Living at Large in the World

“I move throughout the world without a plan, guided by my instincts, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities.”

I curled up with Rita Golden Gelman’s book Tales of a Female Nomad – Living at Large in the World for a couple days and read it “kiver to kiver”. Her book was loaned to me at a time when my husband and I had made choices that landlocked us and brought a screeching halt to any travel plans we might have in the near and distant future. We purchased 2 acres in 2004, designed, built and opened a bed and breakfast. The only places we traveled were vicariously through our guests. At the age of 48, Gelman set out on a trip intended to last a couple of weeks that turned into the adventure of a lifetime. She took me places I long to experience, but more than that her personal transformation and the relationships she cultivated intrigued me the most and held me captive as I followed along on her journey.

Although Gelman is a seasoned storyteller as a prolific writer of children’s books (70+), she also excels at telling her own autobiographical story – sharing her vulnerabilities, insecurities, instincts, opportunities and the challenges she experiences along the way. Immersing herself in the culture and community wherever she lands, trusting strangers with her life, embracing the people that graciously open up their homes and hearts to her, Gelman has written a travelogue that is extraordinary. So much so that Tales of a Female Nomad -Living at Large in the World is the number one book on my book list, which I recommend to people over and over again. Gelman has been a nomad living at large in the world since 1986. Her book and life continue to inspire me. She remains a nomad with few possessions and no permanent address. You can follow Rita Golden Gelman via her website.

The Telling Signs

The Telling Signs by Laura L. Snyder

I know too much
about dusty sage, the open howl
of wind, and the dry grasshoppers
that pop against my skirt.
This world is scorched yellow-gray
and grave markers tilt
like heavy petals on the hill.

How can a body keep
anything under this sky–a blue bowl
of unmeasured
fire. The buckets of water
drip in double lines behind me.
A turkey vulture shadow
crosses me,
cuts the glare and is gone.
Tumble weed

wheel away. (Sometimes
I ink prayers on torn strips of muslin
and tie them to the branches
to carry away.)
I look down. Burrs grip
and drag the edge of my hem,
the tear in my apron
like children. My bones hollow
for the sight of another woman.

LAURA L. SNYDER keeps a slanted profile in Seattle so weighted words pour out in nasty weather. Find her most recent writing in Wazee, Cascade Journal, Ekphrasis, Alimentum Journal, Oracle, Pontoon #9, Switched-on Gutenberg, Chrysanthemum and Moon Journal. You’ll find her with an open journal in art museums and wherever trees and bears hang out. Flutter Poetry Journal. Inspired by a photo of an old abandoned farmhouse that was intended to be the book cover for The Telling Signs by Susan Moon. Reprinted with permission from Laura Snyder.

Laura and I have been friends since 1978. She never ceases to amazing me with her prolific journaling, writing and publishing of her prose and poetry, even through the most difficult of times.  As soon as Laura has computer access again, she will send me an updated bio with current links where you can read more of her writing published online. Laura’s The Telling Signs has been nominated for the DZANC BOOKS Best of the Web 2010.

Journey of a Lifetime

Yesterday, I picked up a copy of the January 2010 issue of Sunset Magazine to read while seated in a waiting room. The article Journey of a Lifetime caught my attention. The gist of the article is that Alex McInturff, a master’s student at the Earth Systems Program in the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University, set out on foot in the spring of 2009 to duplicate John Muir’s 1868 320-mile solo trek from the Bay Area to Yosemite. He kept a journal and he took photos. A couple of Alex’s personal insights really spoke to me. So much so, I jotted them down in my notebook, so I can give more thought to and share them with you here.

“Your life is made up of a whole lot of space between memorable moments. You have to appreciate those spaces too. They’re important to you.”

“… don’t dismiss the possibility of doing something you thought you’d never do in a week, a weekend, a day. It may be there’s a whole new you other there just waiting to be discovered. Take the first step.”

Alex McInturff, a Master’s student in Earth Systems, is already well-known for his spring trek retracing John Muir’s 1868 walk from Oakland to Yosemite. This summer he has been working to create an online narrative and spatial analysis of his “California Transect,” in conjunction with his Master’s thesis. Look for news of the launch of that site soon. In the meantime, Audubon magazine has just published an interview with Alex: Following Muir’s Footsteps. Jon Christensen – The Bill Lane Center for the American West – Stanford University

McInturff is currently comparing his visual observations from the trip, as well as interviews with community groups that he did along the way, with historical land maps to develop conservation strategies for private land. He plans to graduate from his master’s program in December and hopes to wrap up this project soon thereafter. Audubon Magazine

Follow Alex McInturff’s blog California Transect – John Muir, 1868 — Alex McInturff, 2009. For a slideshow of photos from his journey, view Retracing John Muir’s footsteps, Los Angeles Times.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)