Category: the great outdoors

free indeed

January 8th, 2009 — 2:09pm

It is feelings like this that I most want to hold on to but am least able to maintain. Feelings like this are the most fleeting.

It’s a feeling born of the warm, persistent press of the sunlight on my skin despite the chill in the air; the crunching snow underfoot as the sun stakes out its place in the sky; the lilting song of birds and the strong scent of evergreen pouring from a towering fir tree. Such a giant of a tree—it’s a wonder that it has escaped my attention until now. I stop and gaze up and can’t even see the top.

And suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, I’m filled with peace and clarity. I feel realistically optimistic about the future. (Realistically optimistic? It’s amazing that such a feeling exists.) I can clearly see a path laid out in front of me. And what’s more, I don’t feel afraid to start walking down it.

The thing is, I’ve had these fantastically exultant moments before… and so I know that they pass. They pass, and I’m left with life-as-usual once again, trudging through the problems of the day (most of which are problems of my own making). My view of the road ahead becomes obscured again with my doubts, my second-guesses, my mistakes.

But I’m not pointing this out to be a pessimist. Not this time, anyway. I’m pointing this out because this time, I think I understand this feeling better.

Thank goodness for these moments of clarity, these times when the world feels so full of lighted windows and open doors. These moments are exactly the kick in the pants that I need to continue on even when the world turns dark again. The feeling may be gone, but the memory that I had it remains. There’s a “white ring of mineral ash left after the water has boiled away,”* which serves as a real reminder that hope can be constant even while my feelings vacillate between contentment and desperation.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
-Kahlil Gibran

So for now, I get it. I recognize it may not be as easy for me to grasp next week, or maybe even tomorrow. But for now, I get it, and I’m holding on.

*another quote from Louise Erdrich’s Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

1 comment » | books, hopes, quotes, the great outdoors, what's inside

to do

December 11th, 2008 — 1:04pm

Before I die, I hope I…

…knit a scarf. I hate to admit it, but I have yet to finish any knitting project I have begun. It’s shameful. Even finishing a simple scarf would be commendable.

…experience midnight in broad daylight. The idea that there are places on the globe where the sun doesn’t set during the solstice is fascinating and irresistible to me. I want to be there for that.

…stare at the aurora borealis over my head. (I think I’ve got Alaska on my mind.)

…ride a horse at an insanely fast gallop across a big, wild, wide-open landscape. Movies make it look so exhilarating.

1 comment » | hopes, lists, pictures, quirks, the great outdoors, travels


December 8th, 2008 — 9:03pm

Bryant and I recently had our one-year wedding anniversary, and by “recently,” I mean six weeks ago.  Since Bryant had never been to Moab or Arches National Park (I know, I know… it’s sick and wrong to have lived in Utah for so long and never gone there), and since it’s one of my favorite places to escape to, we decided to take a little road trip.

While there, I discovered that Bryant hasn’t been completely honest with me about his true identity.  As it turns out, by day Bryant is the unassuming computer programmer we all know and love.  But by night, this mild-mannered coder transforms into Bryantman, the brawny, heroic champion of air conditioners and water heaters everywhere.

I had a hunch that there was more to him than meets the eye, but even so, I can’t believe he was able to keep it from me for so long.  I know I’m going to get in trouble tonight for letting his secret out, and I’m putting us all in danger.

You know how there are those random traditional guidelines for each year’s anniversary gifts?  Well, apparently the proper gift for the first anniversary is paper.  So, in the spirit of being completely proper, Bryant and I made random things out of paper for each other.

Check out the awesome jumping frog:

Before we set out for our hike in Arches National Park, I found this humongous crickety-grasshopper-thing.  I was totally enthralled by it:

I guess it really wasn’t that big though, because Bryant still mocks me for thinking it was so massive and cool.  I guess it was just an average-sized grasshopper.  I don’t know though… I really remember it being gigantic.  Like six inches long.  At least.  The picture really doesn’t do it justice.

As exciting as grasshoppers are, the real reason I brought Bryant down to southern Utah was to see some arches.  I took tons of pictures (one hundred sixty-eight to be exact, half of which were of the grasshopper), so I’ll pare it down to a handful of shots from the highlight of our trip: the hike to Delicate Arch.

We timed it so that we’d get to Delicate as the sun was setting.  It made for a really beautiful hike.  This is my favorite time of day.  I love the slanting light and the contrast of the long, dark shadows with the bright, orange glow on everything the sun touches.

I’ve never been to Delicate at that time of day before, and my goodness, it was breathtaking.    It was an overwhelming experience.  There were a dozen and a half people there, but no one made a sound.  No one walked near the arch—everyone sat on the ledge across the bowl with their cameras set up on tripods.  It’s like there was some unspoken rule to keep your distance and to speak in whispers.  All you could hear was the quiet wind and the soft “click click click” of camera shutters.  I’ve never had an experience quite like it.  All the other times I’ve been to Delicate, there have been lots of rowdy people all over the place.  It still was always beautiful, but nothing like this.  I was amazed at the reverence of the scene at sunset.  It felt like we were on holy ground.

Bryant pulled out his charcoals and sketchbook as I sat and stared:

We stayed until the sun set.  It’s amazing how many different colors the sky can turn.

1 comment » | for my amusement, pictures, quirks, the great outdoors, travels

Back to top