A blog for those who desire a more creative relationship with the natural world.


"Your recent blog about the tender return of your loved ones to the earth was moving, graceful in words and inspiration. Your words always come from the heart and intellect. A rare and insightful combination." Rolland Smith, former news anchor for WCBS-TV in New York, recipient of 11 Emmy Awards

Over 175,000 pageviews. Thank you!


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Copper Canyon Press and Ursula Le Guin: A Match Made in Heaven

"Come to dust," Ursula Le Guin urges us, even now from that great beyond, "all earth's dust has been life, held soul, is holy." On the eve of my departure for Peru, where ancientness is not a concept but a living thing you reach out and touch, on this eve it seems right to call forth her memory. For she, like the master Inca stonemasons who lifted Machu Picchu into being, masterfully raised entire worlds that will live forever in our imaginations.

Copper Canyon Press is reaching out to those who value small presses. More importantly, they are reaching out to those of us who are grateful that esteemed writers such as Ursula Le Guin create literary partnerships with these fine presses. If you would like to contribute to the cost of publishing her final poetry collection, So Far So Good, contact Copper Canyon Press.

Friday, March 30, 2018

PERU: Land of Portals and Stories

Peru is a land of portals -- openings that invite us to step through ancient archways and into the past. We lean against stone walls with both feet anchored in the present yet can almost feel the calloused hands of the builders reaching through time.

Pablo Neruda believed that when we touch an object with our fingers, we become part of that object’s memory. He also believed that all the stories he ever needed already existed, and that their inspiration could be found in simple things.

A few years ago, in Ollantaytambo (during the Weaving Words & Women retreat), we sat on a narrow earth terrace on the backside of the ruins facing the mountain from which these granite walls were quarried. Incan workers hauled mammoth chunks of stone across the valley below to this high place - an unfathomable endeavor that remains a mystery.

What stories, I had wondered, linger here? Does this place  now resonate with our presence too? There was snow on the mountain peak to the northeast, and clouds moving beneath a blue sky above the valley of tilled crops and cows, vacas,  grazing the old winter stalks.

Earlier, when our guide Huber was speaking to us about the mountain across from the ruins where the food was kept cool by the swirling winds of the three valleys, I watched three sheep trot across the empty plaza below us, moving toward a portal in the plaza walls that led to the green field beyond.

The ovejas needed no leader to find their way to the place where they spent their mornings grazing in the sun each day. Behind them, running to catch up, was a small Quechua boy.  The sheep, and then the boy, passed through the opening out into the field.

I wanted to know his story. I wanted to hear him call out to the sheep. I wanted to see his sister card their wool and his mother spin it into yarn.

"When they began excavating the ruins of Ollantaytambo," Huber told us, " they rebuilt the smaller rock walls to recreate the terraces where the Incas planted fragrant and beautiful flowers." He told us that the flowers of each terrace sweetened the air that wafted toward the Sun Temple.

As I watched the little boy below with his sheep, I thought of the women of Patacancha in the high mountain we had visited the day before, where the rain and snows gather to fill the river flowing into this valley.

Perhaps their ancestors had lived here. Perhaps their ancient grandmothers, young women then, had ground the dried bouquets of fall flowers into bright pigments with which they could dye their wool. Perhaps their sisters had tethered their sheep and their llamas to these very terraces.

In Peru, it is easy to believe Pablo Neruda, to believe that stories are found in simple things, that when our hands touch these stones, we pass through the portal of time and into a world filled with stories waiting to be told.