I'm in the mountains again. When I was here before, about the same time last year, I packed the car full of boxes of fiber, spinning wheel, tools, books, and computer, and worked steadily on the book portion of The Project. I was here when I got the news that the book's scope had suddenly expanded, and I was here when I did core pieces of the work required to accommodate that expansion.
This time is different.
I am once again enormously grateful to have the opportunity to be here. I still have the spinning wheel and tools, but I only have two boxes of fiber, and what I need to do with them is somewhat focused (write a short article) and somewhat exploratory (spin some fibers that I didn't have a chance to work on for the book, to see where they'll lead me).
Mostly I need to do some recovery from the book process (although I still have to read the whole set of pages one more time) and reorient myself and figure out what, of the many possibilities, comes next. I know what I'd like "next" to include. I'm not sure that I can figure out how to put together the practical foundations that will allow that idea to begin progressing.
Anyway, I'm here. And the first thing I need to do is remember that I'm at a higher altitude than usual, and that I have to take that into account.
One reminder comes in the inflation of the packages of rice crackers, which looked perfectly normal at the store when I bought them on my way out of town and looked like this a mere two hours later:
By the time I got here, they looked like those air pillows that are used to pack around items that are being shipped. There's enough spare room in the packages now that the crackers can easily leave their protective trays and rattle around inside, turning into cracker pieces. Fortunately, I don't care whether my crackers are whole or fragmented. They taste good with hummus either way.
Yesterday I took Advil, and then toward evening Excedrin—altitude headache. It's funny about altitude reactions: I've had them at 8,000 feet and not had them at 12,000 feet. The trick is just to be aware of what's happening in the moment.
Overnight, we got some fresh snow. Here's the road past the cabin today, looking north:
I took the picture at about 3 in the afternoon. Not exactly heavily traveled.
Here's a picture from the same spot only looking south, at my footprints. That's the driveway to the cabin at the juncture between the light and dark portions of the landscape, and yes there are tire tracks leading out of the driveway and down the road to the south.
One of my compatriots here (we are sharing the quiet space) needed to go to town for three meetings, two today and one tomorrow. We all breathed a sigh of relief when she made it out of the driveway, which is steep. The two of us who stayed were surprised about an hour later to hear footsteps on the deck. Who the heck could it be?
Turns out that our intrepid driver made it about a mile, almost to the top of the road (still over three miles from pavement), before her van got stuck. She couldn't get up the final twenty feet of one-lane road to turn onto the two-lane road that probably had been plowed. (Instructions for traversing this piece of the trip when going to the cabin: "if snowy or icy, it is best to stop at the top of the hill and put it in first gear as you then proceed down the hill.") No cell reception up here, so she walked back, and we phoned around on the land line to find out what her options were.
To make a long story somewhat shorter: she and the van are back here, having scheduled a meeting with a tow truck. Her comment on returning: "They have a lovely winch."
She cancelled all her meetings in town.
She'd had her afternoon walk, so I brought in a few loads of wood for the stove and then took mine. I went up the road, and keeping in mind the altitude and yesterday's headache, I didn't go very far.
That's my arbitrary turnaround point, up there in the band of sunshine, and my own footsteps going in both directions. The snow isn't deep enough for snowshoes, and it was a pleasant walk.
Then I came back to the cabin and fixed myself a cup of tea (thanks, Meg!) and went back to considering how to re-assemble my life.
Fresh snow, altitude, shifting gears after a major project: all reasons to keep moving, but to do so gently and with awareness.
What I'm reading here (so far):
- Andrew Fleming, St Kilda in the Wider World, a book I've read large chunks of but haven't read sequentially
- Carl Klaus, The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay—Carl Klaus and Robert Scholes taught one of the best seminars I ever took, many years ago, and this is Klaus's new book, which I bought at the Tattered Cover as soon as I knew it existed (not long ago) and have been looking forward to savoring . . . and . . .
- Jeff Davis, The Journey from the Center to the Page, which I've had on the shelf in two editions and it's time to do more than read one page at a time
I'm also spinning a bit, and I do intend to have an article drafted by the end of the week, and to make digital versions of a bunch of photographs. I've got enough tasks here to keep me busy for months.
But right now, I'm taking it one step at a time.
Next step: Resist my tendency to want to wring even more out of the day, and put myself to bed. Tomorrow there may be more fresh snow, or not. Either way, there is likely to be a fresh day.