Friday, September 30, 2011

The Wind Rivers

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir, 1913

Every summer for the last nine years my husband James has taken me on
at least one backpacking adventure.

This year we choose to return to one of my favorite places;
the Green River Lakes in the upper Wind River Range in Wyoming.

We came to the Green River Lakes a few years ago, and
I told James that I wanted to return with my family. All my siblings
have real jobs or are in school and I think our last family 'camping' experience
involved a rainbow gathering when we were in grade school, no backpacks,
and a 50 lb canvas tent we only managed to drag to the trailhead. They all
have a love of being outside and hiking however, and I knew that if I could
get them to come, James could outfit them and be a great backcountry guide.
My stud of a brother, John, was on board from the beginning and he brought
his wonderful girlfriend Kelley. My Dad even came last minute despite having
foot surgery a few weeks before.

The leaves were changing to brilliant patches of gold and orange on the mountain side and seemed to be our companions on every step of the hike. The nights were cold but the daytime felt perfect. We fished, we ate good food, we told hilarious stories around a campfire, and my Dad brought his big medium format cameras to capture it all. I don't have those photos yet, but here are a few that we took...

It felt wonderful to get away from our busy lives. To have time to read a chapter in a book or sit under the aspens with a crisp apple for lunch. I loved watching James on this trip, he was in his true element and was always concerned to make everyone comfortable. The sounds of whistling leaves, waves lapping the lake shore, birds singing, and the fire cracking. Like John Muir said, I felt my hike outside was really a walk going in.

James & I at the Trailhead

My Dad, John, Kelley, and me

19 in Lake Trout. woot woot.

Upper Green River Lake, and our campsite

Hike in at lower lake, Square Top Peak is in the middle

Our dog Noodle during a cold morning, I gave her a shirt. ha.

yellow aspens on the drive out

Where is your favorite place to backpack or hike?


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Song School

My daughter started preschool a few weeks ago. Backpack and all. Show and tell. Art projects everyday. The first few classes passed without incident. Then trouble came in the form of a restless 3 year old boy. Said boy pushed her in line and kicked her twice while sitting on the mat. This has led to very turbulent meltdowns on the days when it's time to load up for preschool. Somehow we make it to school and when I pick her up she has had a brilliant day and wants to show me all her works of art. Never-the-less the break down comes again the next time we have to go. Any advice ????

Today on the way to school I pointed out that everyone goes to School. Big kids and little kids. Even mommy goes to school.

My school happens for a brief week in August every year, tucked in by the St. Vrain river in Colorado. I've been attending The Rocky Mountain Song School for 9 years. I pulled into the campground the first year at 2am with my sister and cousin. It was dark, we didn't know where to park, where to camp, or if anyone would want us around. Within a day we were making friends and finding out how hard it sounded to actually make music a successful career. At night there were song circles, and we would stay up late inching our way closer to the inner circle begging the stars for chance to sing a song. Some circles were so big it would take hours to go around one time. We didn't care. We could feel the energy of something wonderful happening and wanted to be part of it.
Every year I go I learn something new about the craft of songwriting and about myself. My friend Christopher Smith (who is a brilliant songwriter) once told me that he never goes into the week with an expectation, because the right thing always shows up. I would have to agree with him. Many songs that have found a home on my records were started or finished at song school including: Noah, Never Close Enough, Mercy Me, & Every Time I Go. The place is swarming with nice people who would drop everything to give you a hug or a moment of their time to hear about your break through in Mary Gauthier's class (note: everyone has a break through moment in Mary's class).
I have sat at the feet of songwriting giants like Darrell Scott, Josh Ritter, Mary Gauthier, and Over The Rhine. And I have stayed up to watch the sunrise sharing songs with dear friends in a circle or silo. In a way, I've grown into being a songwriter by attending this school. I treasure it with all my heart. I love the staff at Planet Bluegrass, I love the priority they give to the development of the artist. Every one is welcome and I always feel like I am coming home.

(Playing the Wildflower in 2010)

I have made some pretty amazing friends over the last decade at song school...They are my biggest treasure of all.