Showing posts from October, 2011

Of All The Places

When I was younger, I used to believe that out of everyone I knew, I was the only one who not only appreciated nature, but loved it, pined for it, understood it as a perfect part of life. I talked to the trees. Yes, I was one of those. I could spend hours by myself in the woods, or by a stream, or watching the light shift across the surface of a lake. My first memory is of a mountain landscape in Montana, the feeling of the wind rushing up my legs, the blueness of the sky.

I began this blog for several reasons, but it was naive to not count among them connection with other "place people." I didn't know. I didn't even guess that fifteen months from its inception, this blog would have introduced me to complete strangers who now feel like friends, and friends who are now ever-more-deeply that because we've had cause to discuss and share about things that before just somehow never came up. I didn't know that what I'd most appreciate a year later about this sp…

He Says Goodnight Like This


"I Knew"

that night we lay on air
sultry as an Egyptian's exhale.

Nothing stirred but firefly wings
and our gentle fingers, figuring

at the throb and pulse that electrified
such small bodies with sparks.

Their glimmer laced the lake's edge
like a necklace, like lookout smoke,

and we drifted tranquil within, at peace
with each other, our unwearied lips.

The water was blue-black beneath us,
a veiled mirror underneath the cloak

of sky, light discovering light
only when we moved.

-- by Emily Brisse, originally published in The Talking Stick, Vol. 20, Editor's Choice award

Prairie Oaks Institute

Thanks to Chris Johnson, the Center for Servant Leadership at Gustavus, and the amazing and beautiful Prairie Oaks Institute in Belle Plaine for an incredible weekend: retreat, rejuvination, reflection, and old and new friends--"live encounters," every one. 

Where We Go

When I was in fifth grade, the rough kids went out behind the middle school building, down to the footbridge that crossed over the stream, and smoked beneath it. I have memories of their black-leather-clad backs, their furtive glances before they’d duck under and step down on the rocks. Later my brother and I would find the stubs of their cigarettes, muddied and stained with red-lipstick. We often wondered, when we sat beneath the bridge ourselves, if their pack would ever show up when we were there, drop from the trail like a thick cloud, and surround us in their haze and age.

The last time I was in my hometown, I returned to the stream. It had been years, maybe, since I’d walked the banks, strolled with my hand out, tapping the chest-high grasses and small  sunflowers, blazed though the mass and tangle to the water’s edge just like my brother and I had done during so many days in my childhood. It threw me, as I should have anticipated, to see how changed it all was, how grown-over an…