Grasping the Sun

In the long barren land between the forest and the settled places,

In a landscape memorial to  thwarted dreams and ambitions,

(Left as empty as the developer’s wallet)

Small things grow.

A patch of clover peeks above the burn scar,

An alder and an elderberry twine in stunted harmony,

But

Above them all,

Careless of poor soil and bitter winds,

A lone sunflower

Knows nothing of caution

Knows only to reach upwards

Always closer to its eventual

Grasping of the sun.

IMG_9991Ambition, bright and beautiful

I have a deep admiration for persistence in the face of impossible goals.


For more persistence, impossible and otherwise, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here. Its sequel, With Honor Intact, can be found here.

In All Things, Joy

The air sings still of the weekend’s snow, of colder, darker months, not yet forgotten.

Such a sharp edge for the cresting of the new.

Too soon, and the late frosts will stifle the birthing.

Too late, and the time for frantic growth will be cut short on the other side of the seasons.

It would be easy to see it as a cycle of fear, cold death chasing until it catches and swallows.

I look out now and see the lie in the trail of life before me.

We do not grow away from the cold, from the death that would drown us.

We grow upwards, outwards.

Not fleeing.

Chasing

Light, joy, love.

Those that grow do not cower from what-might-not -be.

Life is not for retraction, for burrowing back into the frozen earth.

Life is reaching, greedily grasping every breath of warmth, every ounce of joy.

For daring the frost, the snow, the unexpected, and shooting upwards-

Buds outstretched, furling into the sun.

 Upright LeafIn all things, joy. In all joy, hope.

The pursuit of joy has always served me better than the flight from fear.


For more of writing on joy and fear, both flight and pursuit, you can read my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor. It is available here. The sequel, With Honor Intact, will be coming out on April 23, 2015.

What Falls Away

The fence needs replacing.

Ours is not a climate suited for wood. Yet, like so many scrabbling ants, we raise our structures and see them fall and raise them once again.

I want to write more one day of what I’ve found in the backwoods, of the small, surprising remnants of other lives, other stories.

The rotten shells of old cabins will sometimes return to the earth before a child’s doll or a rusting tin cup, haphazardly wedged under a rock.

Ours is not a climate suited for wood. Yet, nearly every structure here has a skeleton of beams and ridge-poles, their strength slowly being sapped by the forces around them.

I would tell stories I think of those lost towns, now grown over. Of those old mining and logging and fishing villages, whose passage is only marked by a slight rise in the moss where the central buildings stood.

We build over these ghosts beneath our feet, repeating the same failed steps only to be built over ourselves.

I wish I could read more stories with that conscious sense of our repeated history.

I wish I could write more stories that capture the cycling beneath my feet.

The fence is falling and needs to be replaced.

The snow and the sky press down, unchanged.

IMG_7133Our tracks are as ephemeral as our memories

The weight of history weighs heavily on the present.


My own pursuit of both history and cycles can be seen here in my fantasy novel,The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Snowed Under

The thing with snow is that it returns.

The lull between storms is a deceptive deflection, designed to convince poor saps to free their spaces of obstruction, only to be filled once more by the following morning.

Snow makes a mockery of the power of civilization.

It chokes arteries of transport, smothers buildings, deftly eliminates power lines and pipe lines.

As I move with my flashlight through objects rendered useless in the absence of electricity, I am reminded again of the razor edge we live on here.

We live by the grace or the indifference of the land around us.

It is so frighteningly simple to pass from comfort to fear.

A night was all it took this time.

A single night’s worth of snow is beautiful, overwhelming, and deadly.

There have been injuries, potentially fatalities, although we will not know all of them until the weather is fully past.

I value this reminder.

I write of the importance of remembering the weather when writing not because I am a deranged meteorologist.

I write of the importance of weather because the winter lurks always in the background of these places, the burning drive beneath the skin.

IMG_7079A night’s worth of snow

For better or for worse, the land I live in has shaped my thoughts and ideas.


To see my version of the razor’s edge, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, which is available here.

A Frozen Moment

We pass quickly from not-winter to winter here.

The trees, the air, the movement of the clouds all provide warning, but the last traces of fall will vanish from night to morning.

Not all parts of my world are well-prepared for the transition.

On the first winter morning, I search for casualties.

A rosebud, half-opened, forever frozen in place.

The wagon, forgotten in the field, and now mired in frozen mud.

A small butterfly, too late in the transition, its wings become a crystallized work of art.

Change is not easy.

In stories, we see the best moments of those rising to the challenges before them, facing the oncoming cold with determination and understanding.

Seldom do we see those caught out by the wind, futilely trying to understand when the air passed from welcoming to dangerous.

Not all survive those transition points.

But even in those who lose, who pass out of the ongoing cycle, there is a beauty.

The leaves are frozen, unable to withstand the force of winter.

Still they stand, forever reaching towards the sun.

IMG_6822The delicacy of the ice crystals belie the strength of their destruction

I am a fan of persistence. Even, or especially, in the face of failure.


If you would like to see my other writing on persistence, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor over here.

 

The River Runs

When I was twelve, I found a mink swinging from a snare. We were taught to be careful of traplines, but this one was unmarked. That mink, silver wire biting its neck, was the first sign that someone other than ourselves had traveled up the creek.

I’ve seen death, before and since, but something about that mink and its empty eyes, its head at an angle no head should sit, has stuck with me through the years.

I’ve also remembered that space behind the mink, the soft sound of running water, continuing impervious to the drama on its banks.

Impervious to either death or life, its course set and maintained long after my passage.

It’s been a strange year.

One of my favourite comfort writers once said that there were people who placidly moved through life, taking each day as they came. Then there were those who experienced all the highest heights of sensation that the world had to offer, but the price that they paid was that they also experienced all the lowest depths.

I wonder sometimes about the lives I don’t live, but I accept the valleys that I might scale the mountains.

It’s certainly been a year with plenty of both.

I think sometimes that it is easy, in both life and writing, to focus on one or the other – the dead-eyed mink or the impervious cheer of the running water.

But as I think of the most powerful moments of my life, it is the intersection of the immovable and the transient that have held me, have shaped my own life and thoughts.

I followed the stream bank today, back past the mountain shadow and deep into the canyon.

There were no bloody footprints, no signs of a desperate, stilled struggle.

Even in their absence, I know that there are always snares, unexpected.

I stood for a long time on the bank and watched the water move.

I am still standing.

The river runs.

IMG_1421

It has been a year worth remembering. I hope that it has passed well for you.


If you would like to see more of my writing, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor is available here.

 

The Darling Buds- Columbine

Many things changed that year.

By the time I was strong enough to follow the mountain creeks, it was nearly autumn.

By then, I had spent a long time thinking and I was sick of my head and the endless replays of no-longer possibilities.

So I walked.

I was  a long time walking, longer I think than my memory now glosses over.

The small meadow formed where the trees had been downed by the winter storms was a welcome surprise.

The greater trees had fallen, but the stubborn columbine had risen above their carcasses.

I spent some time watching the light play over their blooms before I turned and left.

Despite their delicacy, their small windows of opportunity, the columbine never ceased to reach for the unattainable sun.

Neither have I.

IMG_0451Columbine- Resolved to Win

This week of the Darling Buds brought to you by nostalgia, Victorian flower meanings, and the letter “Y.” As in, “No, there’s no real reason ‘Y’.”


Resolution, sun, and determined plants are also found in my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Uprooted

Currents don’t shift all at once.

Sometimes, when it floods, there is a quick new channel that displaces what passed before.

Most changes to the waterways are gradual.

A slow peel of the bank.

A deposit of gravel.

A diversion from one side of a boulder to the other.

It is easy enough to sit at the side of the water and feel secure.

To miss the bank dissolving beneath you.

To find yourself exposed, off-balance, your gravity shifted.

The words on the page work as well as any current.

A slow, steady pressure and the core unravels.

Leaving only the bare skeleton exposed-

Washed away by our changed direction.

IMG_9314Standing firm has its price, in both stories and life


 If you would like to follow some more shifting channels, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Afterimage

There were houses once.

Sometimes you find them when you walk through the thick tangle of second-growth.

A foundation pit, or for the older ones, the base of a frame, tied together by moss.

When people write about the post-apocalypse, I wonder if they have ever wandered through the places where the human world has passed.

I startled a garter snake once.

The way he fled through the shattered window frame reminded me of a maggot exiting an eye socket.

In the world where all life balances on the edge of a razor-

We encroach.

We recede.

Our passing marked only by a claim marker, half-felled by snow.

By the words to describe a fire hydrant-

Balanced on the fine border of nowhere.

oldhydrant1A memory and a warning


If you want to travel with me to unabandoned places, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Marching Forward

I used to dream about being an ant.

I spent hours as a kid trying to follow a single ant through the yard, tracing its haphazard path with my eyes as I crawled along behind it.

It always struck me when I lay down on the ground and stared up through the timothy, through the lazy dandelion parachutes, that every trip an ant made was a terrifying quest.

When you put your head next to the ground, there are so many rocks, so many dead pieces of plants and animals.

Invisible.

Unless you are down there, breathing in the scent of loam and rotting mulch.

I learned later about chemical trails and pathways, but the ants were always so fast as I watched.

Crawling above and around, the eerie canopy of grass and logs concealing their adventures.

I wondered, from an ant’s eye,  what the sun was, whether trees were anything more than the corners of their known universe.

There are different words when you lie down on the ground and stare up.

I like to watch them march across the page, their pathway determined by the scent of cut timothy and dirt under my fingers.

IMG_0003Chaos on the surface, order underneath


If you would like to follow more of my march through perilous terrain, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.