and then we are turning this place over to a crew of painters and cabinet people.  We can’t believe we’re going to meet our deadline for moving in.  We’re totally and righteously exhausted and look forward to taking a couple days off to hunt, ski, hot spring and relax (we haven’t had a rest since October).

Wishing you all a beautiful last few moments of 2016.