Growing up in a mid-size city with the great north woods of WI, Upper Michigan, Minnesota not far off, kind of made me a kid that could be a city boy and a a rural kid. My adult life mirrored this in many ways from living in a cabin in Colorado, where I did my laundry with a washboard and made dinner to the sites of black bears walking down my street to spending great periods of time camping in the Pacific Northwest, the Redwoods, and the Southeast (which puts a whole new spin on the joys of camping). From small towns to big cities, I’ve jumped. I love cities. I love people watching and the excitement, but in my twenties while living out of tent essentially for two years for the work I was doing, is when I really fell in love with the outdoors. The outdoors is beyond healing to me. Give me a day and a hiking trail, and I’m in heaven. Currently I’m in social isolation in the city. I’m not quite sure that the trails I know of around here have dried out enough for a hike. If woods and water aren’t available together, I try to find one. Right now, that just means daily walks and reflections by the water. Prior to the social isolation thing, I was on fire writing. The poems were coming several a day. One thing a writer never likes to admit is that he/she is dried up. I’ve been writing longer than almost everything else I do in my life, and I know, that I’ve felt this way before. In fact, it seems like the times I have felt this way before, I go down to this place where I almost feel like I’ll never write anything substantive again. Then one day, I’m trying and something awakens and the muses return. I honor the muses and say a little prayer to them daily inviting them in whenever. I admitted this to a peer last night, who is also a writer and was sharing with me a poem they are working on. I reflected to my friend, ‘for me, so much of being a writer is about people and living.” I know people are living right now and it’s a critical time in the history of our world, I believe. I just think it’s hard to be a poet when life isn’t going on around you. I spend most of my day (except my walk by the water) in social isolation in a tiny studio apartment. I get through it by a lot of daydreaming, which maybe could start to ignite my writing? So far, I haven’t gotten past the point of it ‘being a daydream.’ I imagine the woods a lot. I’ve spend so much of my life in them and they are so healing to me. Even if this takes a lot longer than expected, I know spring is here and soon the trails will be solid, and I can spend a good deal of time just being in the woods. To me, Mother Nature, is our greatest healer. I’ve said that about writing before, but nature gives me that same feeling. There are many horrible things that come at the cost of pandemic like this; however, I have to believe that maybe when it’s all over and done the world will be better for it. Perhaps, it will allow us to recognize we are a global community and that we have more strength coming together than we do separating ourselves. Perhaps, we might look at our precious earth and realize how important she is to us and start really fighting to protect her. If being trapped inside a building all day should teach us anything, it’s that we need our precious planet. I think it could teach us to appreciate our family and friends more. I strongly encourage those of you who are blessed to live with others, to check in on those who live alone. I know being around family can be extremely challenging in times like these, but having nobody to talk to all day can be severely depressing. Nobody should be forgotten. For those who live alone, check in on others too. We have to come together. Also, appreciating others for what they do. The individuals who stock our shelves at the grocery store (where’s there thanks), the servers at a favorite restaraunt, the traveling cast of a show that comes to your city, the men/women who operate the gas station you run to at 1100 at night. I know my appreciation has grown immensely in these times. It’s changed how I look at government at the state and local levels and made me more conscious of making sure their elections are just as important as national ones. There’s so much insight to be learned here. I just hope we learn it. As I’m sitting here missing the woods and hoping by summer some of this madness has left us, I leave you with a love poem, Iw rote to probably my greatest love in this life (poetry aside).
Of all the lovers, you simply have been the best.
Uncontaminated in the ignorance of the world,
I do not have to ask you to touch me or tell me
You love me. You just do.
I can close my eyes and am given a companionable cup of tea,
A long conversation that listens back.
You offer long letters to my simple thoughts,
Sonnets to my mere metaphors,
Nights to my imperfect longings. Inside you,
Ancient texts and all the carved spired cathedrals in the world.
Antiquity and modernism all in one breath,
Forgiveness that sits quietly and waits for you find it.
Light will always be there
And there is no risk of abandonment.
There is always a noise to hold your hand
And a star to take a wish off your shoulders.
It is almost strange to be in such a place
Where I don’t ache for something
To fill me up.
Here the meal is time,
And the belly is full.