Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wish I Had A River

You know the song. It's a Joni Mitchel favorite of so many, especially this time of year.

It's coming on Christmas

They're cutting down trees

They're putting up reindeer

And singing songs of joy and peace

I wish I had a river I could skate away on

With all the flurry and the hurry and the brouhaha whirling around town, I'm worn out just watching it from the sidelines. There's always excitement in the air at Christmas time no matter where you are. Even if you try to steer clear from the commotion you can't avoid the spirit of the season.

We found a Fraser Fir tree that traveled all the way from the Appalachians. Little white lights were wrapped around her, and six handmade ornaments were hung on branches ever so precisely.

This time every year I bake scads of Bison, Bird and Cactus cut-out cookies with my girlfriend. We laugh and carry on in my warm kitchen with Skye winding in and out between our legs. On the stereo is a CD called Stockings by the Fire. When that "River" song comes on, sung by Corinne Bailey Rae & Herbie Hancock, we start singing along...I wish I had a river I could skate away on...

I'm a homebody for the most part. When I'm not out seeing the world, when the Mustangs aren't in reach, and when the snow is too deep, I'm just fine huddled around my little heater watching the flames, flipping through all my books on Pronghorn, prairies, field guides, identifying animal tracks, Yurts, New Mexico, and Yellowstone in winter. I close my eyes and think about Red Feather. I miss that old trailer, covered in snow.

It's been a contemplative time for me these days. Winter does that to me. It's nothing new. Anyway, I like the fact that having winter, with all her cold and snow, gives me more of an excuse to slow down, to linger with my books, to dream by the fire...I close my eyes and think about the wild horses. Where's Poney Boy? I wonder.

Snow falls on adobe. Everything is white. Icicles are dangling. It's wintertime in Wyoming. And like the horses, I'm hiding. Like the bears, I'm hibernating.

Oh, I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wearing The Redwoods

Redwoods. They're taller than any other tree in the world. They grow only along the coastal shores of Central and Northern California and a bit of Southern Oregon. As nature's cathedral, they are giant evergreen mysteries. Once you stand next to one, or sleep under their canopy, it will be impossible to forget about them!

Britton, artist and owner of Little Owl Arts fell in love with the West this past summer and the Sequoias were her inspiration to design this luscious raspberry colored shirt. She named it Redwood Twins. Isn't that perfect? It's soft and so flowy. Like I could fly up to the treetops! I wear my Redwood Twins when I long for a little California.

My very first purchase on Etsy was from Little Owl Arts, a few years ago. I really don't remember how I found her shop. It probably had something to do with the word Owl. You know. I am all about Owls. Britton was making these silver bracelets with a tubular 'bone bead' strung through thin silver wire. It's still one of my very favorite pieces of jewelry. I wear it all the time. Some of you may already know about her. And if you don't, you should see this artisan's creations!

She screen prints, by hand, all her sketches onto T-shirts, hoodie sweatshirts, tank tops and yoga pants. All her designs are inspired by nature and what she might find in the wild. Wear a Fern, an Aspen tree, a Sand Dollar or a Jellyfish! Check out her fiber art and jewelry and this girl is mad about Indigo! At Little Owl Arts blog, she writes about nature, hiking and sea shore wanderings. And trees. See her artwork, her marvelous sketches and watch the process of dyeing fabric or hand screen printing right there in her own house. Meet her many pups and Posey, her parrot!

There is a quote on Little Owl Arts:

"your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it" ~ Buddha

That is my friend Britton.







Saturday, December 6, 2014

I Married A Poet


Chad Hanson

For a week, after his tenth birthday, a raven sat outside Garret’s bedroom window. The bird clung to the branch of an elm tree. He cried, K-Caw. K-Caw. Garret’s mother wondered out loud if the bird had lost someone. She said, "It sounds like he is calling somebody." Garret drew a picture of a raven with a black pencil. His mom taped the paper to the bark of the tree. In the morning, they found the image gone. A feather took its place under the tape. He kept it in a box for sixty seven years. Now it is nighttime in the nursing home. He sleeps with the feather on his bed stand. At sunrise, his aid knocks on the door. She finds the room empty, except for a raven on the sill of an open window. Garret holds his place for a moment. He spreads his wings, for practice. Then he takes a step and the wind lifts him from the ledge.

gravel literary journal



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Little Cabin On Pearl Creek

We were greeted by a Steller's Jay couple sitting on the limb of a bare aspen tree. There was this tiny log cabin, with a wee front porch just big enough to do a couple of side shuffles or the Two Step one time. The inside looked like Log Cabin syrup, golden amber, rustic and delicious. A four rung ladder led up to a sleeping loft, I peered out, the window presenting a conifer view with an iced over creek. There was no electricity or running water. It was the kind of cabin I like the best. Outside, patches of icy snow shown the reflection of a pale sky, with candy floss streaks of clouds. Taking a deep breath in, a long sigh out, I saw the slow curl of my breath. It was cold. The woodstove was ancient and the fire began to roar.

We stayed up late that night, sitting on the porch, bundled up in goose down and wool, staring at the stars, telling stories, reminiscing of days and times gone by. We laughed out loud and pointed out satellites that dodged twinkling stars, orbiting around this earth.

I always find that when I'm away from home, when I sleep in the woods, my thoughts revert back to the past. To the olden days. Of what it must have been like when the Indians stumbled upon such an area and all the astounding beauty they discovered. Of course, they found sacredness in the spirit of nature. But, were they so amazed? Did they feel happiness when they looked up at that mountain? Did they revel in the silence of the forest, like I do? Did they smile and listen closely to the mockingbird sound? Or are those things appreciated only because we've got something else to compare it to. Like automobile noise, loud stereos that boom, boom, boom, and boisterous people. The blather and gossip that never stops. The world we live in is a busy one and I am extremely thankful that I can take refuge in the trees, to get away from it all.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was prepared at one of the very first settlements in Red Feather Lakes. The homestead was built in 1860, before the West was tamed. I mean, Crazy Horse was still around! There is so much history there, in what is now a resort lodge, and it is still very old timey looking, rustic and well cared for. Along the window frames were painted rose maling designs, flower patterns fading into the old wood. Most likely the artistic work of Nordic or Swedish immigrant homesteaders.

Percheron draft horses pulled wagonloads of families on trails through spruce and pine. Normally, this time of year enough snow has fallen to cover the ground and the horses pull a sleigh through glistening white. Because there was only a dusting of powder, the sled sat empty next to the barn. An australian shepherd led the horses on their tour and when they returned, he sat guarding the steeds with muddy paws a smile on his face. He was the cutest thing and reminded me so much of Gyp, another dog I know. The old barn was full of saddles, blankets and tack, hay bales piled high and a few more trail horses standing at the fence waiting for some attention, a kind word and a soft pat. A gal wrangler with a pitchfork in her hand gave me nod and went back to cleaning a stall. I noticed a slab of grey barn wood with the words 'wranglers accept tips' painted on it. For a brief moment I imagined myself working there mucking out stalls, grooming horses, chewing on a stem of straw while watching the sun come up over those mountains. Then I remembered the times I did all those things. That was then, this is now.

On our way out of the village we stopped to poke our heads inside the Silver Moonbeam. Honey colored aspen leaves in the Fall. That's what the inside of the trailer looks like. And that good old familiar smell. Rustic and delicious.