Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Sere Abundance

January was feathered in furry courtship. Now, two days after a late Easter, the forest is bursting with life. We’re springing in snowshoes across a network of buried ice-clad alder at the base of the cliffs. It’s warm enough to get down to our sweaters, Levis and boots.

Micah chooses a gentle climbing route. Green and burgundy shoots poke up along with signs that most of these early plants are being munched on. We pass a tousled bolder and an exposed root system: icy, moist and musky, telling of a larger appetite.

Sunlight glints off a limbed nest in the crown of a hemlock, two hundred feet up the hillside where three eggs were hatched. Hatched, or are the broken shells from eggs that have been abandoned, a reluctant offering, a snack for an array of flying or tree climbing predators, those who work tirelessly to feed many tiny mouths? On bold legs, fuzzy babies will totter a small advance beyond the warmth of the covey to paw, and claw, learn to snap sharp teeth and snatch sustenance with stealth. We spot feathers, tufts of fur and bone.

This is Micah’s last spring at home. The first born of three is ready to explore a larger life than the magnificence that surrounds him. I recall our earliest time together. Late at night his vitality was so great his tiny body would vibrate with anticipation. A rugged lifestyle was essential for him to grow up well. Now he’s ready. And-- I’m still getting in shape.

Our steady progress up the hill brings us to an outcropping of rock, covered with crunching orange lichen. Dropping our packs and stripping away the sweaters, we pause for a snack.

“I like your backyard, Bochart.”

“Yea, this has been one hell of a place to grow up, Mom. The freedom and ongoing inspiration has made me ready to learn about other places. I’m thinking East Coast as a base for a few years while working, going to school and traveling. I have to see parts of Africa and South America, and I’ve become really interested in South East Asia.”

Below, the glacial valleys are drenched in sunlight. The entire universe is thawing today releasing the sweet smell of a freshened earth.

“My love, wherever you go you’ll bring life and a bright new perspective. Now, THAT’S a mom talking!”

Across the ravine, we spot a brown bear and her new cub at work finding twisted stalk and fireweed shoots. At the base of a fallen spruce the young mother digs shoulder deep to harvest an ant colony while the little one examines her toes.

She’s aware of our presence. We’re compatible.

(Personal history written as an exercise for the class, Klukwan Writing.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring is Weighing In

The wind and cold are biting through everything but wool. Still, promises of warmer days are present in each of the garden starts from little green broccoli snipplets to cabbage, cauliflower, delphinium and phlox. Increased light and that compressed sense of 'gittin it ALL going', multiplies around 4 a.m., minutes after the moon sets below the mountain tops. The waxing energy is intoxicating.

The sheep are ready for spring. Winter was so dry that those with fur are still dealing with itchy skin. The ewes are attempting to rub their abundant coats off before the weather warms. Anything with an edge offers relief; the loft ladder, keyhole stanchions or low hinges on the stall. Following a fresh start for the woolly ones, the arrival of this spring's baby goats will occur. I'm going to be a barn maid this week. If it was a bit warmer, moonbeams through the hayloft window would be enticing.

Instead, it's time to build a fire in the woodstove. I'll watch tonight's sky cozy-ed up in front of the sliding glass door. Join me?

(The cottonwood and willow tops are wearing a greenish-yellow flush. The Fair Light Review couldn't resist donning a similar look. Now, if I could just catch that fragrance, both to wear and share here. I'll keep trying.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As the Snow Melts

Mountain goat wool, drying in a cool spring breeze, ready for spinning.

Hightop moccasins made from native tanned deer and Klehini Valley felt, wool from the sheep at 39 Mi.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Of Peas and Pods

“Claude Revenaugh was first a cowboy then one of Teddy’s Rough Riders and a merchant marine. He married late and then I came along. We tried working the land with teams of horses but the caked dirt was used up, limp sac-clothe. He dreamed of starting over in Alaska.”

Horizontal rain pummeled, flexing the loose window casings. My thoughts scrambled through lists for tomorrow’s classes when the dozy, old husk caught a second wind:

“The last ten years of his life he repaired automobile batteries. Kept a moderately lucrative business alive during the Great Depression. He was a big man, nearly as big as you. Great White Hunter type. Saw me as timid, a Mama’s boy, I suppose. ‘Hold the reins. Turn them, now, hold’em!’ Christ, I had nothing to prove.”

I can’t leave him stuck in the recliner, alone, but I’ve got to get to bed. Ivy will stay up visiting. He’s traveled to Alaska to say good-bye, accompanied by his eighty-three year old mother. The flight attendants who assisted the pair worried that one or the other might die before leaving the plane. Neil and I carried him, fireman-style, up eighty-seven slippery stairs from the street to the front door. Grandma was ready to go fishing. It’s been a long week.

“Were you in the service? No, I suppose you’re smarter than that. The war offered a lot of guys the chance to get the hell out, myself included, though once I was in, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Uncle Sam paid for a college education, and a chance to see the Pacific from a mine sweeper. I was a sonar man.”

He’ll hold you in a web of story for several hours, cover the most abstract subjects; politics, religion, modernist social strata, literature, backed by vivid accounts of the people involved. Then, ask suddenly if you’ve been formally introduced. It takes getting used to. Like body surfing.

Ivy leaned in from the dining room, kissed her poppa on the head and pulled a recorder from her robe, magician style.
“I’m holding the best friend a journalist ever had, primed with fresh tape to document the evening. What do you say, Revenaugh?”

“Well, Daughter, they tell me I’m dying of cancer and the disease is effecting my short-term memory, (hard on a reporter.)
There’s some concern I may not make the trip home to my companion of the last few years (we’ll see if I still hold influence with the airlines.) I’m honored to be with you, always, and I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, (if he’d be so kind as to remind me who the hell he is.)”

Ivy winked. April Fools