summer solstice

I have arrived. Here I am in Lakeside, Montana, along Flathead Lake and within Glacier County, just miles from the National Park of the same name. The drive here was large, if you know what I mean. The sky was wide, the fields stretching, the mountains immense and green.

Everything in Montana seems to have a name like Whitefish, Great Falls, Bear Paw, Big Sky, Yellowstone, Birdseye, Blackfoot.

This is the West, so different from my Northwest (did I ever know?). Ranchers stroll the edges of their land along the highway, and I drive by at 80 miles an hour (Montana just installed speed limits a few years ago, and they are still very high), listening to Jackson Browne and taking it all in.

There are a few backpacking hitchhikers on the way here, and I smile and wave good blessings to them as I drive. Two hawks swoop over carrying large fish in powerful beaks.

And I have lived at the Golden Gate, at the doors of the West in that foggy city we love, and I have lived along Lewis & Clark's trails and pathways, their "almost-there" Western summit. But now here I am in the Shadowlands, in the Western stretch of the journey, at the top of the Rockies.

Last night, we walked down to the lake, sat on the docks, took pictures, laughed. All the snowy mountains around the water were dipped in sunlight, and the evening stretched until the 9:45pm sunset: we celebrated the day for 17.5 hours of its light.

Wendell Berry prays, "At night make me one with the darkness, in the morning make me one with the light."

Oh, the North, the fabled West, its overwhelming summer solstice.

Happy hinge-point, my friends. I hope your spring was well.


Pretentiously enough, I sometimes find myself almost wholly convinced that I own the state of Washington.

I planted these trees. I was here when these dirt roads were laid. And how many days have I spent climbing these ladders, pruning and thinning and picking this fruit?

I walk the earth like the original buyer, the contracter, the builder, the dreamer. This is my state. Welcome Home.


rejoice! we are almost home!

Now that my final final, as it were, is taking place tomorrow morn, it seems appropriate to break the studying in order to publish an abbreviated list of summer intentions. And you? I would like to hear yours, too, please.

+Acquire a pair of ducks (friends, of course).
+Read a great deal, especially of Mary Oliver's poetry & dear Annie Dillard's prose.
+Learn to make fig cake. Mmm, figs are so good! (and so Song of all Songs-esque:) )
+Rent French film Love Me If You Dare
+Make my own chapstick.
+Practice coffee art.
+Create a homemade granola.
+Rockclimb, hike, longboard, bike, and skinny dip my way all across Washington, Canada, and Montana.

In the north, the summers seem almost unreal--hazy and mirage-like, where 50 degree latitudes give light well into steamy nights and the berries are pregnant and tender even in the cool of the morning. Here's to the next three months: to orchards and to the Solstice, to photography, baking, weddings, and friends.


[a small shout-out]

Go check out Scottish act Frightened Rabbit, especially their song "Fast Blood." Seriously, I found them out a couple of weeks ago, ended up buying their album, and have been listening to them often since.

"and now I, I tremble,
because this humble
has become miracle
I feel like I just died twice
was reborn again
for hard dirty cents
and the fast blood, fast blood, fast blood
hurricanes through me"


life is about more than what you love

I'm in a daze these days. I stumble around, lost and searching, but it's like I don't even know what I'm looking for.

Christie came up this weekend--it was like breathing again, being with her, remembering the hospital and processing how we have adjusted since leaving our city (has it really been a month??). It's getting harder to remember patients' names, stories of people I used to think of everyday. Christie and I held hands and talked, and then just looked at each other for a long time.

Tonight I came across a little rectangle of paper. "Al Smith" it read. "5D, Room 1, Bed 2." All in very straight, practiced writing, nonetheless with little tiny variations in each line, as if written by a trembling hand. On the next lines are written his phone number (with area code), address, and landlord's number, I believe. Another square of paper holds his email address. Child's writing. Al Smith needed me, bid me farewell with all of his information--even the address to his low-income seniors' hotel.

Next to these papers lay my lanyard badge for working at SF General, my photo ID and nametag. I went through three levels of bureaucracy (and waited 6 weeks!) to get this badge, and I won't be throwing it out anytime soon, I think to myself (as if my subconscious has vague plans of volunteering at General sometime in the distant future).

Who am I, anyway? Who am I anymore? "I'm Cari, the chaplain intern here at General. Do you mind if I come in? How are you feeling today?"