Category Archives: Self

Tribute to the Sisterhood

I’m not a poet. I can’t rhyme worth a damn, nor can I stick to a meter. Disclaimers aside, I wrote this in the months following Britta’s departure from Alaska this summer and share it here for your amusement. Britta, perhaps you’d like to add some stanzas?

Tribute to the Sisterhood

We are the eaters of bread-butts, we are the soakers of beans.
We are canners and honey mead-makers, we add salt to our slow-boiling dreams.

We scoff at purveyors of bullshit, we are the rollers of eyes.
We skip when no-one is looking, we trip when we look at the skies.

We pause to identify flowers, we stoop to poke at the scat.
We piss off the sides of tall mountains, we shat at the glacial errat.

We are the laughers at mishaps, we have time for very few rants.
We are the clumsy beer-sloppers, we tear holes in the knees of our pants.

We are the front-row foot-stompers, we dance when the beat stirs our feet.
We are the wanton hip-shakers, without music we aren’t complete.

We wear earrings in the backcountry, we stand tall in high heels or big boots.
We have lived in all kinds of countries, we give credence to all of our roots.

We are the sketchers and schemers, we sit idle for hours at a time.
We sip on bourbon Jim Beamers, we pour glass after glass of red wine.

We thrive on wide-open vistas, we wilt when we feel we are trapped.
Our powers are strong and emerging; our lives have yet to be mapped.

Sisters 10

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Transitions

I haven’t written in a while. It’s been months, in fact, months of upheaval and transition. When I wrote last, I lived in a small apartment in Missoula, Montana, was surrounded by an abundance of dear friends, and worked several part-time jobs, none of them enough to make ends meet. The last time I had a chance to think, the lilacs were heavy and purple in my backyard, and I stared at them from my yellow couch, which at the time sat on the porch before moving to a new home. The late spring sun soaked into me, and I let it roast my shoulders, imagining that this was all the summer I would get.

Since then, I have moved out of my apartment of five years, packed away most of my belongings, said too many goodbyes, drugged my cat, and driven 2,000 miles (cat in car) from Montana to interior Alaska. I don’t know when I will return to Montana. I drove north into winter, from flurries in Jasper the first night, up into the high mountains of British Columbia, to cold nights and frost heaves in the Yukon, and into a blizzard and two feet of snow in Denali. I have moved into a dry cabin, purchased my first car, and started two jobs. I have watched the snow recede from around my cabin into deep yellow puddles as the weather went from twenty degrees to seventy-five. From icy wind whistling through the cracks in our log cabin, we’ve seen an influx of mosquitoes and flies. In the last two weeks, the aspen have greened with sticky buds, and the puddles have soaked into the tundra, and flowers have exploded everywhere. On a hike recently, we found rich purple Pasque flowers – harbingers of spring! – wind flowers, rock jasmine, alp lily, the beginnings of Lapland diapensia, pink wooly lousewort, mountain avens, low-bush cranberry blooms. Even better than the flowers, though, more fitting with my mood, was a large mound of coyote scat, white with hair and chipped bones. I leaned over the scat and poked at it with a stick, touched the hard ivory fragments of bone.

Now I sit at my table and stare out at white spruce and my outhouse and green aspen. I sip wine and try to think about transitions. But there is something indigestible about the move I just made, something that sticks in my throat. I swallowed this move whole, both the parts that I needed, and the parts that claw me on the inside until I bleed. It is wrong to leave friends I love, friends who sustain and nurture me. It is impossible to turn my back on the low golden hills of Missoula, the towering cumulus clouds, the easy camaraderie of knowing a place well. I hug Alaska friends in greeting, but the goodbyes are still too fresh, and I tear up though I should be joyful. Oversized mosquitoes buzz my head at night and I curse their blood-lust, though my brief pain is their sustenance.

So here I am. Still reeling. Trying to figure out where I want and need to be.

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Filed under Denali National Park, Home, Montana, Nature, Seasonal Life, Self, Uncategorized, Work

A Date with Myself

Today I went on a date with myself.

This meant I chose shoes to please only myself, and so ended up tromping down the river trail in hiking boots – practical, warm, sturdy. I noticed things for my own delight: the quick flit of a small dark bird across the path. The delicate tracery of frost on twigs and needles. The icy hurry of the river. I told myself several witty stories, just to impress, and did not try to think up clever things to say in return. I just listened, my attention completely focused on me.

At the bakery, I generously bought myself a cup of tea, and insisted on paying. “No, no, it’s on me,” I said to myself. I sat by myself at a table, chose the spot in the sun and basked, sipping my mint tea slowly and languorously. I used adverbs wantonly, experimentally, whimsically. I looked across the table at myself and imagined a future, searched for connections and similarities between me and myself. I kept an open mind, tried to overlook the awkward silences. I tried to forget what I knew about myself, and instead focused on how I made myself feel.

I in turn try to make myself feel comfortable. I slip in a few perceptive compliments, and instead of brushing them aside and not believing them, I respond with a simple “Thanks,” and glow a little.

Image

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Filed under Self, Snapshots