Fall is like an Old Man with a Pipe.

Exhaling and gazing slantwardly up at the corner of the room, obviously in reminiscence and less because he cares about the cobwebs that are there. Each puff is a breath, but one of cleansing. That’s how fall is. Of course I didn’t come up with this image myself. Rainier Rilke did. In Letters on Cezanne.

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” 

Autumn in Montana is something of the gods.  We are entering my favorite sweater and cocoa season, but not quite yet. All the colors are my favorite ones. Rust, ombre, sienna, deep maroons and fading greens. Every wind that blows smells and tastes somewhat crisp–like the apples that sit like globes on trees all around. There’s a tumultuous battle between summer’s heat and winter’s chilling, biting cold. It’s a grave reminder, really. To me, seasons remind me of deeper issues in the world. Issues involving humanity and introspection. If you’ve ever read Letters on Cezanne, you’d know that the artwork of French master Cezanne did the same thing for Rilke. Just as Rilke viewed Cezanne’s artwork daily for a period, many people (especially here) view nature daily in order to achieve some sort of emotional transformation. Or transportation. Whatever. It’s really beautiful how that happens, I think. Something godly.

Dare I say transcendental? 

But I will still maintain that Fall is like an Old Man with a Pipe. For some reason, that image reminds me of the great transcendentalists themselves. Can you picture it?

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Photos by Anna Riedel from Rocky Mountain School of Photography

“I’ve never been a very prolific person, so when creativity flows, it flows. I find myself scribbling on little notepads and pieces of loose paper, which results in a very small portion of my writings to ever show up in true form.” —Kurt Cobain

Hello, lovely bluebirds! 

It’s been awhile…truly too long. I have some things to admit to you, and I feel guilty about it. Y’all have been here for me, in a way, since the beginning of The Lyon’s Roar. If you’re still here—still listening—I want to apologize for my lack of writing (or should I say sharing). 

I have been extraordinarily busy. And it pains me to say that I haven’t been busy creating, sharing, or crafting artwork. I’ve simply been outside and working. 

And spending time running outside, racing and riding. With the dog. Spending time with my love and with my original first love…my dad! He came to Montana to surprise me, and we had a delightful weekend talking, spending time on the river, eating croissants, and hiking around with the dog. I miss my family, a lot. This morning as I was running with Susan on the river trail, I realized just how beautiful the solitude of morning is. It was raining lightly and beautifully, like tears of joy. I arrived home to a pot of freshly brewed coffee and a day of possibility ahead. I think that’s what God is and means, at least to me. It means that every moment leads up to another, but still retains its own beauty and infinite meaning. And nothingness can be just as pleasant. But family always creates moments that have meaning–big meaning. So does movement. And rest. That’s God…always in flux. 

photo-39It’s been a crazy few weeks. I am now a sponsored runner, so that means I spend all my spare time exercising or making a dedicated effort to recover and eat. It requires a lot of planning…running does. In order for me to perform at a level I need to, I need to plan things out better than I am used to doing. But it’s all paying off! I finished a 50 mile race and the Missoula Marathon within 3 weeks of each other, and the Butte 100 mountain bike race and the Bozeman Marathon are coming around the corner. I am feeling stronger and faster as the weeks go by. Thanks so much to Le Petit Outre and MT Alpha for making all these adventures a possibility for me to succeed and share my love of endurance sports! It means the world for me to run or bike with someone else in mind as motivation. 

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Thanks to Black Coffee Roasters for the awesome Toddy coffee to get me up and at ‘em at 4:00 a.m. at the Trail Rail Run! 

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And, the garden is blooming in full force, despite all the weeds that I don’t have the time to pull! I’ve been eating a bowlful of raspberries and kale/basil salads almost every day. Soon we will have peas and grapes and more tomatoes. And peppers! Fuel for adventures. 

IMG_2022A poem that I often forget about, but that I somehow always find my way back to at the perfect time: 

 

SELF-PORTRAIT

by David Whyte

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God 
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel 
abandoned,
if you can know despair or see it in others. 
I want to know 
if you are prepared to live in the world 
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes, 
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know 
how to melt into that fierce heat of living, 
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love 
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, 
even the gods speak of God.

 

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I think God shows up when I win races, or when I lose them. He shows up when the dog miraculously returns smiling from a journey away from home during a thunderstorm. He shows up when people decide to change their lives for the better. He comes in a father’s smiling eyes. A raspberry’s ripening and a sunflower’s bursting. In you. Me. 

He’s there. 

Days We Would Rather Know.

by Michael Blumenthal

There are days we would rather know 

than these, as there is always, later, 

a wife we would rather have married 

than whom we did, in that severe nowness 

time pushed, imperfectly, to then. Whether, 

standing in the museum before Rembrandt’s “Juno,” 

we stand before beauty, is a question that makes all beauty 

suspect…and all marriages. Last night, 

leaves circled the base of the gingko as if 

the sun had shattered during the night 

into a million gold coins no one had the sense 

to claim. And now, there are days we would

rather know than these, days when to stand 

before beauty and before “Juno” are, convincingly, 

the same, days when the shattered sunlight seeps

through the trees and the women we marry

stay interesting and beautiful both at once,

and their men. And though there are days

we would rather know than now, I am,

at heart, a scared and simple woman. So I tighten 

my arms around the man I love, now 

and imperfectly, stand before “Juno” whispering 

beautiful beautiful until I believe it, and—

when I come home at night—I run out 

into the day’s pale dusk with my broom 

and my dustpan, sweeping the coins from the base 

of the gingko, something to keep for a better tomorrow: 

days we would rather know that never come. 

 

J. 

 

Reasons to Wake Up [Smiling] in the Morning.

Hello, bluebirds! 

It’s been awhile! I’ve been busy. Between scampering around town with B and Susan and jumping back and forth from Lolo to Missoula every day, I haven’t been giving my writing or my readers the diligence they deserve. 

I thought I would come out and say some things about a few things…things that you’ve probably noticed already (I hate the word things, and I just used it four times). You might have noticed that I am no longer an Editor or a Featured Author for Elephant Journal. This is true. And while it was a hard decision to cut my ties with Elephant Journal, it was the right decision. It was too hard to work 80 hours a week, giving each of my jobs less energy and attention than I felt they deserved—and, giving my loves B and Susan less energy and time than they deserve. I felt like a ghost in my own home, waking up at 6:30 to edit, running, and then leaving at 1 to take care of ranch things. Too much. That being said, I truly miss being a part of the Elephant community and wish for them nothing but blessings and love. 

Right now, I am eating my yogurt and English muffin and chugging coffee. It’s a ranch day, as are most days, but this weekend B and I are going into a retreat. It will feel good to get some thinking, meditating, and running in with him (though I think I meditate most of the day while I feed horses, weed gardens, chop wood, carry water, scoop horse poop). There is nothing more zen than riding horses and taking care of them, I don’t think. The sun in the morning and evening hits their springtime coats at just the right angle to make them sparkle as they eat their hay. 

Yesterday B and I ran errands and basked in the sunshine with the dog, watered the garden. We looked at mountain bikes. I found a rad Salsa mountain bike…still contemplating getting it to race on with MT Alpha this year, though I might vote in favor of just running, climbing, and riding road bikes this season. I have a hard time acquiring something so shiny and excessively nice and expensive and not feeling guilty about it. It’s so beautiful here in the summer that I would probably be content just hiking and running around all day and never owning a mountain bike again! I miss fighting fire during this time of year, but not as much as I miss summer. 

I’m going to go read the newspaper and get ready to head to Lolo. Talk to you soon, lovely bluebirds! 

J. 

Some recent randoms: 

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Hearts are Citadels.

“We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off limits to others. We’re willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea.” 
― Pema Chödrön

 

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