Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Deer Isle, Maine

Town of Stonington

The idea behind an Open Studio Residency is that the studios of all different disciplines are open to artists of various disciplines, to visit, explore, ask questions, and perhaps experiment with others' materials. And almost all of the studios here are of disciplines I've never explored: wood, metal, jewelry, pottery, glass, paper. I am drawn most to the paper and book artists, which makes sense. So yesterday I made paper for the first time, from shared flax, small discs of paper on which I hope to type.

After that, I don't know. Maybe I will sew them in a circular binding. Maybe I'll frame them in leather and hang them as a haikumobile. Maybe I'll convince an assistant to teach me to weld. Maybe I'll have the 3D printer build me a three-dimensional story. Maybe I'll carve in clay so I can tile a bathroom with words.

Certainly, ideas are not lacking after spending even three days together with people such as these. The most freeing thing about this openness is the way it makes any idea viable. This place is nothing if not fertile loam for creative growth. Stu Kestenbaum, a poet and the director here for twenty years, talks about the creative process seriously, in a way that makes clear the decades of hands-on experience he's had making it happen, watching it happen. There's a depth behind his words that makes me as serious about it as he is. He's spent his life watching artists grow, cultivating them the way others would plants.

Always, my subconscious rewards creative play. It's almost as if we have to distract ourselves for image and imagination to germinate. The question I continue to return to is: how do I know what I want? How does that part of myself decide? The diversity of craft represented here is mind-blowing—artifacts that I could not have conceived. But still somehow all of these people have the same level of certainty about their craft, and not just about their craft but each specialization within it, materials within each specialization, each shape, each color, each microscopic decision.

Maybe choice is the central player in art, even when the number of choices is infinite. Maybe we like talking about that less—the numinous subconscious goop guiding all of these decisions—because whatever part of us choosing is a mystery. And still, somehow, a part of us knows.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Like you and me

View from Deer Isle.  Also gives a sense for the weather we're getting.
It is an odd thing, coming together with other artists, especially because all I really need to work as a writer is a desk, silence, solitude, paper, and pen. Already, after dining, I have to sneak away to find some table I can appropriate as a desk, some quiet room where I can hide away. Which seems counterintuitive. Why would I need to come together with others if all I need then is to get away from them? Why should they waste space and electricity and reverse osmofied saline water on someone who's not going to use the welders or the Fab Lab?

Perhaps because I am most likely the only person already parsing this experience in language, already an anthropologist and journalist among all of these strangers. It's an odd assortment. There are the academics, who earn their living closest to their craft, but along with academia comes its fellowships and grants and college politics of tenure and which dean funds which piece of equipment. As much as I love academics, there's a sense that they are most calloused to what they do.

In conversation so far, it's those that are closest to art as creation who resist ascribing meaning to it most strongly. Those that make things into other things, who manipulate matter into a different form say these things have no intrinsic value, that they need not be ascribed monetary value.

But then what use does all of this serve? Even these words, as always I am meta-metafying. I'm a firm believer that art must hold its place inside capitalism, in commerce. We tell stories so they can be heard. Created objects are vessels that hold meaning.

It is all that makes us human. First we find food. Then we find caves. Then we paint the caves. This is what we do, what we have always done, for better or for worse. Homo Aestheticus, as a book in the library here claims. A quote: “art is a biologically evolved element in human nature.”

So why am I here? Already I contemplate engraving haiku on stone, paper, wood, cloth. Although I haven't written a poem in ages. Already I mull turning stories into objects, somehow, turning stories into poems, “covering” someone else's poem as a haiku. The shortest of short forms are fascinating me, for some reason, what I can excise from my work and have the work still stand alone—this as a result of already talking to sculptors and blacksmiths and metalworkers who talk about the division between work with subtracts and work which adds, speaking a foreign language, an unintelligible tongue that still somehow satisfies.
Stairs and corridors and cabins
at Haystack

Friday, May 24, 2013

En route from Aroostook County to Deer Isle, Maine

Here now.  My room.
 194 statute miles

Another traveling post. This site started as one devoted to travel, and so it remains, as long as my feet remain itchy with wanderlust. I resolved silently, a while back, not to mention my alternate career as a fiction writer for at least a year; I'm not sure I made it. So again, I'm coming out as a writer of fiction, something I hesitate to mention on these pages.

Nevertheless, I have been accepted to the Haystack Mountain of Crafts (donate!) Open Studio Residency for artists of all disciplines. I applied almost on a whim, the day I received my first rejection for the Iowa Writers' Workshop, not thinking I had a shot at the prestigious residency, hoping at least for a chance at a summer workshop. But I was accepted for both, which simultaneously daunted and thrilled me. Especially after I searched online for some of my fellow artists.

Here is some of their work (I think, if google can be trusted):

Megan Biddle

Nancy Koenigsberg (Sculpture made of coated copper wire and glass beads)

Jiyoung Chung (Made of paper!  I think.  Korean joomchi)

Rama Chorpash (Fiber art designed according to the topographic contours of Central Park.)

Melissa Craig
People are traveling from Hawaii, Texas, Oregon, Ireland. Many have had solo shows at New York City galleries. Others are professors of their craft—metalworkers, glassblowers, papermakers, enamelists. I am an anomaly as a novelist, at least so far as I know.  They are real artists--in museums, in permanent collections.  The only other writer I discovered is a former Maine poet laureate. More exalted company than I could have dreamed.

As I sit here writing on paper during my road trip lunch, I keep thinking they've made some kind of mistake, that I'll be turned aside at the door. But it is fear, of course, fear of the magnitude of the gift being given.  Let's just say I'm very pleased to be a participant with such fierce companions in arms.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Every moonbeam

Burdock in wok
Last night I made burdock root for the first time. Here's the recipe I used, and it took much convincing both myself and others. I let the sandy whole plants K. dug up from the garden sit in the sink in water for about a week before I could bring myself to clean them, before I could contemplate eating them. When I first searched online for them, what I was looking for was an effective way to kill them.

Murder them, I should say. Their roots go sometimes three feet deep, according to the internet, and I feel like I've seen them go deeper. Even the smallest, innocent-looking little weed seedling sprouts a massive, impenetrable, herculean root. When they grow, they become tree-like shrubs with purple flowers that quickly turn into clinging prickly seedpods that cling to anything they touch, especially a dog, or a dog's tail, or gloves, or a hat, or my hair.

I hate them. I've been doing everything I can to kill them since the day I figured out what they are, but unless you dig up every last hair of a root, unless you catch and burn every last burr—they sprout up again come spring.
Burdock kinpira with pan-fried whole trout, caught at Lake No. 9 that morning--it doesn't get any more local than that. 
(Except yes, the lemon came from the IGA, and the basmati rice came from Thailand.  Sticklers.)

I knew they were, theoretically, edible. It's one of those rural myths up here. “You know, you can eat burdock.” So I was surprised to discover, that when I searched “best way to dig up burdock root” that what I discovered was urban foragers, Japanese sushi blogs, and how-to sites on making burdock tea. Evidently burdock, called gojo in Japan, and in restaurants where my sister eats, is a food perfectly designed to supplement the immune system, providing mammoth amounts of manganese and vitamin C and who-knows-what-all vitamins.

Still, I had to convince the collected assembly they were not poisonous.

The flavor is unique. I struggle to describe it—something, perhaps, like a musky wild mushroom, an oyster or a shiitake, with a hint of earth and parsnip. Surprisingly delicious, although still tough. I'm not sure if that's because I didn't let them steam long enough, or because I let them sit in my sink for a week, or because they were stringy new ones. In any case, I can check that off my to-do list. And if we ever run out of things to farm, we can always sell dehydrated burdock-root tea.

K. likes to do sushi-style bites.  This is rice with fried bluefish, from Massachusetts last year, and Thai nam chim, sweet chili sauce.  Delectable.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Walking the blues

Homo sapiens evolved about 100,000 years ago.  Incidentally, this data is a bit old.  We hit 400 parts per million last week.
Chart from Datafuzz.

Another climate change post, I know. I wrote a letter to my pastor about divestment and he said it's good if people have a “bee in their bonnet” about these things. So I suppose I have a bee in my bonnet. I've been looking for ages for a succinct infographic that can explain to people what's going on with carbon dioxide and climate change, and all along all I've needed is a simple graph.

The problem with most of the articles I see on carbon dioxide is that they only address the problem over the last couple of decades. “It's the hottest year since 1971!” or whatever. Or they address it over the last 100 years. Even climatologists will try to compare now to the 1890s. Or, if they're particularly enlightened, they address the rise of industrialism during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, how we began spewing carbon into the air at the advent of the Industrial Age.

Although that may feel like a long time, the button factories of Victorian Britain, really it's very recent in global climate cycles. So essentially we've been burning shit since we discovered fire.

Another of the challenges I've discovered in talking about climate change is how unwilling people are to accept human evolution. Yes, they believe in dinosaurs and carbon dating and the pyramids and the fossil record. Yes, they believe in the big bang and cosmic goo and the quantum mechanics that allows computers to function. But humans came from animals? Hold on there a minute. Never mind that 99 percent of our genetic material is identical to that of an ape. Never mind that we've not found just one missing link but several—the various branches of evolving primates that led, eventually, to homo sapiens.

It's more than that. It's this sense that somehow evolution devalues us and devalues our God. But if you really read about it, really study it—it's hard to imagine a more beautiful or elegant method of creation.

Faith is not incompatible with science. Can't we just agree on that? Science, itself, as any scientist would agree, is a form of faith. Faith in data, faith in abstract mathematics, faith in the power of numbers and proof and the predictability in matter in motion.

And carbon dioxide is matter. Every time you exhale, you contribute to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Trees breathe it in, we breathe it out. It's the most basic ecosystem, the balance of chemistry in our atmosphere, and we didn't even know about it till 100 years ago. After we'd already begun to contribute to the radical spike of its presence all around us.

Even if you're the brave humanist to believe in evolution, do you know the difference among what happened during the planet's history during the last 100,000, 1 million, or 100 million years? I didn't, up until a couple of weeks ago. But now I know that 100 million is when the dinosaurs were around. Neanderthals started their era about 800,000 years ago.

And homo sapiens? The first evidence of "abstract consciousness" comes from perhaps 100,000 years ago.  We started our exodus from Africa around 70,000 years ago, give or take, riding the wave of receding glaciers you can track on the above chart, riding the end of our last ice age for a very long time. Around 40,000 years ago we conquered the planet.  As far back as then when homo sapiens in Russia were burying their children with millions of beads. Then the Lascaux caves and fertility goddess figurines then Stonehenge and Jesus.

And now it's getting hot around here. Hotter than when the dinosaurs were here. Twice as hot as at any point in human evolution. Things are changing, and they're going to change more and more quickly, and they're going to keep changing until we are honest about ourselves and our technology and our civilization.

This American Life mentioned “war-time measures.” They mentioned that government climatologists, paid by us to report on the data, are lying to us because they're afraid that they'll be fired if they tell the truth.  Numerous state climatologists have been fired by Republican officials for their honesty about global warming.  These same climatologists are quietly buying second homes far, far above sea level.  But This American Life also profiled the Freedom Riders of a new generation, the founders of a movement that could save all of us. I hope to be one of them.  They also say that trying to convince us, all of us, who bathe in oil, drink it, breathe it in--too start a movement is like asking slaveholders to be the abolitionists.

I find myself becoming more and more conservative, in the truest sense, in the sense that we must conserve. When did conservation and conservative become incompatible? I am not a traditional conservative, more of a green socialist. But the only method we've found for motivating human behavior on a massive scale is capitalism, as brutal as its methods may be. Which means every breath of carbon has to cost more if we're going to bring down its level. Yes, this means that poor people will starve, will roast, will freeze. But they're going to do that anyway, and much worse, if we fail to address the actual science. Which means cap and trade, and radical disruption of our civilization, and that's if we're blessed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'd forgotten work today

Asparagus, first year, gone to seed--you can see the rest sprouting in the distance

The asparagus is growing. I wrote about it last year, when we rooted the year-old octopus-shaped slips of plants, as a symbol of permanence. If we plant asparagus, that means we're staying. Perennials mean that one is perennially rooted in one place.

Or so I believe. The asparagus is going to seed, as it's supposed to in its second year, although I've been desperate to sample some. I tried one bite, raw, of a piece the cat knocked off.

Maybe what I like about impermanence is how its a blank slate on which to draw. The unknown elements in the future.

A farm is a new adventure each season. Based on three years of experience now, I still have no idea what to predict. Certain crops will fail utterly. Others we will drown in and have to throw away. It's impossible to know what will succeed and what will fail, but we have to keep trying, with each, with utmost faith.

The perennial garden grows every year—this year I'm able to identify handily the jerusalem artichoke and echinacea coming up, and the rhubarb is sprouting little alien brains by the day. I may even get a pie this year. The fiddleheads are going gangbusters, and I still haven't made my way out to collect any. The rhythm grows familiar.

Last year at this time I was nesting the asparagus roots in the ground. It's almost a prayer, planting things like that, entrusting them to this speck of earth. Trusting myself to husband them. Trusting they will bear fruit in time, in two years. Next year, we can eat asparagus omelets all spring.

And still the unknown beckons.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Accendi una luna

Local egg benedict

Sometimes I make homemade hollandaise. It is among my many talents, and not one acquired lightly. It started at one point, after s/v Secret, if I recall—when I decided to eat for breakfast what I really wanted most. Which is, always, always, always eggs benedict.

The world's most perfect eggs benedict is made by Ann Sather, in Chicago. Or maybe I only remember it as such because it was my first—with ham off the bone and cinnamon rolls as a first course. Cinnamon rolls you could eat with a spoon. A spoon! That's how gooey they were. Chicago. Good times.

So I decided I'd learn, and I started with a packet of McCormick powder, and then I broke out Joy of Cooking, and now the only thing keeping me from eggs benedict is the stick of butter and three egg yolks hollandaise needs. It also takes a fair amount of time, although not the time you'd expect: it's time of assembly, and getting everything to come out hot at the same time. The hollandaise will sit in a bath of warm water for a fair bit, but to get a perfectly poached egg at the same time as seared ham and a toasted english muffin is no mean feat. It's a skill I've glad I've learned now that I live someplace where there is no Ann Sather.

I did some fun cooking in Chicago. I learned how to bake and how to make homemade yogurt and mayonnaise and dehydrated a year's worth of food for the Appalachian Trail. But with the amount of amazing cuisine there was around, the surrounding milieu of culinary genius (in the Ravenswood area where my apartment was, there were restaurants of twelve different ethnicities within walking distance) it was almost a crime to cook for myself. Now here in the woods there is no takeout—no decent pizza—no delivery—no Thai—and I have learned, of necessity, how to cook these things. If I want eggs benedict, I must make it myself.

Luckily, sometimes, the neighbors across the street give us eggs, from their chickens. Now I am surrounded on two sides by neighbors with chickens, and I am unable to commit. Quelle surprise. But I get their cast-off eggs, and them I poach, and whisk, and photograph.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Number 5

Mars Hill windmills, a couple of weeks ago, on the last day the mountain was open for skiing, when there was still snow

Here's maybe my favorite line from the Paris Review interview of Louise Erdrich, although there are so many that it's hard to pick just one—her explanation of the attraction of magical realism for someone who grew up immersed in Scripture is also fantastic:
I was quite shy, so meeting people was painful. I’d be at a party and because I was so quiet, someone would say, You’re stoned, aren’t you, Karen? (My name was Karen then.) But I was only rarely stoned, just shy.
This during her first semester at Dartmouth, when she's acting like a pleasant person on the outside and wanting to tell them all to go to hell on the outside. “At Dartmouth, I was awkward and suspicious,” she says, and reading her account was a moments of recognition, of recognizing another person much more comfortable with words than with people.

She's not the only writer I've been reading about lately who's socially awkward.  And the more a writers words make me fall in love, the more apparently socially awkward they are.  I've even met a handful of these writers, and I meet them and I think—oh, how awkward we are being! Whatever am I doing wrong? And then I realize that their magic is in print, not in person.

Like them, perhaps, I can be intimate, gentle, immediate, exact—but only in writing. In person I fumble, I flail.

This condition, which used to be termed ordinary shyness (one of the first words I learned in Thai), is now Social Anxiety Disorder, with which I am afflicted in spades. They have drugs for it, good drugs, the anti-anxiety ones that you can sell on the black market or smoke in a pipe. But I don't want the drugs. I just want the words.

I was punished as a child, more than once, for hiding in a bathroom and reading when I was supposed to be socializing. It's funny how there's still a stigma to being a bookish outsider, and I find the stigma associates with what I do here, too, writing online. There's this sense that anyone who bothers to post things to the internet is just a dork, a geek, a nerd, someone who can't make it in the real world.

Again, maybe it's true. But the more I dive into trying to figure out who I really am, the more I realize what a hermit I am—how much I loathe leaving my troglodytic cavern.

This verse also has been surfacing in my consciousness, Jesus saying: “Love each other as I have loved you.”  Another impossible commandment.  So I write here, now, because I love, because I have no other way of showing my love.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The way that Mama raised us

At least we managed to get the spring garden in this week, and the asparagus is coming up, the asparagus whose roots went in last year, and now the jerusalem artichoke and echinacea in the perennial garden are making their appearance alongside the horseradish and rhubarb. It sounds impressive. Maybe it is impressive. Already it's easy to see how much farther we are than at this time last year.

Every year it gets better, more accomplished, more precise. Last week peas, radish, chard, kale, and carrots all went in. It's actually early enough for a lot more, but it's also already easy to begin to wear out on digging up weeds and take a breather. I'm starting seeds in the glassroom, just basil and lettuce, but Thai basil this year.

It's easy to believe that already that's enough. I know that just the half-row of chard will be enough to keep me in greens through October. And the amount of carrots that got put in has quadrupled—in addition to all carrots planted last year that lasted in the crisper through last month. The north garden can be filled with the six pounds of onion sets I bought at Maine Potato Growers this week.

I begin to see how farmers specialize. If the only goal was growing garlic, all that would have to be done now is weeding, cultivating, harvesting, preserving—a job enough, but when you do that for every vegetable you want to eat, it's a lot more work. I'm trying to commit this year not to judge my success against the ideal, but just to try to do a little each day. It's amazing how much I accomplish with a consistent hour. But isn't it the way with everything?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Whips of opinion down my back

Someone whose opinion I respect recently said: If you write about God, homoeroticism, Bob Dylan, food, farming, bicycling, hiking, Thailand, sailing, climate change, politics, film, science, philosophy, and travel you can't expect to have an audience.

Me: Why not? Columnists say: “There are stories every day. The hard part is picking which one to write.” (I ruminate thoughtfully.) Also: Montaigne. Montaigne could write about anything.

Then he asked: Yes, but how many sites like that do you read?

I can cite several: Sonia. Monika. Annie. Patty. Although I wish all of you did more writing about homoeroticism and film and climate change.

But my friend may, in fact, be right, because I don't seem to have much of an audience. Save you, dear reader, whom I adore.

Now I am again writing about writing, which--although it is a tag in my sidebar--tags that (I believe) neatly and comprehensively sum up my chosen subject—is my least favorite topic. John Gardner wrote about writing best. No one can do it better. And he would eschew this genre.

But Montaigne would not. Montaigne would have the world's most awesome blog.

I cite Grillabongquixotic, again. What sets his online log apart is not that he's building a boat in Mexico and sailing it to Panama, although that helps. It's because having that adventure sets him free to write about climate change, culture, food, travel, linguistic experimentation, faith, dancing, wood grain, automobiles, public transportation in foreign lands, music, and depression. At a certain point in his adventure, he heads back to New York, where he lives, much as I do, in a rural woodland. It may be my favorite part of his story, and I miss the posts he didn't write while he was there, the posts about food and music and neighborhood bickering in a different context.

I want to write those posts now.

Okay, so I'm going to give in and admit that this is my annual--although I try to make it biannual because I hate it—apologia for the blog. It's been coming, for a while, as you know.

Have you heard yet of Aaron Swartz, who developed RSS at fourteen and Reddit at nineteen? Who became an activist and downloaded $2 million worth of data to distribute freely to “children in the global South”? Who was prosecuted for that crime and is now with us no more?

Here's what he said:
So here I am. We're somewhere over a dark patch in the middle of the country and I'm in the window seat in the last row in the plane. The guy in front of me's leaning all the way back, but I'm in the last row so my seat doesn't go back, and I have to lift my legs up to stretch out a muscle that was sitting funny while I was asleep.... But that's not the problem.
This from his blog, cited in the New Yorker profile, where Larissa MacFarquhar writes: “He kept a blog for most of his life.” Also:
Prose creates a strong illusion of presence—so strong that it is difficult to destroy it. It is hard to remember that you are reading and not hearing. The illusion is stronger when the prose is online, partly because you are aware that it might be altered or redacted at any moment—the writer may be online, too, as you read it [see I just redacted that sentence]--and partly because the Internet has been around for such a short time that we implicitly assume (as we do not with a book) that the writer of a blog post is alive.
I am alive, but I will not always be so. I am writing to you, but I do not know if you are there. I am writing so you will know how it feels to be alive inside of this body, with the peepers out the window over my left shoulder, with my lamp lit, with only my computer and my New Yorker and my Holy Spirit stained glass medallion to keep me company. I am writing from a different dark patch in the northernmost part of the country and I'm writing because writing is a practice, just one of many, and it's the best way I have of marking time, if nothing else.

Aaron Swartz “didn't think of his blog as published writing, exactly, nor was it a private journal, since it was accessible to anyone. It was something in between. He wrote about things in his blog that he didn't tell his friends—about his depressions, about his ulcerative colitis. It was not clear who he imagined his readers to be.”

Aaron Swartz wrote not just about depression, but also how it felt to be a millionaire, his insecurities, his politics, crying in the bathroom at work, music, poverty, alcohol, and saving the world. Yes, he also killed himself, as I've been reminded that writers do since I was a child—Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, David Foster Wallace, Sylvia Plath, etc. ad nauseum. Maybe it's because none of them kept a blog.

That's trite and untrue because of course Aaron Swartz killed himself, too. My friend's point remains, however, and I think it a valid one. If I refuse to limit my subject matter to, oh, say—long-distance hiking or sailing around the world or lushly photographed recipes—I can't expect an audience of any significant size. But I'm done censoring myself. I do worry that I am becoming too esoteric, too eclectic, too random. But I am in fact all of those things.

Now I'll go shut up and watch Jon Stewart.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Lay me back down

“I hate blogs. I even hate the name. Blog, blog, blog. Awful word.”

“I rather like it. It recalls snog, the British word for kissing a stranger. A nice echo.”

Embarrassed laughter by assembled audience.

“Also there's the sense where it's a web log. I keep my blog because I began at a time when I kept a boat log.”

“According to the Writer's Digest, you're suppose to have one if you want to publish. But you're supposed to write about something other than what you want to publish!”

“Can't you think of each post as an essai, in the French sense? An attempt? A brief questioning into the nature of a subject? A petite picaresque? Montaigne wrote essays about asses farting.

“Awful. No. All of that electronic stuff. I've never read a blog I liked.”

“Maybe they're the best books being written, ones that read beautifully as complete oeuvres. Bumfuzzle, I recommend. This guy, trying to sail in a canoe to South America, after building his boat himself in Mexico. Then there's this couple, living in a 21-foot Sea Pearl in Argentina.  The Secret Life of a Former Prostitute. The Out of Eden Walk. Scarlett Lion.  And Tavi, a gift from the spirit of the age, thank God. But each blog is like ether. They drift off and disappear, to be mined, in the future, but cultural archaeologists.”

“What about the comments? You have to deal with the things people say!”

“And they do say awful things. Someone once told me to burn in hell. Some else told me I'd be better off dumping my loser boyfriend. It was not cool. But now, mainly, I take every comment as a precious gift.”

Even you could comment, for instance, if you wanted, and I'd love it.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Number 29


I swear the best chunk of work I do all day is between midnight and 2am. Everyone else already is in bed, even the dog, asleep with his back against the hallway wall. Internet is fast. I'm alone in my office with the light (compact florescent) burning, just me and iTunes on shuffle, a blanket over my knees, no sunlight across my left shoulder to taunt me.

I used to condemn myself for it. Some days I still do, especially when I wake after noon, with sun already half-burned. I love sun. I could be a devotee of Amon-Ra.

Here, in winter, light of any kind is in short supply, and giving up half a day's sun to be a nightdweller appears perverse foolishness. I said once, half in jest, that I was a vampire, that all of us are vampires. I said that if this log is anything it is a log of depression. As anyone who's read the trail journals can attest, grief and guilt are conditions that oppress me, whether during Aroostook winter or adventure travel.

Do I bring grief on myself with my affinity for night? I write my record of battle at two in the morning, alone, my Shadow in the hall and my knees beneath my desk, keeping myself from the light that cures. A hermit, I carry my lantern before me as I walk in the bleak wilderness. All of us walk alone through the valley of the shadow of dark with only a light to guide us.