Showing posts from June, 2012

Shifting Perspectives

We came here zinged on a big city's pulse, sleep deprived by bright lights and street noises and man's ingenuity. High. But the Alps--larger than London by so many metric tons--gives us the sense of coming down.

The moment we arrive in Grindelwald, Switzerland, village of expensive winter coats and sloped farmer's fields, of cascading waterfalls and white glacial rivers, of a chorus of wildflowers I have neither seen nor heard before, we let some bit of stress go. The steps we ascend, constantly, are slow going and measured, paced with our shallow breaths. The long hikes we attempt result in weary, spent bodies, sometimes bruised. And at night we devour plates of food--thin soups and hearty breads, strange salads and thick cuts of meat--until the only thing left in our psyches is sleep. As we climb up to bed, the open windows let in the lullabye of jangling cow bells and somewhere rushing water. For a few minutes, we watch as the light fades, the Mettenberg and the Eiger …

Places and People and Things and Ideas

It has been ten years since I was first in Europe. A third of my life away. It was Paris then and it is London now. It was ingenue then and it is teacher now. It was a world and a lifetime ago, and I feel all those rotations of the earth in my body, in all the stories I have lived and told since then. Life moves quickly. Paris at twenty was a dusky sweep of January street lights, of bridge painters, long afternoon hours spent in cafes with glasses of wine and pages of my journal. I had arrived there among other students, but knowing no one. I cherished my solo walks down back streets, my eager and bumbling exchanges with shopkeepers in my best French, a language I knew only by the vocabulary post-it notes I had used to wallpaper my dorm room. I sat in the Luxembourg Gardens on mornings crisp enough to reveal one's breath, and I dipped a baguette into jam and watched the birds brave my presence for the crumbs. I read Gertude Stein and Eliot and Lowell and Hem. I thought, I know wha…

Falling In Love

I’ve been trying to pinpoint it: the moment I knew I loved the natural world.

I’d like to say it happened while overlooking a lush Montana riverbank plump with wildflowers, an image I claim as my first memory, but I was two and a half years old then, and too young to make declarations. Years later, when I was sixteen, I glimpsed the Continental Divide stretching across the Colorado horizon and felt something come loose in me, an awe that lacked edges. But that was not the first time that feeling came, even if before I hadn’t had the language to describe it.
I could pick from memories on Lake Superior or in the Badlands or on the Mississippi, but the moment I keep coming back to is a simple one, cushioned in no impressive names, that took place in my Minnesota small town front yard. My family had just moved, and everything about our new life seemed strange and overwhelming. How does one make new friends at ten? How does one navigate the avenues of grief for a life that we’d left behind …