Sunday, May 10, 2009



NOTES
On a Strange Land


It seems we wake up earlier every morning. Too absentminded to close the blinds the sun streams in electrifying the pines which from our floor level mattress and the luxury of 400 thread count linen seem to dominate the world of our window. Up now, there is smoke on the water burning a blue heron into a black silhouette. This landscape, this air, this sea, is permanently strange to me (at least for these two months). There is no left over sentiment or latent memory of the sea from my childhood in Ohio. This is all new to me. Every day I note the tides, I remark on the deep salt breeze. Jennifer thinks she sees whales out there.

Out in the forest under the pines I run after the tracks of deer. I’m thinking hard about the Seattle Marathon in November so today is my nine mile run for the week. My sister Sheri is 16 this week which leads to ruminating on the importance of mobility when trying to learn the rules of modernity as a 16 year-old Mennonite. I think of my mom’s declaration that I was not mature enough to drive, and how this was echoed in whispers by worried preacher’s wives and weepy widows throughout the concerned community. It turns out, the state revoked my license for a year, the preacher’s wives gave up, and the widows kept praying. I doubt Sheri will need to go through this as it appears she reads Melville and quotes Proust for fun: both good ideas more important than testing the practice of modern Mennonites.

After seven miles of chasing deer, crashing through the brush like a white man, dodging puddles and streams like a rabid dog, I hear the motocrossers who own this State Forest every weekend roaring my way: suited star troopers on their Japanese motorcycles. I dive into a bed of giant ferns away from the snarls. A bear! The lead driver yells through his helmet. Where? Right here! They drive a little closer, I wave, smile weakly. Yeah right. A bear. I’m a disappointment. I run on foot over foot now, ignoring the little flashes of pains here and there. Out on the road a dog barks: here comes another, down by the Sound back in the big cedars I startle a couple of sea ducks and the sound of it and flash of green makes my heart leap in my chest again.

6 Comments:

Blogger Gene and Amy Stauffer said...

Whale watching is under-rated. Take the time to do it.

5:20 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

I wonder if you were a black bear or a grizzly?

5:24 AM  
Blogger darren-jenn said...

Unfortunately the water is really shallow here at our end of the Sound so the Orcas and Grays should not swim our way -- if they did they would certainly die or inspire heroic efforts to save them. We love whales though, we look for them every chance we get.

I was wearing a black shirt.

10:51 AM  
Blogger matt said...

running alone in the midst of nature lessens the gap between us humans and animals. once I met a deer on a run and for the first time in my life I thought of "him" as a brother. so it is natural that you dove in the ferns as a bear might at the sound of motor bikes. you should have made grunting sounds and stayed low to the ground.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

the rocky terrain looks kind of like northwestern ontario. oh, n by the way, darren, u r a white man.

5:35 PM  
Blogger darren-jenn said...

This is true Marilyn but as Matthew points out running in the forest makes one feel wild at heart like a noble savage such that a jarring crash through the underbrush functions as a reminder: Wait, I'm not wearing moccasins; I'm not one with nature; and so on.

This is mostly fun with mythology and being alive.

3:37 PM  

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