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

elk

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

meadowlark

shedding snake skin

sleet on spring creek

howl

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.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2017/03/03/12659/

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.

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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.

X

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http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2016/12/30/12488/

Owyhee Field Notes: Part Three

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I try to put into words all the reasons why I am drawn to this landscape, drawn out into the spareness and rough-hewn humility of it, why I choose to live my outdoor life here and plant my home roots here.  The paragraphs I’ve written over the years seem inadequate, murky, unrefined.  So I’ll try again.

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I was born skinny, scruffy and scrappy.  I came into this world like the mule deer does, bracing against a hard wind, slick and wide eyed on knobby legs.  I learned to walk.  I learned to run.  I’ve done my share of running.  I’ve blended in and I’ve stood out, defined against the burn of the sun, sharply sky-lined in fearsome definition where the volcanic table meets the sky.  I’ve been chased, I’ve had my hocks bitten but I’ve never been hamstringed.  I’ve never gone down on all four knees and surrendered.  I’ve fought.  I’ve lived.  I’ve had peaceful times too, effortless times on gentle days when the green-up is rich in my belly and warm in my blood stream.

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When I look out at this land, I see a reflection of my interiors, of the topographies of my heart.  I see the steppe, the grand sweep of it that looks utterly without dimension until I put my boots down it in and begin to walk, rising and falling with the sagebrush, passing through the coulees, scrambling down the rumbling cliffs, teetering for balance on the sudden edges of the canyons.  I see this range relentlessly unfold into crumbling magnitude — where others see emptiness, a world without trees, a wasteland, I see thrumming life, a forest of oldgrowth sage, a complex and delicate ecosystem of critters with impossibly strong wills to survive.  It’s a tough place to do our living and dying but I’m bound to it now, as a caretaker, as a keeper of the herds and the coveys.  My food comes from here, this place feeds me and some day my bones will feed this place, too.

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I see the hard line that falls between darkness and light, the canyon face cut in two as the dawn pierces the night.  I see the river and the springs eat through stone, the inconceivable green of the seeps where they warm the winter earth and melt the snow, the lifeblood of this land, the great gatherer: water.  I see all God’s creatures come and drink deeply and I drink, too.

There is a great horseshoe bend in the river, fenced on one side by walls of current-chewed stone.  I sit on a rock in the center of it all, the water prattles by, swirling in and out of itself yet carried strongly in the true direction that makes it whole.  Up high on the rim I see a gash in the cliff face where red mafic rock spills forth like blood that won’t clot.  I am sheltered from the wind here, I shed my coat like the rattlesnakes have shed their skins on the rock shelves.  I hear a canyon wren.

I put one hand in the current.  The water is frigid, the pulse is strong.
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Owyhee Field Notes: Part Two

7i9a6387There’s a game we love to play when the dogs are sleeping.  We choose a dog, place an article of food or a dog treat on the ground directly in front of that dog’s nose and wait and see if the scent permeates the dog’s dreams.

Today, Tater Tot hunted his heart out. He is curled up and passed out cold in the dirt beside the stove, breathing slow and heavy under the hot weight of a sagebrush fire.  Robert reaches out and places a conglomerate lump of granola in front of Tater’s supernatural little nose and we sit in silence, watching and waiting, snickering to ourselves, smiling with squinty eyes at each other across the conical dark of our little home.  Nothing happens.  Robert grows impatient and begins to whisper at Tater.  He says his name in a sing-song tone, he whispers all kinds of silly things, trying to pull Tater’s subconscious forth from the thick sand of sleep.  Nothing rouses the pup.  Finally I lean forward and I whisper gently, “Tater Tot, dead bird, fetch!”

Tater opens one eye, looks right at me, resembling a dragon on a hoarded bed of gold, he shifts once, catches a whiff of the granola nugget, reaches out, lips it up, crunches it once, swallows, immediately tucks his head under his rear feet and plunges back into sleep.

I slip out to pee before bed.  The milky way spills forth over the canyons.  The sage shudders in the wind.

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