Thursday, December 5, 2013

Setting Out

The thinly-veiled sun hangs white out the driver's side window, the steadiest of companions. Lake Erie stretches blue-gray to the right, vast and indifferent. Winter has arrived early in the northern states. Dark bare trees striped with snow, narrow strips of forest outlasting the billboards. I travel west as so many before me, seeking answers I will never find.

I am going to a place where people grow their beards out, relish the smell of woodsmoke, and own large, healthy dogs. Where people exercise not to look good but to feel good, where fresh air and physical challenge are daily requirements.

I am going to be amongst the still-raw remnants of the Precambrian and the Cretaceous, to harness for a moment the wild and mighty children of a shallow subduction. Despite the years of erosion, I am still young like they are. I will bask in their untouchable power and fill my tank with life-lust.

I am going to spend a winter with the ski industry, filled with the promise of a new approach to stewardship, a new pathway into the ever-changing mystery.

I am as yet a person of many homes. I am setting out for one where the ratio of human to nonhuman remains a bit healthier, where wildness still captures the imaginations of many.

“What are you doing with your life, Will?” asks Art in Ed Abbey's Black Sun. “Staring at the sun,” responds the fire lookout. “Stand on this tower and stare at the sun until the sun goes … black.”

Perspective is everything. The world can always be viewed from varying heights, from towers and trenches. I sip my coffee, check the road ahead, consider the expanse of the lake and the ambivalent woods.

The white sun hovers bluntly. I afford myself a brief stare.