In Hopi culture, as I recall from my graduate work in environmental education years ago, there are people who serve as kachinas, or ancestral spirits, during religious ceremonies. Imagine colorful, otherworldly costumes and pulsing, drum-driven dances. There are mudhead kachinas, too — clown-like spirits who poke fun at the serious types. Like Jon Stewart, I suppose — good laughs along with insight.
Posts from the ‘Places: Skagit River’ Category
The spray paint surprised me: neon orange slashes across a rocky trail crowded with glacier lilies, the season’s first flowers in the high meadows above of my house. About a half mile from the parking lot, the paint marks the end for a 54-year-old woman shot dead here last August, an incident I’d forgotten until crossing these remnants of forensic analysis. Though it’s been many months, the bright lines and directional arrows still highlight the locations of the killer and the victim, the latter located 50 yards downhill, four switchbacks from the gun. Read more
Eleven years ago this morning, I lived 60 miles up the Skagit River Valley in Washington State with my park-ranger girlfriend, Paula, who’s now my wife. We were renting a drafty farmhouse beside old-growth evergreens, a salmon stream, and our landlord’s two unshorn horses, their restless tails like fly-fishing rods always casting, casting, casting. Read more
Enjoy my short essay, “Skagit River, Washington,” in Orion’s The Place Where You Live. While you’re there, click on the section title and peruse the map for dozens of other essays — stories all over the world. Read more
Pen in hand, where do I start? My mind races with landscapes, family and friends, good times and heartbreakers, journeys beyond count. The memories stretch across decades, scattered like ten thousand riverbed rocks, each small enough to hold in my hand, uniquely jewel-like, yet all of them born from the same incomprehensible source, some mountain far upstream beyond view. There’s no trail here. It’s route finding like I’ve never known. Read more
Vote for my essay at High Country News! For its “Stories of the Working West” contest, I submitted “Busted Beer Cans and Baby Culture,” a title born in the mountains of Washington State, my home for many years while working as an environmental educator and wilderness ranger. The 900-word piece highlights the decade I taught about backcountry writers in the North Cascades, including the Beat poets Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac, who served as fire lookouts in the 1950s. Read more
My wife says that if country songs were personal anthems, mine would be Toby Keith’s “As Good as I Once Was.” Maybe she’s right. I sure was singing it two summers ago when I rookied as a wilderness ranger for North Cascades National Park. Read more