Thursday, March 24, 2011

Being here

I baked bread yesterday--a swirl of whole wheat wrapped in white, the wheat sweetened with molasses, the white with honey. I was writing in the afternoon--and watching a new storm come in. When I was finished writing, snow was falling heavily, but I donned waterproof gear and headed out the door, a loaf of bread tucked into my jacket. There is a trail cut in the snow that we've all been using to traverse the road, wide enough for one person. As I walked down the road, I encountered Neighbor Teresa and her two girls, with Neighbor Rob behind them, so I stepped off into the deep snow to let the girls pass. Rob, Teresa and I stood in heavy snowfall, chatting. Teresa was holding a bag of groceries in one hand, a bouquet of roses in the other (because she loves having fresh flowers in her cabin). As the three of us talked and laughed in the frosty air, the world was white around us, still covered in snow from the three feet that came down on Sunday. When Teresa headed on up to her cabin, Rob volunteered to continue my journey with me--down to the Walkers to deliver the bread. We chatted with Bob for awhile about the road, how much snow we’d get, whether anyone needed anything—things diverse neighbors talk about to avoid subjects like the situation in Libya or the potential for radiation in the falling snow (since I kept sticking my tongue out for tastes). Jean Walker called later to thank me profusely for the bread--it's what they ate for dinner, with jam. I love them and all my neighbors on the mountain.

Earlier in the day I’d gone out to bring in firewood, standing between my cabin and Eric’s, listening to the silence of a mountain covered in soft snow. After lunch, I headed up our road that winds along the edge of the deep canyon; the only sound was the stream below, wildly alive with the run-off from the waterfall.

I needed that walk, as I needed the moments of morning silence, the physical exertion of bringing in the wood, the visit with neighbors in the afternoon (including Rob’s gentle teasing: “If I don’t get my truck out and get down the mountain for groceries soon, I’m gonna be at your kitchen table saying, ‘Where’s the meat?!?’”).

I’ve been working on the dog book—the book I thought would be so easy to write. Pffttt. I loved those dogs! All I have to do is write their stories! Easy-peasy! I was so cavalier….

Writing the book has taken me back to a very dark time in my life. The first section of the book is about Rufus, a hero of a dog who saved my life physically… and emotionally. But in order to write about him, I’ve had to write about my wicked step-father. I’m sharing things in the book that are intensely private, things I’ve never shared with anyone before. And I’ve been wholly unprepared for how difficult it has been to re-visit those memories.


I am thankful that I am still here, still on the mountain, still able to walk out the door (well, after donning waterproof pants, snow boots, jacket and gloves) and be in the forest—to lean on a tree or stand and watch a junco or chickadee or jay head for the feeder in the backyard, to see the water tumbling over the rocks, shouting as it goes, to look for coonie prints in the snow. I need those moments of life and joy and innocence to balance the grief which—after forty years—still wells up, fresh as the tears that fall from my eyes.


  1. Kay, you do the world a big favor by reaching down into these dark places. The feelings you've found will touch a lot of lives. The cards today made me feel selfish but honest...I'd love to say all I really care about is touching somebody, but I want more. I can't not want more. I do care about touching people too.
    cheers, and many thanks for a great talk

  2. Oh Kay....This last paragraph....welled tears in my eyes.
    Writing from the heart is the best writing...
    I think.