If you’ve been following along here or on social media, you’ve likely noticed that poems have been the theme as of late, especially April. Here in Minnesota, it was a cold spring, and I was at what would be the close of a very long struggle with persistent illness – not the sort of illness … Continue reading Broken Hallelujah
A few months ago I sat down with Iris, founder of The Nabalo Lifestyle, for an interview that appeared in their most recent online magazine.
You can download the full publication of Issue Three: The Mystic (and the back issues) here: The Nabalo Lifestyle Magazine
Iris: Can you tell us a little bit more about the beautiful place that you call home?
Heidi: My family and I (myself, my spouse, and our six year old) make our home in the St. Croix River Valley, just to the west of the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin in the United States. It’s a landscape full of lakes, rivers, bluffs, ancient glacial potholes, small towns, organic farms, and plenty of winding trails to explore all of it. We live in a little red house perched on the edge of a ravine on the shores of a tiny lake, with a large field just up the hill from the house that provides space for a large vegetable garden, several types of berry bushes, and an apple tree. It’s all imperfect and takes a lot of work to maintain, but I love it here. Continue reading “The Mystic: An Interview with Nabalo”
I’m sitting outside on the back deck, surrounded by towering basswood trees that have just fully come into their summer leafy glory. Birds are chirping, and I can hear frogs croaking down in the shallows of the lake, and squirrels chattering at each other as they race from tree to tree. Filtered sunlight is streaming down, there’s a gentle breeze keeping any bugs away, the purple flowers of the hillside Sweet William are in full bloom, and all of this combined creates a little oasis of beauty and tranquility. I can also hear the growl of heavy machinery as crews prepare to pave another section of the road and every so often there’s a loud crash as a tree comes down, followed by the buzzing of a chainsaw and the beeping of a large loader backing up. I hear a diesel truck roar by and the dust from the road rises like a massive cloud as it races by the house. There is beauty and there is destruction. This contrast exists everywhere. Continue reading “Between Beauty and Destruction”
Muted reflections staring at the sky making sounds to draw down angels that sing in tune with mystery and ride on the white bird’s call. Thirsty soil covered by freshly fallen leaves holding out hope for refreshment and clinging to a beauty that refuses to fade. A gray expanse of possibility whispering into the … Continue reading A Window’s View
Yesterday I took to the woods in the afternoon. It’s the first week in about ten years when I don’t have any sort of schedule. There is no work calendar hovering in the background, I’m not on vacation for a certain amount of time, there are no appointments to plan around. I’m a free agent, at least for now. So I did what I do when I can do whatever I want – I went to the woods.
Going to the woods is what I tend to do when I am feeling melancholy, unsure, anxious, or angry. It’s a place to go when I’m grieving, wondering, lamenting, or stewing about something outside of my control. Basically, going to the woods (or prairie, or ocean, or any other natural area) is healing. It’s a place to go in celebration as well, but lately, its role in my days has been one of holding space for what needs to rise from the ashes of what has recently burnt away. Continue reading “Balance For Today: Lessons from a Rock Cairn”
It’s Thanksgiving time here in the United States, and what a strange season we are in. There’s a war being waged on peaceful indigenous people and their allies in North Dakota, people who are continuing to stand strong to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed (and eventually poisoning the Missouri river watershed.) People in high office in this country seem to have missed the history lessons that taught us about the horrors that result from unchecked, systematic racism and the danger that lies in acting from fear, hate, entitlement, and greed. Work hours are long, jobs are lost, people are sick, loved ones are hurting, the dog is getting old. There are many things to lament. But we might do ourselves a favor and take a break from the lamenting to give thanks as well. Gratitude is always possible. Elie Wiesel wrote, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Continue reading “A Thanksgiving of Unnoticed Gratitude”
What would it be like to dance with mountains? To sway with the majestic alpine wildflowers that dot the valleys, or to listen to the whisper of clear snowmelt as it cascades to lower ground over a bed of stones smoothed to perfection? To kiss the pine needles, to breathe the scent of ancient bedrock mystery? Or to walk in step with the peaks that have been stripped of life, or the valleys that have been clearcut and left for dead? The toxic rivers, the tundra fracked of life, the homeless topsoil that can’t hold on? How do we love our failed expectations alongside our beautiful victories? How can our defeats, our poor choices, and our monsters co-exist with our grace, our goodness, and our love? How do we embrace them all and hear what they have to say?
Dance with mountains.
Continue reading “To Dance With Mountains”
It has been a busy month. September always seems to mean racing to prepare life for winter. Of course we could do some of these things before we HAVE to do them, but it doesn’t seem to happen that way, year after year. So we fly around in September getting fire wood cut and stacked, filling fuel tanks, mowing the grass a few more times, winterizing motors, cleaning the chimney…..the list is long, and usually expensive. Things feel really hard, tempers are short, work days seem long and sometimes it feels like a hopeless cause to try to change anything at all. But here we are on the first day of autumn, and the list is getting done. We have firewood stacked, the septic is pumped, the furnace is tuned up, and we still have funds to the other things we need to do, even if we won’t be going on any European vacations anytime soon.
Autumn is a paradox. The leaves are changing, the harvest is coming in and the warmer temperatures this year mean the blackberries are still putting new blossoms on their brambles. There is vibrant tree color alongside the withering of the annuals I planted in the spring. There is the fresh possibility of a new school year alongside the mourning of summer’s sense of freedom. There is hope for a late freeze alongside a yearning for the day the temperature drops far enough to bring many kinds of garden work (and allergies) to a halt. We feel like we will never have enough, yet we always have more than we need. Continue reading “Autumn’s Paradox”
When I hear the words “the blue of longing,” I am transported to a dusty red four-speed Toyota that doesn’t have air conditioning, and I’m driving west across South Dakota. It’s August and there’s a cassette tape playing since no radio stations will tune in without static. After miles of corn fields give way to miles of grassy pasture; after the Missouri river valley gives way to rolling tall grass prairie; after I cross through the barren beauty of Badlands spires reaching toward the sky, after the signs for Wall Drug say, “wait, you missed it!”……after all of that I finally come to the place where the Black Hills loom in the distance, and I marvel at the sudden change in the horizon. There is a reason these mountains are called what they are – when they appear in the windshield, it is like looking into layer upon layer of coal colored refreshment against the brightness of a late summer sky. I am astonished at the majestic expanse that commands my sight lines and the welcoming darkness of what lays ahead. Surely there is myth and magic to be found once I arrive at this oasis. And then at some point as I continue on the westward journey, it’s gone. Once I reach the point where identifying individual hills and trees is possible, the black has vanished and only the landscape remains. They are just hills, now – beautiful and sacred as they always were, but the mystery that came with the space that was once between me and the place I sought is as gone as the distance that was closed to nothing. And when I look up and out past the place where the hills give way to grasslands again, I can see hints of the next place that I seek, and the color that tints that desire to arrive. The myth and magic remains just around the next corner. Continue reading “The Blue of Longing”
To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now. ~Donald Altman
I glide though the silence of early morning fog rising from the river, my kayak paddle slicing through the glassy water, propelling me forward into the next moment, and the next, and the next. I am not always good about doing this, but sometimes in the time just after dawn as the sun starts to claim ownership of the sky, I am able to be in each moment, not thinking about the last one, not anticipating the next one. I am able to just be present, one paddle slice or step or breath at a time. Simple elegance, one paddle slice at a time.
We spent this past week about 500 miles from home, in a little yellow cottage outside of Manistique, Michigan. Perched on the southern shore of the state’s upper peninsula and the northern shore of Lake Michigan, my husband’s family has roots deep in the sandy shores and waters and lore of the small lakeside town and its surrounding forests. It’s a place of simplicity if you choose it, and an elegance of a different sort than is usually conjured from the term. I suppose you could say it’s a place where they have always gone to be present. To simplify the pace of the days and let the slow energy of a summer vacation take the reins. Continue reading “Kayak Morning”