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 .