The previous day bathed us in winter light
as the sea sang us to sleep.

Today we slowly become wet snow-people
as the storms take over the landscape

and we marvel at the beauty everywhere.

From the collection “Beyond the Border Kingdom“, the 13th and final poem.

(1)

threads hang openly
defining a life – what happens
when they are pulled
or cut?

does the puppet fall?
who will mend the broken legs?

one by one the headlights pass
through silence and growing fog
hidden unknown faces travel into
hidden unknown places.

the shadows that follow,
what fills the void and vacuum
the consumed space where light has left,
has forgotten the open fields?

give me truth
give me strength
to expose and kill
the false deity within.

(2)

one last look back
before the stampede begins
my feet in rubber boots
sink into virgin snow.

the tree line leads
thoughts grow beyond the river
past meadows and tundra
to the peak forever in a storm.

the trail ahead is obscured
whoever passed first
their footsteps have been lost
to the landscape…
winter sky
frozen movements
miles of silence
the setting sun and the cold orange and blue.

(3)

unknown moments never experienced
– things I will never know
the harvest moon covers
open fields of wheat and barley,
the open sea, wild horses –
simple beauty.

people around me circle closer
the space I have built
is shrinking, collapsing
I must leave, it is my time to leave.
black outline suspended in flight
one last moment here before my time passes.

the sea slows. light bends across
our eyes. rocks glisten.

(4)

events beyond control
the long black paved road
simmers in the distance
apparitions rise and fall.

the barriers erected soften
the layers peel away
exposing the true self within.

who are you when all else is gone?
what is left when each layer falls?

broken wings
above the blackening sea
merged into the shoreline
a pale hand moves methodically
over the flame releasing
jasmine into the room.
rain blankets the landscape.

over time the room and rain become one
as the being within falls into a temporal sleep.

early morning…
and the suns fingers extend to me.

caribou-20090101-135

From the collection “Beyond the Border Kingdom“.

an empty road
cuts various swaths
through empty, arid fields
until it ends.

an object prostrated
exactly where the road
ends, the fields border,
is naked, the sun glistening.

this impasse
familiar, repeated.

beyond the body
unknown landscape or wasteland.

disconnected, detached
we watch events unfold.

again.

unaware of the role we play.
unaware of the script.

a vulture descends from nowhere
wrapped in nothing upon the
immobile figure.

and with silent
voices we gaze
and do nothing
and do move.

abandoned fields grow –
things forgotten
things not yet experienced
things the vulture discards

and the ravaged
body
– inside out –
vows
to cultivate and
return to empty fields.

caribou-20090101-135

Across the western landscape
clouds roam with
scattered shadows.

What beasts must I endure
to find my way, my path.

Only abstract from life, from nature.
I am nature.

Source of art from the unconscious.

The white canvas, an empty field
waits with silent anticipation for the
first brush.

Where does “it” come from?

The once empty valley.

Just finished moving to a new house (whose idea was it to move in winter?) and we have emerged from the boxes and disarray.  So much going on, so many changes, but it is the start of a new chapter.  Each day is a reminder of who we were yesterday and who we can become tomorrow.

January has come and gone and February is still a frozen landscape.  Snow piles have quickly reached over mailboxes, around corners, and now threaten to block out windows.  We don layer after layer and become indistinguishable from one another.

What do you do when it is below zero and the snow is up to your knees?  Snowshoe of course!  I took out a new pair of MSR Evo snowshoes for the first time, and was a bit disappointed.  The binding system requires the use of bare fingers and at 10 below zero, was no fun.  Atlas snowshoes are still the best overall for cold weather and snow in Minnesota.  They are easy to setup and adjust with gloves on and the decking material takes a lot of abuse and does not crack or stiffen.

Into the Depths
Into the Depths
This Tastes Good
This Tastes Good
New Backyard
New Backyard
New Backyard
New Backyard

 

The midnight sky
black, merged
with the horizon
fallen to the earth.

A moon graces the
northern sky, scattered
across the white frozen
fields and apple trees.

Cold air rushes in
and quickly condenses
each time the door opens
letting the puppy briefly out.

A few months ago, I found myself moving beyond my physical and mental limits. Limits I was not aware of until they surfaced and began pushing back and against the space I was within.

After hours squeezed into a sea kayak, paddling from Decision Point to Blackstone Glacier, beneath low, grey and heavy clouds, consistently showering our group, I found myself. Literally, I found the physical body that detached from my mind, wearing layers of shirts and pants, thick wool socks and hat, sleeping. Wrapped in the blue and orange mummy sleeping bag, pressed against the side of the tent, there were no dreams to be had. Exhaustion and the comfort of being dry for a few hours were all that mattered.

Outside, beneath the midnight sky, the wind howled, grabbing every branch and loose corner of the tent, slapping nylon against the ground, rocks, and itself. Off in the muted distance, rolling waves crashed on the rocky shoreline, and kayaks banged against other kayaks. Empty dreams morphed into fear of tents wrapped around trees or kayaks blown out to sea.

I have spent weeks in Alaska, and twice before I gave into the allure and call of the water – to be close, at its mercy and open to its power.

This time was different. This time the Sound won. The sound destroyed any postcard vision of the land, and replaced it with raw nature at its best. And I am humbled and grateful for the experience. I know years from now, when my perception of the events morphs and softens, the speed of the wind, amount of rain, and the 72 hours of being cold and wet, will not seem all that bad. But deep within, in the places not easily found and sometimes hard to explain or understand, my path changed. I changed and I feel different each day – I grew closer to the land, mountains, sea, sun and the energy flowing between all of them.

For the adventure this year, I went with Exposure Alaska. This was my second expedition with them (first was in 2007).  I completed the Xxtreme Week expedition and can say this was one intense trip.

I have gone with other companies for trips to Alaska and the San Juan Islands, and feel this company is the best overall.  Don and Tina, the owners, have many years of experience in the field, guiding, logistics, training guides in Alaska that they bring to each trip.

After tough and sometimes brutal days in the water, on the ice, or hiking, the guides put together great meals that I looked forward to before heading off to bed for rest.  Education is always part of the trip, and we learned various knots, especially when pitching a tent and tarp in Prince William Sound (gale-force winds, waves, cold temperatures), history of Alaska, flora and fauna, leave no trace principals, and backcountry cooking.

One of the highlights was half-way through the trip and hanging out at Don and Tina’s homestead.  We enjoyed an Alaskan BBQ, cold beer, and great conversation around the fire while the sun set and stars emerged.

I would definitely recommend Exposure Alaska for an expedition in Alaska.

Day 1 – Meet in Anchorage. Start sea kayaking. Remote Camping.
Day 2 – Continue sea kayaking. Remote Camping.
Day 3 – Paddle to pick up point. Return to Whittier. Short drive to remote camping near Hope, AK.
Day 4 – Whitewater rafting on Six Mile Creek! Pizza & beer in Anchorage. Camping at our Homestead.
Day 5 – Glacier Trekking & Ice Climbing. Alaska-style BBQ and camping at our Homestead
Day 6
 – Challenging Backpacking. Remote camping.
Day 7 – Challenging Backpacking. Return to Anchorage.

alaska2

Is home truly where the heart is, or where the heart feels at home?

The sun rises behind grey clouds infused with faint orange, drifting in the morning sky just above the distant treeline.

Across the vast expanse of water, mountains rise to meet the sky, and the sky greets the mountains with tears.

A water tower stands tall, painted red and rusting from the misty air fed by the inlet.

If I am here, far from there, can this still be home? My heart settles into a deep pattern of strong beats and my breathing is full and crisp. Could this be home?

I tell myself to stop questioning. To let what is, be. To be in this, and let everything else fall away. I tell myself to stop searching for a label and fall into the pool of nothingness and emerge free, at peace, content with myself and where I am, where I chose in another time, to be.

For last couple of weeks, I have been mostly listening to Mystical Sun. At first, I was lost in the soundscape and very in tune to each note and beat. Over time, the music has incorporated itself into the background, and become a part of me. I’m still trying to find the words to explain this for myself, but I almost feel it is in my subconsciousness, and is influencing thoughts, dreams and my creativity. I wish I could draw more than stick figures and paint, but if I could, it would look like this:

Standing in the middle of a field, it is empty at first. There is light coming from somewhere, but it is unclear. There is a sound, a hum, something in the background, but not enough to become a focal point. After some time has passed, trees begin to emerge from the ground, but they different heights, with the shortest near, and the tallest further out, and they are in a circular pattern, and they made of light.