Monday, January 31, 2011

...and we'll follow animal tracks

You follow me
There are many places on this Island that are secret, known to a few, those-in-the-know and on my birthday I ventured to one close to home.
Eagle Tree
The path is steep and half-obscured, mostly used by us and the deer. It can be a little precarious even.
I enjoyed its marvels in the morning, before the rain came. There is tiny life everywhere, faery rings on old stumps, feathers and bones and small insects that hatch in the spring. All you have to do is to stop and observe.
Faery Ring
There is a light
Sight see-er
My birthday morning started with coffee and finding this lovely little coat at a garage sale, along with some other beautiful clothes. C. and I love going thrifting and Dump-finding and antiquing together, finding old loot is like a family tradition for us.
I feel like one of the lost Romanoff-sisters in this coat. It evokes all those old Russian novels I used to devour as a girl, sometime between childhood and teenage years; The Brothers Karamazov, Master and Margareta, War and Peace. I saw the Cherry Orchard when I was ten and never quite recovered.
There's this perfect mountain on a mountain here, that we picnic on in the summer, a little mossy knoll just above a precipice. The view is well worth a little vertigo.
Mossy Knoll
My birthday since you ask (I discovered Dorothy Parker awful early too...) was wonderful. Low key just like I wanted with tequila and dominoes and fish tacos from halibut caught by a friend's husband and outrageous stories on Friday. On my actual birthday C. went to the Sunday woodcarving which was moved to be a day early and I followed a little later with my girl friends. We had a steam in the host's sauna and a potluck dinner right there in the wood-shop complete with venison and salmon and berry wine. And those sourdough rye pancakes, of course.
Tiny Life
The high point in the festivities came when the lights were dimmed and an hones-to-goodness store-bought cake, complete with purple and green frosting roses was brought out. Earlier in the week we had communally lamented how hippie children always got the short end of the cake stick, with spelt flower and honey frosting, or even a watermelon with a candle stuck on it, so the girls decided to conspire and get me my first ever "regular" cake. It certainly made for a day to remember. I really wish I had a picture to prove it.
Insect's Cave
I wasn't expecting any presents, but ended up "making like a bandit" as C. said. I got a pair of beeswax candles made by my friend's kids, a beautiful hair stick that my friend sanded to two colors (you'll be seeing a lot of it), lilies, home made wine, seed potatoes, a ladle from the master carver himself and a promise of my very own Frog bowl from my sweet craftsman.
All the gifts were lovely, coming from some of my dearest folk here, so thoughtful and perfect, but there was one I certainly was not expecting. Callie, who's made all those beautiful dream catcher earrings gifted me the most amazing mobile ever.
Spirit loom
It's so lovely I could hardly believe it was mine. Carefully wrought from materials both manmade and natural, perfectly balanced and aesthetically pleasing, we decided it was our chandelier and hung it above the dining room table.
All in all, it was a birthday among the best of them. I'm a very lucky girl.
How do you like to celebrate? Big party, no party, hiking, drinking champagne?
Oh yeah, about those Animal Tracks...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

She saw a big raven/ it glided down the sky/ she touched it

I know of a couple of fellow Aquarians among my best girls so this lovely prediction goes out to ya'll. Thanks to Sadie Rose for thinking of her water bearing sisters.

In 2011, you're seen as an innovative genius, weaving the cosmic into the commonplace like iridescent threads into tapestry. You design unusual ways to share information, and are a champion of progressive education. You use technology to bridge diversities or distances and create world community. Notions occur to you that you swiftly put into practice.

You may experience some difficulty staying on task. Discipline information-gathering by focusing on a specific outcome you want to achieve. Your hungry mind needs ample fuel; further schooling may be the answer - and will add credibility to your innovative efforts. Eat mineral rich foods, especially magnesium, to support your highly activated nervous system.

Sudden opportunities to travel arise, though your journey must have a specific intent, more like a vision quest. Your aspirations succeed when you acquaint yourself with the rules of the game in whatever systems or cultures you dsire to impact. Look for elders to guide and bless your efforts.

By mid-year, Jupiter shifts its benevolent blessings to your emotional base and domestic affairs. This is a good time to make improvements around your home or to move someplace more promising. Your family is supportive and you feel generous toward them. A part of yourself or your past history which you have tried to ignore is brought to the light and dealt with, leaving you feeling you've had a load lifted off your shoulders.

Sounds good, right? Sudden opportunities to travel arise indeed. And I would most certainly call my journey to meet my Californian Sisters a vision quest, a connection, a search for some Wild Woman time. I'll probably give you some more birthday insight tomorrow, but now I'm gonna leave you with a song I like to play on my special day. I'll be dancing around to it, twirling my hems while I make pancakes on the wood stove. Welcome to the age of Aquarius, loves!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

As the night comes falling, hear your lover calling, soft like the wind from the hill.

On Sundays, I've been spending a lot of time by myself. C's been going to a friend's house to do woodcarving and though often invited, I haven't felt like biking out there, opting instead to read, write, sew and walk the beaches on my own.
I might even remember to bring a steaming cup of dandyblend with tinned milk. My camera. A book. A pencil. A magnifying glass. It might be early morning, or dusk.
I go slowly, pause to observe hermit crabs, herons, seaweeds moving with the tide receding, or returning. I might write a line or two, or read a few poems, maybe a book of essays, listen to birdsong or music. Sometimes I do nothing, think of nothing, just walk.
On Sundays I dress up, wear favorite clothes, but only to feel comfortable. If its raining and the air and water seem close enough in temperature, I might shed them entirely and wade into the ocean. It is freezing cold, but when you come out, you are completely comfortable, like your never going to need anything between your skin and the world again.

It feels lonely, often. And that's good. It's a feeling that one has to the get comfortable in, have time for. Before long it's almost time to go home, build up the fire again, start dinner, wait for my one and only.
But not quite yet. There's still a little daylight, still time to wander.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's in a name?

As you may know, I have not taken off my Lost Boys and Lovers jewels since I received them in the beginning of this, my birthday month. In addition to being stuck in my ways and firm in my opinions and tastes, I put a lot of weight in words (in case you haven't noticed yet...).
The title of this particular one of Sadie's lovely shops got me thinking about about what I might name my place of business (And believe me, there are plans for one...) It's such a lovely, evocative name. Just as shop names, pet names, and kid names (even though those are perhaps not quite comparable), blog-titles are often seem as though a great deal of thought went into them, that there's a story in there, and it might be an interesting one.
Three years ago when I started this here blog, its name came to me almost instantly, though as you can tell by the URL, it originally started out under a different name and was in fact an entirely different log.

As I was writing (read: procrastinating on) my final paper and waiting for my visa I thought to post on feminist-centric culture, Girl Art, as it were, but after a few tries discovered that I rather thought of the blog more as a virtual scrap-book than a series of carefully meditated posts on a single topic.

You are here
As you know I did not entirely scrap my original idea, but rather expanded upon it wildly and with reckless abandon. If you asked me today what this log was about, I'd still be hard pressed to answer, though I think the tag-line still stands: Musings On Books, Woods and Other Obsessions. Personally I'd like a little more book, but there certainly have been plenty of woods and a multitude of other obsessions.
My second blog was also easy to name, and I while I was happy to integrate the two (and this has certainly made for a lovely year of blogging), one of the sad things about it was loosing a name so fitting for our life here.
A girl with her bear
Still, I never considered changing the name of this blog. My filmmaker boss once asked me what fairy-tale most describes me as a person, and though I had not thought of it as such, it is a rather loaded question. Fairy-tales, as we all know, are archetypes, they represent a part of our collective human psyche that we can only access on the most primal level.
Eve and her Apple
Repeated through time, they are so ingrained into us, that though their original meanings have been lost, they still have the power to move us, inhabit our bodies and make our spines tingle. The Girl Who Married A Bear is one of the universal myths in which a young woman is wed to a beast, often an earthly manifestation of an otherworldly beast, a demi-god, an ancestor spirit. Interestingly enough the myth spans both the parts of the world I've lived in stretching from the Baltic over the Ural to these Pacific shores.
Then there were two
In it, a young woman invariably gets lost in the forest and meets a bear, sometimes one that can transform into a man, he takes her as his wife and a litter of children is born to them. Later, the woman brakes some sort of taboo and some hunters (often her own brothers) come to kill her husband. They take her and her children (cubs) to their village (often her own village), but she can no longer live as a human. In the end the woman transforms into a bear and takes her brood back to the woods with her.
Shall we dance?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have felt a connection to this story, but it was only Gary Snyder's interpretation of the myth that truly explained its appeal to me. In his brilliant collection of essays The Practice Of The Wild Snyder argues that the girl, the woman is already half-way into the forest-world, because she chooses to brake the rules that keep humans safe, chooses at least in part to enter it.

Snyder explains that the woman intuitively bridges the gap between the two worlds. That she is the manifestation of that wild yearning that seems to be a part of the human condition itself: the wish to return to our true home, the one in the forest, the water, the sky.
Bearchild by Susan Seddon Boulet
Long before I married my Ursine husband, (who has been given bear charms and called one since his teenage years,) and travelled West, this was a very good description of me; someone suspended between realms, able to see both but never fully enter either. Though the story does not tell, I imagine the Bear-girl herself remained part human even after she made her decision. Able to see into the other world, the world her brothers, mother, friends and family still inhabited, she might be sitting on a mountain top looking down at the fire lights, filled with longing.

The Maiden
There you have it. I am the girl who married a bear, and have been for close to three years already. Very little about this blog has changed, though of course it has evolved in both subject matter and style. The look of it certainly has remained almost exactly the same, safe for a slight modification on width. Until today.

Like I said before, I don't believe in messing around (with perfection;), certainly not when it comes to something as uninspiring (to me) as blog-templates. I like simplicity, and have felt that I had the look pretty much nailed with the image of a little girl offering something (perhaps herself?) to a bear cub. (It's actually a donut, just so you know. A way to a man's heart is through his stomach.)

Still, with 3 years of blogging and all, along with the biggest, bestest blog-related event ever on the horizon, I figured a little change couldn't hurt. Right. Boy did I choose the worst time possible to dick-around with my blogger-header image. And Mercury isn't even in retrograde...
hmmm...I'm a little puzzled by this image
I'm eventually planning go back to the picture of the little Alaskan girl, but until blogger fixes its little snafu, you get to have your say between these lovely Girl and Bear images I have been contemplating. I am rather impartial to one, but would love to hear your opinion.
Wedding Party
These last four are from this mesmerizing book, which chronicles the relationship between the pre-Christian Finns and the ancient forests that were their native environment.
Though our pagan roots and polytheistic plethora of deities are long gone from our collective consciousness (though perhaps not the collective unconscious.), much of it still remains in folk-tales, customs and even place-names. The ancient Finns considered the bear, who's name as such could never be spoken, to be their ancestor, the spirit of the forest who was surrounded by many taboos and called by many pet-names, so as not to invite his presence.
A marriage of true minds
Having come full circle back to the names and naming I would like to hear from you about your stories and inspirations in naming your logs and leave you with this further explanation of mine, far more eloquent than I could ever write.
True Love
"He was human to her. And so she entered the in-between world, not exactly human, not exactly animal, where the rain might look like fire, and fire might be rain. And he put her more sharply, more solidly, into it, patting her on the head so she forgot. They went under the tangled windfalls, and when they came out they had passed beneath a range of mountains. Each days is a month, or years. But she didn't entirely forget. We are always in both worlds, because they aren't really two." -Gary Snyder: The Practice Of The Wild-