A Winter Solstice Reflection

“One must have a mind of winter” –Wallace Stevens I learned what it means to be human at the hands of winter. It came to me in a bleak time, when I’d retreated to a cabin in the Rocky Mountains to live alone with my dog, after a series of gut-punching losses that triggered dread for each dawning day. It was February—for me, the darkest month of the year, a month so brittle and cold,…

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Fire Season in America

“I know what the world is made of and I still love all of it” –The Solace of Open Spaces Sixteen years ago, my mountain cabin burned to the ground. In a matter of hours, all evidence of the life I’d lived—signed and annotated books; photos of me at five, eight, fifteen; a broadside gifted to me by the poet and writer Kate Braverman with a spontaneous poem she’d written on it—was reduced to two…

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Be Home Now

“Breathing in, I know I am breathing in, Breathing out, I know I am breathing out,” —Thich Nhat Hanh After a week of real spring on the mountain—weather so warm it melted the two-foot drifts in the yard and opened the path through the woods where I hike with River in the summer, drying the six inches of mud gumming up the road—a mild, late-season snow settled in overnight and threatened my potted herbs and…

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The Hard Choice

If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s how to prepare for and survive disaster. I’ve spent over twenty years living at elevations above 8000 feet in places threatened by fire and flood and I’ve had a bit of practice making evacuation’s hard choices: what to take and what to leave behind.  During the 2003 Overland Mountain Fire—then the largest fire in Boulder County history–I loaded a bed and food for my dog,…

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At the Palms of Surrender

  at the palms of surrender Blue ships disappear there swallowed by a red sun mouth closing around them in prayer.  It’s grit your teeth time on the mountain—the season of no light and perma-snow.  Even though the calendar says the light is returning–as does my good friend Tyler who first counts, then reports, the minutes on Facebook like announcing salvation–the 20ish minutes we’ve gained since the Solstice is not enough for me. Mornings, I…

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