Search
Look, Bird tweets:
More! Pictures! (Seriously.)

and

Entries in mountains (28)

Thursday
May292014

The Illusionist and the Thief

Nagging, anxious chatter in my head made it impossible to sit in the house over the holiday weekend. My team was at work, so I should be too. Deadlines. Notes. Doubts. Legos. Mama, will you play with me? Mama, will you play with me? Mama will you play with me? There's a friend in a hospital bed on the Front Range.

This is what shoes are for, so out I go and the air up there is like a Xanax. It unclenches you. For some reason my eyes and ears work better up there than they do in the city. Every bird in the valley sings in its own language, pay attention. It is a relief to do this, to notice what is here right now. Sprays of glacier lilies spring up in the marshy fields fed by the snow melt, a daytime constellation of yellow stars. In a grove of a zillion juvenile aspen trees I find an ant marching through a forest of tiny orange mushrooms on a downed log.

The mountains don't know it's the First Official Weekend of Summer. Here it is only now spring, and the valleys are the tenderest green. Later the sun will bake and harden all of this and the greens will deepen and the lilies will give way to heartier Indian paintbrush but now the colors are like an ache in me, because I know how short-lived this season is. Does the glacier lily think it will live forever?

The news came in fragments and Facebook posts. Hey man, you might want to Clorox down my edit bay. Doctor says I'm out for a few days. Pneumonia. Collapsed lung. Coma. Antibiotics. He'll wake up any time now, he's 43 and healthy, after all. And we are invincible.

Wake up.

Wake up.

(Insert snarky Facebook post here. He'll laugh when he wakes up.)

Wake up.

Back in the office us old-timers started to hug, worried. We grew up together, professionally. We are jarred and confused and scared for his family. And for ourselves.

I am a talented illusionist. I have a trick up my sleeve that involves creating a life that feels solid. Inevitable. Constant. I fall for it every time. We all do this, right? It's a sleight of mind that makes it possible to move through our days with a sense of meaning and purpose. We are durable and so we build things like friendships, families, television shows, careers, and homes.

Is this the delusion of the naive? I can't be the only one shocked when, as substantial as this life feels, it is revealed to be a tissue-thin veil disguising one real thing: we are fragile beings. We only get a short season.

Spoiler alert: He doesn't wake up.

Yesterday the news came. That's a wrap. And with that dark humor it's confirmed once again that he chose the right woman all those years ago. It's something he would have said.

This sensation of losing Mike is familiar. It is the feeling of standing on a high place, looking down. Your logical mind believes you're safe.  There is a solid bridge with hand rails, after all. But your stomach nervously knots up anyway, waiting for the unexpected lurch that throws you. This is why we need the veil, I guess. To settle the stomach. To make it possible to focus enough to use your eyes and ears and hands and build something.

Mike, I will remember you for the long, hard hours we put in together trying to build better stories.  I will remember your humor, your pride in your family and your big dreams. Your determination to take risks to grow stands in my mind as a pointed challenge. You were robbed, and so were we.

 May we all find peace.

Sunday
Nov102013

Ten on Ten: Gear Day

I missed fall in the mountains this year because I've been traveling for most of the past six weeks.  I was lucky that one of those trips was both fun and soul food (more on that soon).  The group of lovely ladies I gathered with by the sea suggested we start a new Ten on Ten project, a perfect way to bring me back into this space that I've missed so much.

Winter has made its first overtures in the high country since I was last here. 

Winterizing our family apparently involves a frenzy of gear acquisition, starting with post-season mountain bike shopping to replace Will's bike that was stolen earlier this year.  (The gambit here is that if you're willing to buy a new bike and let it collect dust for six months before you can use it, you deserve 30 percent off.)

We're all itching to hit the slopes, and the snow has already started falling.  With Ezra growing like a weed, season ski rentals are the only rational approach to gear.  The minute we walked into the ski shop Ezra and I headed for the rental racks.

Ezra was so happy he refused to take his ski boots off for the rest of the day.

On the way home Will couldn't resist riding his new bike for the last five miles, even though it's straight uphill.

And ever his father's son, Ezra insisted on a short hike in his ski boots.

Welcome winter.  We're ready to play.

For more 10 on 10 goodness, head to see what Tara Romasanta has in store.

Thursday
Apr182013

An Antidote to Silence

In response to the most severe writer's block I've personally experienced, Will suggested I just post some pictures.  And I thought, hmmmmmm.  That's right.  After all, this was supposed to be a photoblog.

So I'll try silence with pictures and see what happens.

Monday
Jul302012

Reunion

In the end the whole visit came together so simply it was as if we all lived in the same neighborhood instead of three different states.  The seed of the plan hatched, innocently enough, over a bottle of bourbon during a hurricane in Brooklyn last fall and took root even after the hangover had passed and the planes started flying again.  The last piece fell into place when, somewhere in Memphis, the sensible realization arose that a weekend in the mountains with our small tribe would be far more entertaining than a high school reunion.  

The four of us hadn't all been together at once since Stacy's wedding nine years ago, but the easy familiarity of old friends fell over us and we wove back and forth between college memories and filling in the blanks of the intervening years.  Our spouses fit in like of course you two married, it just makes so much sense, and look at us all here making sense together.  If it weren't for the hordes of short people who insisted on calling us Mom and Dad all weekend I could have imagined that little had changed.

Of course, a lot changes in 20 years.  But not, thankfully, our affection for each other.  I admire the lives my friends have built, the beautiful families they are nurturing, and the fact that they still make me smile so much my cheeks hurt, and the discovery that we can all laugh together when our children get caught in a mountain rainstorm and end up looking like this: 

Stacy, Lee, Brent, Dara, Will and Sarah, you guys are sick. And I love you.

Wednesday
Jan112012

Gardening by Moonlight

The Farmer's Almanac (and my favorite gardeners) say to plant seeds while the moon is waxing.  Planting them at night is optional.  The thinking is that just as the moon controls the tides, it shifts the way the water moves through the soil.  Seeds are thought to absorb more water as the moon grows full, and to grow into healthier plants.

My mom is one of those gardeners, the keeper of the greenest thumb I know and an expert in nurture.  It occurs to me that she has become highly attuned to fertile ground.  For Christmas, my mom gave me the audio book of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.  She knew I was feeling overwhelmed, so she assured me that it's a very affirmative listen even if you're not actually doing the 12-week program Cameron lays out in the book.  She also knows that I'm a sucker for a good idea, especially when it is presented at the right time.  So it probably came as no surprise to her when I called home saying I want to do those morning pages.  That's in the category of cultivate, for sure.

The practice is to write three pages of stream-of-consciousness each morning.  It can be dull, fragmented, repetitive, but the idea seems to be to get the gunk out of your system and onto paper first thing each day. You're not even really supposed to go back and read the writing, at least for the first couple of months.  (For those keeping count, this would bring my list of morning practices to morning pages, meditate, run.  I'm not clear on what order those things should happen or how early I would need to get up in order to make them happen before Ezra wakes.  I'm trying not to think about that, or to acknowledge how much the running part of the balance has fallen off the program.)

Funnily, my mom gave me The Artist's Way about 15 years ago, and I remember reading it and thinking You have to write THREE PAGES? EVERY SINGLE DAY?  There is NO WAY I would ever do that.  That's just crazy.  I was young and dumb enthusiastic and drunk free, and too busy creating a reasonable facsimile of adulthood to consider whether I had anything else to create.

So here is a seed I planted in the dark as the moon grew fuller last week: a notebook, a good pen, and all the petty and banal thoughts and feelings that live inside me but don't deserve to see the light of day.  I never thought that would feel like a luxury, but this week it does.  I don't know quite what I'm cultivating with this, but it feels a little bit like throwing down a handful of mixed wildflower seeds.  It'll be interesting, as the seasons change, to see just what takes root.  Maybe something will even bloom.