Paddling North Five Days On The River – Day One

Mary_S_Young_Park_3633_Swart_ODFW

Plate-glass morning water with fish shatters. A hummingbird drops over the tent and hangs in the space created by the rain.

I read a Carol Shields novel and the daylight sneaks through the leaves of the cottonwood, white and green.

It rained steady all evening, and starting a fire was like baking without sugar or flour. But now the sky is striped by blue between clouds, and I think, “How many people in history have tried to write about clouds?”

Nubes como las olas…

Nubes sin mala intención…

Drifting thoughts of clouds…

Or some other cliché…

Better ideas waiting that I’ve never had…

It would be easy to steal. To Thomas Edison. To feed an image of greatness. “Look at me, a worker, a brilliant mind.”

But I am not brilliant. My mind is not a rare jewel. I only observe what is around me. Seeing the green grasshoppers collecting on my legs at the river’s edge. The blue heron shushing across to the other side. The osprey sitting sentinel on the fence-post above the cutbank. Flipping my spinner under the branch in four feet of water and the rainbow trout hitting the Rooster Tail in the first rotation of the reel.

We use two rocks as a plate and eat the fish with our fingers. Skin salted with Johnny’s, MSG, meat blackened over a stick-fire. Hot Tang and Folgers from boiled river water.

These are no proverbs.

These are no parables.

This is only the first day. How it is. How it was.

Joshua Tree Versus Los Angeles – Ridgemont Video On My Writing Residency

During my short-term writing residency in Joshua Tree National Park this spring, pro skater and Ridgemont filmer Coop Wilt came up to visit me, climb, and adventure together. He shot this footage and Stacey Lowery edited it.

Click here to see the video.

Great Article From Orion Magazine On Nature And “The Rock Climbing Cure For Anxiety”

ChadFarnes

“Facing Fear” by J.B. MacKinnon

Do we need nature? Natural Spaces? Adventure? Contemplative time outside and the rush of adrenaline in a wild setting?

Two excerpts from the full article (click here to read the original – it’s excellent).

1. OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, the evidence that nature serves us well in mind and body has accumulated to a degree that approaches natural law. “The benefits of nature that have been intuited and written about through the ages have withstood rigorous scientific scrutiny,” notes Frances Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Yes, we still find these benefits when we measure them objectively; yes, we still find these benefits when non-nature lovers are included in our studies; and yes, we still find these benefits even when income and other factors that could explain a nature-health link are taken into account. In the face of the tremendously diverse and rigorous tests to which the nature-human health hypothesis has been subjected, the strength, consistency, and convergence of the findings are remarkable.”

2. To which I would respond: surely it was always thus. Were our distant ancestors, gathered around the fire in the lowering light, touched only by the awesome sunset, or did they also dread the awful night? Do we say that nature is only beneficial when it comforts, calms, and uplifts, as though there are no secret pleasures, no vital lessons, in feeling scared, disgusted, and uncomfortable? Is there a person alive who only ever wants the calm sea, and never the storm?

Reader Responses

Every once in a while, as an author, I come across reader blog-posts so wonderful that I have to share them. These two are fun to read. Unfortunately, I miss many posts or go back to look them up and can’t find them (one of my favorite recent blog responses – with a thematic song included – seems to have vanished from the internet). But here are two excellent examples.

The first includes fishing and a home-run derby:

http://ourcrazyblessedlife.blogspot.com/2013/09/let-them-be-eaten-by-bears.html

The second is a book review in the form of a letter by one of the Hiker Mamas:

http://www.hikermamas.com/2014/01/book-review-let-them-be-eaten-by-bears.html

Thank you to all of my readers.

Best of 2013 Lists

LET THEM BE EATEN BY BEARS just made Parents Magazine “Top 5 Books of 2013” list:
http://www.parents.com/blogs/mom-must-read/2013/12/19/must-read/parents-picks-my-top-5-books-of-2013/

And GRAPHIC THE VALLEY was chosen for LitReactor’s “Best Books Of 2013”:
http://litreactor.com/columns/litreactor-staff-picks-the-best-books-of-2013

I’m so grateful to be included on their lists.