OK, so I missed about a year or so of essays. A friend asked what happened in between, so I dug out the journals…
“Finding my way through the fits and starts of inconsistent journals is about the most perfect metaphor one could hope for. I haven’t written too many diary notes recently, and those I have written are scattered her and there in journals, essays, and doodles.f
There’s a lot going on.
The post card version:
We moved to Montana after staying at Connecticut so a friend could go to a wedding in Missouri.”
(Yup. We are a national touring house/farm sitting service, so if you need someone to watch your chickens, feed the rabbits, and take Dog #5 for walks, let me know. We don’t have plans for the summer of 2018 yet.)
“Fast road trip with no lingering at campgrounds or roadside rest areas.
Indiana has a salt-less beach.
Chicago has a lake.
Or was it Milwaukee?
We missed Iowa City due to a detour, but I’ve now seen parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota.” (Best dog park ever in Wisconsin! 18 acres of fenced woods and fields. Note: Heed the warnings about the mosquitoes. They will, in fact, carry your tea cup pooch away, and torment you ruthlessly if you linger through sunset. They are huge, and have very sharp teeth.)
“North Dakota resembles Arizona. I was comforted by the Painted Canyon in Roosevelt Park. There were wild horses there. Buffalo, too, but buffalo are buffalo and not wild horses.
I’m not explaining that. It falls into the category of corn, violins, the night sky, mountain brooks.
Sacredness on the hoof.
Hannah (the black and tan Lab/Rotti mix) cried the last two days. If she could have used English, it would have sounded a lot like, “Mom. Make Molly stop looking at me!”
Too crowded for too long…
We finally arrived in Medicine Lake.
Small school. (Sophomore class: 3; Largest class, 7th grade: 17).
Small town (maybe 250 residents). Beautiful prairie. (Check out the opening pages of Wallace Stegner’s Wolf Willow. He got it right.)
I mean beautiful prairie. It’s snowed a lot, and the wind continues to shift and sculpt. Finger drifts.
Blue-grey shadows on a landscape that merges with the sky.
Open fields where the wheat was cut high. Snow on the lake where fishermen outnumber the geese.
Pheasants along the roadside (reminding me of my grandfather, and Uncle Hank).
Coyote on the ridge.
Drive sensibly, especially at night. The deer cross the road.
The deer also come around the house (dogs or no dogs). We are dead center in the middle of an eight block by seven block town, and we have deer footprints in the driveway and yard.
A rabbit lives here, too.
Pine and birch, spruce and cedar. I have a thumb-size pine in a pot of dirt. I hope it thrives. (It did not.) It was my Christmas tree this year, pulled from between the gravel and the fence line. It certainly was not going to thrive there, so it came inside for a few weeks…”
Medicine Lake is an interesting microcosm of humanity. We didn’t thrive there any better than my poor Christmas tree. It started with the flu, and progressed to a black mold reaction – the stuff was climbing the basement walls.
We weren’t doing so well at work/school, either, where I was teaching English, grades 7 through 12.
It does no one any good if the superintendent/principal has no idea what the state and federal frameworks are. Religion was not the course, but you sure as shootin’ have to discuss God(s), faith, and belief systems if you’re going to read Folk and Fairy Tales, including multi-cultural Creation Myths, Greek Mythology, the history of Transcendentalism, British Literature (think Canterbury Tales; The Green Knight; the history of the King James Bible), etc., etc.
Never mind that I know Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, and Agnostics whom I respect and call friend – which, in a nation in an uproar about closing the borders to Muslims and others, made for some displays of impressive prejudice by the people around me. It wasn’t a wonderful experience.
Up to this point, I had never seriously minded my Solitude with Dogs. But in Medicine Lake I experienced loneliness. It wasn’t a crippling, debilitating sort of feeling. But it sure did allow me an opportunity to revisit who I am, what I believe in, and what my values are. Thoreau moved to Walden Woods for an artificial opportunity to contemplate his world.
For me, Medicine Lake was the beginning of a season of internal searching and listening. And, despite being tired of packing and moving, we did it again.
But first, we lived in Medicine Lake.