> jumping into life.


Weather shifts like a snake in new skin. Just north of Monument Valley, thick clouds part to give us one clear slice of sunlight. The cliffs to the west are shot through with dull gold, glowing against a dark sky. Ahead, the Monuments themselves, weird rock formations that float in mist like the distant shores of some desert Avalon.

The land looks so different in this slanted storm light; on the drive up the sky was clear like only a desert sky can be, and the sun came down strong. The snakeweed was blooming and stray yuccas stuck up in a code that only the ravens can read.

We passed a herd of straggling sheep, and I thought to myself: give me a crooked staff and a piece of this land and I would squint my eyes against the sun for the rest of a contented life.

We passed through close canyons, where stubborn junipers grow in impossible places, their valiant green burning against the redrock walls, and I closed my eyes and thought to myself: give me but this moment. My cup has been running for so long the world is drowned in beauty; give me but this moment and I would drown myself as well. Give me but this moment and I would close my eyes in contentment forever.

But the moment passed and the world did not take me. Now at home and the grey sky whispers of rain. I am bundled in sweet melancholy and llama slippers, full of the slowfading reverb of joy. Jasmine tea, budding trees, and the wind is picking up: I drown in it. My love is phoenix flame, and I am smoke and ash, dissolving into the sky. Let the rivers swell, let the canyons flood, let the wind carry me to sea, content.


At lunch, I choose an empty table, because I don't know anyone and I'm shy. A man sits next to me. He's older, in Wranglers and a pearlsnap shirt with a bandana around his neck. His nametag tells me what I've already guessed: rancher. He closes his eyes with his hands resting on either side of his plate, and after a moment he crosses himself.

He wants to know why I'm a vegetarian; I tell him because I don't want to eat anything I haven't killed myself, or at least know I could. He tells me a story about his first 4-H calf, and how he bottle-fed it and taught it to haul fenceposts for him, and that when it came time for slaughter, his mama told him he had to go to the slaughterhouse and see how it was done. "I've never met anybody else who said something like that, not in forty-five years," he says. I think I hear approval in his voice. When we talk about CSA, he says he thinks it'd be even better if all the members owned part of the farm. We discuss lemon-merengue pie techniques. The extension agent on my other side chimes in, and we all agree that the pie they served us is too yellow to be made of actual lemons. Across the table, a man from Albuquerque wants to know if they teach us real farming at my school, or just the technical stuff; I tell him we figure we can get paid to learn how to weed, and our tuition is better spent on the technical stuff - nonetheless, I assure him, I know how to lay irrigation, and how to graft fruit trees, and how to plant a cover crop. I just also happen to know the chemistry behind nitrogen fixation and the politics behind water use. Later, I talk prickly-pear jelly with one of the coordinators, and the Hopi woman walking by likes cholla better. Ensues a fairly heated debate in which we conclude that Anglos tend to like prickly-pear better because it has fewer spines and seems more like fruit.

There are small organic farmers talking with state Department of Ag people; there are native farmers talking with extension agents. There was locally-raised yak for dinner. There was a half-day symposium on farm-to-school, with district foodservice managers, producers, USDA agents, Slow Food representatives, food justice activists, native organizations, and students like me trying to figure out how to turn two vulnerable communities - small farmers and kids - into allies.

When we explained to my friend's grandma what our conference was about, she said, "Well, that sounds radical." And it is - the idea that local food should be eaten locally, that local economies and populations would benefit from a secure food supply, that knowing where and how and who your food comes from could or even should be important, not to mention the revolutionary idea that farmers are people - it flies straight in the face of conventional trends. It is radical. And I was the youngest person there.

At the end of one session, an old farmer in overalls stops me like a scene out of a movie: "I'm sure glad to see some kids here," he says. "Y'all are gonna inherit this earth, after all."


Hey folks! If you're here from Creek Running North, welcome!

And if you're one of my eight-to-twelve regular readers here, you should head over to CRN - I'll be doing some guestbloggy (excuse me, co-bloggy) things over there, with a nice lady named Stephanie. And this guy Chris. He writes pretty good too.*

I'm going to Colorado for a few days, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to write from there (I'm staying at somebody's grandma's house, and while I know some grandmas are into this whole interweb thingy, I'm not prepared to bet on it). So! Enjoy Chris' site in the meantime, and also check out some of the new people on my sidebar if you don't already know them.

And give me a rain dance or two if you've got the time; we sure could use it.

[*edit, 3/26, for clarity: Chris writes the way I'd someday love to; Chris writes the way I would walk if I had wings.]


I believe in love if nothing else. God comes and goes for me; mostly goes. The religion of canyon walls and redwoods generally sustains me, one more part in a whole that strives to dissolve the boundary between parts and wholes. You ask me what love is, and in truth I have no answer. None that can be distilled into words at least, or else I have to retreat so far into metaphor that the end result is same. Should I say, love is what wakes me in the morning? Love is redrock and fern curl and paint on my toes? The mountains rising higher than you thought mountains could climb? Love is the impossibility that renders the rest of this world true? Or should I say that yes, love is desire, it lives in my body, in the plexus ache that yearns for you?

I do not wear my heart, as has been implied, on my sleeve. No: that would be far too protected a place for it, with the whole bulk of my body for a shield. Instead I hold it in my hand, ready for offering to the sun or to silence (or yes, even, to you).

So then, here I am: bloodyfingered, openpalmed, waiting.

What would you have from me? The doveflutter of my pulse is steady, if not always strong. I believe that love is forever. I believe that love is infinite: like basil or zucchini, the more you give away the more you have.

I love often, but not lightly. Doubt it at your peril; they teach us early not to turn our backs on the sea. I've been swept away before (the truth is I can breathe underwater), but I'm trying to stay on the rocks now. Don't think I can't see the fear in your eyes, but baby, the water's fine. It will eat you alive and you will be the better for it. I'm still on the rocks because the current is swift and I know you're only learning how to swim. But the moon is calling, and there is only so much self-control to go around.

Oh, my love is a tidal wave, don't be fooled. It will swallow the world if I let it, every drop of silver sky, every river pebble, every smile. Ah, but you. You have a smile like an altar, and I am ever searching for something to which I can bow my head.

The tide does not conform to our agenda, and it will not be coerced. It has its own logic nonetheless. So do the desert floods and the waterfall song of the canyon wren; so does the slow creak of geologic time, turning a thousand years of shell and bone to marble.

What scale shall we choose? It could all crumble to dust and nothing now, or turn to a solidity the likes of which we've never seen. Perhaps both. We are none alone, nor can be: even an island needs the sea. So come on in, honey. The water's fine.


After hauling myself to a meeting, I get back in bed at ten and sleep until the setting sun looks like dawn. No dreams, just the encompassing cavernous darkness of a body in need of rest. I literally cannot remember the last time I had such a fever; I was sick in Bolivia but not like this. My skin tingles and flashes: I am lightning. Nausea topples me and Tylenol holds no sway.

I would like to inhabit my body more fully than I do; the fever reminds me. Walking reminds me, the lovely labor of one foot in front of the other, the pack an anchor, gravity a backhanded gift. Food reminds me, and the fact that I have not been hungry all day is testament to how sick I really am. There is a part of me wallowing in the feverhaze, the sparks in my blood, the constriction at my temples: this is my body. The sniffles remind me to breathe.

Nonetheless, I hope it passes. I have a lot of work to do, and sleeping all day doesn't get my paper written, no matter how nice it is to burrow into my bed.


The phone rings just as I am on the edge of sleep, and the ensuing conversation drifts in and out of coherency. Eventually, I fall asleep with the phone in my hand, blankets pulled tight around me. A few hours later I wake: a temperature of 102.6 and I am shivering. Fever dreams of the Canyon, where I burrow deeper and deeper into dark heat. Words stalk me. I am cold and then hot and then cold again. I cannot tell when I am awake or when I am dreaming, I cannot tell where my skin ends and the world begins; all the boundaries are blurred in a delirium of sensation. The heat feels good.


Coming out of the Canyon, the seasons spin backwards. We spent two nights in the quasi-backcountry of Phantom Ranch; one more stave in the corset suffocating the Colorado. Phantom Ranch has a restaraunt, a store, and a capacity of 180, tucked into a slot canyon under the expansive shade of old cottonwoods. They were bursting into seed as we hiked out, swirling around us on the river breeze.

I had just started pumping my older-than-god campstove when a truck pulled up to my campsite. Two boys want to share a site, split the cost. I shrug my acquiescence; the site isn't cheap, and my creep-o-meter utters not a chirp. Over dinner we discover that we get along, and also they have three nights on a backcountry permit that they're pretty sure they could get me onto: would I like to go?

I would.

Thus do I find myself waking to the trill of a canyon wren at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. At the bottom, elevation 2,560, it is spring. The brittlebush is blooming, and did I mention? The cottonwoods are seeding. I spend the layover day in an esctacy of Latin with a borrowed copy of Plants of Arizona. After dinner, we drink cider and rum and read Márquez stories out loud. The river sings us to sleep. We hike out mid-morning with our eyes on the Tonto Plateau, cottonwood cotton in our hair.

Camp is at Horn Creek, a dusty mile and a half past Plateau Point, which we agree would be the place to jump if ever this weary world grew too heavy. The cottonwoods in our little canyon are bare. Rain comes and wakes me in the dark night, swells the tiny creek. A herd of mule deer watch me watch the sunrise. We hike out to the Point for breakfast, where a raven circles and circles us, flying snap-winged acrobatics over the aching air below.

It takes about three days of walking for my body to remember that this is what it was designed for. And thus it is that I find myself halfway up the Bright Angel trail, happier with the pack on than without it, leaning into tired legs. At Indian Gardens, the squawbush is leafing and a light rain feels good on steaming skin. We walk into the clouds: by the three-mile resthouse the North Rim has disappeared into mist. Rain turns to snow. We cannot see the top until we are upon it, buildings suddenly apparating to startle our careful plodding. As we pass El Tovar, a man in a full-length down coat glares at the sky and tells us, "Well, I'm glad you're the ones out there and not me."

Yup, I say. Me too.


I am going to the Canyon, to stare into the abyss and see what it has to show me. I don't know how long I'll be gone, really. There be dragons out there, I hear, and winding trails, and deep sunlight, but there is a great band playing on Saturday at the Jersey Lily, so I might be back by then. Here's hoping for snow.


A friend today asked me where my interest in science came from - a question perhaps spurred by the fact that I made snide bat-ecology comments during this movie, or that I was whispering Latin binomials under my breath today during this one. After a moment of thought, I found my sentences all starting the same: my dad gave me a microscope to play with, my dad liked to help me look at things, my dad always took my questions seriously. Eventually, of course, I had to include other people - my mother, most notably, and also two fantastic high school science teachers, and a few pretty specatcular professors as well - as well as the world at large. But in many ways it was my dad who gave me the initial impetus, the idea that why is always a question worth asking. And here I am, a month and change away from graduating, and even if I don't end up in research or grad school, I've irrevocably got a scientist's brain.

Happy birthday, Daddy! Thanks!


I would not call myself a hedonist.

I cannot, however, deny that I do enjoy indulging myself. My bed is decadent: pillowtop mattress, buttersoft red flannel sheets, big fluffly comforter on top. Of all the senses, touch is the easiest to satisfy. Give me a bath so hot you can't wiggle your toes or they'll burn, give me smooth skin to rub against or a barrel of beads to plunge my hand, a cool breeze on a hot day: delight.

As we are preparing dinner last night, she asks, if you had to give up one sense, which would it be?

Well it could not be touch, if only because what would be the use of living unanchored, like a ghost that knows the world is there and cannot reach it? What would be the use of living without the scrape of alligator juniper bark, the chill of rain down the back of your coat? No, touch must stay.

We are making lasagna. Real lasagna, the kind you make without a recipe because there's so much cheese it can't help but be good. The noodle pot steams the windows as we chop and chop, pulling the stems off spinach and basil, turning the pale globes of onion to rubble piles. Dominican merengue commands all our movements, so that we spin to pass each other in the small space, chop in rhythm, cannot stand still. No, I couldn't give up sound. Else how to hear Prospero's speech, or the scream of a redtail, or the beat to dance to? We dance dinner into being: a mountain of mozzerella, a sea of riccotta swimming with herbs. Three heads of roasted garlic, one for the sauce and two for the bread.

One of the only things my mother likes to cook is lasagna, and it is accordingly one of my favorite favorite foods, the dish I request without fail when I go home to visit. The past few years, the lasagna I've made and had has been mostly an imitation of sorts: tofu for ricotta, whole wheat noodles. Standard hippie stuff, and it's good. But not good like my mom's, and certainly not good like this.

We insist on tasting the ricotta again and again until he slaps our hands away and we are reduced to scraping the empty containers with our fingers. We clink our glasses of Chianti and pour a splash in the sauce, which bubbles merrily. The kitchen is full of the scent of roasting garlic, deepening tomatoes, rosemary and basil, all carried on the noodle steam. Not scent, either: how would you know where you were without the smell of pine trees, or the the smell so faint it is precious, right at the crook of his neck? And scent is bound so closely to taste:

We eat salad and bread while the lasagna bakes, the nestled layers melding. The salad is bright, fresh greens and tomatoes and avocado, a sweet orange dressing with just a hint of cayenne bite. The bread is garlic and rosemary perfection, with a layer of bleu cheese that makes our eyes roll back into our heads. We eat in a silence punctuated by soft moans and breathy superlatives. This is good food. We agree to keep taste - food is my favorite indulgence, after all. A bursting ripe peach, or a good piece of bread, dark chocolate, sweet coffee. Yes. Few things in the world can fill me with more unabashed enjoyment than can food.

But then the thing itself is ready, the main course, sliding heavy onto our plates, juice and cheese and tomato, oh my.

What about sight, then? she asks. Sunsets, Klimt and quirky smiles? What about rabbit tracks through fresh snow? What about navigating desert trails, microscope slides, flowers?

Yes, but each of us, swaying to the music from our seats on the couch, each of us as we put the first bite to our mouths, breathing deep, each of us, as the flavors rolled through our bodies, each of us closed our eyes.


Modern life certainly has its amenities, as at present moment I am uncomfortably aware. High among them, and of particular relevence here, are a) central heat and b) running water. Without the two, I feel uncannily as though I am camping, as I walk around my house in hobo gloves, knit hat, a down jacket over a fleece sweater, long johns under fleece pants, and ski socks inside alpaca socks inside llama slippers, pouring water out of a gallon jug to brush my teeth and make coffee.

O, the hardship!

Next thing you know, I'll have to update by the light of a candle, using dial-up.


Out of the shower, my skin steaming in the cold. Refill the coffeecup already once emptied, grab a banana left by my roommate when he took off for Cochise this week. Phone calls to my landlord and to Roto-rooter - the ceiling is dripping again and I still can't turn on my heat. Bustle, bustle, clean some dishes, make the bed. Then: pull the blinds open with a satisfying zip! and stand awestruck as light floods the room. Full sun today, and a whole world of blinding snow to reflect it. As I watch, clouds begin to gather in the west, looking drab and smudgy in comparison. Icicles hang from the porch roof, from the climbing vine on the lattice, and from the bumpers of cars in the road. They are all canted a little to the east; you can see whence blows the wind. Little trails slush in from the street along the sidewalk, tellling the story of the neighborhood's weekend, if you care to look closely enough. Winter!


I remember the first time

I saw frost-churned soil,

walking in chill Connecticut air,

the shards crunching

nicely beneath my boot,

with frozen oak leaves

and the trill of unknown winter birds.

Nimium erudio sum:

I am overeducated.

My mind fills immediately

with words:



I look for barred wings

or striped,

consult a thousand references

in my head.

But my gaze turns not


but rather ravels

a thousand paths

to their varied ends,

a thousand questions

give birth

to a thousand more,

each shoving sharp

from the hard soil

of my assumptions.

For when I heard

the learn'd astronomer,

these many years past,

I walked home after

through freezing clear night-air

and look'd up with newborn awe

upon the stars.


And it falls and falls.

(The world is full of joy.)


Two days ago we had a few teasing flurries of snow, mixed in with smatterings of hail and undaunted sun. Yesterday the clouds reigned, and began sending down fluffly benedictions by late morning. My ex called, and we went on a reconciliatory hike up Aspen Creek. Partway up the first hill, we are called to a halt by a creaking, creaking sound: a Ponderosa snag, looking recently-dead, lurching drunkenly in the wind. Probably beetle-killed, like most of the pines around here these days. We spend a moment watching it before realizing that we are standing precisely where it would most likely fall, were it in the falling kind of mood. The wind howls, and both our eyes are pulled up and up as the forest suddenly becomes a few hundred swaying trees.

Well, he says after we sprint up the trail a ways, maybe we'll get to see if it makes a sound.

The snow comes and goes while we walk, telling each other the new versions of our lives, our most recent rewritten drafts. He is still moving to Vermont; he is startled but not surprised to learn that I am going to the monastery. It is a good walk.

The snow kept up all day, and by the looks of it, all night. Chocolate-chip-banana pancakes and oversteeped French press coffee for breakfast, plates on our knees as we watch the snow fall. Already the porch is buried, branches on the pines outside beginning to bend. I wonder if they will break.


College party: loud music, too much wine. It started as a potluck, ten or so of us, including my exboyfriend. We circled each other for the better part of an hour, neither sure where the new territory lay. He'd brought the brandy his dad gave him when we were in Connecticut in December: old stuff of his grandfather's, from Greece. Probably twice my age. The cork had rotted out, and it was like drinking raisin-flavored Everclear.

Even now, we communicate more with a glance than I can say to most people in an hour. Across the room, I chide him for bringing something that expensive to a party, and he shrugs to say he wasn't going to drink it all himself anyway. He glances at the crockpot. Yup, that's my soup. He nods, good. I smile thanks. It takes a whle, but eventually we speak in words:

Do you believe we have souls?

Can it be that we've never discussed this? I tell him I do. He asks why. I don't have a why.

He is a scientist by nature and a botanist by hobby; he likes things orderly. He wants a why. Because we dream, I tell him. Because we love. And: I don't believe things always need an explanation to be true. A nod. I am trying, he says, to accept that there may not be explanations for the inexplicable.

More people come, more food, more wine. It is such a relief to speak with him, but conversations pull us apart, and it isn't long until it is too loud and too late for me. These days I'm not interested in investing my energy in the party scene. When I leave I don't say goodbye, even with my eyes. I don't know why.


And then there's this. I don't even know where to start.


[for Blog Against Sexism Day, even though I didn't sign up]

I went on birth control when I was eighteen. When I spoke to my doctor, he wrote the prescription without any further questions, writing me thirteen months' worth and handing me a sample to start right away. Every sexually active girl I knew was on the Pill; this is still mostly true. In college, my roommate and I got them for free from the clinic. We each knew where our stashes of Pills and condoms were hidden, and if one of us ran out we'd borrow from the other.

I don't recall my boyfriend ever buying the condoms.

There is a law now that says that if a pharmacist doesn't want to fill my prescription, he doesn't have to. If a stranger disagrees with my personal choice, he can remove from me the option of having control over my body. I am forced to wonder whether the pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription for AIDS medicine if he thinks that's God's way of punishing the sinful; or an insulin prescription if he thinks that diabetes is. Or if the counterperson can refuse to sell me condoms. Or alcohol. Or anything.

I went on birth control when I was eighteen; I'd started menstruating somewhat late, about four years earlier. In January, I stopped taking the Pill. That means that for over half the time since puberty, my cycle has been dictated by the hormones contained in those little blue pills. Two days after I take the last one, my period starts. Five days later, I take the first of the next cycle, and it stops. Clockwork.

Let me tell you a brief story.

We are weeding in the garden, after a morning of digging and patching driptape. I don't remember the conversation, but I remember when she said this:

"I didn't ovulate that month because I got a fever."

The rest of us stopped and looked at her. How do you know you didn't ovulate? Because she took her temperature, and it spiked but didn't stay elevated.

This was my introduction to the Fertility Awareness Method, or symptothermal birth control. This is not the rhythm method, which doesn't work. FAM teaches a woman to observe physical signs - basal body temperature and cervical mucus, primarily - and by these to know when she ovulates, when she is fertile, and when she is not. It was developed (and still exists also) as Natural Family Planning, to be used by those who for religious reasons can't use other forms of birth control. You learn when you're fertile, and abstain during that time. (As FAM, without the religious aspect, you learn when you're fertile, and use another form of protection during that time.)

Maybe you missed it, but this is a big deal. There is no drug company involved here. There is no company involved here. You have to buy a thermometer, and that's all. Of course, there are fancy versions, and books and charts that you are recommended to use, but every town has a library and there's no reason you can't just write down your temperature in a notebook. There is no pharmacist going to refuse you the purchase of a notebook.

We are taught from the beginning that our bodies are unclean. Menstruation is an inconvenience at best, a curse at worst. Now you can get your period only three times a year, or soon, not at all. How joyful! How wonderous! And for some women it may be - I happen to have a cycle with little cramping and mood swings I can predict. I know that's not always the case. However: "menstruation will no longer be an inevitable function but rather an optional feature, a bit like power steering or pay-per-view." Pay-per-view?

When I told my doctor I didn't want to be on the Pill anymore, he recommended the patch. No, no, I tried to explain. I don't want the hormones. I want to know what my cycle does by itself. He stared at me. Why would I want to know that?

The only really effective measure of birth control that doesn't use hormones is the copper IUD, which costs up to $500 to insert, increases bleeding and cramping, and can perforate the uterine wall. It would nonethelss be my first choice if I were to choose a synthetic birth control method: it lasts up to ten years, is 99% effective, and fertility returns once it has been removed. But the price is prohibative - even though, with a $10 monthly copay for the Pill, it would save me money after only half its lifespan. Ten dollars a month is not the same as five hundred upfront, and most women could not afford that. Many women cannot afford even that copay, or do not have insurance, or are denied by the pharmacist. Our bodies are not ours to protect. We get pregnant, and our choices are dwindling daily, even as support for our children dwindles as well.

In a time when my legal right to my own body is being attacked at all sides, I take a deep, sweet satisfaction in knowing when I ovulated this month.


There is approximately zero structure in my life right now, and I am finding myself near to incapable of creating any. I wake early out of habit, but then I lay in bed for an hour. Meditate for five minutes, maybe ten. Breakfast. Email. Second breakfast. Maybe a shower, maybe not. The morning runs have become more and more sporadic, though that doesn't especially bother me. What bothers me is the feeling that I am wandering aimless circles: email, kitchen, email, homework, kitchen, porch, email.

I am nervous about this whole Zen monastery thing. Five months. No phone, no driving. No internet; hell, no electricity, except in the kitchen. I am elated about this whole Zen monastery thing. No shopping, no consuming except the food that will sustain me in my work. The day starts with zazen at six and ends with zazen at nine. In between is temple cleaning, chanting, eating, working, eating, working, bathing, chanting, eating. There are three optional zazen periods and sometimes dharma class or discussion. And that will be my day. Every day. For five months. I am terrified of this Zen monastery thing. But. My mind has been running some impressive evasive maneuvers lately, refusing to settle on anything, or else fixating entirely: watch that leaf all the way to the ground, but don't get any homework done. There is a part of me that is pointedly uninterested in examining my life. I am in need of this Zen monastery thing. My soul wants retreat and discipline, wants it all the more because my little mind rebels. Oh, for a room with nothing in it. A quiet place to stand.


I intend to get to bed early, catch up on the sleep I've been losing to plumbing emergencies and the insistant nagging of my mercurial muse. But joy calls, and who am I to deny? So now it is late, but my painting is nearly finished and my heart is happy, and South Dakota be damned.

(Ah, except I must take my own advice: love is either absolute, or it isn't. Compassion isn't selective, or it isn't compassion. If I am to love the world, it must include leaky pipes, loud neighbors, and the governor of South Dakota. That, or I am only loving that which pleases me, and that's a love so easy as to hardly deserve the name. Besides, what good can it be to counter fear with fear?)




A day of rest can mean many things. Today, my Sabbath was six hours of swinging a sledgehammer against decomposed granite, working on the trails up at Granite Mountain. I've done some trailwork before, but not rockwork, and it took my body some time to adjust to the jar and clang of impact. Oh, but how I love to learn a new thing: soon, I knew which rocks would crumble and which split, and where. The swipes which had been clumsy became smooth, effective. The sun burned my shoulders and my mind emptied. My previous trailwork had consisted of moving fallen trees, mostly, and pulling fence. Pulling fence is one of the more sastifying tasks I've ever done, but building stairs out of rock has an art to it. After a while, you learn what a good slab looks like, and how it needs to fit with the rest. Turn it just a few degrees, yes, yes, there. Weight against weight: friction and gravity do the work for you. Afternoon stretched on, muscles aching, sweat beading, dust flying. He rolled over a big rock to make crushfill, handed me the sledge with a grin. Have at it. People passed all day, and thanked us. We smiled. Our pleasure.

By now I am dusty and hungry and tired and content. The body and mind are the same, and not the same: working the one can relieve the other, revive them both. Tomorrow my sunburned, scraped-up, aching shoulders will make me smile. For now, the shower is the only bliss I need.


This is how it feels: wildfire winds of change, yes, but like many growing things, my heart can resprout from its roots. All the broken pieces send up their own new leaves. Open ground creates room for opportunity: I find joy that would otherwise have been hidden from me.

Because the gods are not afraid of irony, or perhaps just because cyclicity is such a fun word to say, some of that joy and I spent yesterday baking pie. Lemon merengue, yes, and french silk, and a few batches of butterscotch cookies just to round things out. By noontime I was oversugared and happy. In the afternoon, I learned how to change oil, smashed under the car because the jack was lifting the back where he was fixing the muffler. The wind sprayed rivulets of draining oil into my face, smattered my hands. Later, after we went dancing, we had an impromptu pie party with a pile of friends. In the middle of laughter, I come to myself, shaking into the realization that truly, I am happy. More: I am content, satisfied with this life as it is. There is a sharpness to that, of course. But it is nonetheless true. My confirmation from Tassajara came the other day; I will be spending some five months there in the summmer work-practice, starting just after I graduate. So start preparing yourselves now: there are no computers at the monastery.

There is grease still in the creases of my hands, and my body is sore from twirling. Yesterday, there was not a cloud in the sky, but the wind made my chimes sing all day. Qué milagros hay.


In the backcountry, I always find myself craving strange things, and it is much the same when I travel. When I was in Costa Rica a few years ago, I fantasized almost constantly about lo mein; in Bolivia, all I wanted in the world was a seaweed salad and lemon merengue pie. I mentioned as much in an email while I was gone, and when I arrived back there was a homemade pie waiting for me.

He dropped it off with the rest of my things two days later: bittersweet.



La lluvia pasó, but fat clouds hung in the sky today, pedaled about by a brisk wind that hummed beneath my skin. Un susurro invisible, con manos de seda, with the slow promise of hunger ahead. In the park, there is one sapling cottonwood, planted far out of the riparian belt by some wellmeaning idiota. It is budding. Qué milagros hay en este vida.