Trees and the True Home

The solitude and calm of a northern MN forest is an inviting and welcome break from the city. Pine trees gently sway in the autumn wind and the sun casts tall shadows beneath the crystal blue. This place is a refuge for animals and people and a delicate balance plays out each day.

We are but guests here and with time we are consumed by the trees and the earth to become one and the same.

We are but caretakers here tasked with preserving what is natural, what is instinctual, and lessen our impact.

We are blessed to be here and the reward is absolute silence, snow covered pine needles, whippoorwills, evening visits from coyotes, elusive bears, soaring ravens, and the ritual of becoming ash and returning to the sky, returning to home.





Poem – Sense of All

And in the evening light
we chase the floating particles,
each a piece of ourselves
set free from the fire.

In this moment we lose sense of “I”
and become the “we” with the
trees, the light, the darkness
and the whole of the universe.



Poem – Autumn

The autumn sky wraps blue fingers
around the tall pine trees and in
this embrace we watch the story unfold.





Video – Perfect Drone Crash and Over the Trees

A beautiful day to capture an autumn skyline above the clouds and crashing into a tree at 15mph.

Poem – Today

Each day while comprising the experiences of the previous,
is itself new, and waiting for what you make of the time.


Poem – The Border Kingdom


We drive the dusty road
east from the mountains toward
the flat land not divulging
any secrets from this distance.

Still morning the intense sun
withers fallen vegetation and
quickly dissipates dew clinging to
cactus needles.

We have not spoken since the pass
where we studied the horizon
surveying what we left behind
and the road leading into the unknown.


Thousands of acres on both sides with
open fields fenced yet empty,
arid, harsh wind blows dirt, small
stones, and tumbleweed across the road.

I turn to say anything, to comment
on the traffic, and I think you are
asleep, at least drifted beyond the
shared space – I decide to remain quiet.

The morning sun has become the afternoon
companion we now follow as the road
veered west and rises toward the
cloud-free sky.

Mile 418. Unfolded, stained, torn map
found in the dumpster at the
last gas station says there is a town
and a river near. I see only tar and dirt.


I remember watching grayish skeleton limbs
against milky blue backdrop through
quarter sliced windows blocking
winter wind and snow

while you slept near the fire
on the black leather couch
you brought with
next to the dog you desired.

Your struggle became
more apparent to fit
two separate lives
until I relented.


I imagine not God’s kingdom
behind pearled gates transcended from mortal forms
meshed with forward singular time
wrapped in fear and repentance

but a kingdom earth bound
free of time, free of the wind
torn sands. Here dreams flow
spherically with no sense of direction.


And in the last dream I remember
the river flowed beneath skipping feet
chasing prophecies and false prophets,
spoken words and brutal lies.

I saw life fading away, fading into vastness
I tried to pull the visible strings together.
I saw a painted face in the sky above,
one of the many angry gods of war.


I see fire building
across the open field
and briefly invent an
overgrown empty field burning.

Before the shift
rumors crept into conversations
of the border kingdom
high in the mountains

a city of mist and rain
immune to desert wind.

Even the name gives birth
to images of purity and salvation.

A place to find and enter
leaving behind and never looking back.


In the dark days
darkened further by doubt
time slows, lengthens
pause between beats,

the space pulls strings
emerging from the mind
and eventually each pore
turning you inside out

until you do not know
you. Who is that in the mirror
and why are you staring at me?
What is this you are showing me?

That is not real, that is not me.
In your eyes you have one truth,
in mine I have another. What separates us
besides the glass mirror?


My faith began to waver
when grandpa passed.

Years spent building a foundation
enforced by dreams of winter
laying nuclear ash upon the
ground, vanished
when the vessel
released the soul.

We have become God’s of
individual domains defined by the
things acquired, captured, and scored.

I listen to words of peers and words of teachers.
The shaman speaks of reality and no reality, of mind control,
of the matrix infiltrating mind and spirit and becoming sleep,
unaware, lost, wandering that dark black path
through an empty field yet not realizing the empty field
is empty, the reasons for being empty, is the true path,
is our own creation.


When did this, this life
become this hard?

I listen to these words and in
the same breath know there is no
one way through the everlasting shift,
searching for my own salvation.

Like fragments
I choose the pieces that make sense
that ease the deep fire burning within.

This fire I must learn to harness,
to control, to bend, to shape

until I become the shape shifter
able to take back control.


We approach the border –
a wide river moving swift and cold –
and stop. Both looking through the
bug-encrusted windshield and our hands finally touch
to remember this last speck of civilization.


I used to dream day and night
of flying above the clouds into
upper reaches of the atmosphere closer
to other borders, other layers
of various gases, closer to the burning
sun and becoming cold and frozen
without direction, spinning,
until a different light skewed
my vision and stripped everything away
and I was able to fly unburdened and free.


I pause briefly just before
the bridge, a final thought
to be discarded, one less
burden we must bring with us.

We cross the border under
the new moon with shadows locked
safely away, to be revealed
when reaching the kingdom.

Poem – Calming

What more can I ask for,
what more can I expect,

than the colors of autumn
calming the chaos within.


Poem – War Child (Re-post)

Standing among the ruins.
The child looks to the west, as the sun sets upon the land
And smoke billows from the ruins.
Many thoughts collide and fill the child’s mind.
Thoughts no child should carry.

Standing alone, afraid to look.
Afraid to ask anything.
Tired arms hold all that is left of this life.
The life sniffs the air and hides beneath their paws.
Knowing what has happened, howling at the blood red, war torn sky.

A tear falls from both of their eyes.

And then nothing is left.



Photo from Depression Time

Drone Review of Autel and DJI

I have been flying the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium for over a month now. During that time, I have crashed, missed landings, made landings, taken beautiful videos over the top of a northern pine forest, and dealt with the nuances of a new product. Here are some of my thoughts so far.

  • For the cost, this is a great and easy to fly mid-level drone.
  • I have some concerns how it will compete in the long-term with DJI, especially with the ongoing lawsuit.
  • I have not seen any 3rd party accessories or additional accessories from Autel. The top of my list includes sturdier propeller guards to keep them out of videos and photos on windy days, and a battery charging hub.
  • The latest concern is with quality control. I upgraded the firmware to version 1.2.8 about 3-weeks ago and flew a bit and noticed a lot of drift when hovering, and it was really pronounced when nearing the landing zone. I visited the downloads recently checking to see if there was a new version, and now only 1.1.3 is available. There was no information on the site regarding the issues and I received no emails or notifications,. Only by contacting support did I find out that drifting was a known issues in the 1.2.8 release. I requested a list of other known issues and when they might be fixed, but received no response.  Issues can and should be expected with new products, but support and communication are critical and will be the key difference when someone is deciding between 2, 3 or more options as the market becomes more flooded with drones in the price range.

While I am in the beginning stages of building a business around commercial drone operation, my experience so far is showing me that the Autel Robotics is not quite ready yet.  I have been looking into adding a second drone, and was considering another Autel, but have decided on the DJI Phantom 4.  The Autel is still a good drone, but would be better for learning and practice flights.

Once I get some flight time with the DJI I will post a more thorough and side-by-side review.

2016-09-04 08.49.04


Poem – Suns

In the quiet moments
as our sun falls behind

the mountains, the sky
becomes filled with the

distant suns of alien planets
and we begin to understand our place.


Poem – Time

Every day is a battle
to find more or slow down or move faster.

Yet time is not aware of our desires
and continues in one steady direction.

The very definition of time is based on
processes and natural events occurring

millions of miles beyond the grasp
of worn and tired hands.

Yet we continue to pin our decisions,
our careers, our relationships, and our lives on time.

We lose focus on now as we reminisce of the past
and wish for the future.

We forget how precious time can be
if we choose to accept our loss of control.

We can only control the present, the people,
and the moments we hold close.


Poem – Home

In the first minutes of light
time stops and I cease to exist
as a physical presence and
become a flicker in the air.

Without name or boundaries
I now exist free and at home.


Poem – In the Distant Valley

A wanderer of the frozen lands,
I stopped at the edge.

A silence wrapped in wind
and ice scattered across

the valley and we took
shelter beneath overhanging rock.

In the morning after the fire
we hiked 7 days to the distant valley

steeped in legends of living spirits
and the black wolves guarding the way home.


Drone Resources and Websites

I have spent a few hours with learning and flying a drone, crashing a into trees a couple of times, and missing the manual landing more than hitting the pad.  All of this is get practice and build skills for eventual commercial piloting (more information below).  I have found the Autel Robotics drone to be an excellent mix of performance, quality of photos and video, support, and cost.  In the next post, I will talk briefly about other manufactures and how they compare to the Autel Robotics.

Some useful websites for the FAA Part 107 drone operator testing and certification for commercial operation.

The following website is for registration of your drone if it meets criteria outlined by the FAA, which applies to most drones on the market today.

The following is a short list of drone manufactures that I have experience with, either from flying or researching the next drone that will be added to the Willow River Dynamics fleet.

2016-09-04 08.49.04

Poem – Beyond Control

I move across the empty fields
toward the tree line and pause.

There are shadows and things unseen
at work as the sky bends to will of the forest.

There is an energy flow through everything and
if I clear my mind I see ten thousand beings

and the light they cast down the path.