Three years ago, my friend David Lane and I decided to do
our own elk camp. The idea was to hunt for cow elk to put some meat in our
freezers and limit our reliance on store-bought meat.
That first year we borrowed a friend’s wall tent and set up
camp in the absolute worst spot a person (me) could possibly pick. The spot was
in the bottom of a canyon that saw just a bit of sunlight each day and seemed
to concentrate the cold each night. We didn’t see a single elk that year.
We stayed in a hotel in Burns the second year. My two boys
joined us for that hunt. We’d get up early, drag our gear to David’s truck and
head for the hills with some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in our packs
and some beer in the coolers. The weather was far more conducive to camping
that second year, with temperatures in 60 and clear, sunny views for days. My
son Cole managed to surprise a cow elk, or vice versa, and she ran away
unscathed. The rest of us saw no elk that year.
This year we stayed in an Air B&B. Mostly because I
wanted to support the local economy in these rough times but also because our
hunt was shortened by everyone’s work schedules. This year was an in-between
year, with cool, mostly clear weather but a lot of snow left on the ground from
a big fall storm a few weeks previous. We saw no elk this year.
I watched a thunderhead build momentum over the Siskiyou mountains all day on Thursday. Up and up it went, 20,000, 30,000 feet into the sky, white, billowy protrusions folding and unfolding from its anvil base along a column that seemed to stretch from the earth to the high heavens.
The gleaming-white column softened and turned pink and then peach and then salmon in the glow of the setting sun. I drove along the upper Rogue River trying to think about fish and fat salmonflies, but my mind was on that cloud and its ominous intentions.
This morning I scrolled through Facebook and unfriended everyone that I saw who had posted something about getting the economy going again. It wasn’t very hard. Their posts usually went something like this.
“I don’t mean to sound insensitive to anyone who is suffering currently, but enough is enough. Let’s get our lives back. Yes, it sucks for people who are dying, but this is just the flu, and people die from the flu all the time. It’s time to get the economy going again, or we’re all going to be sunk.”
Silver bullets, silverware, silver bells. If I stop to think about my first impressions of silver, it’s the little things like werewolves, fine dining and Christmas music.
In reality, it’s still werewolves, but also tarnish on my grandmother’s heirlooms and my childhood best friend’s greyhound that was neutered during the holidays. The dog’s name was Silver, and we sang Silver’s balls, silver’s balls, soon their won’t be any silver’s balls.
When you walk through the canyons of Chicago on a blustery day, not that Chicago is any windier than other American cities, you can feel like the walls are closing in on you.
Maybe it’s the hordes of people scrambling from the trains to their jobs at some perch high up on those canyon walls.
Maybe it’s the ambient noise of elevated trains, taxis and heeled shoes clipping the sidewalks.
Whatever it is, five-years-ago, I was a mess of a human being.
Daily panic attacks as I rode the trains to and from downtown Chicago. Elevated blood pressure. Irritability. Lack of creativity. Inability to be mindful. The list could go on.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love Chicago. I did. I had an amazing job working with some of the most talented people in public radio. I got to look at that amazing architecture every morning and afternoon. And I was part of this vibrant, thriving city for three years.
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” ― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
The racism I grew up with was subtle. Not so subtle I didn’t recognize it, but subtle enough that it could live there in the background without offending too many people.
Without offending me enough to do something about it.
And I’m convinced that is why it’s still around in 2018 and factoring into a national election.
Racism is like Himalayan blackberry bushes. A thorny species in the rose family, these plants were brought in for fruit production in the 1800s, but they quickly spread out of control and changed the landscape by out-competing native plants. Each spring they pop up through the bark dust like other weeds, but you can’t just pull them out. They’re stubborn, and they have thorns. So you weed everything else and swear you’re going to come back for it. But you don’t, and they grow bigger. Continue reading We didn’t weed out racism when we should have→
September and October have been two of the heaviest travel months of my career in conservation so far. I have seen the sun rise in Washington D.C. and set in Portland on the same day. I’ve traveled to the political heartland, and I’ve driven thousands of miles around Oregon.
With the demise of creative music and extremely limited options among the mainstays of the music industry, I have been listening to books on tape, or, more correctly, audiobooks.
Sadness leaks in like the cold. You bundle up, prepared for it. Ready for the onslaught. But it comes in wisps – icy fingers that make you shiver at first. Then you choke as they tighten around your throat.
I stare at the text message, the orange glow of my phone in the dark of a strange hotel room in the middle of the country. I can’t read the letters on the screen, but the message has pierced the sleepy shrouds, the covers over me on the bed, the t-shirt I’m wearing, the skin of my chest and my heart. Continue reading Grief at Thirty Thousand Feet→
"THE WORLD BREAKS EVERYONE, AND AFTERWARD, SOME ARE STRONG AT THE BROKEN PLACES." – HEMINGWAY