Mystic Writer

Peeking out to see if there is a real world out there...

Monday, February 28, 2005

Sure foot raptor run

I fled from work on Saturday towards a quiet park in the hopes of getting a hike in the sun and wild. The wind was harsh and cold, whipping the naked branches and flattening the stalks of bluestem grass. At first I enjoyed the isolation of the wild weather but slowly the pain in my hips and knees from endless slips and catches on the ice and snow covered trails pulled me from the moment, and I realized I was ready for winter to end. I momentarily regained my joy when I spotted a pair of snow geese bedded in deep snow in the middle of an isolated lake, but the mood evaporated and I plotted an escape as I struggled to my car.
Snow Geese
I had a couple days of vacation scheduled, and on Sunday I headed south towards Iowa. The drive was not promising, and as I followed the Mississippi I drove into a massive snowstorm. I fought depression as I fought the slippery road, and at a nondescript intersection in east central Iowa I turned west. I drove a short while and was treated to the sight of a bald eagle flying hard to the north but not moving at all in the brisk headwind. I slowed the car and reached for my camera and he peeled to the side and disappeared. A spark of elation ignited and I drove on. I saw three more eagles fighting northward, all moving in surreal slow motion and I knew I was in the grip of fate again.

A sign pointed the way to Bixby State Park, and I turned north to be stopped by a road closed sign. I changed into fleece and nylon, threw on my backpack and camera and followed the snow packed road down between twisted rock walls. The road emerged into a steep sided valley cut by a medium sized stream. The walls of the valley were topped by fog enshrouded rock ramparts, and with my heart singing I headed down the valley, climbing to the top of the cliffs, then coming back down, exploring curiousities and looking for wonderful views.
After a long hike I worked my way back up to my car through still twilight and slowly falling snow and my heart filled with joy. I drove to the nearest town and checked into a motel, and as I was lying in bed reviewing my day I realized I had been in this exact motel exactly one year ago to the day. Memory flooded back - everything about me was twisted then. I had no hope - My only goal was to survive long enough to see my son well along on his life and then I hoped I could just fade away. I had enjoyed my drive down last year, but looking back I can see how pale my joy was then compared to now.

On the surface, nothing has changed. I am still in a hopeless marriage, I have the same job and live in the same house. My little boy has gotten bigger but my love for him is boundless and I expect that that will never change.

TB is the difference. Something about her, something I feel when I'm with her that I continue to have when I'm not, completes my soul. I don't know what she thinks of me other than I know she is my friend.

I'm not fool enough to believe that the intensity of my desire will somehow make her feel the same towards me and so I have little hope of ever being in a more intimate relationship with her. And yet, for all of that, I still frequently feel an intensity of joy that I have never known before, and it always has the color of TB.

It is my fondest hope that somehow she can experience the same sort of joy she has given me.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Owl invasion

An unexpected incursion of Great Gray owls from Canada drew me northward for my full moon hike. I picked a park known for it's remoteness and headed out in late afternoon.

The owls are large and seem unafraid as I was able to shoot an endless number of photos of them. In one case I walked to within six feet and simply stood and held the owls gaze, quietly telling the owl the small secrets of my life.

Bridge to reverie
My hike started in late afternoon and pink and gold light filtered through the barren trees as I walked westward. The hiking was easy for the first mile with heavy ankle deep snow then, with no warning, the character changed to calf deep snow covering another three inches of crunchy half melted and refrozen slush. At first I thought I would need to end my hike, but then found that by keeping my knees slightly bent and my toes angled forward I could push through the crust and pull my leg up cleanly without barking my shins or tripping.

I enjoyed the odd footing, reveling in the long pull of thigh and stomach muscles, a welcome feeling of strength after my sickness. My mind settled into observer state, no evaluating, no commenting, just seeing and appreciating.

The gold faded to orange, then darkened through blue to black. The frozen river at the base of the bluffs darkened and then brightened to an odd blue as the full moon rose higher in the sky.

A large TOCK came from the trees and in the bright moonlight I saw a turkey unlimber and with a rustling like an ancient umbrella he rolled forward off his roost, opening enormous wings just enough to work his way through the tangle of branches and then spreading full to glide out along the moonlit river. I watched him to the far treeline and then waited, one moment, two, till another umbrella rustled and a second turkey launched to follow the first.

My eyes again followed the giant bird across the river and suddenly I was overwhelmed with longing to share this moment, share all the beauty I had seen this night. I wanted TB by my side, wanted to feel the happiness spread through her soul as it had spread through mine.

Up in the heavens I found the star of my desire "Star, if there is a seed, even the smallest seed of desire for me in TB, please, let it grow. Clear all the falseness, all the irrelevant obstacles, let it grow unfettered...".

My voice echoed in the grove and high up a mist suddenly occluded the sky for a moment, then cleared. The star seemed hotter and brighter and I hoped that something might come of my wish. I silently appended a 'thank you' and starting marching again through the snow.

The miles passed and I started to fade. My legs tired, not able to lift as high and I started to stumble. I turned and found the going easier as I retraced my footsteps. The sky was dark and clear and Orion held my attention as I walked through moonlight turned pure white - the snow along the river glowed. Thoughts of TB colored everything and joy and peace held me on the long walk back to my car.
Full moon hike

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Looking forward

I feel like I've randomly selected scenes from my life and left the readers of this blog completely befuddled.

So, where should I go from here?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

In the headlights

I am in a gray state again. Nothing I've tried writing seems interesting to me.

I went for a walk last night and after five miles of wading through ankle deep slush the trail came to an open water crossing that was about a quarter of a mile wide. For some unknown reason there was a heavy current flowing and the boardwalk that normally crossed the water had washed away.

I was faced with the decision of backtracking five miles through the awful slush, taking an alternate trail which looked to be at least five miles long, or trying to brave the current. I looked through my backpack for a spare pair of socks or some water shoes, but I had unloaded those in the fall when everything had frozen. Time was ticking and I needed to be home in an hour, so I reshouldered my pack and waded into the slush filled current.

The cold was shocking and the footing icy. The current was strong but I had studs on my boots and I used my hiking poles to pick a reasonable path across. On the far side I set off at a double pace to forestall my feet freezing. Unfortunately the swift pace and soaked socks led to my feet starting to rub raw.

The indecisiveness I felt prior to entering the water is akin to my life right now. I have decisions to make and all the alternatives seem poor. I need to somehow find a path that lets me move forward. I know that no matter which way I go I'm going to feel some pain. Unfortunately, unlike my river crossing, it isn't going to be only me that is going to suffer. Fortunately time is not pressing me very hard.

Usually I can be patient and look for joy in my hiking and conversations with TB. Something in the last week or so has made it hard for me to find that joy, and I'm feeling a little hopeless about the future.

No conclusions today, just gray

Saturday, February 12, 2005

It ain't over

The lights of the city far below felt foreign to us as we drove over the top of the mountain. We'd been in the desert for days and were visiting the city to stock up on beverages before heading back out.

Ad stopped the car and we walked towards a cliff, cautiously avoiding the little patches of treacherous snow. He passed me a bottle of vodka and I drank it straight - we had run out of orange juice earlier.

"Lights look weird" he said.

"Yeah? What about that tree?" I replied.


"Blink a few times..."

"oh yeah that's better" Ad said and we hit the bottle a couple more times to prepare for civilization. We climbed back in the car and Ad sailed us down the mountain side.

"It's OK to use the brakes, Ad...". I noticed my fingernails were gouging the dashboard. Ad jacked the brakes and we started to slide, eliciting a whimper from me. Ad resumed our barely controlled fall with a slight smile on his face.

We drove through the city and found a liquor store. Our trunk filled, we found a motel and checked in. Ad flipped on the TV and started making margaritas as I hit the shower. The dust flowed down the drain as I experimented with the various scented soaps and shampoos, finally settling on a nice mix of strawberry and lime.

When I came out, Ad was looking sort of slack jawed and concerned at the television. I tossed the plastic bottle of strawberry shampoo at him "Lets bring this in the car - I think it will mix nicely with the vodka". He didn't try to catch it and it bounced off his temple.

"I think this is real" he said, and I noticed he was genuinely upset. I grabbed a margarita and sat down to watch. A reporter was interviewing a young couple "Are you going to leave the city?".

The woman was in tears "No, we're a long way from the ocean... We have a baby, a dog..." She faded into incoherent sobs.

"What the hell Ad!" I exclaimed. The newscast cut to a graphic of a mid-ocean view. Something fiery streaked out of the sky and hit the water. A dimple formed and then a huge mushroom erupted, full of fire and jetting steam. Ad took a long pull on the margarita "Tonight". He pointed at the TV. "A meteor. That's what happens if it hits the ocean. They're saying it's worse if it's a land strike".

I blinked at him, then looked back at the screen "... waves will race around the planet at 500 miles an hour...". Ad finished his margarita and started on the bottle of tequila. He handed it to me. "We need more liquor - do you have a credit card?". He was starting to look a little insane.

"Ad, you're kidding - this is a joke, right? Like war of the worlds?" I whined.

"Nope, I've been watching it while you were in the shower. It's real..."

I sat back stunned. Neither of us had anyone to call, we were perpetually single. "Reno is only a couple hours away..." I ventured. Ad cut me off - "I don't think the Chicken Ranch offers credit".

I tried "Maybe we should order a pizza". Ad nodded and I picked up the phone. I ordered, then tried to convince the guy to let me pay with a check. He didn't seem to know about the end of the world but he still wouldn't take a check.

"Ad," I started "I never liked Lisa..."

"Yeah, I thought Karen was a hag too. Are we getting things off our chest now?"

I nodded and continued "Lisa was just desperate, and...".

He cut me off again. "You remember that night when Teresa and Tammy invited us over?"

"Yep" I answered "The three of you sent me out for beer on a bicycle, and the cops pulled me over..."

"Yeah." he was starting to grin "You took forever. Tammy liked you when you two met and she wanted to do you. She was really anxious when I told her you were a virgin".

"Ad, you liar. Nothing happened that night. Well, except for the cops - they had a good time..."

Ad was laughing now "Nothing happened to you. I did them both. It was my first time."

I shook my head in confusion "Your first sex or your first twosome?"


I looked at him in disgust and envy then looked back at the screen. There was the incoming fireball again, but this time it hit a prairie. Sheets of fire erupted from the crater and endless amounts of dust and smoke. The announcer droned "... the sun will be cut off for years. Experts agree that this will trigger an ice age...".

"Crap. Ad let's go to a bar and find someone. We've only got tonight..."

"Good idea." Ad sniffed the air. "Do you know you smell like a strawberry margarita? What kind of a girl are you hoping for?"

Ad took a shower and came out smelling lemony. I'd turned the TV off.

"Hey, they just announced it's going to hit Lake Superior" I told him. "It's like the worst of both worlds. It'll wipe out all the great lakes states AND put tons of smoke and ash into the air. We're doomed". I'd switched to screwdrivers while he was getting clean and I handed him one.

"Well, you look kind of happy about that." He grumped.

"Ad, you moron, it was a fake. It's a false documentary called 'Without Warning'. You utter twit... Did that really happen with Tammy and Teresa?". A knock at the door announced the arrival of the pizza.

I turned the TV back on as Ad paid. He detoured into the bathroom on his way back and tossed me a little bottle of lotion "Let's bring this lemon stuff in the car. I think it will go pretty well with tequila...".

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Beware of falling DJ's

Between Jean and Karen I started a little company to do DJ work for high schools and parties. My intent was to make it a big thing but that never happened. At any rate...

I was DJ'ing a dance at the high school I had graduated from. I always insisted that the lights be turned way down (as in OFF) which made me a great hero to all the horny kids. My rationale was that part of my 'act' was the light show, which was a bunch of colored light boxes, blacklights, and strobes. I'd built a little hand made circuit that allowed me to 'sync' the boxes with the beat of the music and I was darn proud of my light show.

I had some rocking long song going and had dropped the headphones to watch the kids jumping off the stage and into the arms of their friends. The strobes were blinking at a frenzy inducing 14 beats per second, which is slow enough that there are noticeable gaps when people are moving quickly enough.

Pretty soon it occurred to me that I wanted to be caught by my adoring public and I moved to the edge of the stage and leaped.


The crowd is thickly gathered with arms outstretched


I'm soaring upwards!


The crowd thins


The crowd parts


Splat! I gracelessly slap into the floor


The crowd dances back


I writhe through the trampling herd


I reached my DJ chair and turned off the strobes. With a scratch of the needle I ended the long rocking song and replaced it with a sad one about betrayal.

. . . .

. . . .

I have been trying for a week to come up with a good pithy moral to this story, but I've gotten stuck playing with the aphorism "Look before you leap" which doesn't seem to lead anywhere.

Anybody have any ideas?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Grandma and the wolf

My grandmother had 14 grandkids and each of us believe we were her favorite. She had a gift for making you think everything about you was special and appreciated. Much of my love of nature comes from the lessons I learned from her long ago and still am learning from her today, though she has long since passed.

When I was six, my family along with my grandma and a host of cousins were staying up north at our two room family cottage. It was just before sunrise in the middle of summer and as was often the case I was lying in bed thinking. I heard a rustle and my grandma got up and looked over to see me looking at her.

She held a finger to her lips and then motioned to me as she opened the door. I quickly padded outside in my bare feet and joined her on the dew covered grass. She asked if I'd like to go for a walk. Hearing my happy 'Yes!', she started towards the lake in her floppy old shoes.

She was in her late sixties but she moved easily and silently in the woods, her feet stepping on the quiet pine needles and avoiding the twigs and leaves. We walked along and she quietly pointed out things to look at - the mist on the water, a fish jumping, a heron quietly coasting just above the still mirror of the lake.

My grandma gently put her hand on my shoulder and I stopped walking. We slowly turned till we were looking back into the woods, and there I saw a timber wolf with his head facing away from us. My grandma's calm seeped into me through her grip and I silently watched as the wolf turned his head towards us.

He looked towards my grandma's face and I could feel something different come into her - not fear, but something deep and wild, something they both shared. The wolf shifted his gaze to me and I looked directly into his eyes.

There was beauty there and again I sensed the wildness, this time coming into me. The wolf stared a long while, then turned and disappeared into the woods. I felt judged but not dismissed - I felt small but good.

I looked up at my grandma and could tell she knew all the feelings I had felt. We resumed our quiet walk up the trail.

One of these days I'll see those eyes again.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Driving under the influence

In a recent comment, Alice gently reminded me that my ongoing illness may be my body trying to tell me something, and that I might consider taking it easy. Of course she was right.

One of my little boys favorite activities is having me drag him through the snow on a little sled. Wednesday morning I took him for a slide walk and his whoops and laughter drove me to greater and greater efforts and all told I pulled him for about four miles.

Wednesday evening I crawled into bed feeling horrible and didn't rouse till 11am the next day. My lungs were congested and I was feeling guilty at letting a beautiful sunny day go unappreciated, so I hit on the idea of relaxing in my nice comfy car seat. I showered, grabbed my camera, and oh so slowly lumbered to my vehicle.

I drove south a couple hours across the snow swept prairies, then turned west to follow a river valley. The exposed rock contrasted with brilliantly lit white snow and I drove in happy appreciation. Twice I spotted hawks and painfully exited the car to try to take photos but I moved too slowly and they flew off to distant perches.

Another hour brought me to the Mississippi and I turned northward. The bluffs of the upper Mississippi are an endless wonder to me and even though I've seen them hundreds of times they always bring me joy. Sun set as I was driving along the shores of Lake Pepin and I stood on a cliff and basked in the slowly darkening glow.

I drove home under stars to be greeted by my little boy, then ended the day with another series of short conversations with TB.

Sickness and all, I couldn't have wished for a better day.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

February Fog

Last night I walked in an easy isolated park with a little waterfall and miles of tree covered rolling hills. It was challenging only in that the once deep snow was melting and the trail was slippery. I fell twice, once sliding into a tiny ravine that sucked me in and wouldn't let me out. I felt like the poster child for Medic Alert.

It was absolutely silent except for the rare hoot of owls and a chorus of coyotes at the very beginning of my walk. Darkness was complete - I saw artificial light only twice in three hours of walking. It is just above freezing here for the first time in quite a while and I was too hot for most of my hike, then my fever caught up with me and I started to feel very cold and somewhat faint. The last two miles to my car were made with odd little flashes of light and dark patches swimming across my vision. Not really what I'm looking for in these dark walks.

This silly cold is robbing me of much of my joy. February is starting out gray inside and out and I feel a desperate need for something sudden and exciting to enter my life.

I know intellectually that I will start to feel better and the sun will be out in not too long a time, but it seems an eternity when all is buried in fog.

Sickness makes writing difficult and so I tried my hand at redesigning my blog. I'm lacking talent or maybe sickness makes that impossible as well, and I'm faced with failure.

My vision was to have the top be a photo, composited photo, or drawing of a frozen lake with a dimly lit hillside rising up from the far side. On the hillside a snow covered trail would cut across diagonally. On the left would be a full moon just kissing the horizon with the silhouette of a bare tree against it. The tree would be casting a shadow across the lake and the shadow of the branches would touch the bottom of the photo. There would be another silhouette tree on the right, again with shadow branches crossing the lake.

I would like the shadow tangle of branches to continue down the sides of my blog in a sort of spiderwebby fashion. I'm guessing a single repeated tile would give me the effect I want.

Of course, I have no idea what I'm talking about. I took four years of art classes in high school and realized I can sketch something I can see and I love throwing pots, but I'm not good at much else.

Is there anyone out there who can make my vision a reality?