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Entries in mountains (28)



335.365 18mm f4.5 1/2000 ISO 200

Let everything happen to you

Beauty and terror

Just keep going

No feeling is final.

- Rainer Maria Rilke


Man's Work

A couple weeks ago Ezra walked up to me with Will's power drill and pointed to the battery on the charger.

Put the battery on it, Mama.

I did.

Then he pointed at the star bit on the drill and said Change that, Mama and pointed at the philips head bit in the case.

I did.

In retrospect, that would have been a good time to start supervising him.

But I did not.

Later Will walked outside and found a 2x4 with two 2.5" wood screws drilled all the way into it.  He asked our six year old friend Harper if she had done that.  Wide-eyed, she shook her head and said, Ezra did that.

Okay.  Three-year-olds and power tools are a natural pairing.  So we decided to get him a chainsaw.

334.365 102mm f4.5 1/100 ISO200Just kidding.

Well, not about the drill.  That part actually happened.  But we haven't given him free reign with the chainsaw.  Obviously you have to be at least four to operate a chainsaw by yourself safely.

I'm particularly concerned about the safe operation of chainsaws because certain men in my life have taken a keen interest in forest management of late.  Huge forests of Lodgepole Pine are dying in parts of Colorado's mountains because of a pine beetle infestation and all those dead trees are a big, scary fire hazard.  This inspires a chainsaw enthusiasm in this certain set of white collar men who, it is fair to observe, work with computers instead of sharp, powerful saws, and have legs I care about.

Luckily my dad is a logger, so he came to Colorado last weekend to give these men a short chainsaw masterclass.

It was a good opportunity for yuppies to use loud two-stroke engines and be manly for a weekend. 

Though as our friend Alex (a database administrator by trade) put it, Sometimes I think I should be working for a living, but then every time I do a full day of real work I think to myself, "Where's my keyboard?"


The Want To

There are things that you do because you have to, regardless of how you feel about them.  And then there are things that you do because you want to, because they make you feel alive.  Because they make you a better person.  Because they feed you.

333.365 38mm f5 1/250 ISO 200Watching Will in his garden gives me an appreciation for that.  He just loves to dig the dirt.  Loves to tend to seedlings.  Loves to hang out in there.  You can tell by the way the garden responds that love and chicken shit and photosynthesis can do amazing things.  How else could you explain that 10-foot tomato plant behind him?

I started this photo project eleven months ago when I needed to do something because I wanted to.  I needed one outlet in my life that I did, not out of duty or under duress, but because it fed me.  And while individual days or weeks have been challenging, overall this project has had an intensely positive impact on my life, in ways I never would have imagined.  It even made the parts of my life that I do because I have to, seem more like want to, pleasure, nourishment

It has been so effective in shaping my experience of my life in the past almost-year that I started to think about dialing it back.  Tending to it less.  In favor of the have to.

But I got a reminder last night that the have to is no substitute for the want to.  So what I wanted more than anything was to return to this space.  Changes are coming here, and I don't know exactly what form they will take.  But who knows?  Maybe with a little bit of tending this Bird can be 10-feet tall and dripping with tangy, sweet goodness.

Thanks for being here with me.  Let's explore the want to some more.


Things That Are Not Interesting

There are things which are not interesting to talk about.  Like how busy you are.  Or how, after being yanked out of your semi-organized life to go to New Jersey for a work trip, all the precariously fit-together trappings of your routine - like your morning runs, or your nightly blogging - take a while to fit again.  Or that's the story I tell myself.

326.365 26mm f5 1/50 ISO 200It is possible, likely even, that you are witnessing a demonstration of one of my least favorite things about myself: difficulty finishing things.  It doesn't matter whether those things are going well or not.  In fact, it seems the better they are going the less likely I am to put a graceful button on them.  (See also: last year's half-marathon, my unfulfilled intention to return to Burning Man this year, the myriad almost-completely-used bottles and tubes of expensive skin or haire care products on my bathroom shelf, etc. etc. etc.)  It is not a charming characteristic.

Also it is probably not interesting, unless you are my shrink or my mother.  If you are my mother you probably want to have a coaching session with me after you read this.

327.365 35mm (+12mm mac tube) f7.1 1/125 ISO 200Then there are things which are not really interesting to talk about, but which are interesting to observe.  For me the change of seasons falls into this category.  We spent the long Labor Day weekend in the mountains and all my senses were alive with the notice of change.  Brisk morning and evening air, long shadows, grasses gone to seed, the brittle sound of fall plant life brushing your legs on the trail.

A farmer in Alaska once asked me if I thought it would make you smarter to climb a different mountain every day, or to climb the same mountain every day.  Having spent most of my life as an avowed wanderer the answer was obvious to me at the time.  He disagreed with me.

But this trail, which I first saw at the height of wildflower season this summer, has me thinking that there's something to be said for returning to the same place over and over.  I walked along noticing all the millions of subtle little changes and the wisdom ingrained in the natural cycle of this place as each individual organism prepares for winter, prepares to put a graceful button on this year's project.

Also, we had a lot of fun.  So much so that it was hard to sit down at my computer in the midst of it all.

328.365 18mm f5.6 1/20 ISO 200

329.365 50mm f2.5 1/640 ISO 200So bear with me please.  I'm not giving up on Bird.  I'm just trying to find my way back to the routine.


Long Road Home

301.365 18mm f5.6 1/800 ISO 100