Outside/Inside

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I walked through the neighborhood before dusk
A lilac breeze blowing enough to wonder about a jacket, so
I tucked into myself a little tighter

Thinking isn’t it funny how I invite the natural world into my house
With my plants, my pets, my own body and all its strange/perfect biology
Into this place considered not-nature

Yet out here crows fly toting sticks for nests,
Poppies flourish in a violent orange,
Frost creeps through the grass even in June,
Tufts of cotton float through the sky,
as I shift between outside/inside

Once at the Lake

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Mountain rock breathes cool on nape of neck,
where I’ve pulled hairs in fits of nerves.
Boulders varnished white and gray bounce back
a marmot screech across the lake. A late call
to flee, or hide. My howling feet beg for rest
on perfect granite slabs. Like ivory cut
by rain and time. I think mastodons roamed
lakes like this, dipping trunks in ice.
Ghosts might rove this meadow now.
I count clouds that traipse along the peaks
where climbers cling; I am not one of them
today. Bruised feet in grass, I dream.

Morning

Ants were moving over their red sand nest
like satellites rearranging amongst the constellations,
orbiting the opening that led
to a damp dark infinite nest of mazes.
The smell of rot wafted across the yard,
something like the stench of decomposing flesh
or wet soil unearthed into the sunlight for the first time.
It was like the baking of clay
with seaweed and ocean life hardening inside.
The sun was a sedative bearing down on her,
heating the backs of necks and
lulling all into a state of apathetic bliss.
She watched the morning unfold
in the crabgrass: the grasshoppers blinking
in and out of sight; the willow branches drifting
like cheery, lazy pennants; swallows free-falling
to the ground in graceful undulations.

Morning in the Country

Sunrise glow: I’m not really working.
Throw a cup of scratch to the chickens,
chase dogs down the brown road. Water froze
overnight so I haul buckets inside to thaw.

Bullheaded dog stretches and groans.
He becomes a statue in the sun, standing
guard for his siblings racing the hills.
Tail whipping only when I turn to him
and smile. My hands might crack in this cold.

Mountains rise to form the edge of my town,
boasting new snow. Did they push slowly
into the clouds or spring forth from crust,
violent? A baby grows slowly then erupts, too.
Grooves are etched deeper around my eyes
but these mountains are still young.

Regrets like Stones

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Regrets like stones slick from the tide,
polished clean with time and rumination.
If I bent to collect each glimmer in the surf,
my pockets would split and arms overflow.
Ever so often I might crouch on the salty kelp
to examine an especially bright agate veneer,
dust and brush dry the surface with my palms.
One thousand heavy possibilities lurking
in such a smooth oval of caramel consistency.
At last I must lay the stone down cold
and straighten myself to continue my walk.
It would be too easy to gather every rock in a great tote
and scatter the bitter regrets throughout my life.

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Quiet Little Life

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I like my quiet little life,
the art carved into everything.
We join in tears and worry,
in new laughter and delight;
yet gravity will impose its pull,
still the sun will set each night.
When a child’s face is set aglow
by a robin’s chirp or falling leaf,
my heart can’t help but swell
with reckless love and
creeping fear of tomorrow’s grief.
I like my quiet little life,
questions I ponder as I drift into sleep,
when an old friend tells me I’m unique.
I smile- we are all unique.
Perhaps not as snowflakes melting
in warm hands, but as tiny grains
of sea-scoured sand:
looking very much alike from far away.
But from close up, each piece
a slightly different hue of gray.

Turning

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Autumn arrives in the air all of the sudden
Nodding to me it’s time, she advances

The horizon will darken, trees age in a day
Fruit molds and drops, our garden dies back

Too old to mourn the ending summer, I turn,
Flush red and gold, mature fast as a sapling

When night comes early I am ready to greet her
Shedding my guilt like a snakeskin, or leaves

All fall down, together under a turning sky
We recognize that growth has many faces

Birthday Backpack to Hannegan Pass

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I try to make it a tradition to backpack on my birthday, to connect with the earth and sky and air and wildlife. We had a lovely campsite up near Hannegan Pass, despite the smoke from the Upper Skagit Complex fires in the North Cascades.

It was incredibly smoky the night we hiked in, but by morning the sky had cleared enough to reveal a lovely view of Ruth Mountain.

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“I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.” -Aldo Leopold

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Down in this basin we saw a black bear snacking on mountain ash berries
and lumbering across fallen logs, living without a care.

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This is truly my favorite way to celebrate another year of my life and recognize the inevitable passage of time. Backpacking teaches me about necessity and what really matters. It helps me rediscover the importance and powerful enormity of nature.

We must learn to embrace this and accept that we cannot escape nature’s life cycles.