BASIC TRAVEL

There are many approaches when it comes to travel. Some folks like the big cruise ships. The Jet Set, well, flies off to chic-chic hot spots – and skips everything in between. For more down-to-earth vagabonds, there are camper-trailers and the like, and a whole range of campgrounds geared to their needs. Add to that bus tours and trains or the ol’ family car or even a bicycle or motorcycle.

And the destinations can be just as varied – from big cities, foreign countries, mountains or seaside, resort or casino, dude ranch or nature preserve, family or friends.

That’s even before we throw in factors like snow (either to escape or use for skiing) and sunshine.

My preference leans toward the back pack in one way or another. When I was “on the road” covering 14 states in sales, I used to call my valet bag a businessman’s back pack, for good reason. On my own, I’m likely to be using my sleeping bag, too, so you get the picture.

Maybe now that I’m retired I’ll even get back to some backpacking in the nearby White Mountains. We’ll see. I learned the lessons well as a Boy Scout.

 ~*~

Back Pack 1To go further, click here.

TRAVELING LIGHT

One of the biggest lessons I carry from backpacking as a kid is the importance of traveling light. Take no more than you need. Be resourceful.

In those days, I should add, everything weighed more than today’s high-tech, lightweight gear and dehydrated food packets.

On our week along the Appalachian Trail, I was a 12-year-old hauling a 60-pound pack in what seemed endless uphill marathons.

It’s a lesson you don’t easily forget, even when you’re going by airplane.

~*~

Back Pack 1To learn more, click here.

A SIGNATURE FLOURISH

They’ve become a kind of signature for our place every summer, even though it’s been a number of years since we’ve planted any. The neighbors tell us how much they enjoy the sunflowers. They’ve become self-seeded, no doubt enhanced by our bird feeders.

As for all of the goldfinches, now that’s another matter! Just look at that bright yellow on bright yellow …

THE BIG TREES

I still miss the Douglas firs and the Western red cedars. In their maturity, they stand tall – not quite to redwood stature but still impressive, especially when they’re massed together or the clouds roll through the branches.

Close your eyes and let the aroma present another unforgettable impression.

Maybe off in the distance of night you’ll hear the singing.

~*~

Mountain 1

For more, click here.

NATIVE INSPIRATION

Dwelling at the edge of a large Indian reservation, I found it impossible to ignore a vibration in the earth itself of their spirit.

Had I remained there a few more years, I no doubt would have collected turquoise-and-silver jewelry, the work of many Native masters.

Sometimes I still see their inspiration in the stars, though. Especially on a clear night. A very clear night, at that.

~*~

Mountain 1To see how it’s inspired my collection of poems, click here.

MORE THAN TWO SIDES

I’m tempted to say there are two sides to the mountain – a wet one and a dry one. Or even the side you see and the one you don’t. Or what’s ahead of you and what’s behind.

But none of that’s quite accurate.

You could, for one thing, be standing on the summit.

Or you could realize it’s one continuing side, like a Mobius strip, to explore. Even in your mind.

~*~

Mountain 1For a set of related poems, click here.

WHILE SUBMITTING TO LITERARY JOURNALS

As I said at the time …

It’s a quirky process, this exercise of seeking homes for personal work – the reactions of editors and readers so idiosyncratic and varied that the same piece can be considered too intense, by one, and not raw and bloody enough, by another. I can never predict who will accept what, no matter how long I’ve known a publisher or journal.

Contributor’s note? Just say I hope soon to be tent camping again.

ROAD WORK

I’ve spent a lot of my life behind a steering wheel, and that’s where a number of my poems originate.

From this, I can look at a concept. Lines from the road. Basho? Brautigan? McCord?

Flight or escape remains a central theme in American literature. Kerouac’s On the Road and Hunter Thompson come to mind, along with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Blue Highways. Of course our two greatest American novels also reflect this action, often with its male bonding and fields of discovery – Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn. It’s not just some vague sense of the liberty of a frontier to resettle, but with wheels, there’s the thrill of speed more destructive than hiking or canoeing or sailing. As for hobos and the rails? Another era. Outlaws more than vagabonds? As for the Gypsy, there’s an entire community to consider. As well as flights with a destination, in contrast to those lacking.

MAKING TIME FOR THE WORK

As I said at the time …

There’s no denying the importance for a writer to have a physical space where the work-in-progress can be left out in the open, safely behind a closed door, between sessions. Where there’s no lost time putting everything away, only to have to bring it out again in order to resume where one left off. This doesn’t have to be a dream space, either.

But making time for writing is even more crucial. Being able to get a thought or line down on paper, while it’s fresh. Of finding large blocks of time to engage in the interior dialogue of characters as they emerge amid your daily errands and nocturnal dreams. (Like babies or demons, they possess you.)

I’m not alone in finding my practice of writing becomes part of a larger juggling act, especially when I’m already working fifty-hour weeks as a professional whatever somewhere else. Especially when those hours are outside the “literary” field altogether. Then there are the needs of a home life to contend with, and, in my experience, a faith community, too. For instance, I’ve found that as long as I’m employed as a full-time journalist, my off-duty hours leave me only enough hours to (a) write and revise or (b) focus on submissions and correspondence or (c) attend and give readings and other public events; but there is no way to do two of the three (much less all three) in the same period.

On top of it all, the work takes as long as it needs. Or, like the old-house syndrome, every repair or renovation project will require at least three times more time and money than you budgeted.