We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Springtime of the Soul (& the Equinox)

Fall                                                                                       Harvest Moon

“Just as we can experience the Death and Resurrection of the God in the Easter season in spring, so can we experience in the autumn the death and resurrection of the human soul, i.e. we experience resurrection during our life on earth…”  Festivals and Their Meaning, Rudolf Steiner

The Archangel Michael (left), Gabriel (right) and Raphael accompany Tobias. Francesco Botticini, 1470; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Source: Joachim Schäfer

The Archangel Michael (left), Gabriel (right) and Raphael accompany Tobias.
Francesco Botticini, 1470; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

Today is Michaelmas, the feastday of Michael the Archangel. British universities start their terms today, the Michaelmas term. Following Steiner, I have, for some years, seen Michaelmas as the beginning of a long period for soul cultivation. It is not, I think, an accident that the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, falls in the same period.

These are, too, harvest festivals, falling near the autumnal equinox. It makes sense to me to begin the New Year as the growing season ends.  Samain, Summer’s End, in the Celtic calendar, marks the finish of the harvest festivals and the beginning of the fallow time. It is also the Celtic New Year.

Marc Chagall, Shofar

Marc Chagall, Shofar

Last night at Congregation Beth Evergreen I waited for Kate while she took Hebrew. Where I chose to sit filled up with religious school kids, bouncing with tweeny energy. Rabbi Jamie Arnold came down to talk to them about the shofar and the upcoming New Year. He talked about Rosh Hashanah and described it as a moment when the creation can begin anew. It is possible, he said, for each of us to start life anew on Rosh Hashanah. I like this idea and the question it poses: Who do you want to be in the New Year?

I’m going to consider this question over the next few days before Kate, Jon and I attend the Rosh Hashanah service on October 2nd at Beth Evergreen.

Another way to pose this question is, how do I want to nourish my soul in this, its springtime? What practices can I use? Kate and I have begun to seriously wrestle with the Jewish spiritual practice of Mussar, as I’ve mentioned here before. It will be one lens through which I approach the possibility of a new being, a new me.

Yet. That new me will have a strong relation to the man who harvested years of friendships over the last week in Minnesota. He will have a strong relation to the man who hears, Grandpop!, from Ruth and Gabe. He will have a strong relation to the man who loves Lynne Olson, and Kate, too. He will have a strong relation to the man who is several dogs’ companion. He will have a strong relationship to the man who writes novels. He may be a new man, yet still the old one, too.

The Journey

Fall                                                                                         Harvest Moon

Traveling days. Not so much energy for posting. Back now on Shadow Mountain, having crossed the Great Plains and, when they ended, climbed steadily from the ancient Rockies of the Front Range into the younger mountains. Here the colors of fall are in full glory, perhaps a bit past, with explosions of gold scattered throughout the much more numerous lodgepole pine like the veins of gold hidden within the rock of these same mountains, gold that drew the first large crowds of Europeans.

South Dakota Rest Stop

South Dakota Rest Stop

When traveling, the peculiar often stands out, perhaps because of limited familiarity with the people and places away from home. On SD 79, for example, I passed a long driveway headed up into the Black Hills. About 100 feet from the entrance, but along the highway, there was something wooden, maybe an old water tower. On it was written in white paint and large letters: We don’t rent pigs! I hadn’t realized until that moment that I might want to rent a pig. Just before that notice, a creek flowed under the road. Its name, Lame Johnny’s Creek.

The Corn Palace was back there in Mitchell, too, and the thirty foot high Indian maiden recently erected at the Lewis & Clark Trail rest stop that overlooks the wide Missouri. So was the National Historic Site that features a missile silo and the underground bunker which housed the missileers who controlled it and nine others. As I drove yesterday from Hot Springs, South Dakota and into Wyoming, I passed more active silos, visible as patches of the plains squared off and protected by high fences and prickly with antenna.

There were pronghorn antelope, buffalo and, of course, many herds of beef cattle. The angus dotted the distant hillsides as moving black objects. I passed a large group of herefords bunched on either side of a large yellow sign. Not too far from them was a peculiar sculpture I had seen before, a large metal head of a bull with long, lyre shaped horns. It looks like statues I associate with human sacrifice in the ancient Middle East.

This was the first time I drove the very familiar Colorado-Minnesota route starting in and returning to Colorado. At times it seemed routine with familiar sights, at other times it seemed very foreign as I realized this journey reversed my former trips.

20160925_133922In Minnesota I had a schedule unusual for me, at least for the last 20 plus years. Breakfast and lunch meetings with friends. Dinner with Joe and Seoah. The only time I took off from seeing people was to go back to the motel and nap or lie down. Usually, I’ll take time to see sights, drive around. Not this trip, though I did spend an hour and a half at the MIA. Over the last 20 years I’ve spent most of my time during the day with my computer, or reading, or working out, meals with Kate. While in Minnesota, I did have my docent work, the Sierra Club, the Woolly Mammoths and sheepshead, but very rarely did I return to the meeting filled days and evenings that were routine for me when I worked for the Presbytery.

Some more pictures and, soon, my fall equinox post.

 

End of Revels

Fall                                                                   Harvest Moon

So the revels now are ended. And tomorrow the rental car turns toward the West, toward the mountains. It used to be, when Minnesota was home, that turning north meant home, now it’s the Great Plains and where they wash up against the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

This afternoon the Woolly Mammoths met in Stillwater. We talked, as we have for years, of our lives, our future, the immediate future especially. Some of us will travel to Florence, others will work in a hospice, another has started a group for caregivers whose charge has died. The future is where our lives will be and it was good to hear of other men readying themselves for their work.

I’m so lucky to have these men as my friends, Joe and Seoah as my son and daughter in law, the friends of the docent years. And, I was lucky to be able to connect with all of them. A homecoming indeed.

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I know I used this below, but it fits so well. And, well, lutefisk!

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Homecoming Weekend

Fall                                                             Harvest Moon

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Home. It’s an idea that has fascinated me for a long time. How do you know home? What makes a home, or a place home? Then I thought about the unusual, yet oh so familiar notion of homecoming weekend. The homecoming game. The parade. The reunions.

As can happen, as homecoming rattled around in my head, the word became stranger and stranger. Home coming. We are coming home. And it’s celebration worthy. We gather at the old school, watch the old team, see old friends, visit places that were important to us.

Yet there is a built in sense of loss, even estrangement to the idea. Homecoming implies homeleaving. The celebration is the joy of those who stayed greeting those who left.

In fact, as I drove through small towns in Iowa and Minnesota I came upon the occasional signs of homecoming weekend. It’s a harvest time event, at least here in the Midwest. And I came “home” in September. So did Joseph.

The experience of being a homecomer is that of being in but no longer of. That mantle of familiarity I mentioned a few posts ago remains about my shoulders, but it is about just that, the familiar. Minnesota is familiar to me from forty years of living here. But it is no longer home. It is the place to which I am a homecomer, which, oddly, negates it as my home. It is my used to be  home.20160922_151511

 

This makes those moment of feeling at home precious. They have come sitting down at Perkins with Bill Schmidt, talking about his work, our friends at sheepshead. They came when I ate breakfast with Tom Crane, visiting our shared life, our friendship. They came when, at the reception last night for Joseph and Seoah, my friends Mark and Elizabeth, Scott, Bill, Tom and Warren showed up. From their homes here. They came when I sat down at the Peninsula with my docent friends and we fell easily into discussing the shows upcoming at the MIA.

Feeling at home in this place that is no longer my home is about friendship and family. On the usual highways, on the usual streets, eating in the usual restaurants, passing the well known places like the Stone Arch bridge, the IDS, Target Field, Lock and Dam #1, Ford Parkway, all the places I know so well, did not make me feel at home. Rather they reminded me that this was a homecoming.

Friends and family though. They are the real stuff of home. Seeing and being seen. Loving and being loved. That makes a home.

This has surprised me because I have a strong sense of place, of attraction to and loyalty (in my heart) to place. Yet it is not the physical that grounds me (strange, eh?), but the relational. Though. It is the relational in a particular place. The friends who have stayed at home.

This has been a homecoming weekend for me and it has happened as the Great Wheel turned from Lugnasa to Fall, as the growing season has transitioned to the season of harvest. This afternoon I’ll spend time with my close and dear friends of the Woolly Mammoths. More homecoming. Then, tomorrow morning, I’ll leave Minnesota. For home.

 

 

Patents and Baby Blankets

Fall                                                                 Harvest Moon

Not sure when I’m going to get my equinox post written. Maybe on the way home. Too much going on right now. I have to sit, think. Instead, I’m up, moving, meeting. Really good for the soul, but hard on the body for this introvert.

This is a short post, too. I wanted to put up a few pictures. The first one is buddy Bill Schmidt with his patent. The next two are Joe and Seoah. That blanket is a baby blanket Kate made for that grandchild we’re looking forward to.

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Both contemplating a baby

Both contemplating a baby

Seoah and Joe at Tavern on Grand

Seoah and Joe at Tavern on Grand

The Past, Seen From the Present

Fall                                                                               Harvest Moond

It’s strange, being back where I lived for forty years. When I came over the Iowa/Minnesota border, I felt a frisson, a mantle of familiarity settled over me. This was Minnesota, a place I knew in my heart, places lodged in memory. Even the sky, the humidity, the long stretches of corn fields and  soy beans, apple orchards, small towns filled with farm implement dealers. Then, the outer suburbs, passing Canterbury Downs, the Bloomington Ferry Bridge, on into to the too well remembered traffic jams on 169.

Later, the people. Joseph and Seoah, Raeone and James at Davani’s St.Paul.  Sudden rush from Seoah, throwing her arms around me then Captain Joe, a military man with trimmed sidewalls and a thatch of hair on top. My boy. A man.

Bill Schmidt at Perkin’s off Louisiana Avenue in St. Louis Park. He had a book with a US seal. The patent for the U-FaceMe process. A long time close friend. Different in person. Better than e-mails, skype. High tech, high touch. Comfortable.

The MIA. Not Mia. Can’t go there. I left the MIA, not Mia. When I walked in to the Doryphoros, he was, like Orion in the fall night sky, a friend. The whole building wrapped itself around me, a place where my third phase life gained new skills, absorbed the mystical thing that only art can bring. I missed this place. We had a reciprocal relationship. A strong one.

Over to the Peninsula. Docent friends there for lunch. We learned together, worked together, pondered art and its history together. Seeing Antra, Tom, Ginny, Michele, Colleen, Jean-Marie and Grace was a special moment for me, a reunion. I left them, as I did Bill and the MIA, nourished and supported. Important.

This is a land filled with memories, with people I care about, but it is no longer home. Home is Shadow Mountain. So now I have two places I love, one for its past and one for its present. I feel lucky to have them both.

Back in the humid east

Fall                                                                     Harvest Moon

The autumnal equinox will occur while I’m on the way to Minneapolis. Right now I’m in Lincoln, NE. It was 56 when I checked Shadow Mountain yesterday afternoon, 90 here. And humid. I’m well past Cozad, which is on the 100th parallel, the start of the arid West.

The drive from Conifer to Lincoln was straightforward. Get on the highway, put a brick on the accelerator, kick back and let the car go. Almost like a Tesla. Speaking of which, I passed an autotransport loaded with Tesla Model S’s.

The harvest is underway here. Combines in the fields, tractors moving both huge round  bales of hay and large square ones. Feedlots are also frequent. Charolais, Angus, even a feed lot full of Holsteins, which I didn’t understand.

Once out of the mountains and onto the Great Plains, agriculture becomes the dominant feature of the landscape. In Colorado it was mostly ranches with herds roaming large, barren looking land, the cattle often clumped up around large sheet metal watering tanks or huge piles of hay. Here in Nebraska wheat fields, other grains, hay and feed lots predominate.

Minneapolis is about six and a half hours away, so I’ve got to get on the old hoss and ride on outta here. Left my Stetson and my cowboy boots at home, can’t wear’em east of Cozad.

Love to you, Kate, Jon and all the dogs.

On the road in Lincoln, NE.

Road Trip!

Lugnasa                                                        Harvest Moon

Shower pan installed yesterday, additional support for grab bars (aging in place accoutrement), final decisions on niches and some extra work on the pebbles that will cover the floor. Jesus manages the later stages of the process, but it was Maestro (no kidding) who put in the no-leak rubber seal and poured the last of the concrete for the tile. By the time I get back the new shower should have tile.

Ancientrails goes on the road around 8:30 am. A little hesitation concerning my bum left knee, but I’m going to wear a brace and I have my ice and compression brace along, too. The knee doesn’t like being in one position though an angle is best. That I can achieve in the car. Road trips. I love’em. Very American, very Midwestern. Conifer to Fridley is almost exactly the same distance as Paris to Rome, it’s neither a long nor a short trip.

We’re well into the meteorological spirit of fall here on Shadow Mountain, so I’ll be driving into warmer weather for the most part, I imagine. Minneapolis has torrential rains predicted for today through tomorrow morning. Hope I miss them.

I’m excited to see the fall colors in Minnesota.

It’s different here.

shadow-mtn-dr

Shadow Mountain Drive

conifer-mtn2

conifer mtn

conifer-mtn

conifer mtn.

 

 

On the Road

Lugnasa                                                                          Harvest Moon

Black Mtn from our driveway

Black Mtn from our driveway

Tomorrow at 8:30 am I pick up my rental car. The Evergreen Enterprise is by the traffic circle on Jeffco #73. From there I’ll pick up I-70 and drive east into Denver as far as I-76. I-76 angles northeast through the Great Plains portion of Colorado, taking me to I-80 for the trip across Nebraska. This route is the quickest by a couple of hours, so I’m doing it on the way up. On the way back I’ll probably come through South Dakota, through the Black Hills to Hot Springs and on into Wyoming. I’ve driven all of these routes so many times.

familyIn Minnesota I have a busy dance card. Arrive on Thursday in the afternoon. Joseph and Seoah are coming in on Thursday, too. I might see them then. On Friday I have lunch with friends and allies from the docent class of 2005. Dinner that evening is at Mirror of Korea with Joseph and Seoah, Raeone and James. On Saturday I hope to connect during the day with Tom. That evening from 4-8 pm is the open house of Joseph and Seoah at Raeone’s. Sunday is a retreat day for the Woollies in Stillwater. Monday I head back west and up.

This will only be the second time I’ve been in Minnesota since we moved. I went back last year in late April for the Woolly retreat at Camp Du Nord, north of Ely. There was not time that trip for a stay in the Cities, so this is the first time I’ve been back since the Winter Solstice of 2014. I’m looking forward to seeing all the different people with whom I spent my Minnesota life.

woollys-in-ely

Woollys in Ely

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to cherish more and more friendships of long standing: my class of 1965 in Alexandria, Indiana, the Woollies, the docents, my friends at the Sierra Club and in other political venues. We know each other and that’s the very stuff of life.

Books and a Pawprint

Lugnasa                                                                       Harvest Moon

Gonzalez and Eduardo came again yesterday. They poured concrete, doing the initial work for creating a shower pan. And guess what? It has a small, Gertie sized dog print in it. She can’t keep her paws off of anything. Bear Creek Design is a pleasure to work with. They communicate often, keep their word. More expensive, but worth it in reduced hassle.

where-the-books-goWent to my first meeting with the Evergreen Writer’s Group last night. Formed in August of this year this group meets in a used book store, Where The Books Go, in Evergreen. There were four of us last night. I sat and listened since I had not understood the mss submission process. Just mechanics.

Writing is a source of pleasure for me, genuine joy. At the same time I have a fear of exposure, of people looking at my work and going, meh. These two sentences explain the paradox of over 50 short stories written, 6 novels and two more underway with no sales.

This is a new group of people and the chemistry among them seemed good. At least two are retired like me. We’ll be meeting every other week, another reason to get into Evergreen.

Because I went to the Evergreen Library to pick up some audio books for my drive to Minnesota, I ate at a small Vienna Hot Dog spot. First time outside of Chicago that I’ve had an Italian beef that tasted like being on State Street. The Midwestern equivalent of Proust’s madeleine.

 

They’re baaaack!

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