Train Dreams

For several years now I’ve been in the practice of culling images from catalogs I get in the mail (Patagonia, REI, Filson, etc.) and occasional magazines. I pull them out, then I slip them into plastic page protectors that go into three ring binders that I save as inspiration for both artistic and lifestyle aspirations. It’s like an analog pinterest board of sorts that no one gets to see but ME. Anyway today, in an effort to rest my brain from Trump news for a couple hours, I decided to catch up on a stack that had built up over several months. This image, from a Filson catalog, I love. It reminds me of my favorite book by Denis Johnson, Train Dreams. I know most people point at Jesus’ Son or Tree of Smoke as his best, but I’ll take Train Dreams any day.

Crocodiles and Ice

jonturkIt’s been eleven years since I first encountered Jon Turk, which was also my first Montana Festival of the Book, circa 2005. I’ve mentioned Turk before HERE, and spoke specifically of his most recent big adventure HERE (which got him nominated as a National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” at the age of 65). In 2005 he was promoting his most recent book at the time, In the Wake of the Jomon: Stone Age Mariners and a Voyage Across the Pacific. He was fascinating and engaging as a speaker, and I loved the book. So I followed up with the one that had preceded Jomon, Cold Oceans: Adventures in Kayak, Rowboat, and Dogsled. Loved that one too. Next up was The Raven’s Gift: A Scientist, a Shaman, and Their Remarkable Journey Through the Siberian Wilderness, which came out in 2006, and the event I attended at the University of Montana in support of that book was particularly profound to me.

In the past year, Jon and I have become friends. His life, and his stories, are fascinating. I’ve been pitching pieces related to him and his new book, Crocodiles and Ice: A Journey into Deep Wild, since early summer. One will be coming out in December. Hopefully it will be merely the first.

Meanwhile, if you are in Missoula, he is giving a presentation at the University tomorrow night, sponsored by Fact & Fiction. It’s well worth attending. Here are the details, from Jon:

Crocodiles and Ice is a scientist/adventurer’s journey into a Consciousness Revolution based on a deep, reciprocal communication with the Earth. The book highlights my award winning polar expedition circumnavigating Ellesmere Island, as well as other, lesser known passages. But, more critically, I tell the story of my lifelong journey from suburban Connecticut into a passion for Deep Wild, an ancient passage, repeated — in one form or another — countless times, and ignored just as often.

I invite my readers to listen to our Stone-Age ancestors, the poets of the ’60s, a wolf that lingers, a Siberian shaman, a Chinese bicycle nomad, a lonely Tlingit warrior laying down to die in a storm, and the landscapes themselves. Because beyond the wondrous and seductive opulence of our oil-soaked, internet-crazed, consumer-oriented society, there lies a glorious and sustainable lifestyle that is based on Deep Wild as a foundation of solace, sanity, compassion, and hope.

It’ll be from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM at the Underground lecture hall on campus. Hope to see some familiar faces there!

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Wild at Heart

I had the pleasure last week to interview one of my writing heroes, David Quammen. It may not be a big deal to some, but last May’s issue of National Geographic that focused on Yellowstone National Park was written single-handedly by Quammen. That, when it comes to magazine writing, is a pinnacle achievement. He will be in Missoula Friday for an event, and my interview — a much-abbreviated version of our full conversation — is in this week’s issue of the Independent. I hope you can check it out, because the guy is loquacious and fascinating. Here’s an excerpt:

When you realized you were actually writing an entire issue of National Geographic, did you have any particular “Holy shit!” moments?

David Quammen: It was a “holy shit” moment for me. And there were a few times after I accepted this project that I had a few of those “holy shit” moments at 4 a.m., thinking, “How in the world am I gonna do this?” What I was thinking was, everyone has already read books about Yellowstone, at least in this region and the world that we live in. And across America people think that they know Yellowstone and what it’s about. The first challenge was how to make it new, how to make it fresh, how to make it interesting. So I worked very hard on trying to do that, to make it serious and probing and unexpected.

I’m looking forward to the event Friday. If you are near Missoula, you should check it out.

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Birthday, Decay, Love

This is a screenshot of one of the chapters that comprises my friend Barry Graham’s new book, Nothing Extra: Notes On the Zen Life (Zen for Real Life) (Volume 3). It might be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.

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Maybe it hits me extra hard because I just turned another year older myself a couple days ago, and have thought long and hard about my own decay, what is acceptable because of age, and what is unacceptable because of my own behavior. In the midst of that, it’s always good to be reminded of the beauty in life as well.

Graham is a noir author, journalist and Zen Buddhist monk, and a fine companion to tip a beer or two with. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything of his I’ve read, and Nothing Extra in particular is bringing me much to reflect on lately. I highly recommend it.

 

Like a Cow Chewing the Same Cud for Six Months or More

With the arrival of March, a timely excerpt from Farmer by Jim Harrison:

 

51a86If2faL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Everyone got disgusted with winter by March and usually before, and a major April storm could bring on a fit of sheer spite in anyone. Carl used to say that winter was like a cow chewing the same cud for six months or more. And despite all the church activities, school, the dances and card parties at the Grange Hall, everyone grew morbid and nervous toward spring, about ten degrees out of kilter in fact. There were more fights at the tavern than at any other time of year and the simplest family quarrels extended into days of silence with the snow and wind outside roaring louder than the wood fire in the stove. Spring, whether false or not, brought on laughter and a kind of useful drowsiness, a time of general good feeling when people yawned and smelled the air with a few weeks’ respite before the fields would be dry enough to plow. Joseph thought it a grand time; it was simply that they had all lived through another winter and that under its heavy lid of snow and ice and frozen ground the earth was actually alive.