Archive for the ‘being alone’ Category

the return   11 comments

Posted at 7:45 am in being alone,loss,ontario

Note: I’ve moved this blog to a new location as it suddenly started to have problems with navigation and the comment feature (comments no longer displaying). Please visit the new location to read this and more recent posts. Sorry for the inconvenience. – Bev

As most of you will know, events and places I have been, are described at least a few weeks later. Often, I haven’t had a net connection, or am so busy trying to “carry on”, that I can’t post until I find the time or a good connection. This morning, I don’t really have time, but am making a little for this post before continuing on my way.

This may surprise a few of you, but I’m now back in Ontario. Yesterday, I drove the northern route around Lake Superior between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. It was a very long day. This morning, as soon as I finish this post, I’ll be continuing eastwards. With luck, I may be “home” tonight. I left Utah about a week ago, traveled west and north, up into B.C., then east along the trans-canada highway, pretty much following the route that took me west last October. It’s been a difficult trip — colder than I had hoped for. Yesterday, as I stopped at a few spots along Superior, the lake was still frozen in many places, especially at the western end near Thunder Bay. The ice looked unbroken out to Sleeping Giant and beyond.

I have more to write about the time spent in Arizona and Utah, but today, I wanted to write about “real time” events — things that have happened over the past couple of days.

Two days ago (April 5) was Don’s birthday. Had he not died on September 6, 2008, he would have been 57 years old. A life cut short. Seven months later, I am still learning to deal with that reality. The journey, to this point, has been difficult. I’ve found that many of the things that once meant something to me, are now meaningless: time, distance, the future, the past, home, among others. The map by which I navigated over the past 52 years, doesn’t exist anymore. In the space of a few months, it was destroyed and replaced with a new one that looks more like a map of a galaxy that is being drawn as I go. Many changes in direction are and will be happening soon. More about this in the coming weeks.

Yesterday, while traveling the north shore of Lake Superior, I stopped at Old Woman Bay to take a few photos. A week ago, my friend, Paul, met me in Utah to bring me this box made by a mutual friend, Ken Altman, a maker of bows for musical instruments. Last autumn, after Don’s death, the idea of making a special container for his ashes began to form as I drove westwards. I wanted to make a box that would be somewhat similar to a west coast bentwood box in shape but not construction — a box which could be carved and then painted or inlaid with abalone shell in a design which I have been contemplating over the winter. Initially, I had intended to make the box myself, but Paul suggested that we talk to Ken as he is a master craftsman and had the skills to make a box that would suit the intended purpose. We met with Ken and I described the box which I envisioned while he made careful notes and suggested ideas for possible construction. I left to continue on my way to Arizona.

Over the winter, Ken worked on the box between other projects. The box which you see in the photos above and below is the result. It is a thing of great beauty. I’m sorry that my photographs from yesterday can’t begin to illustrate just how wonderful this creation is “in person”. Further, there are things about it that a photograph can’t express. The scent of the wood which is Yellow Cedar from Alaska. Ken made the box from a slab which had been under his work bench for more than 20 years. It was brought to him by a friend named Don, who died several years ago. Ken so generously contributed this precious piece of wood for this project. I wish to take this moment to thank him for all that he has done to make this project possible. Thank you, Ken. The box is all that I hoped it would be, and more. Its smooth, fine grain is a pleasure to touch and hold.

The lid of the box is constructed in such a way that it lifts to reveal a small compartment in the top of the container — a place to store a few photos and other keepsakes. When I have time, I’ll work on the outside of the box and hopefully do justice to a blank canvas that is, in fact, so perfect that I wonder whether it should even be altered. Perhaps that is something I will know in time. This isn’t the gift I would have ever have imagined, or wished to give, to Don for his fifty-seventh birthday. However, it is such a wonderful piece and I know just how much he would have loved and appreciated this final gift to him.

Well, it is morning and I must be on my way. Another long day of driving — hopefully to that place which is “home” to us for a short while longer. I believe I can speak for Sabrina when saying that we’re both tired from many days on the road. It will be nice to rest awhile before continuing on the new path which forms before us.

Written by bev on April 7th, 2009

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scent of the desert   10 comments

Posted at 12:58 pm in being alone,california

road coming down from Bodie

Note: I’ve moved this blog to a new location as it suddenly started to have problems with navigation and the comment feature (comments no longer displaying). Please visit the new location to read this and more recent posts. Sorry for the inconvenience. – Bev

Upon leaving Bodie, I felt some mild apprehension over the weather. It was cold and the skies looked overcast and threatening. Conditions seemed ripe for at least a little snow. I wasn’t all that sure about the landscape I’d be driving through as I continued south. Looking at the map, it seemed that there might be more mountains ahead — and that turned out to be the case. However, I checked the clock in the van and made a few quick calculations that led me to believe that we’d probably roll up to the motel in Ridgecrest not much after dark. Wrong again. Between the mountainous terrain between here and there, and my eastward trajectory toward the Mountain time zone, my time and distance calculations went out the window.

As the afternoon progressed, I realized that we would be on the road well after dark. That prospect didn’t make me particularly happy as I don’t consider myself to be much of a nighttime driver. However, there wasn’t a lot to do about the situation short of canceling the motel reservation in Ridgecrest, and trying to find somewhere to bunk further north. However, checking my map, it looked like motels might be sparse along this route, especially ones that were “dog friendly”. The weather looked less threatening now, so I decided to try to push on to Ridgecrest.

Round Valley with Mount Tom looming beyond

Despite feeling the need to keep moving, I did stop to stretch my legs and eyes a couple of times. It was at a look-off over Round Valley, with Mount Tom looming beyond, that I caught the unmistakable scent of the desert. As I opened the van door, the familiar odor of dust and certain pollens filled the air, provoking a landslide of memories — of Don and I coming in from long days spent hiking, our hair and clothes dusted with fine red sand and smelling of the desert. The sensation was entirely unexpected and caught me off guard. For a moment, it was as though I was standing next to him once again. At the outset of this journey, I knew that the desert might bring us closer. The feeling was both difficult and welcome.

Soon, we were back on the road, descending into the Owens Valley, with the Inyo Mountains to the east (see below – click on all images for larger views). Now, the road flattened and became straight for long sections. However, as happened at so many other places along the way, there was road construction and lane closings to contend with. I drove onwards, into the dusk, with the setting sun casting a rosy hue over the clouds and mountains. It would be nice to say that the rest of the drive was so pleasant, but that would be stretching the truth. Things got a little hairy further south as the road became more twisted and hilly. Driving in total darkness now, I resorted to my old survival tactic of following a truck that seemed to know where it was going — last used as I tore up the Columbia Gorge in the dark just a few weeks before. Eventually, the truck led us into Ridgecrest. Feeling weary and overwhelmed with aloneness, I asked the motel desk clerk if I could extend my stay to two nights instead of one. In what was to be a rare moment on this journey, I truly felt that I could not push on. Luckily, the room was available, allowing me the chance to crash and burn for a day before resuming the trek onward to Arizona.

Reminder: While on the subject of the desert, be sure to visit the first edition of Carnival of the Arid at Chris Clarke’s Coyote Crossing.

Inyo Mountains east of Owens Valley

Written by bev on February 5th, 2009