Friday, March 29, 2013

Home: the Place You're From, or the Place You Seek?

This is our eternal question.

I have been "at home" here in my studio at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts for nearly two weeks.  It has been my "home away from home on the range." A writing refuge that has seen me add more good pages to my manuscript that i have managed to create in nearly a year. I've  a few hundred more to go, at least.  Then there will be the dammed re-write.

From my window, I can stare out to rocky high cliffs, and between them and me flows Brush creek, and between the creek and me a wide expanse of mud season, and a layer of trees. Their tips are just beginning to turn the faintest green. Spring is trying to arrive. But it goes more slowly, here, probably because 60 MPH winds tend to keep things nippy. Today hourseback riders and hikers have passed my studio windows, as I try to get a few more hours of writing in before going home to Denver.

Last week we discovered that a stay at Brush Creek is apparently not complete without a visit to the Saratoga version of heaven; the local taxidermy shop.  I found a few friends.

On Wednesday, a few of us took a trek up the trails through the snow to the high yurts.
Specifically we trekked on past the first yurt area higher to Jim's Yurt. It sits in a wooded clearing and is full of dead animals, quite spectacularly preserved, including an albino moose. More about the moose when I can find the picture. 

We trailed moose tracks to reach that yurt. It seemed to be a wounded moose, because we spotted what looked like blood drops all along the route. How wounded, we could not exactly tell. It could be that he has just taken a wrong turn and run into a tree and had a bloody nose. At any rate, we only saw the tracks, not the moose. It did spark discussion of just exactly what would go into a drink called the "wounded moose." Several recipes were developed.


Last night at our farewell bonfire, we watched the full moon plus one day rise over the highest rocks of the cliffs.  It was after 11:00 pm - early by our hours here, where we begin writing at 8:00 am and often go for 11-14 hours, with breaks for food. This has felt like a writer's home; a place where the rhythm of creativity is respected and that which is being created is honored. And where else can a person feel most at home than in a place where who you really are is known and understood?

Long ago I decided that the definition of home probably lies at the core of Salt, Light & Life.  I think I was right.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Salt, Light & Life at Brush Creek

I have decided that the numbers that count are the days and moments for which we are grateful.

I arrived at Brush Creek,Wyoming a few days ago. More correctly, I arrived at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts for two intense weeks as a Writer in Residency. Bucking the wind west on I-80, I turned south on Highway 230. The land is wide open, sprawling; mountains looking deceptively close. Before turning east onto the long and winding ranch road toward a mountain whose name I do not yet know, I encounter an entire herd of antelope, who seem not the least bit concerned that I had arrived.

On this 15,000 acre working ranch, we are a small enclave on the banks of Brush Creek as it flows down from the mountains above us. We sit apart from the main lodge and many lodge residences. 

We are four artists, two composers and two writers, from all parts of the country. We are the least duded of those on this spread of sturdy log dwellings and expansive barns. Most of the year it caterer to those who can afford $800-1,500/night rooms and we artistic types are trotted out for occasional forays with the guests. We sleep in tiny rooms and we pick up our own food from the resident chef. While we can hike, or climb, use the lodge sauna, ride horses, or cross country ski most anywhere, we have all been warned not to climb the cross-log fences that surround the buffalo preserve.

The lodge is empty on this first day of spring. The snow that has fallen most of the day has stopped and blue sky has returned. A few of my fellow residents went hiking in the snow. While it is probably not the last of the snows, mud season is upon us. This seems a place where moments count more than ordinary days.

I am here to work on my novel. For want of a better title, I call it The Book of Time. It has been in the works for over two years. I don't know if it is really about time, or something else. It includes many of my favorite themes. They are topics I've explored from time to time in this blog; the nature of the universe, the discovery of one's purpose, the edges of eternity, the pursuit of authenticity. I am making headway. More progress than I have in the past year or more.

It is a luxury of time, of place and of space. A combination of focused writing time that I never get (or take), this wide-open space, and a studio all my own. Perhaps the real difference is this studio with my name on it! 

An entire 18'x21' 1880s log studio, with windows on three sides looking out to rugged cliffs and creek, and thick log walls. I have rearranged the furniture. It's elegantly rustic furnishings make me feel as if someone has dropped me into a Southwest Living magazine spread. I don't have a buffalo head on the wall, but I do have a painting of buffaloes!

I am profoundly grateful. If it were possible to stop time inside these moments, I would do so.  Perhaps then I could finish the entire book in this setting.