Friday, August 30, 2013

Growth and Comfort Zones

I'm packing up what I've called home the past 8 months. It's exciting and bittersweet. I can hardly navigate around the camper enough to sort and pack and I keep trying to tell myself... you only moved here with what fit in your car... a camper really doesn't hold that much.
And it doesn't.
So it isn't a big deal.
And I'm just moving down the hill, to town, and I want to do that, again, not a big deal.
But I guess... more than anything the bittersweet twinge is for the principle of it.
The principle of a life in motion. Of never quite having a home. Of always packing and sorting and carrying these things that augment my life... alone.
Geronimo lays by the recycling that will soon include all the glass jars I've used as tupperware. I listen to a guitar playlist, that I never burnt to a CD, take a sip of Alaska Summer, and keep packing.
I've done this long enough to know... the only way out is through.

Monday, August 26, 2013


      I hand picked all the songs for our Lucky Duck walk through Glacier.
     90 miles. Clueless. Well, not totally, but pretty close.
     All the logistics and plans I thought I had understood somewhat dissolved in front of me. These trips have a mind of their own. I work too much leading up to the trip, and sleep in a little too long the day of. Our agenda is put off track and there's a boat ride to compensate.
    24 hours into the journey I realize... this is unlike nearly everything I thought I knew. The stories, songs, sayings, tasty mental tidbits to push a heart through hardships in the backcountry... they belong in a different landscape.
     This landscape is new... it has its own songs. New songs. And I wrestle with keeping an open heart and the strength to let the past live sweetly in memory without forcing it into this present. I'm somewhere between a thru hiker and an employed full timer on work vacation. My hiking partner is new, and wrestles in her own way.
     I tell her about the songs. She understands. And after a long climb to the first high country alpine saddle, there we are. On the Continental Divide of the Rockies, the Backbone of the World.      Speachless. Wind. Sun. Cloud shadows on jagged peaks. We look at each other, jaws dropped, lock eyes, and grin.
     From our new perch we can see alpine lakes, more mountains than we can count, and more glaciation than we understand. Waterfalls. Rock. Wildflowers.
     Each day is more. More. More. Each day is new. High alpine lush meadows, high alpine burns, dust, thimbleberry jungles, ice caves, megafauna, miles to hurt, miles to wonder, but more than anything - that wordless, eye-locked grin.
     Sometimes, I open the songs, and handpick that moment. Eventually, I let fate do it. And this new adventure, a wordless grinning journey, finds its own soundtrack.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Town Day

Approaching hour 3 at the laundromat... I bit the bullet and turn on my bluegrass. All this for a clean fluffy warm sleeping bag?! I wanted to be on the river right now.
Luckily, my river buddy is flexible... and I'm alllllllmost out of here.
Preparing for long backpacking trips creates a myriad of life or death world changing problems to discover : Where can I get a million tennis balls to fluff up my bag? How likely is it someone will try to snatch my precious stinky expensive hiker clothes if I leave them unattended in the washer? dryer? Will using an alcohol stove really pose a serious fire hazard in Glacier National Park? Will I be screwed in a snow traverse.
I text my long distance hiking guru. When MOTH meets self propelled travel... things may be sticky, but I'm not too feminine, hurt, or prideful to reach out to that sexy ex that advised and consoled me through thousands of miles. He's full of it. But he's full of good stuff too.
And Outdoor Trails. I call them too. They know me, and they know what's up, and I know the gear they stock. I live in Montana and I call Troutville, Virginia for last minute gear shopping. Typical. Now, if the guru could drive that to Montana.... oh wait... that's so 2008.
It's amusing me the growth and constant speed bumps I continue to have in becoming the backpacker I dream of being. It helps to get a little help from the friends.
Glacier. The northern 100 miles of the Continental Divide Trail. With a girl friend. There are so many firsts and monumental details to this trip, I can't even begin to process. But that part processes itself, so long as I know how to go about our backcountry permitting process, line our transportation out right,  drink enough water, eat enough calories, ensure Geronimo's happy while I'm gone and show back up to work 10 ish days after leaving.
The anxiety I've been feeling for all my life changes in August is turning into excitement as God shows me once again, he won't put anything in my life I can't deal with.
Three weeks : Vacation to walk across Glacier. Move out of the camper into a HOUSE. Finish some interpretive panels? Marry off Michelle and Nico. Hopefully dance - a lot.
I think my sleeping bag is ready!
Check ya later.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ready for August, and everything after.

My guidebook on "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity" tells me to take artist dates. Just myself and the childlike artist ego that dwells somewhere inside me. Last night - a twilight swim and a movie. Tonight - Home Depot and a long drive.
The date was a chaser for bridesmaid research... what exactly separates the colors teal, sea foam, and mint? I think we decided the answer is merely the depth of the water in Lake McDonald, so that issue is resolved, for the evening.
Anyhow... Home Depot. Officially I was looking for potting soil. Errin and Nicole gifted me an Easter Lily when my grandfather passed away on Good Friday. Normally I'm not too swift with botany... but this one has stayed alive enough to sprout at least four new bulbs from the parent plant! Nope I have no idea what that means. Nope I have no idea if I can actually re pot and grow all these new individual plants... but I'm hopeful and excited to try!
Scoping out potting soil had me wandering around the plant section. So I deviated to decorative pots, plants, etc. Daydreaming about succulents, and Dacia's bout sophomore year with the treasures we found in the Bitterroot Flower Shop. Daydreaming about hydrangeas, and the plant my parents gifted from Virginia after being accepted to the photojournalism professional program. The mums I end up killing every fall. The lily I once had but disintegrated.
I hug my chosen potting soil. The store pulls my heartstrings.
I peer into a warehouse of "home". Do I even want to look more? I'm thinking I probably shouldn't, and I remember my date. Okay, sure, inner artist... we'll look at home stuff.
Cautiously, I magnetize to the paint section. sea glass... which swatch has sea glass? The DIY inspiration guides are no use in bridesmaid questions... so I leave that query, and let my eyes wander. Color. Tones. Muted. Saturated. Pure. Neutrals. Yellows. Greens. Blues. Purples. Whoa boy. I love that paint section.
Now, if IIIIIII had walls to paint, which color would I want where?
I stop. No, can't. Shouldn't. I take one last look-over... marinating in color, and walk away.
To get to my next favorite department... I have to walk through a few others. Carpeting. Flooring. Rugs. Tile. Ouuuu. I like tile.
My fingers brush over texture. Glass. Ceramic. Plastic. Stone. This one is lovely... where would this one fit...
Tile?! C'mon now, let's don't be silly.
Ah. Here we are. Lighting.
I look up, around. Down the aisle. Close to me. Into the next aisle. I walk slowly. The strange, beautiful, and holy moley I'd like to meet the person who'd like to put that in their home. Why is that collection called "The River Collection"? What would a ceiling or a room look like having illumination bounced from that fixture.
I think of houses I've known. Houses I have yet to meet. Houses I dream of. Different rooms. Different light. Different times of day. I imagine dinners around a table. Children with bed time stories. Sorting through the paperwork of bills. A porch.
The cashiers begin to watch me. I'm not talking... out loud anyway. They probably see something processing in me. And it doesn't bother me too much... because they don't know.
They can't know that I won't actually purchase any of these things. That to ask them about price, installment, warranty, sample swatches is a reality so far from my day-to-day life it's almost laughable. They don't need to know that.
I'm ushered to the check out, and trade $3.97 for what I feel, is a whole lot of soil. "Sure hope this works" I think.
The sky is turning grey, blue, green like a stormy sea. I feel our summer days shortening. Already. Knowing I have been making the most of these northern late-night dusks I take the long way home.
Lured and ready. This coarse thirsty land salivates at stormy clouds. I can taste it processing through the water cycle. I pray it comes soon.
Colors of this place. Colors and ever shifting light. Coarse, crisp. My wings that strengthen in Montana do so under a harsher premise than the saturated softness of my roots. But tonight the two come closer together. "Please rain" something whispers. My heart? That inner artist? A Montanan nervous for fire season? A homesick Appalachian?
Nearly dark, I dodge a toad in the road. Love those amphibians.
Just about the time I return to my camper home, and spoon into the hand picked raspberries from this weekend, Geronimo returns to the door.
Tip tap. Slowly. Tip tip tap.
Wind picks up and slams our door shut. I close the roof vent. Tip. tip. It wants to... but it won't... quite... yet.
C'mon. Please rain.
Something in me peacefully calms. I believe. Believe it will rain.
Sleepy, the lilies will find a new pot tomorrow. I push my dreams of creation and home back to a quiet place.
It does rain. And I pray my artist has a palette, someday.