Departure 

I don’t know how you experienced travelers do it. For me to leave on any trip is a challenge, let alone an overseas trip. Here is a glimpse of my reality. The good news is, I am finally here my printmaking workshop at the Ballinglen Art Center, Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland.


It all started with an idea 

manifesting 

to a penciled entry on my calendar

Later changing to ink.

As the date drew closer and closer

Loose ends started appearing everywhere 

Coming out of crevices

I didn’t know existed.

I tripped repeatedly over them

And as one grabbed my ankle

I fell into a vortex 

Of whirling procrastination.

Round and round I went

Until I grabbed the

Dangling loose ends

Pulled myself up

Then tied them all together in a tight knot.

I finished gathering all my belongings

And left.

Breathless, I found my seat, buckled up

And sighed with relief.

The door closed

We taxied and took off.

Peering below were a few more loose ends

Shrinking in the distance 

Gyrating like frustrated cobras 

Trying to bite me.

But it was too late

I was off.

The Penultimate Travelers- the Furred, Feathered, and Finned

Travel for humans, for the most part, is a lifestyle choice.  We travel the earth to seek &fall experience, new destinations that pull on our hearts.  But humans aren’t the only travelers on this planet.  When it comes down to it, we are totally put to shame by those in the animal world where travel is mandatory.  For many, the mysterious urge of migration calls some of the earth’s smallest inhabitants to take journeys unfathomable to our minds.arctic-tern-1249243_1920

  • Consider the Arctic Tern who flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year.  Monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles through several generations from regions throughout Canada to one small mountaintop in Mexico to spend the winter.  Pacific salmonsalmon-273062_1920 are born in mountain streams and swim down to the open ocean only to return years later.  They travel the hundreds of miles to that very spot where they hatched, to reproduce, & subsequently die.  The pull of migration affects tiny hummingbirds, whales, caribou, wildebeest & many other species too numerous to name.

butterflies-807551_1920As a trained naturalist, and as I ponder my own motivations for travel,  I wonder what it must be like for one of these creatures when one day, they wake up and its time for them to leave?  What do they experience when often they must depart the only place they have every known to embark on an unfathomable journey of such physical magnitude?

I wrote this poem thinking of a bird during its first migration & what it might be like….

 

 FIRST MIGRATION

A sliver of a moon

Shimmered off my left shoulder

As we pumped our wings

Rhythmically, silently

Through the darkness of the frigid night.

The urge unexplained

Tugged on my soul

& led me onward, North

Guided by stars

And the pull of the earth.

leaving the familiar behind

An unknown destiny awaiting.

I revel in the freedom of flight

Trusting the whispers from deep within

I follow the others to a foreign land

On a course mapped by generations before me.

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The Reluctant Traveler

On Saturday, June 3,  I will board a plane for three weeks in Ireland.  I feel both excitement and anxiety about this trip for I am a reluctant traveler.  You see I have this IMG_0749cozy little life in living in an old farmhouse in rural Oregon.  I don’t always feel that need to get away for I am “away.”  Mind you I will always jump at the chance to go camping, hiking or kayaking in the Pacific Northwest but heading across the ocean with a tourist guidebook in hand does not attract me.

Yet every few years I feel that pull to experience the unknown, go to a far off place and savor the sights and culture of someplace foreign.  The one caveat is that I need to travel with purpose, rather than being a tourist bouncing from attraction to attraction. I require a mission and an opportunity to learn about a new country from “the inside out” rather than just be a casual observer. When I was in my 20’s, my work in wildlife research & as a river guide required me to travel to the far reaches of bush Alaska.  Past adventures have also included numerous solo Spanish language immersions in Central America and Mexico with homestays with local families.  Once I traveled to Northern Guatemala alone, arriving Christmas night to a home in an impoverished town to participate in an environmental project there.  In 2013 I walked the Camino de Santiago from France through N Spain with a friend to mark my 60th birthday.  This type of travel is often uncomfortable but offers such opportunities for perspective & personal growth.

patharrisblackThis coming trip will not offer such extreme physical and emotional challenges as my previous journeys. I will make my way from Dublin by bus to the Ballinglen Art Center in the small village of Ballina to take a weeklong mono-printing workshop from artist Ron Prokrasso.  Three friends will join me at the workshop’s end.  We will spend 2 weeks traveling about NW Ireland in a rental car staying in several cottages we have reserved.

It will be a fabulous trip but I am already missing my “spousal equivalent” of 17 years, my two goofy dogs, the stray cat that comes to the porch every night to be fed, the hummingbirds that frequent the porch feeder, my studio & all the other ingredients that make up the life that I cherish.

IMG_0748But I will allow myself to be uprooted for a time to be pruned and enriched by the wonder & challenge that travel can present.  I hope to grow as an artist and bring back a host of fond memories as my souvenirs and a lot of new artwork.  Until then, I better get packing!clover-445255_1920

 

Weekly Photo Challenge- The Evanescence of Water

Walk a half mile down the McKenzie River Trail from Clear Lake, Oregon & you will come upon a treasure of waterfalls and azure pools.  I like to stop & gaze at the dance of the water, infinite incarnations in the blink of an eye.

waterall cairn 2
Evanescent