Sunday, January 24, 2010


Happy Birthday Darren

Friday night Darren and I slid into a Tiny Vipers induced trance. Perhaps it was the tenderness with which she played her guitar or the swaying trees projected on to the screen in the background. But this Sawdust Mountain inspired event got me to thinking about how we’ve begun to sink our teeth into this space.

Mount Rainier looms over our every move. This time of year it is layered thick with snow - completely surrendered to the cold. I never really heard the low hum of a mountain until last summer when we climbed our way over molten rock up to the glaciers. When diagnosed with terminal illnesses in our old age we will coerce our children to abandon us on its slopes.

A short drive away, the Hoh rainforest is our magical kingdom in which we consistently expect magical things to happen even though they consistently don’t. They say the air is so thick with nutrients here that many plants nearly forgo the soil as they subsist almost solely on what they gather from it. Last time we were there the salmon were rotting in the streams and the moss was dripping down on us from a carpet in the sky.

King of all this is the Pacific Ocean – an unbridled mess of energy and force. We can’t help but gape at the waves charging us and the driftwood littered about like the plant equivalent of whale bones. We are entertained for hours by the barnacles, starfish and “skimmerfish.” It is in places like this that Darren is able to muster up all his poetic forces to call me his “little dribble of hope” (honestly).

I have of course been connected to many places in the past – the first being the rocks, lakes and trees of Northwestern Ontario. It’s a place where a person who likes to be alone can easily achieve their goal. I think it’s hard for most of us to envision a childhood apart from the landscape in which we were formed. I imagine my children having a place to hunt lizards and turn over turtles and keep logs of the culinary likes and dislikes of specific backyard anthills. These days, my thoughts most frequently turn to the small plot of earth that holds a kind and gentle friend who would have flown far if she hadn’t fallen.

Haiti hits a person like a tidal wave with its energy and smells. There’s something so strong in its atmosphere – maybe born of oppression and struggle and the sheer determination to survive and laugh another day. I am tied to a small circle of land on which the houses of our neighbours are strung like pearls. Good, hardworking people who called me Little Horse as I completed another loop on my bicycle. I hope the atmosphere of Haiti is rich in nutrients to get its inhabitants (the brick I call my sister included) through these unimaginably hard times.

New York was hard and cold. Its mountains were manmade and prone to collapse at the whim of whoever was steering the airplane. But when I found the Indian Rock Caves I thought my soul would explode. Somehow a small space at the tip of Manhattan has managed to shake off high-rises and even harbor an eagle or two. And down a flight of stairs in a basement in Queens is a very capable mom of two funny little girls who gives humanity a good name every time.

I guess NW China will be next with its deserts and flaming mountains. Who knows after that, but I am finding that I am increasingly tied to this 28 year old collection of cells and sentiments known as Darren T. Byler. He is, as 16 Horsepower would say, my mobile home.

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Blogger Meredith said...

Good Job, Jenn!~Mom

7:46 AM  
Blogger Zachari said...

I like it jen!- mary

8:49 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

why thank u! i love u 2. ;)

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Olivia said...

I am late in reading this. Like it.

7:07 PM  

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