between here and there

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Living Like Weasels


I’m on the plane headed from Montana to North Carolina to visit life-long friends. Friends whose children have transformed in the past few years into different versions of the creatures they were the last time I visited.

I’m thinking about the visit, great conversation, good, local food, and a few long walks. And as I think about their home I can’t help but land in the middle of my own imaginary “Annie Dillard” land. While it has been many years since Dillard wrote

“Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” when I visit my friends I always feel like I am returning to the land and experiences she wrote of many years ago. Beyond Tinker Creek ruminations I realize I mostly transport to the landscape she describes in her short story “Living Like Weasels”, deciduous woods filled with scurrying sounds, that remains a strong touchstone for me even twenty-odd years after reading it the first time. Such a profound reference point for life this story has given me, that I read it every year with my students. A discussion of freedom, choice, intuition, love, living , and instinct pursues. Each discussion , every year, different, but similar in nuance.

Tomorrow I will head into the woods, both real and imagined, for that soulful journey that marries reality with imagination. I will bow to the six directions, as Jim
Harrison notes. I will live for a bit with the weasel and look for the wild rose bush , if I am lucky I will lose myself for a while, lose destination, hear the sounds of the wild woods beyond the motors of cars that hum past the perimeter. I will think about what I should be holding onto, and what is unnecessary. I will smell the woods, look up into the sky for that Eagle she writes of and deliver myself to the World, mindless for as long as I can muster, searching for my necessity in life .

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What We Eat


Food. What I eat has been a long preoccupation. Long before Michael Pollan gained fame with his book “Second Nature” I was fascinated with food and eating. I am not exactly sure why, I guess it seems to bring the world into perspective for me. The tastes of food tie me to an experience and a place. They are specific, like scents that can bring you back to a place or memory when you smell something in particular.

When I was thirteen I chose to celebrate my birthday at an herb farm that was out in the country in Texas. When I think back to this event, I marvel that there was such a place in Texas, and that I wanted to celebrate my young teen birthday there. No wonder the kids in high school looked at me strange. I was and am strange. The choice of eating at the herb farm was not only for the food, but for the experience. The experience of eating, the celebration with friends, and the place. It was a marvelous place of gardens and green houses. It was architecture tied with food. And maybe that is where architecture and food tied together for me for the first time.

Since that birthday I have remained engaged with food and eating. How it is prepared, where it is grown or produced, differences in spice and deviations relative to the place. I have years of specific memories of eating. I have a collective of experiences of growing food and then learning how to cook with what I have grown. And today I am thinking about how food, eating and growing is becoming a discussion point for sustainability.

If you have been a student at Remote Studio you know that cooking and eating communal meals is an important aspect of the semester. I intentionally integrated cooking and eating into the program because of my belief that how and what we eat is critical to a whole and potentially best lived life. It enriches us, it grounds us, it defines place. It is celebratory, it can give meaning to events, it provides memories and ultimately helps us share our lives with others.