new grounds

A couple nights ago in my parents' Minneapolis house a neighbor asked where I was coming from... I know she meant where do I live now (Virginia), but when I tried to answer I found my head spinning with all the places I've been lately: Mexico, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Minnesota, Virginia, Los Angeles, San Francisco. It's hard to keep straight exactly where I AM most recently coming from.

And wow, this is just the start. Beginning the end of January I will be traveling almost non-stop for at least three months, gathering material for the new book on ground. It's exciting, and it's exhausting (even imagining it). I'm working wherever I go--not lying on the beach (mostly). But my main emotion is one of thanksgiving.  How great is it to have as my work trying to write a beautiful, thoughtful book about this world I love?  It's a privilege (though one I've worked very hard for) and I give thanks.

I'm sharing a photo of some recent ground I walked: Amsterdam.  What a beautiful and unique city. Of course much of the city is water, as it has always been. I'll be returning to the Netherlands for more research on how they have reclaimed and protect the ground while living below sea level in so many places. 

And tonight, I'm back at the cabin in northern Minnesota. Last night, my parents' dog ran after some deer in the woods at dusk, and so I spent the next 90 minutes looking for her. (There's that great part in the movie "Up" a few years ago when the talking dogs all quit whatever they are saying and shout "squirrel!" and race off, not to be stopped. I thought of this.) This tromping around the woods in the dark wasn't exactly what I had planned to be doing, and it was unnerving not knowing where Iris was, but otherwise it was a wonderful experience. I would often stop to listen for the sound of her bell, standing as still as possible, holding my breath. The quiet here in the winter woods is intense--everything else here is standing as still as possible, holding its breath too. And for 90 minutes I heard nothing. Then, I heard the bell across State Highway 6, and soon we were running together back through the woods to the cabin, both of us eager to be warm inside.

The ground here is frozen now, with a few inches of snow in areas, and some areas bare. Whenever I get back to the cabin the first thing I do is walk over to Luna's gravesite and say hello. Her body several feet deep into the frozen earth, the ground marked by stones. Fifteen months have passed, but I still miss her every day. I like coming back here and speaking with her again. There's a connecting that happens, a returning to before fifteen months ago. I like coming back to this ground. Whenever I do, I know where I'm coming from, I know where I am.