Smoke and Horses

 

Deals

I make deals with myself, it’s how I get through summer and prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed. We take it one deal at a time, one day at a time.

I say, “If you can make ten rings, weed the entire garden and deal with the bills in the mail pile by Tuesday, you can go to Bozeman, ride your bicycle and have a hoot with your girlfriends for four days.”

I say, “If you can clean out the chicken coop, mow the entire lawn and clean all the floors in the house by tomorrow night, you can begin the next day with the ten mile mesa run you love.”

I say, “If you can get that batch of images edited and submitted along with invoices, sit still enough to return Becca’s phone call and stay patient and kind while talking with the WIFI people as you try to convince them that they just need to send out a technician to deal with the problem, you can go to McCall for a few days of quiet and cool.”

My little deals with myself keep me present in the moment, in the day I am living — they keep me illuminated and buoyant, they prevent deflation and exhaustion.  I try to be realistic about what I can achieve so I don’t get frustrated by time limitations or when there are life glitches or last minute schedule changes (which are the very soul of the fire season…last minute EVERYTHING…we’re an entire tribe on call in one way or another for six months).  My little deals give me something to look forward to, a bit of dessert, a reward for hard work.  They help me shed my stress because I grow focused enough on the tasks at hand that I suffer a delightful sort of tunnel vision.

Keep it simple.  Keep it necessary.  Make a deal.  Get it done.  Receive the reward.

Summer in a nutshell!

Catching Up

7I9A7445[With a sandhill crane colt I rescued from Tater Tot’s maw, on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, Idaho]

Well, heck.  I’ve been here, there and everywhere since the start of May and I am home tonight at the strawbale house on the Snake River for a few days before I take one more trip.  Then it will be July and I will drop anchor in Idaho and do a little working, loving and living in this state I adore.  I am road weary, quite sick and I feel hugely divorced from my creative habit (which is something I have uttered here before, but it’s worth uttering again tonight as I dig deep into work under a setting sun, trying — in vain — to make up some ground).

I stepped outside with a cold drink to check on the gardens.  Mostly everything has sprung up taller than tall with the recent heatwave and I yanked a few tenacious weeds while I perused what will become our food and I listened to the rapids roaring beneath the house and the yellow-wing blackbirds howling at the edge of the current and I felt quiet inside for the first time in weeks.

Besides all of my travels, my work, my traveling for work, relocating the Airstream to McCall for the fire season and bouncing all over Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Alaska with my cameras…we bought a farm a couple weeks ago.

Yes.  We bought a farm.  In the midst of everything.  I don’t know what to tell you except it felt perfectly right — the land, the house, the alfalfa fields, the huge outbuilding that could store four or five Airstreams, the orchard, the fish pond, the locust trees, the massive weeping willow, the space that will be my metal studio (it’s made mostly of glass)…

Finding this place was very unexpected, though we have been shopping for so long.  All this time, it was right under our noses.

I’ll tell you all about it soon.

But first, I will regale you with some images and words from my travels these past five weeks of my life.

Stay tuned.

XX

7I9A0699IMG_4757 IMG_50107I9A07817I9A07987I9A07857I9A09147I9A0864DSCF1426DSCF14317I9A08987I9A09097I9A0919I was grabbing a coffee yesterday while in Twisp and wound up having a meaningful conversation about the Methow Valley, where it has come from, where it is headed to, and how forest fires play a roll in the going and coming of life here — and in all of the interior West, for that matter.  Fires seem to be the way of the future.

This is the second year in a row that the Methow has burned and while the valley is home to a brilliant community of mountain folk, it is largely economically fueled by tourism.  What will happen to this place when people stop coming because they think it’s no longer beautiful?  What will happen in years to come when summer is literally burned out from under our feet and we are forced to spend August and September mopping up after loss of trees, homes, lives, crops, livestock?  What will happen?  How do we cope?  How do we rebuild?  What have we learned?

I looked out as the mountains were burning last week and I thought, “It’s a little worse for wear, but it’s still ruggedly beautiful.  It will always be beautiful, bless it’s enduring, stony bones.”

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On base, Dan built a swing.  It’s a beautiful swing that hangs low and strong from a pair of locust trees.  Swinging on it is a kind of bliss built of a long, graceful glide that seems like it may never change direction and head back to where it started.  I was swinging on it late last night, searching the sky for stars, hoping their light might pierce through the smoke, and as I watched the trees shift and move beneath the weight of my movement I thought, “They like this.  The trees like this.  They like to have a job.”  I was guilty of downright romantic anthropomorphism in my suspended state — sweeping through thin air like the goddess of wind and stardust.  But it’s true, you know.  We’re just like the trees; counting the years in rings, spending the seasons, eventually ashes to ashes.

It was beautiful last night, swinging.  It was the first time I’ve felt moving air on my face, wind in my hair, in days.  I felt alive and clean.

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Yesterday, I missed a gathering for fire wives in the valley regarding dealing with stress levels and fear (I think that’s what it was about) because I was out fishing and because I didn’t know about it because no one told me about it.  I wish I would have known about it.

Last night, when I found out about it, I told my friend, “Well, you know, I don’t really feel stressed. I feel sad right now. My lungs feel black because of this doggone smoke. But I’m not worried about Robert on the line. I trust that no news is good news. I know he’ll make good decisions out there and that he’ll take care of his brothers; that’s all I can ask him to do. In his absence, I simply have to live fully.”

I’m fishing most mornings, because I can, and because it’s a meditation (casting out over the water).  It’s quiet.  I do my thinking there, hip deep in a prolonged baptism.  Each loop I throw out is a prayer, a forgiveness offered to myself for my own shortcomings, a hope for anger dissolved, gratitude for lessons learned, the stripping away of my fears.  The river is the coolest, flowing-est, loveliest, most consistent thing in the valley and the fish give me something extra to tether my faith to.

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On September 5th I have a group exhibit opening at the Confluence Gallery in Twisp.  I’m delighted.  This is the first exhibit opening I have ever been able to attend (I’ve had to miss everything in the past) wherein my work is part of the show.  You are all invited to attend.

Additionally, on September 19th and 20th, I am happy to announce that I will FINALLY be a part of the Methow Valley open studio tour.  I’ve wanted to be a part of this tour for years now but have never had a studio space that could be easily accessed by the public until this year.  I’ll be opening up my doors to the public, sharing my space, and naturally, I’ve been working on inventory for this event.  I should mention that the Methow Valley is home to an astounding array of incredible artists and it’s an honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of them for this studio tour.

Both the studio tour and exhibit opening come at a wonderful time when your support and visit to the Methow will mean the world to the community here.  Please feel free to attend, if you’re in the neighborhood, or not in the neighborhood!  I speak for the entire Methow when I say we’d love to see your shining faces.

 

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2015/08/27/10470/

7I9A0560 7I9A0567 7I9A0577 7I9A0578 7I9A0579 7I9A0581 7I9A0615 7I9A0619Sundown over the North Cascades and I wonder where he is.

http://www.thenoisyplume.com/blog/2015/08/19/10435/