Ramble Across the Sky

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Even on the most blustery day, the mountains are steady

Learn the lessons of the wind and earth

Walk between the two

Let your breath ramble across the sky

Let your body feel the slow pulse of the land, the cool solidity of stone

Learn to be weightless and grounded

To be pulled and anchored

Learn to live between the two

to be achingly alive and free

All the News I Need

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The forest floor is littered with maple flowers.

Look down anywhere and you’ll see the pink with purple specks brightening up the leaf litter.  Waylon and I spent ten minutes in one spot just last week, picking up flowers and placing them on our open palms, counting.  It was only a promise of more maple flowers up ahead that loosened his wonderment enough to move along the trail.

Yesterday I set out with the dogs alone, no toddler slowing my pace to that of constant discovery.  I needed to get into the woods, up the steep old logging road, over the brook and small pool that releases into a fall, across the elevated traverse among ash and maple and beech before I slowed.  I needed to let my legs move so that my mind might begin to move, too—it was my morning for writing, and no words were coming out.

Instead, all I could I hear was Paul Simon in my head, singing The Only Living Boy in New York.

Over and over one line repeated: I get the news I need from the weather report.  I can gather all the news I need from the weather report.

It occurred to me that part of the weather report is in watching the sky, in walking in the woods, in learning how to smell the change of air pressure.  It occurred to me that the weather has been bombarding us with news forever.  Long before satellites and the weather channel, the wind carried information, clouds grew into mountains, maple blooms fell to the ground.

Right now, wind is carrying information, clouds are growing into mountains, maple blooms are falling to the ground.

Right now, a coopers hawk hunts over our field.

Right now, it’s raining and seeds are softening their shells to sprout and the air is moving slow.

It’s all I need to know.

 

What use are memories?

frog eggs in the pond
frog eggs in pond, april 30 2015

The frogs are back.

For weeks before they returned, Waylon would pull at me as we passed by the pond and say, “froggies sleepin’?”

“Yep, the froggies are sleeping under the mud,” I’d say, and continue the walk to the greenhouse.

They broke their sleep last Wednesday night; as I turned the lights off and walked upstairs, their croaking bubbled its way through the walls and into our bedroom.  It took me a few moments to make out what it was as I stood still by the window, stretching my ears to their call.  For the first time since we moved into the house, I missed the thin walls of the yurt, how they let all the sounds in.

We are close enough to the pond, though, closer than we were in the yurt, and so even now as I write these words on Sunday morning, windows closed, I hear them: their popping percussion aided by the swinging notes of chickadees and the tinny flitting whistles of robins.

We counted 33 yesterday, legs all splayed out as they floated on the pond’s surface.  Waylon’s counting is sequential up to 10, and then erratic after that, going 15, 18, 16, 17, 19,  and so on, all the way up to 20-10.  He corrects me when I say 30.

I wonder how much he remembers of falling asleep and waking to the springtime concert when we lived in the yurt.  Yesterday Edge asked Waylon if he remembered where he was born.  He replied, in mama’s belly.

“But do you remember where you came out of mama’s belly?” my husband asked, and then answered our son’s stare, “right over there; in the yurt.”

It’s only recently that Waylon has started saying, “member when…” and part of me smiles at his development, and part of me wonders what language is worth when so much of it is spent on the past.

What use does a toddler have for memories?  What use do any of us have?  Sure, there are the necessary elements of learning so we may know how to feed and clothe and shelter ourselves.  The necessary learning to stay alive.

But the frogs are awake now, and there’s no use in dawdling over last week, when we’d stop and talk about their muddy sleep.  The frogs are awake, and Waylon is counting, and there are stones to throw into the pond, and there is mud to play in.

What use are memories when all of this is at hand?  When the sun is warming the water and maple buds are flowering and there is a whole, waking world to be present in.

 

 

The Huntress

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Murphy Robinson, with her first buck (photo courtesy of Murphy)

I never imagined myself as a hunter.  I still have never shot a gun in my life.  But that will change this fall, when I take Mountainsong Expedition’s Huntress Intensive, led by Murphy Robinson.

Read my latest article in Vermont’s Local Banquet to learn more about the program and the history (or more accurately, herstory) behind it.

What it all comes down to for me is this:

“I think we should hunt so that we will know how fully integrated we are in our environment and in nature, and we will experience those vivid moments of deep aliveness and deep connection [when we’re] making choices that truly matter in the moment in the woods. I think that when we experience that, we come into a deeper sense of ethics and responsibility within ourselves and all parts of our lives.” ~ Murphy Robinson

Local Banquet: The Huntress

Paring Down

photo by Katie Spring

November has come with it’s falling leaves, pushing the urgency of winter readying upon me, which means planting and mulching the garlic, putting the garden to bed, closing in the farm store we’re building, gathering wood.  The north winds that blow over the land tug at the internal excess, too, loudly reminding me it’s time to strip down, let go, enter the sparse serenity of winter open and clear.

It happens every year, and still it feels like a bit of a crisis, this purging of all that does not serve me.  Paring down is both the struggle and the gift of entering winter.

If this is getting too ethereal, let me put it this way: running a farm, raising a toddler, and constructing a building while I do my best to carve out an hour in the morning to write has got me overloaded.  It’s time to let something go.

When I began this blog six years ago, it was a way to share my travels to New Zealand and Tasmania.  Over the years it’s evolved through different names and the different focuses of travel, farming, and family.  Lately, I’ve been feeling somewhat ambiguous about the blog, unsure of what kind of space it wants to be, and so I’ve let that question ruminate as I work on other projects.

After a few months of chewing it over, I’ve decided to step away from this space to put my creative energy into those other projects I’m excited about.

I’ll post about them as they come more into being, and I’ll continue to link to published essays and guest blog posts on the Writing section of this site.  And every once in a while, a blog post may appear here again.

Thank you for reading all these years.  The encouragement and support I’ve received from so many of you makes my heart light.

With gratitude,

Katie

Creatures of Habit

Morning clouds Monday whispered thoughts of rain all morning and afternoon, with undulating gray clouds stretching across the sky.  I was beneath them broad forking the lower field and feeling anxious about money, as so happens from time to time.  As I worked, I listened to an episode of Redefined Life, a podcast my friend Aaron Mead recently began.

The conversation between Aaron and Jeff Shapiro, a wing-suit BASE jumper, played in my ears as I pushed the tines of the broad fork down into soil and pulled back, loosening the bed.  The rhythm of the work slowly eased its fingers into the jumbled knot in my stomach, and as it loosened, the conversation turned to happiness when Shapiro said that happiness is a choice, and that nothing outside of us can give or take away happiness.

The warm air and cloudy sky afforded the perfect temperature to be working outside; the trees in full green framed the field and rose across the hillside into the mountains; my body was moving, and I felt that choice to be happy.

The antidote to anxiousness is presence.  Out in the field, working with soil and plants, I fall into rhythm and it leads me to presence, which in turn opens my body to choices beyond anxiety.  Like happiness, presence and awareness of the now is a choice, and like anything else, the more you practice making that choice, the more you say “yes” to it, the more natural it becomes.

We are creatures of habit.  I’d like my habit to be happiness.

Aaron also interviewed me for Redefined Life.  We spoke about writing, farming, and creating a business.  I was nervous to hear the episode,not quite remembering all that I said, but it served as a reminder to me why I do all that I do.  To hear it, visit Redefined Life online.

Searching for Wildness

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

bark

I am searching for wildness,

proving it lives

among us

despite us.

Why do I walk slowly

in the woods, why

do I stop at the rhythmic beating

of a woodpecker, why

do I pause to take in the shape

of a leaf, or a paw print, or the

curve and drop of a stream?

Terry Tempest Williams wrote:

the degree of our awareness

is the degree of our aliveness.

I want to be alive.

If I am to live,

if my cells are to awaken

and if my breath is to expand

into my lungs

it will be because wildness

pulled me out of sleep,

splashed me with cold water,

and poured wind through

my hair, into my mouth,

deep into my body.

If I am to live

it will be because this world

also lives

tangled and pure, wildness running

through the veins.

For the Birds

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}
 
In Flight, Katie Spring
 
I used to care
about proper grammar–
well vs. good
I vs. me–
but now, what does it matter?
I know what you mean.
There are already
so many rules
what shackles need to be
on expression?
None!
Sometimes, when I hear
birdsong in the morning
it strikes me that I don’t know
what they are saying,
but I feel their happiness.
That’s all we’re really after,
isn’t it?
To share with each other
our heart’s fire
be it sadness, or anger,
or expounding joy.

What My Life Is

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leavea link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

I can tell you I am a mother,

a farmer, a writer

but these definitions do not tell you

the quality of my breath

or depth of my laugh

or the hard pulse of my longings.

I’ve met challenges

in every phase, and for so long

I equated what I’m doing with

what my life is.

But the truth is

life is movement, energy–

rain falling to the earth

fire burning in the stove

bodies warming each other

beneath the blankets.

susnet over Dumpling Hill

Spring Peepers Rejoice!

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

Last night spring peepers

sang, the pluck-pluck of their notes

rising into night

finally bridging

late winter to spring, each note

rejoicing in mud

frog in rice paddy, summer 2012
frog in rice paddy, summer 2012