Total Eclipse

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The sun rises. The sun sets.

This is the way of things.

Remember.

This is the alpha, and the omega.

The beginning and the end. 


The sun rose that morning bright and clear over Laramie Peak. I sat on a little rocky outcropping watching its rising, letting it bathe me in growing warmth. 

It's sometimes easy to forget about the sun. Strange, given how ever-present she is. Our entire lives revolve around the regular and dependable presence of this orb. The passing of days, seasons, years, the cycles that endlessly roll on. They are as sure as the day is long. Yes, in the depths of winter we ache for the Sun's return and celebrate her arrival in spring with vivid ecstasy and worship. We curse her when we are sunburnt. We occasionally stop to notice her paintings at dawn and dusk. But on the whole, we can forget her because we always know she will return. When is the last time you said "I am GRATEFUL for the sun"?

Later that morning, my friend Alex and I scrambled to the top of a rocky prominence at the base of a small mountain affectionately dubbed "Great 'Clipse". We named all the stony hills in our little valley - "A - 'Clipse", "B - 'Clipse", "C - 'Clipse", "D - 'Clipse", "E - 'Clipse", etc. Like countless others across the United States in a narrow slash from Oregon to South Carolina, we were gathering that morning to see the "event of a lifetime", the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Alex and I had driven into the Medicine Bow National Forest of eastern Wyoming, braving the backcountry roads in her Prius, and found a lovely campsite among a dozen or so other groups in a wide meadow. The country there is open and sparse, dotted with boulders and rocky hills, jack pine and ponderosa presiding over sagebrush. Truly a "home on the range". 

From our viewing balcony, our view was uninterrupted for miles in all directions. We had the rock all to ourselves. The sky was crystalline and cloudless. Anxiously we awaited the start of the eclipse, checking the eclipse glasses for any scratches or pinholes, checking the sun every few minutes for any disturbances. The grasshoppers clicked about in their stumbling, drunken flight. The gray jays soared in their bounding glides between jack pines seeking morsels of pine nuts. Chipmunks and squirrels darted between the rocks, gathering seeds and inspecting crevices. The lowing of cattle drifted in from over the hills. A little girl flew a kite in the meadow below. Daily life went on as usual, as if nothing extraordinary were about to occur. 

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The ravens cawed and cawed, on and on, screeching. I wonder what they knew. I also wonder what the celestial bodies knew. It is fanciful to think of the sun and the moon conspiring in their acrobatics. Fanciful, and silly. With the powerful tools of science, giving agency to hunks of rock and gas seems childish. Unlike our ancestors, we know precisely why eclipses occur. And based purely on geometry and the laws of planetary motion, we can predict, with astounding accuracy, the time and duration of the eclipse for any locality. And at 10:25 AM, just as the astronomers foretold, a chunk of the sun disappeared. 

It was tiny. A little nibble out of the edge of a cookie. Alex and I squealed with anticipation. 

And then we waited. Every few minutes we would look at the bright orb again through our glasses and more of it would be gone. Then we would scan our surroundings, inspect the rocks, scrutinize our hands for any perceptible change in light. Nothing. Without the glasses, there would have been no way of knowing that the sun was being eaten away. 

We waited more. As Annie Dillard points out in her account of a solar eclipse "I never saw the moon once. The moon has nothing to do with a Total Eclipse". She's got a point. It's so wild to be told that the moon is covering up the sun because you never see the moon. It's too close to the sun to ever be visible, and so what is observed is the sun "going through phases". But the phases aren't what we're used to from observing the moon. It's less like a shadow, and more like a god eating our beloved star. 

It was not until the sun was perhaps three quarters gone that there was any perceptible change in the world. The air began to cool. We pulled out our flannels to bundle up. And the light was weird. It was as if someone had dialed back the contrast and saturation in the world. All became pallid and sickly. I imagined myself careening out through the solar system, away from the sun. We were astronauts on Mars, then Jupiter, then Saturn. Never before have I experienced our star to be feeble. Even beneath thick clouds, filtered through fog, or refracted as in a sunrise or sunset, the sun is full of strength and fire. But not this sun. This sun was ill and waning. 

The shade grew. We were on Pluto. The eye was confused - there was a metallic hue to the world - we were in outer space. The wind was cold. The grasshoppers went silent, the birds flew to their roosts. The crows said not a word. The sun was a vanishingly thin crescent. But we were still within the bounds of familiar reality. We were still in the realm of the living. 

Then, the veil fell. It happened suddenly. In the west we saw the furthest range of mountains fall away. Then the next. This was the shadow of the moon, they say. But it did not resemble a shadow. It was more of a curtain, or a wave, or a mouth. It overtook us. It swallowed us whole. The veil fell, and the temple was rent in twain, and the film between worlds shattered. We were in the world of the dead. 

The valley rose up in shrieks. Everyone screamed like jackals, and the howls reverberated off the walls of the mountains. Alex yelled "Look at the sun!" But the sun was not there. What I saw was not our Sun. What I saw was a horrifying, gaping hole ringed in flame. They say the it is the moon ringed by the gas jets of the Sun's corona. I say it is the most beautiful and awful sight I have ever beheld. I know in my rational brain that it was silent, this hole. But I cannot help but hear the most terrible, ear-splitting roar. I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me, but I wailed just the same. Somewhere between a laugh and a sob and a howl. Reflexively. Instinctively. There is no other way of responding to such terror. 

A bird, scared utterly shitless, flew almost directly into our faces. 

The sky was deep indigo, and there was a smattering of stars. It was the hue of twilight, but in vivid, artificial technicolor. And the horizon was in flames. It was a neon orange sunrise in three hundred and sixty degrees. Everything was wrong. We were no longer in the realm of the living, we were rising from our graves to be judged at Armageddon. This was the end of all things. 

And then it was over. The light returned. It swept over us, and the shadow fled over the hills with frightening speed. We breathed. We were silent. We took stock of the world. We were alive, the world was just as we remembered it. 

Color crept back into the hills, and warmth seeped into the air. It was high noon. The grasshoppers were chirping again. The birds and flies returned to the air. Life resumed after briefly ending. It was a miracle.

I began to relax. I realized my muscles had been fully tensed for the totality and much of the lead up. Alex and I made avocado sandwiches and scarfed them down like animals. We were breathless and speechless.

 From Annie Dillard: "The dear, stupid body is as easily satisfied as a spaniel. And, incredibly, the simple spaniel can lure the brawling mind to its dish. It is everlastingly funny that the proud, metaphysically ambitious, clamoring mind will hush if you give it an egg."   (Or an avocado)

From Annie Dillard: "The dear, stupid body is as easily satisfied as a spaniel. And, incredibly, the simple spaniel can lure the brawling mind to its dish. It is everlastingly funny that the proud, metaphysically ambitious, clamoring mind will hush if you give it an egg." 

(Or an avocado)

The one thing that continues to perplex me is that we knew this eclipse was going to happen. We were as prepared as one could possibly be. We knew that at 10:25 AM the moon would begin to travel over the sun, and at 11:45 AM it would fully cover the sun and totality would last two minutes. We read Annie Dillard's "Total Eclipse" the night before for an artistic and emotional understanding of what we were about to experience. We fucking knew everything, and it still knocked us flat. We humans are all full of hubris with our fancy machines and sciences, and then the moon blots out the sun and we're no bigger or better than insects again. Imagine not being aware in any capacity that an eclipse was about to occur, and then finding yourself swept up in Hades. You would think the gods were ending the world. No wonder people dropped dead in fear. This is the stuff people build temples and give offerings for. Suddenly it's not so silly to speculate about the plans of the sun and moon. Suddenly it's the only explanation that makes sense. 

The following morning, Alex and I awoke early to greet the sun. And I must say, I have never before awaited a sunrise with such uncertainty and such gratitude. 

 

Resurrection

Sometimes green is a miracle.

Specifically, I am talking about a green that is only seen once a year.

The first flush of the earth's waking.

The meadow is so bright and rich in green

Nearly buzzing.

It blinds just as the frogs hidden in its mantle deafen, filling every inch of space to the brim.

I look down at this incomprehensible carpet in sheer dumbfounded awe.

And I see for the first time that the emerald on which I have trod is not mere grass as I had imagined

But trout lilies.

Thousands upon thousands of trout lilies, their speckled scabbards bustling in the glade.

I am standing in a swarm of trout lilies.

I look about me for some avenue of escape, endeavoring to do as little damage as possible in my exit.

But it is no use. My only way out is to trample.

Yet before I let my remorseful mind sink into this thought, I notice:

A blossom.

It is early, the lilies are not in their full glory, but a few early risers it seems have peeked up, and I,

Being curious and seeing how leaving the glade untrammeled is a foregone conclusion, I squat and press my face to the ground

My eyes level with the tiny silver-white nod.

A bee lands on the upper lip of the flower. The belle is so coy that as to make her crawl up and under the flower to reach her prize.

But the bee hungrily, greedily obliges, gripping stamen and pistil like a lover, gyrating and churning her abdomen in a storm.

She leaves, soaked in pollen and drunk on nectar, into the sunlight and dizzying green.

And I have no other recourse but to throw up my hands and proclaim the reality of resurrection. 

This is only the second time I have biked through the woods at night. 

The nightwoods never disappoint me. There's a primal, visceral nature to them. There is a guttural roar that is deafeningly silent. It fills my ears and trickles down my spine, plucking each vertebra like taut strings. 

A sapling, still full of last years leaves and illumined by my headlamp, leapt into my peripherals, and a string broke. 

It is spring. I know it is by the air. Waves of cool wind, damp with mud and must from the lakes, waft up from the hollows. It is the waters' breath, awakening. 

I see a dirt path turn into the woods, curving through the trunks into the blackness toward the lake. My breath pauses for just a moment, tugged toward the track. There's something ancient that wants to see the waters fluttering awake. There's something reptilian that wants to see the lake beginning to toss and turn in its bed. But I think better. I am a being of the sun, of the light, this darkness is not for me. 

So I press on, following a little pinprick of light in the inky ether.

Home

Fourteen hours. 

Fourteen hours from the mountains to the Mississippi. 

Fourteen hours from Orion on the pre-dawn horizon to friends huddled around a bonfire.

Driving across the plains feels like the earth is catapulting us over its farthest edge. The shivering road shakes our bones. Our minds flutter and sway from memory to anticipation, back and forth, betwixt and between.

We have seen such newness. Unfamiliar sounds have echoed in our ears. Strange winds have pricked our skin. 

We have met new faces, heard new voices, hugged new friends. 

But now, it is time to return to familiar lands. To the bluffs and farms just turning firey with autumn. To the rivers that carry our whispers.

We will be as rivers, carrying new bonds, new wisdom, new songs to meander and mix with our home waters. 

Fourteen hours between the strange and the known. Fourteen hours betwixt the past and the future. 

Fourteen hours of aching hearts and fluttery stomachs. A dance of excitement and reminiscence.

We yearn for home. We yearn for the road.

Forever betwixt. Forever between.

"This is not a memory. This is a beginning." 

Until next time,

- C + GB

Boulder

The FINAL show of our great big tour was in Boulder, Colorado, smack dab betwixt and between the mountains and the plains. 

Here are the SENSES of Boulder:

Sights - Red rocks, snow capped mountains, the plains stretching for miles and miles.

Sounds - Augustus' alternative folk-rock. The drummer had a kit entirely set up with foot pedals so he could play guitar at the same time. So rad.

Smells - The tantalizing scent of a burrito shop that has just denied you a free burrito. 

Tastes - Frosted Flakes and Trix. 

Touches - Scrambling on rough, sandpapery boulders. 

Thank you thank you thank you to Charlie's Angels: Ellie, Jesse, and Molly for hosting us vagabonds and for being a hoot and a half. And a huge shoutout to Augustus for setting up this show. They played an incredible headlining set!

OH and it was Abby's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

 Rock music. 

Rock music. 

 Pearl Street buskin'.

Pearl Street buskin'.

 Birthday grrrl. 

Birthday grrrl. 

 I don't wanna go home!

I don't wanna go home!

 Frenz.

Frenz.

 More frenz.

More frenz.

 2 cool.

2 cool.

Gothic, Colorado

This is where I learned to breathe. 

As it turns out, the "Betwixt and Between" tour has been all about reconnecting with the past. It's set us squarely betwixt the past and the future. We've revisited old friends in new places. We've thought a lot about how our history impacts, informs, and shapes our present. 

For me, this feeling was most intense in Gothic, Colorado.

Gothic is home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, an ecological field station at nine and a half thousand feet, surrounded by a valley filled with aspens and wildflowers and marmots, and gorgeous peaks of every imaginable color. I spent a summer there studying pollination.

 Real clutch aspens in Gothic.

Real clutch aspens in Gothic.

What I saw upon revisiting those mountains was just how that summer changed me, and set in motion events that led directly to who I am today, and in fact led directly to this whirlwind music tour. That summer was filled with dear friends and music. We had porch jam sessions, busked on the streets of Crested Butte for ice cream money, played songs on top of mountains. We had guitars, ukes, voices galore, sometimes backup dancers, and a drumkit made out of a gas can, pots and pans, and a cow jaw bone. I was super close with a curly haired, ukulele playing California girl named Natalie (who we saw in Seattle!), who taught me just about every song I now know and cherish on the ukulele, and taught me that if you want to make more money busking, just wear a cute dress and bright red lipstick. 

 I have dreamed on this mountain, and you can't just take my dreams away. 

I have dreamed on this mountain, and you can't just take my dreams away. 

As we drove up Gothic Road into the back country, I felt a strange, dream-like mixture of deja-vu and jamais-vu. It was familiar, yet alien at the same time. The aspens were bare bones, the mountains brown; a stark contrast to the lush green and rainbow fields of wildflowers in the summer. But the feeling was deeper than that. I thought that revisiting this special place after 4 years would be filled with regretful nostalgia. I could have pursued a career as an ecologist. I could have returned to this little piece of heaven every year for field work. But when I saw the wooden cabins of RMBL below Gothic Mountain, I didn't feel an ounce of regret. Rather, I felt an intense appreciation and gratitude for that beautiful place, and my dear friends.

That sense of unfamiliarity is the recognition that I am a different person than I was four years ago, and I have that summer to thank. I am so grateful. 

Abby and I awoke the other morning to snow blanketing the ground. We built a fire and looked up at the sun cresting the snow-covered peaks. Everything is new. 

-C

Spooky Stuffs

It doesn't get much better than filling a mountain garden with good friends, dogs, peaches, and music. Thanks Alyssa Spookybones, Gerald Magic Host Man, Paonia Colorado, and all the little children AMEN.

 The Hat and the Hare strike again.

The Hat and the Hare strike again.

 Damn, dat emcee.

Damn, dat emcee.

 There was a dog. 

There was a dog. 

 You won't believe what happened next.

You won't believe what happened next.

 Sunglasses after dark. 

Sunglasses after dark. 

 Nerds.

Nerds.

 Marcellina and ASPENS

Marcellina and ASPENS

We recorded this video in Paonia too!!

Salt Lake City, UT

Careening across the desolation of Nevada and Utah is perhaps the closest Abby and I will ever get to a moon landing. We listened to a podcast about asteroid impacts and the extinction of the dinosaurs as we sped over the bone dry rainshadow of the Sierra Nevada, and onto the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the Great Salt Flats. We waded into the toe-deep brine-bath which housed a perfect facsimile of the mountains ahead. We were overcome by subliminality; beauty that does not comfort, but instead hits you like a freight train of inconceivable alienation. It's a beauty that left me hollow, small, alone, afraid. 

And now we're supposed to play a show in Salt Lake City? In the middle of a moon landscape? Do they have spacesuits for us to wear? Because I don't see how we can do it. 

But holy smokes, we were enveloped by such warm hospitality that soothed our desert skin and made us feel at home after eight hours of wonderful dystopia. 

The house show was set up by Taylor, one of the most joyous humans in existence, and Mallory, a lovely host with an apartment full of stained glass windows, pizza, and a chandelier. We played well into the night, and the aftershow included covers of John Prine, Beyonce, and Miley Cyrus.

Taylor and I love Beyonce. Goddamngoddamn.

We made a new friend at the show named Dale Forrister who offered to take us on a hike in the mountains the next day. He's a Tree Ecologist, and yes his last name is actually Forrister. Unintentional puns are the best.

This hike was so mind blowing, y'all. Since Abby and I have been meditating on senses lately, I'm going to use each of the five senses to describe it to you. And even then, I may not do it justice. 

First off, smell. There was sagebrush and decaying aspen leaves. There was abundant Alpenfroid (see the post on Smellelegance), and the cold refreshment of newfallen snow air. 

Sound: Quaking aspen leaves shivering in the wind. Aspens are called Populus tremuloides, and if you've ever seen an aspen grove in even a light breeze, you know that they sure do tremble. It's like ocean waves, or falling sand, the original static. It's one seemingly unanimous sound that is really the composite of millions of individual quivers. And we really were within this sound. 

Also, the sound of echoes. The mountains all around funneled and reflected yells and hollers into fractal patterns of gullies and crevasses, sending them back in waves of ghost songs. 

Taste: Sagebrush doesn't taste very good, turns out.

Touch: The alpine sunlight bathing our skin. The talcum-powder consistency of Aspen bark that we used as makeshift sunscreen (SPF 5, holla). The pounding of our feet on the dirt and rocks as we went racing down the trail playing tag. The icy daggers of a well aimed snowball. 

Sight: Oh. My. God. I saved the best for last. Neither I nor Abby had ever seen the mountains in autumn, and my oh my we could never have predicted just how incredible the sight would be. The aspens turn everything to gold. Swaths of gold leaf swaddle the mountainsides. Walking through a grove is like swimming in a sea of liquid gold. The air itself turns to honey. I'm a huge Tolkien fan, and I imagined us entering the woods of Lothlorien. Every shade of yellow was represented simultaneously, in solid, liquid, and vapor form. And we, by some unbelievable blessing, got to experience it. 

But it's not JUST yellow. From the top of the little crag we hiked to, we could see every hue imaginable. There are scrub oaks (Quercus gambelii, thanks Dale) that turn orange and red, geranium leaves turn crimson and purple, the mountains themselves are topped with a dusting of the purest white snow. Your whole damn field of vision is overwhelmed by too many colors to possibly distinguish.

This is beauty that comforts and warms, friendship and camaraderie that break the isolation of the open road. We are so filled up. 

Until next time, SLC

-C

 The crew. 

The crew. 

PS: We named the crag we spent time at "Mystery Poop Mountain" because we saw this unidentifiable scat on top! Can anyone ID it??

 Pooooooooooooooop.

Pooooooooooooooop.

I Left my Floor Tom in San Francisco, or: why you should never take mental notes.

Along with quite a few other things. And actually it was Santa Rosa, AKA the black hole of North America, AKA the giant Star Wars monster-eating-pit of music tours. 

Okay, let me back up a bit.

Abby and I weren't originally planning to hit up the Bay Area on this tour, preferring chill towns and open spaces to dense, expensive cities. But, two things changed our minds:

1. A gentle reminder from my friend Helen that she lives in the Bay Area.

 Exhibit A

Exhibit A

2. A gentle reminder from our cultural memory that San Francisco is the place to be, forever and ever Amen. (see Kerouac, Joplin, et al. 1950-1975)

 3. Also, Mae went there on her trip, so...

3. Also, Mae went there on her trip, so...

So we moseyed on down to Santa Rosa to see Helen. We hurriedly rearranged the menagerie of instruments and clothing that is our car to make a seat for her. I removed the bright ruby slipper of a floor tom that was doubling as a warm coat/wine bottle holder, and made a mental note to take it in to Helen's apartment. 

Then we drove through the bath of mediterranean air, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge precisely at Golden Hour, just as the lights of San Francisco began to twinkle on ahead of us. 

I cried. I'm a sucker. 

No I'm not, this city is fucking gorgeous. 

Crossing that iconic bridge, I felt like a spell was being cast on me. Like fairy dust was raining down onto the streets. Maybe in the sea fog rolling in from the Pacific? Or was it the dusty memories of countless artists, poets, musicians, vagabonds, and waifs, eccentrics and beats and hippies from Janis Joplin to Alan Ginsberg, kicked up by the shoes of passing pedestrians? Who can say. 

But all I can say is that as we drove down Haight to Cafe International, the evening's open mic, I was starry eyed. 

Abby, who was driving, was not. I don't know if you've been to San Francisco, but parking is a nightmare and a half, traffic sucks, and all I can say is mad props to Ginger Bones. 

The open mic kicked off with the evening's emcee, Clyde, the self-proclaimed Bard of the Lower Haight, sang us a ballad about marrying a ukulele. What followed was a rather hit-or-miss array of performers: a folk guitar duo who played with stuffed animal giraffes attached to their instruments, a "local hippie legend" who just banged on an electric guitar with the distortion turned up to 11 for 15 excruciating minutes, and a dude who just fucked around on a drum machine for a while, splitting our eardrums, after earlier providing unsolicited back up dancing and door-frame pull-ups for a hip hop artist. There were some very lovely and talented performers for sure, including a rapper who spur-of-the-moment asked me to back him up on piano (it was so fun, and really sounded great). But there's a delicate line between cerebral, dense, avant-garde artistry and ugliness just for the sake of ugliness. Many acts tended toward the latter. 

 Legendary.

Legendary.

After Abby and I performed, and Clyde closed the evening with another grandiose story involving hot dog stands, capitalism, a wicked witch and her mystical vacuum, and Mayan ritual sacrifice, we drove home and waxed and waned over the legendary "Frisco". This city is a myth in every sense of the word, romanticized to the nth degree, but that legend built on the accomplishments of cultural giants of the 20th century, the gods and goddesses of Bohemia, is tired, worn, empty. Nostalgia is the most dangerous impulse, John Hodgman says. Yes we only saw the city for a night, and yes we only saw one tiny little location, but I know that Haight-Ashbury may contain the fairy dust of the past, but nothing more substantial. And I do know that the west coast is changing at lightning speed - tech companies, insane wealth, skyrocketing rent. Who can afford to live there anymore?

Okay, also the city is really beautiful, and it's a given that the artistic vibrancy of such a larger-than-life place never goes away, it just changes neighborhoods and metamorphoses into new forms. That metamorphosis is the key, though. As John Craigie sings it: 

Let’s get one thing straight:

Bob Dylan never played here

Joni Mitchell never sang here

Dr. King never preached here

This is a new stage

This is a new space

And even if they had

What would it matter anyway?

‘Cause the ghosts of the past cannot bring you any luck

All that matters is tonight

The next morning, we ate steel cut oats and figs with Helen, and talked about her favorite senses of California. Upon packing up, however, we found...

Strewn across the street outside, a trail of coats, sweaters, and jackets. 

Our coats, sweaters, and jackets. 

And we were inexplicably missing our very gaudy floor tom. 

And a bottle of wine.

I can't even be mad about this. Why? Because, first of all, it was my absent mindedness that left these things outside overnight. And second of all, I am consoled by the mental image of a person, half-drunk bottle of Malbec in one hand and about-to-split-in-twain drumstick in the other, banging out some sick beats on the floor tom. 

Now, a responsible human would learn from this mistake immediately and not take any more mental notes. I, on the other hand, not 5 minutes later as we were about to leave, took off my glasses so that I could shield my little eyeballs from the California sun with my sunglasses, and set them on top of the car, making a mental note to put them IN the car after saying goodbye to Helen. 

 It was a great pic tho

It was a great pic tho

And we learned 5 hours later, as the sun passed behind the Sierra Nevada and I reached for my glasses, that once again mental notes don't work. 

FIN

P.S. Immediately after discovering that my glasses were missing, I wrote a prayer to St. Anthony and dropped it in a Baptist Church's prayer box. Not 10 minutes later, Helen texts me to say she found a pair of glasses in the road, and wondered if they were mine. Damn, St. Anthony works fast. 

 Thx St. Tony.

Thx St. Tony.

I also made a mental note that it is folly to follow nostalgia. But I'm a hopelessly romantic musician, so who wants to bet on how that'll go?

-C

 

Smellelegant

As the last blog post demonstrates, Abby and I have begun thinking quite a bit about senses. We've been interviewing folks in every town we pass through about the most distinctive representation of each of the five senses from their home place. Focusing in on what our senses are experiencing is SO CENTERING. Travel has a tendency to uproot, shift one's gaze to the road ahead, distract from the present moment. This little project has really brought us back down to Earth, to really BE in the places we are so quickly passing through. 

One of my Great Great (etc. etc.) Aunt Mae's many legacies is the word "Swellelegant". Well, sense we've been talking a good deal about SENSES this trip, I thought that "Smellelegant" is an appropriate word to add to the dictionary.

Because even if smells aren't too pleasant, even if they're rank and rotten and rancid (like our boots after a couple days of never drying out in the Pacific Northwest...) they are still ELEGANT, aren't they? They surround you, bathe you, wind their fine, invisible tendrils up your nose, and conjure up strong memories of places and times. 

And yet, as is the case with all things elegant, scents are notoriously difficult to describe. While we have words specific to sights, sounds, feelings, and tastes, no such unique vocabulary exists for sound. We instead have to resort to feeble comparisons. "Smells like...(teen spirit?)"

UNTIL NOW! I, Carlisle Evans Peck, of not always sound mind and body, will now attempt to fabricate a vocabulary to capture the many sensuous scents that have wafted up our nostrils on this great journey. Let us begin with...

Alpenfroid - the sweet, minty, spicy, piney, frigid, oh so brisk you could ring it like a bell scent of a mountain. It's sky blue and rimmed with ice crystals and pine needles. There are many subvarieties of this smell, depending on the mountain range. Sweeter in Montana, dustier in Nevada, more cedar in the Cascades, spicier in Utah. 

 The air was pungently alpenfroid at Holland Falls in Montana. 

The air was pungently alpenfroid at Holland Falls in Montana. 

Putrimarine - refers to the rank, overwhelming seaweed + roadkill + rotting fish odor of a decomposing gray whale we found on the beach in Langlois, OR.

 Blue the pup had quite more of an affinity for putrimarine smells than we humans. 

Blue the pup had quite more of an affinity for putrimarine smells than we humans. 

Saffrochine - little known fact: the inside of a rotting Limber Pine of Lake Tahoe looks like turmeric and smells like resin, citrus, cinnamon, cardamom, and sunlight. 

 Try it in your stir fry for a delightful saffrochine aroma!

Try it in your stir fry for a delightful saffrochine aroma!

That's all I got for now, but fear not! I'll have more terms to add to your olfactory dictionary soon enough.

Bye,

C

Touch é ...The Middle

There are some 'touches' I make that are disruptive to other people's sense of hearing.

For instance, drumming on table tops is a wonderful sensory experience for me, and since most folks don't have the pristine privilege of getting inside this melon of mine, it can be a tad bit annoying to hear the steady beat of "Roll the Bones" by Shakey Graves, arranged for steering wheel.

I believe that everyone can attest to "The Importance of Touch" which is Chapter 2 in my recurring road trip read, found by Carl in North Dakota, (The Sixth Sense of Animals by Maurice Burton). In a previous post, I touched on all 5 senses and their relationship to animals. I find that the connection between animals, all nature really, and how humans do/should behave, are quite parallel. When given the time and space to bounce back and forth between engulfment in city and baptism in nature, you see alliances that are so beyond our scope of understanding, it is truly humbling.

We have touched trunks of trees that are a thousand years old, our hands have danced across the fur of dogs that bring us some strange comfort of home (shout-out to MIRA) we've brushed up against blackberry bush thorns and prairie grasses, cut our shins on protruding rocks, feet have glided over and sank into mounds of billions of grains of sand, pushed gently on the surprisingly rough backs of starfishies, picked up smooth and stinky whale rib bones, glazed over sharp sword-hilt ferns, poked the squishy exterior of jelly-donut anemones; we've set our fingertips on mountainsides, and grasped our cheeks in Disbelief--meanwhile trying to pull our jaws back up into place. 

I awoke early this mornin', beads of cold sweat covering our tent, but my body feeling warm underneath the sleeping bag and layers of fluffy clothing. Cool fresh air hit my face as I began the saunter towards the Farmhouse--gathering some dewy calendula flowers to prepare my Maté with...

touch

the door handles, the teapot, the mug--warm up the fingertips so the cells can feel more.

"In its simplest form, the sense of touch is no more than a general sensitivity in the cells of the skin. More specialized organs of touch are of two kinds; simple, twig-like nerve endings in the skin, and corpuscles (<----yes, good word!) in which the nerve ends in a speck of jelly enclosed in concentric layers of supporting cells. The corpuscles (<----I mean, isn't it fun to say out loud?) lie close beneath the surface of the skin and in ourselves are most numerous on the fingertips, the palms of the hands, and the tip of the tongue." 

I can tell you sensory descriptions of all these CORPUSCLES if you'd like...

My fingertips have brushed a whole array of tree bark on this adventure; Douglas Fir-Birch (<----mmm so smooth)-Ponderosa-Larch-Redwood (<----surprisingly soft bark) They've sifted through sand!

Oh! Let me tell you about SAND. So I went out on a solo drive, because even though we have been driving for hours and hours and hours and hours, I felt the need to take a solitary drive and listen to this new album from a lass we met named Ribree. Oh me oh my oh, it is a beautiful record.

 I happened upon some sand dunes and took the liberty of galavanting around them barefooted and free-the sound of crashing waves reaching the insides of my body. I lay down on the soft padding of tiny grains, and began to pour it over my legs and arms. It reminded me of cinnamon sugar toast; a staple in the early life of little Abster. Butter, cinnamon, and sugar, It made such a beautiful earth tone color on the toast, and was doing the same as it spilled over my skin. If I had had some butter it would have stuck--but that would be weird. Any who...

I'll do my best to stay on the subject of touch (I'm a bit scatter brained at this leg of the trip) but all of the senses seem to work cooperatively, and can be essential to the others--although more on that in a moment...

I have been attempting to figure out this recurring smell for a few months now--it is vividly in my memories as a child, this particular sniff, if you will. I finally have grasped it!

Rewind a few years; my face buried in a pile of dead leaves, I kept hold of the football! 

TOUCHDOWN!!!!

I was tackled right at the end-zone line, we measured--it lines up with the big tree and the edge of the house-one more smell before I spring up to (humbly) gloat in the faces of the neighborhood boys. Fast forward...

In the Redwoods, with a boy who has become one of my closest confidants and pals, napping in the sun on a rock across the crick,

I smell it again! It is it! Where is it?

I pick up the pile of yellow-golden rotting leaves underneath my feet and inhale the scent. It brings me right back to the moment in time where nothing mattered except for juking out somebody and making it to the end-zone. Sure, other things mattered--but it didn't feel as much. 

Back to touch...

"Perhaps we can try to assess the relative importance of the sense of touch along another avenue of inquiry. A person can lose the sense of sight and still lead a fairly full life. The loss of the sense of hearing is equally unpleasant but less of a handicap. Many people have lost their sense of smell, possibly their sense of taste. Helen Keller was born deaf, blind, and dumb, yet through her sense of touch, almost miraculously, led a very full life.

If no other argument prevails, perhaps we can say that the sense of touch is the least destructible of the primary senses because it is sited all over the body.

Eyes, can fail.

Ears, cease functioning, taste and smell degenerate,

But without the total destruction of the body,

Touch still lingers on..."

I'm missing the touch of someone dear to me--actually, many people dear to me.

Sometimes it is difficult to touch those around us--boundaries need be established and respected. But a hug, a touch filled with good intention and love, it's so so nice! Isn't it? It is comfort. 

Carlisle and I had the honor to play some traditional Latin American music with Diego and Flavio at the Farmhouse, two talented musicians and men, playing flute and jarana respectively. My fingertips tapped the hand drum, my left hand moving in a wave motion so that each finger contributed some sound to the tunes. My right hand moved around the perimeter of the drumhead, and my bare feet attempted to play the tambourine with its toes--it worked relatively well. 

But the embraces received from them as we all departed Arcata, CA and were wished a good path were the most memorable. Not a quick hug, not a Minnesota one or a Norwegian half-assed one...but an extended lock--not disrespectful or past boundaries, but rather an exchange of culture and humanity and respect to the time and experience we had shared together.

Here's to good touch!

 

(The scatter-brainedness of this post is a result of constant motion and I do not apologize. If you are close to us, pray or think or whatever you do...for our heads to stay in the present moment of the beauty of this adventure that Carlisle and I have the HUGE privilege of being on. We are so grateful for everyone's support and the love of our family and friends. Thank you from the tops of our little hearts...we miss you all and are ecstatic to come home! But, we all know...once we get home, we will be itching to get back on the road...)

See you soon!!

-GB

 

 

 whale...

whale...

 Clothes gifts from T-bird! And Football!

Clothes gifts from T-bird! And Football!

 youth, fútbol, community

youth, fútbol, community

Rains in Portland

I love the Northwest. I could live in moss all day long, it would be so comfy mmmmmmmm. 

"Why are you sitting atop the car?"

I was sitting atop the car. After I slid down the back window of Carl's increasingly dirty Jeep (on which I had just spilled pinto bean juice) a jolly fellow with a camera approached me and shook my hand. He asked my name, and said he had just taken a photograph of me eating atop the car; he worked for the Tribune ;)

At first, I thought to myself that I had not given him approval to paparazzi me, but I let it slide this time. 

I didn't quite know how to explain why I was, in fact, sitting atop the car in Lewiston, Idaho. I told him who we were, where we were off to, and sort of, what we were doing. I said my named was Ginger Bones, from Minneapolis, MN and my pal and I were off on some sort of grand adventure, and it was spectacular. 

I was eating pinto beans, quinoa, avocado, and chips. Of course chips, always chips. We are Children of the Chip. The homemade salsa from Slinger's mama had been consumed long before Idaho. Num.

Atop the car, it seemed like a nice place to sit. Facing traffic, respecting the boundaries of the restaurant that Carlisle was working in, up high enough to get a nice view of Idaho's natural and town wonders. 

I was just now gathering some clothes to change into from the car, and saw a handsome lad sitting atop his car. He was eating something...he looked pleased with his breakfast spot. I smiled to myself (because that is better than frowning at yourself)

It must be freedom to sit atop a car...

We're at "THE FOOD COOP" in Port Townsend ~ where Townshend's LOVE Kombucha flows plentifully and the tomatoes are humongous, mutant, and 50% off.

This is the first day on which I feel out of whack~~like the teeny tiny routine back home that I occasionally complete all components of, is not working out well on the road. Even such things as showers and washing your face (or dishes) get thrown by the wayside. But I won't bore you with those details...

Apart from hygiene difficulties, there are drastic climate changes and elevation rollercoasters. We're moving quickly, but are beauty sauntering at the same time. It's a beautiful process, but today, I just feel scattered.

emotionally, physically and musically.  

Little bits of my heart (awww, what a cute phrase) stay with the people we have met and lived with for anywhere between the span of 1 and 43 hours. 

Regrets are few and far betwixt and between, these minuscule worries about the past are replaced with declarations of hope for the future, and most importantly, the return to the present moment.

Physically; weather, dirt, rich combinations of charitable food, stress, and poor sleep patterns combine to take hold of our health~ coughs, snifflies, pimplies, headaches, tummy rumbles, toots...and homesickness.

Musically, I've entered the strange, unanswerable question world of 

WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE ?

WHAT ARE ALL THESE VOLCANOES AND WILL THEY EXPLODE WHILE I'M IN WASHINGTON ?

WHAT DO I REALLY WANT FOR MY BIRTHDAY ?

ARE MY PRAYERS WORKING ?

ARE THOSE SEAGULLS LAUGHING AT ME ?

Do they like me? Will they like my music?

IS THAT REALLY WHAT MATTERS THE MOST?

Welcome to the Road Life of The Hat and the Hare

It's gettin' weirder by the day.

 

-GB

(PS special thank you to Clayton for confirming that the usage "atop the car" acts as a proposition and not an adverb. Otherwise this entire blog post would have been grammatically incorrect). 

 

 

 Here is what we call a selfie; clearly just glowing after spending the night under the full moon in a dewy, grassy field by the Pacific ocean...before going into town and realizing that mirrors are cruel creatures.&nbsp;

Here is what we call a selfie; clearly just glowing after spending the night under the full moon in a dewy, grassy field by the Pacific ocean...before going into town and realizing that mirrors are cruel creatures. 

Tahoma

We've traversed many many landscapes over the past few days. The wooded mountains of Lolo Pass and the Lochsa River of Idaho, the golden brown wheat fields of eastern Washington, the bone dry plateau in the rainshadow of the Cascades. And finally, we've reached the lush evergreen of the Pacific Coast. 

I was not prepared for Mt. Rainier. I've seen mountains before, but there's really no way for a flatlander like myself to get ready for this incredible mass of a volcano rising absurdly out of the earth. We were 70 miles away in Yakima when we saw the enormous craw of this mountain swelling over the horizon and we screamed and cried in disbelief. 

We camped at the feet of this great crag, that really can only be described as a goddess. Following intuition, my uncle's suggestion, and a little purple arrow pointing down a rocky forest service road, we found our way to a free campsite among towering cedar and pine that was occupied by a collection of teepees. 

There was only one person staying in the encampment. He was a member of the Warm Springs tribe from the Columbia River valley, and he and many others set up camp here every summer to escape and "detox" from the world. This summer, however, he is also praying for the people at Standing Rock North Dakota, resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline construction. He has intimately studied the treaties between his tribes and the U.S. government, and he spoke of the centuries of pain and violence that are still so present to him as an Indian. It struck me how privileged I am as a white American to not live with this ugly history in my present life, and it struck me how important it is to re-educate myself in North American history, rather than remaining blissfully ignorant (High School U.S. History classes kinda suck, y'all).

This man was unbelievably kind. He offered one of the teepees for us to sleep in and gave us firewood. We gave him music and smoked salmon. It was beautiful. Nonetheless, I could acutely feel the centuries of colonialism, exploitation, and cultural appropriation converging on this meeting. I think that maybe this is how being-together should be in the 21st century. Yes, we must love one another, we must share, we must be in peaceful community. But peace does not mean ignoring pain. We cannot forget the history that led up to this moment. Rewriting history is the privilege of the oppressor; once we sit together with awareness of the past maybe we can actually heal. 

The next morning, Abby and I chased the dawn up to Sunrise Point. We cooked oats and watched the new day turn the glaciers of Rainier pink. The mountain's native name is Tahoma, meaning "grandmother". A bit more fitting than some sea captain's namesake, isn't it? These are the things we cannot forget: this land is sacred, it is not ours to claim, it has other names. Let us live in it, but let us be reverent. 

Quotations; verbatim

 

"There are things you do because they feel right and they make no sense and they make you no money

and it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other's cooking and say it was good."

 

 

 

 

This poster hangs in the kitchen of our Muzoola hosts; simply and casually summing up my own brain's futile attempts at capturing my travel epiphanies via the blogosphere. This trip is about loving other people, eating great food, sharing good music and learning from those who have knowledge in activities that I hope to embellish on in my own life.

I've been reading a few passages that have struck a chord with me, and I'd love to share them with you.The first one is an excerpt from the book "Sixth Sense of Animals" by Maurice Burton. Carlisle found this book for free in Bismarck, ND at Cafe Aroma.

I came upon this passage at a time when I was struggling with how exactly to capture all the views, the mountain tops and the valleys, the sunrises and sets, the majestic horses and the warm people. How do you explain to somebody else about these experiences? These experiences that are our own, that sometimes we even recall in a muddled light. While he is generally referring to the senses of animals, I still found a common thread to relate to my own life.

"The statement that there are five senses, touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing, was sufficient until about the year 1940. There was, however, always the lurking suspicion that there might be a sixth sense, although nobody had any clear ideas about what this might be. This sixth sense was always vague and indefinable and came rather to express a means of communication that could not be linked with the five primary senses. Today it is not just a question of whether or not there is a sixth sense, but of just exactly how many additional senses there are [...]

For example, it used to be said, and for that matter still is said, that the eye works like a camera. So far as basic principles are concerned this is still true, yet there are important qualifications to be made. In a camera, the light from the object being photographed passes through the lens and falls on a sensitized film. There it is recorded permanently. In the eye, light passes through a lens and falls on a sensitive layer, the retina, which makes no permanent record. Instead the energy represented by the light waves passes through the optic nerve to the brain where something of the nature of a permanent record is made, which can be examined (that is, recalled) with the aid of memory. There will, however, be a considerable difference between the image of the object recalled by even the best memory and the image preserved on photographic film, which is why eye-witness testimony must be used with extreme caution.

On their way from the outside world to the retina the light waves are modified by accessory structures such as the pupil of the eye and the lens. Some energy is filtered, and from the moment the light waves reach the eye information is being selected from the bewildering array that is bombarding it.

[...]

A traditional remark is "seeing is believing." In the light of what has been said even that, seemingly, so firmly beyond dispute, must now be taken cautiously. Those who make a specialist study of the conscious control of the body maintain emphatically that we cannot trust our senses, a view more closely in accord with modern scientific advances. When we are dealing with animal senses we have to proceed even more cautiously. One of the revolutions of the past half-century is that, whereas it used to be assumed that the only world was the one bounded by the limits of our senses, we now realize that there are sensory worlds outside our own, some of them almost unbelievable.

[...]

There are sights, sounds and smells beyond our ability to perceive although we know they exist, and these frontiers are continually being pushed back further. It has long been known that a dogs' ability to pick up odours is far keener than our own, that cats can see in the dark, that some owls can hear the faint rustling of mice in leaf litter, that a bee can find its way home if taken a mile from the hive and released, but the full extent of this greater sensitivity of the senses could not be appreciated until appropriate techniques had been devised for probing and testing them. In a similar way, animal sensory abilities could not be fully interpreted or explored until appropriate techniques, often devised for entirely different purposes, had been elaborated" (p 2-4).

 

These images that I have captured via camera, will never again be lived in this present reality of ours. My photographic memory of these images, will evolve and change...and the feelings, I'm pretty positive those will continue to grow and flourish when I bring these memories home.

"Magic is real"

 tree silhouettes at a holy and sacred hour

tree silhouettes at a holy and sacred hour

Seeley Lake, MT

 This is the view from my Aunt and Uncle's house in Seeley Lake. It was the backdrop for the house concert we played there on Friday night. I don't see how anything can beat it.&nbsp;

This is the view from my Aunt and Uncle's house in Seeley Lake. It was the backdrop for the house concert we played there on Friday night. I don't see how anything can beat it. 

My Aunt Carol and Uncle Bill live on a hill above the town of Seeley Lake, Montana. Part of my high school graduation present was coming to visit them in the mountains. The other gift was a burned CD with one song on it: "If You Want to Sing Out" by Cat Stevens. If you've never heard it, these are the opening lines:

If you want to sing out, sing out

And if you want to be free, be free

'Cause there's a million things to be, you know that there are.

I judge myself, a lot. I get wrapped up in what the eyes of others must be seeing. I fall into expectations, real and invented. I bend and sway and I hem and haw over what is right and who to follow. 

I've done a lot of that with this tour. It seems that every time I would explain to someone that I was taking off for a month to drive around the west with a carful of instruments, paltry few booked shows, my best friend, and a whole lot of faith, my words would get all clunky and my cheeks hot and flushed. Ahhhhhh what are you thinking about me? What does that eyebrow twitch mean? Or that lip curl? Ugh it's maddening and paralyzing. 

Abby and I have both felt this a lot. How do we explain to people what we're doing? How do we seem "legit"? 

At the house concert we played at my Aunt and Uncle's home, however, all those anxieties melted away. The mountains behind the back window reflected the hues of the sunset. The vibrant energy of her "Friday Night" crew of friends, bedecked in wild wigs with plentiful wine in hand, enlivened us. They danced and spun and whooped and hollered. One of the partygoers, Mark, even brought out his guitar. We played Dueling Banjos, but with a piano and a guitar.

 Ain't family a hoot?!

Ain't family a hoot?!

This is what it's all about. The reveling, the joy, the dancing-without-a-care. Being who you are truly called to be, and creating a space where EVERYONE is free to be who they are called to be. 

And over and over again, the folks we talked to just got what we were doing. They understood. They told us how happy it makes them to see us taking a huge risk and pursuing something that we love. And they told us that this moment in our lives is exactly the time for following passions.

The next day, we hiked to a waterfall with my Aunt and Uncle and their dog Anduin, learned about trees, saw the oldest Larch in the US (1000 years old!!), and kayaked down the Blackfoot River. We sang a song that goes:

Lay yourself down on the rocks now

Let your body down in the River

Listen to the drumming on the other side

Lose yourself in the meantime

Listen

As we plunged ourselves into the frigid waters, and a bald eagle soared high overhead. And with each passing moment, we remembered that here, right exactly here, in this exact moment is where we are supposed to be. Nowhere else. 

At dinner, my Aunt and Uncle told stories about their 20s, their times of meandering. My Uncle calls it his "walkabout". We talked of the winding road of life, how it twists and turns and doubles back, how it's both rocky and smooth, steep and level. As long as you find the path that is yours, stripping away the words of others and looking deep in your heart, the road affords the most spectacular of views. 

After dinner, Abby and I took our steaming mugs full of tea out to the backyard to look at the silhouette of Douglas fir and the Swan Range against a half moon sky, Cassiopeia just overhead and the lights of Seeley Lake below. We may not be able to explain to anyone what this adventure is about. We may not even know what it's about ourselves. But I'll wager that sharing the winding road with a dear friend and kindred spirit is part of it. I'll get back to you in 40 years, maybe I'll know more by then.

-C

Bozeman, MT: Thanksgiving

Abby and I have been blown away by the kindness and generosity we've received thus far on the road! Baked ham dinners, homegrown salsa, home-roasted coffee, camaraderie and companionship. But our hearts have also been warmed by the support from the digital realm: We started a GoFundMe before the trip started, and man has the response been more than we had hoped for! And now we're starting to keep our promises: sending postcards with poems, mailing CD's from strange post offices, AND writing songs for our kind benefactors. It feels like the 21st century version of having a patron to support the creation of your art. Kinda fun! Here's the first little ditty we wrote, for our friend Michael who likes to garden in Minneapolis. The mountains in Bozeman were kind enough to provide a stunning backdrop. 

A HUGE thank you to all who have donated to this crazy, rambling adventure so far. You're keeping our bellies, our gas tank, and our hearts very very full. We are blessed indeed.

If you'd like a poem, or a song, or a CD, or even a private concert (that is an option, we're not joking) you can do that here

Just outside of Bozeman, MT...

I awoke to the sounds of tent zippers and prairie grasses being matted down by the feet of a friend who has become one of my greatest confidants and companions.

We are the in the West! We are amongst the mountains; the history and stories of them-the pride that their residents have, the wonder of their magnificent beauty. There are pines and trees that stay forever green, canyons of painted matte colours, and vast plains where you "can see for miles miles miles" (Holocene, Bon Iver). 

If you have never experienced the feeling of believing that you can drive over a hill and right into the sky, I highly suggest you take a drive out this way, perhaps catch up with us in Portland or Langlois, OR? We're on our journey, Betwixt and Between, whatever that means...

We've had opportunities to talk travel with some folks we've met, our adventure plan arouses varying emotions in different people; I think there can be jealousy, misunderstanding, and confusion about what we're doing...but mostly there is nostalgia, encouragement, and advice that pours from the mouths of those we encounter. People like to help.

We've visited the brewery and coop of North Dakota, and were quite impressed. Carl got a wonderful ham sandwich that was very much needed, and said

"Sometimes, you just need a ham sandwich" and guess what?! His wishes were granted ten-fold! After a detour stop to see Selma Sue-the world's largest cow statue (we also soaked in the views atop the plains) we made our way to Beulah, late for dinner, but Slinger's family still opened up their doors wide for us. We were greeted with ham, corn & green chiles from the garden, scallop potatoes of some sort, Bread! and poppyseed salad. It was marvelous.

After hearing snapshots of his family's life, what we could gather in the short time frame, we headed down to the new Riverside park, to find monkey bars and go frolfing. We were able to see a spot called "Shannon's Place" a location near peaceful waters that was dedicated to a fellow that Slinger knew in high school, who passed away from a heart condition. It was a beautiful memorial, and a location that has begun some of Slinger's songs. It's always neat to attempt to experience someone else's experience.

We didn't find monkey bars, but we did find a zipline!

(Incerpt; yes I know incerpt isn't a word, but I made up this word as an antonym to 'excerpt' I have a beautiful blue-eyed husky looking up at me through my armpit hole. I must give Mercury! the Destroyer a bit of attention for a moment)

I really wanted to let y'all know about a magickal place that we visited, now deemed "Nameless Studios" after some deliberation with Daniel. We spent the evening in this garage space, complete with lights, smoke and any instrument you wanted. Carlisle rocked out on organ, and I got to be behind a gigantic drumkit, one that gave you a full-body workout if you wanted to spin around and bang on the multiple floor toms. Not to mention the many splash cymbals that I got to crash. We got to record this song of Slinger's

https://northernlightfolk.bandcamp.com/track/rocky-road-ft-ginger-bones-and-carlisle-evans-peck

So here we are, now in Bozeman, MT. Carlisle is off doing something on his own, and I am in Townshend Tea shop, enjoying one of the finest and fruitiest Oolongs that I've had the pleasure of sipping. "Like the Dawn" by the Oh Hello's was playing the moment my eyes kissed the mountains. Carlisle let out an audible 'whoop' of joy and banged the dashboard, I could only be silent, unable to even express my astonishment. I welcome it with open arms. We're getting a few open mics under our belts before an exciting house show near Missoula tomorrow evening. 

I realized my bolts were a bity rusty, seeing that I haven't been playing my songs manually for a few weeks~~ we have been in the studio digitizing everything, and it seems to almost drain the emotion from things...But we're back at it-

on the road, 

where many of these tunes were born.

Come along, 

-GB

An Ode to Happyness

There are instances in your lifetime in which you feel that you are doing something right. I had one of those moments of confirming, healing electricity today; 

as I lean back on a breezy Montana backyard porch, overlooking a grassy field, the one with the trampoline and the one with the creek by which we pitched our tent last night. A husky-mix with the tag "Mercury! the Destroyer" breathes short and soft, leaning against my right thigh. My hands dance across his fur, a gorgeous faint organ sound echoes out of the house; Carlisle is clearly jiving with Margaux and Colin's home organic system. It sounds sacred, especially as a wild gust of wind envelops this ecosystem that is relatively new to me. In a sweatshirt, flannel and wool socks, the frigid air is interrupted by spurts of sunshine~~but I feel at home in these clothes.

Ooh! Carlisle is writing a song! An organ song! He is always writing and coming up with tunes. 

The road breathes creativity and freedom of though.

We crave it. We're satisfying it. 

So just as the tree shook with winds of comfort and peace upon the dawn of the creation of one of my songs, entitled "Relentless" the Montana tree was tossed around in similar fashion, and God breathed new life into my spirit--a confirming and gentle reassurance, that yes, I am exactly where I'm supposed to be right now. I'm furthering my knowledge of sound and composition and performance and CONFIDENCE. When I allow myself to experience these things through other human beings, I allow myself the room to grow. Grow we shall.

Every city will be different, monkey problems of today will not look the same tomorrow. Our experiences are pretty firmly embedded in how we are going to respond to this life, to expectations. To growth. To beauty. To Happy-ness.

 This is a happy pose

This is a happy pose

 As is this...

As is this...

Bismarck, North Dakota

Stoop kids, 100 years apart! On the left, there's Aunt Mae and her husband Elmer on the cusp of their great big journey, and then there's Abby, our good friend and new roommate Alex, and myself on the right, full of anticipation and wanderlust! It was such a treat to have Alex and her mom there to see us off.

THE OPEN ROAD! How sweet a feeling it is to have all the nerves of packing, organizing, and planning melt away as the car picks up speed. 

With only a hair of car trouble, which included a brief conversation with a ring-fingerless mechanic in Melrose, Minnesota, we made it out of the woods and lakes of Minnesota and into the open plains of North Dakota. The plains are so vast and empty that they feel more like an ocean than a continent; the waves of land are dizzying. 

 Art Alley outside of Laughing Sun Brewing in Bismarck, ND.

Art Alley outside of Laughing Sun Brewing in Bismarck, ND.

Our good friend Slinger put together a show with us at Laughing Sun Brewing in downtown Bismarck. He's come through Minneapolis many a time, and it was pretty sweet to get the chance to play music with him on his home turf! He says Bismarck is in the middle of a bit of a cultural Renaissance, and Laughing Sun is leading the way. They're one of the few places for live music in the city, they partner with the local food co-op to brew beer with North Dakota fruit, and there's the beautiful Art Alley right out back, full of gorgeous, intricate murals. It's so enlivening to see a community blossom with pride and art!

North Dakota as a whole, it seems, is rising up against the powers of industry and agribusiness and oil that have destroyed, oppressed, and milked it dry it for decades. We see that overtly in the bravery of the Standing Rock protesters. It's an incredible and awesome feeling to be in this place where you can feel anger and resistance shifting in the plains. It's like a force of nature. More on that later...

Til then,

-C