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This, All This

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This, All This

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photo (7)See, the thing of it is, he says, is that you have to enjoy the journey. Can't just want to shoot things. I've gone all day in stuff like this and never seen a single bird. So you have to want to take a nice walk. He's telling me this while we're sidehilling into a draw, my responses coming slow because I have so many other things on my mind. My right foot keeps slipping out of my boot, they aren't tight enough. The ground isn't just steep, it's deceptive--rocks creep up out of the waving clumps of cheat grass and threaten to pop an ankle at a moment's notice. My nose hasn't stopped running, and now the skin underneath has turned raw. I'm trying to keep an eye on Dex, to see if he stops, but it's hard to watch that tricky ground and him at the same time. Still though, I know what he means. I say that, or I say, I guess you're right, but I don't think he can hear me. I can barely hear him, only catching about a third of what he's saying, which is annoying. It's gems like this I'm missing. Later he goes, hey, here's an old adage I like to hunt by. You think you're alone out here, far away from anyone else? I look out from the side of the ridge we're on. To the front of me is sagebrush and cheat grass, a thick spine of bluff rising to meet the sky. The bottom of the draw is dense and tangled, rocky. The river is out of sight, but I know if we headed back towards where we came from, we'd stare down from an inspiring height at that big body of water. I seem pretty alone. Well you're not, he says. Speaking from personal experience? I ask. He laughs, yep. There's no time to elaborate though, because the incessant jingle of Dexter's bell has stopped--he's pointing the tangle of sagebrush at the bottom of that draw. Dad starts to move down, I stay still, behind him, but with a sudden burst of movement, a buck comes bursting out. He bounds up away from us, up the sidehill, and I'm suddenly envious of a creature so much better suited for this environment. I can't quite figure out how, because those legs are so spindly thin and the way he's bouncing they ought to be broken, but then, that's Darwin for you.

The first hour of any big hike is the hardest, I think. Sure, you're fresh, but you also haven't gotten anywhere substantial yet--so when you're staring up a ridge and comparing it to the forest service map you checked out before you left, and they're telling you, yep we'll just sidehill in and out of these draws and do the one big up-down, and then hike through some more until we drop back down to the road, it feels impossible. It looks impossible, too. Wouldn't you think that giant, undulating landscape insurmountable to mere mortals like us? Doesn't it seem like it should be that way? But here we are, nestled into a draw, slowly but surely making progress.

The day started after we'd already been in the car for a couple hours, the sun rising blindingly through the windshield, painting the sky in so many shades of fire. The light slowly revealed the land for the rest of the day, leaving pieces untouched until dusk, when it began its slow, meandering retreat. There were plenty of pockets while we were out that crunched with frost well into the late afternoon, the cold and the shadows rendering the light thin and insufficient. The sun must really hate that, I think, after we get started down the road we'll take in. The road is about four miles, and cast in shadow the whole way by the canyon walls. Cold has made the world slow down, and soon it will stand still--the river will freeze over, the fish will stop swimming, sink to the bottom and wait it out, plants will stop their incessant push up, the creatures will hide, and we won't come here. For now, though, the morning is new and though it's cold (I lose my face to it) the sun can still do some work. Tall grass on either side of us glitters diamond-like as frost melts, little holes of mud appear where thin sheets of ice were before. As we walk, we wave to two fly fisherman we met earlier in the parking lot, hope they don't freeze up out there in their waders. They're tall, kind of geeky guys, made more so by the waders, and when they admire Craig's gun they tell us their wives said no guns when they got married, so now they just fish. Please don't let me be that wife, I pray silently. Please don't let me be the rule-making, domineering kind. And then I laugh a little, because of course that's up to me.

Once we get going, after that first hour has been fought through, a nice rhythm emerges and we all settle into a pattern. Dex has gone full-on frenetic and runs circles, maddeningly, around us. He's racing smells, as if he can't get to the next one fast enough. It's fun to watch, which is all I'm doing today, but tough to hunt with--if he's too far away and hits birds, if that scent stops him in his tracks and we're nowhere close, you might as well give up on ever hitting anything. So Dad tries to rein him in, two short blasts on the whistle to let him know he needs to change direction, that he needs to stay closer. It works, kind of. They have their own language while they're out there, Dad knows when Dexter is actually on something or when he's just testing the air. Dexter will look back for Dad every so often, watch for his hand signals. Sometimes they work, sometimes Dex knows something we don't and goes after that instead. Dad tells Craig and I at one point, when it looks like Dex is on point, no--look at his head. His head looks like it's pointing to me. But he's barely moving it, side-to-side. If he were pointing, Dad says, he wouldn't move a muscle. Craig investigates. It's an old roost--they were probably just there, judging by the amount of crap they left behind. Good read, Dad.

We walk for probably twelve miles, sidehilling a lot of the ridges, only getting tricked significantly by one turn. It forces us into two big up-downs instead of just the one, but we've been out long enough that I don't mind. I've found that I am remarkably sure-footed, shockingly so considering the clumsiness with which I approach the rest of life. But I am good at going up and down mountains. A certain intuition, or maybe just bullheadedness, follows me up what appear to be unapproachable summits. I like the simple, straightforward exertion of putting one foot in front of another on a hill, of feeling strong and sure moving up. And today, I'm particularly grateful for my Dad and Craig's company because they won't complain about the grade of the hill, about the misread of the mountain. They'll just keep climbing, like me, because that's all you can do. Nothing you say, nothing you do, will change that mountain. So you better just get up it.

It's worth it. My dad asks me twice why I wanted to come. He warns me it'll be hard walking for a long time, it'll be really cold. I know you can do it, he says, but why do you want to? There are a lot of things I could say, quick, witty retorts. I'm known for them, you know. I throw out a couple the second time he asks. The first time, I say, I don't know, I just really want to. Because I can't put the feeling into words, I can't make you understand. I can only tell you what I see, and at the top, right before we start the descent, I look out over what feels like everything to me. I'm standing alone on the ridge, a sea of golden cheat grass below me and a sea of dazzling blue above, and the canyon stretches out in front of me, too big to feel real. The river is a deep, still U around staggeringly sheer walls, the heaving land a thousand shades of tan. I stand rooted to the ground and let the wind below around me, take my breath out of my lungs, and I let all the words in my head empty out until there's nothing left but the canyon and the sky and the sound of the wind to fill me.

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Run Like Hell

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Run Like Hell

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I made some New Year's resolutions that I've been thinking a lot about lately, mostly because somehow, inexplicably, the new year is almost upon us. I feel like somehow I've been duped again by my fickle friend time--if it really is November 7th, then tomorrow is practically Christmas and then next thing you know we'll all be kissing and making wild, empty promises for the year ahead. Maybe that's not fair, I'd like to think that my promises for the year ahead have never been empty per se, so much as ambitious, or unrealistic, or potentially insane, which is generally the conclusion that I've come to. So here we are, at a good-old fashioned two-month to new year's check-up. Which basically means that since I've made the error of publicizing my goals, I feel the need to do some assessing and see if I've actually achieved any of them, and then, if I haven't, try and get them done in the remaining two months of the year. Sadly, this method feels all to familiar--you know you've got a problem when you procrastinate even on your New Year's goals. But that's neither here nor there. If you'll remember, I actually made a somewhat absurd number of goals--obviously, one would be way too easy--so this year I had three on either side of the mind/body equation. One was to stay positive, one was to stay motivated, one was to keep a decent balance between work and play. One: I've been positive, I think. I wasn't writing when I was feeling not positive at all though, so I guess this isn't a fair assessment, if we base our conception of how I'm feeling purely on what I write here, but oh well, I'll take it. I think I was more positive than last year, so that's a step in the right direction. I've been motivated, I think. I'm still working, I have kind of a plan for life, or a life I think I could live. There are a lot of contingencies, but aren't there always? Although I will admit, I've been feeling like I haven't been motivated enough. More on that later, but we'll add it to the list of mostly done. I've been balancing well, I think, although I think I'll always favor play over work. Is this normal? I hope so.

The concrete goals were as follows: read 12 non school-related books, go on a trip, run a half-marathon. Or just run more, I did some qualifying. The books thing? I hate to brag, but I got that done in July. Although I was right to think that I would need a freebie, I'm making a pact right now that this year I'll only make goals that push the boundaries. I mean 12 books a year? It's borderline insulting. To myself. Think about that. As for go on a trip, I can't really remember what the driving force behind that was--I have so many questions for the person who wrote that. For example, what kind of trip? Is there a length you had in mind, or will any old overnighter get the job done? Did you have some illusion of out-of-country travel this year, champ? That's a personal black mark for not being explicit, but I will still count it as being complete, because I've gone on a lot of trips. Nothing too crazy--San Diego as the exception--but still, a change of place*.

Which brings me to the final goal: run a half-marathon or just run more. Another point of contention with myself, because there's a big difference between just running more and running a half-marathon, isn't there? Alas, I haven’t run a half-marathon, 13.1 miles is a very long way to go in roughly 2.25 hours, and I may have underestimated that. No, that’s not right—I’m confident in my ability to tackle such an endeavor, I just lacked the motivation to knock that out. But! I have run more, so I got about half way to that goal.

I know I’ve run more because I ran a 10k with my sister a few weekends back. It wasn’t purely voluntary, as most things with my sister are—she suggested we run the Run Like Hell 5k, and I said sure sounds great, because a monkey could run a 5k and I’ll be damned if I’m ever beat at anything by a primate. But then she told me roughly a week and a half before the race that it was a 10k. There is some contention over whether or not the distance was established as a 10k from the start, Rachelle was fairly adamant that she told me it was a 10k, to which I responded, why would I say sure sounds great to a 10k? That’s 6.4 miles. No human says sure sounds great to a 10k when they haven’t gone a run longer than 3 miles in the last three months. Please. This is absurd.

Actually, the conversation went more like, Oh. Are you sure? No are you really sure? And then I verified online that we were running the 10k, and then I put it out of mind until race day because no man should be forced to contemplate their certain doom that far in advance.

To be honest, I wasn't dreading it quite as much as I probably should have. I was pretty sure I could run that far without too much trouble—at least, that’s what I told everyone else and myself. I mean it really is only six miles. You just have to get in the zone! I told myself. That runner’s high will hit in the first 3 no problem! Your feet won’t be THAT bad! Probably. Not they’ll be terrible, I thought, but if they’re really bad you can easily use that as an excuse to not run anymore.

I didn’t end up needing it, but it was handy to have in the back pocket just in case. Race day itself was downright enjoyable—my sister is very perky in the mornings, you know, so I didn’t have to even hold up my end of the conversation, she just keeps talking regardless—leaving me free to look at all the things around us and soak in the atmosphere of healthy, active people. Well, kind of healthy, active people, some were more healthy and apparently active than others, because there were some questionable characters. If they beat me, I thought, I’m out. There is no way that guy beats me. Also because this was a week before Halloween, everyone was dressed up—for my part, I was wearing butterfly wings, which I thought might help me finish strong, but in reality just ended up banging my back for six miles. The first .4 were okay, after that things went downhill. Also because this was a Halloween themed race, they had a glitter station—someone alerted us to this fact by saying, hey fairies, there’s a glitter station over there, which delighted Rachelle and I to an unhealthy extent. It was just as magical as it sounds, although I forgot that I put chapstick on my nose because I kind of had a cold and it was sore, so when we went to put on glitter on our cheeks, I got glitter face. Not my best look, not my worst.

The race itself is fairly faint in my memory—mostly my legs felt like lead and we were running in what felt like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, aka Portland’s industrial district in the fog, but it wasn’t as hard or as terrible as it had the potential to be. I don’t know that I hit the runner’s high like I wanted to, but I did get into the zone, which means I just kept running, regardless of the leaden legs problem and my questionable GI tract, and the fact that we only saw two mile markers. Mile marker 1, and mile marker 6. Which means mile 2 lasted for about 4 miles, a cruel trick on the novice runner like me, who assumed they had them every mile and literally thought mile 2 lasted forever. It’s not like I can trust my own conception of time, let’s be real. It had a nice effect though of pleasantly surprising me when we were only .4 from the finish line instead of 4.0 like I thought.

Also towards the end some guy said you look great girls, you go butterfly babe, which I appreciated because I was wheezing and my face was a violent shade of red. The guy may have been homeless, but that’s neither here nor there.

Before I knew it Rachelle and I were crossing the finish line together, which was kind of cool because they said our names right at the same time, Rachelle Hobson, Lauren Hobson, Portland, Oregon and I took great pride in knowing that everyone else would know that we were sisters and we were awesome. Then my parents showed up and we went and got coffee and biscotti, and I felt quite pleased with myself, because there’s nothing like getting home to your roommates waking up when you've already run a 10k that day.

The long and short of it is that even though I was duped into a measurable amount of success with the final New Year’s goal, run more, at least I did it. And it wasn't terrible. And now I’m even more sure in my conviction that I could probably run a half-marathon if I ever decided I hated myself that much. But that’s a story for a different day.

xoxo, Lauren

 

*This line is borrowed from my sister, Rachelle, who came up with is as a joke for work but then they actually used it. It kind of works though.

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Rooster

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Rooster

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IMG_4080There are few things that capture the American imagination quite like the open road does, I think. Some of our most iconic books, and some of the best I'v ever read, have been about being on the road, and I'm not just talking Kerouac here. William Least Heat-Moon does the same thing in Blue Highways that Kerouac does, albeit with slightly more forethought and slightly (considerably) less drugs. And fewer thinly-veiled famous people. But both encourage a way of wandering that's unique to our country, as many, many other stories do, and I often find myself experiencing a thrill when getting on the road as a participant of that grand tradition. A few weekends ago I hopped into my old standby, Grocery Getter, and me and the silver bullet bombed over to the ranch to go see my cousin Spencer and go pheasant hunting with my Dad and them. I drove over by myself, which I don't mind at all--frankly, there's no pressure to perform behind the wheel, which is a source of considerable stress for me when there are other people in the car. People are such sticklers for abiding the law these days, I just don't get it. So when it's just me, the road and GG I can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. The Gorge was looking as imposing as ever, defined by those intimidating vistas and overwhelming in the staidness with which it has weathered both time and humanity. The foliage is starting to change, which I love. Russet color templates really do something for me. I got some good old-fashioned thinking done, which is always a win. There wasn't anything not good, or even slightly less than good, about that trip. I love the windy road through the canyon at the ranch, I like that I know exactly how to get there, and that everything is familiar to me. It used to be that I would see something new every time, and now it's one of those trips and one of those places that I know like the back of my hand. I can close my eyes and be driving down the highway to the ranch. It's a beautiful thing.

When we finally made it to the ranch, after a quick football detour at the Hotel Condon (a fine establishment if there ever was one) and a 20 minute trip from Condon to Fossil with my Dad that felt very reminiscent of the road times we immediately began doing taste test comparisons of whiskey and playing hearts. This should be expected. Later we trucked on over up the old service road past the orchard and started an enormous fire, and the very most primal parts of our minds surfaced so we were mesmerized for hours watching the flames flicker and leap into the air, and it was so hot on my skin I felt sure I was sunburned. Which makes me think now about how powerfully hot the real sun is, to be able to inflict a similar kind of damage from light years away, and if that doesn't put you in a respectful state of mind, I don't know what would. We walked back down the road to the cabin in an eerie blue light from the moon, looking back over our shoulders at a dying fire that still lit up the whole forest, and all saying quiet silent prayers for the warm beds we had waiting for us. But those are the walks I like best I think, when you're happy for where you've been but still excited to be going where you're going, and that's usually how I feel there so that's another good thing.

In the morning, we got up and got ready for THE HUNT, another great American tradition--I went two for two for patriotism that weekend, which could fills my quota until I see my next eagle. I'd like to think there's no one keeping track but myself, but I like to keep a little tally going of how culturally  engaged I am and every now and then I really buck some deep-rooted beliefs of Americana, so I try and make up for it where I can. I wrote a paper my senior year on what it means to be American, in which I argued that in our non-identity we find identity, and I got an A, but I still feel like I somehow cheated my way out of it.  But that's a story for a different day.

I'd been really wanting to go bird hunting with my Dad, because it's an activity that I think I could be quite suited for, given the opportunity. Now that we have Dexter, too, my interest has become increasingly piqued. To watch man and animal work together to prove mastery over another animal--what's not to love? So we get out there to a place called Olex (fun fact: it has a facebook page despite the fact that) and this ranch is in a wide, flat-bottomed canyon with steep hills on either side and fields across. We started slow, terribly slow--we charged through waist high (read: chest high on me) brush, corn and vines, and I couldn't figure out how to hold the gun without it getting caught somehow in the tangle of plant life, and I was watching to make sure we were all still in a line and also thinking how will I ever get this thing tucked into the pocket with all this goddamn brush and all sounds were muffled from the earplug, so it combined to be a bit of a trying experience at the start. But it was all under a peerless blue sky, so how can I complain? Well, I was hot. But enough of that--when we did get really underway, it was a heart-racing experience. I can't accurately portray how it is when a bird flies and six shots ring out, because it happens in a way that is non-linear. It happens all at once, so it seems like when ROOSTER is being yelled you're also clicking off the safety shoving the butt of the gun into your shoulder pulling the trigger taking aim starting from the noise watching the bird fall and then taking a deep breath. And all the while you feel like the image of a rooster pheasant is still hung in the sky, maybe it's just your eyes smarting from the sun, but you think you could still maybe see him outlined and glinting in colors that are too beautiful for the human mind to come up with. How did that happen, you start to think, when the neck is being wrung. How could I, of dulled instinct and weak limbs, make that happen?

Hunting, in my limited experience, is a powerful reminder of where we came from and what a treasure our minds are. It is only through the strength of our innovation, our little brains, that we could ever truly compete with nature and her other creatures. Only with the product of another man's mind and with the help of a dog that has been bred for the purpose could we kill a bird. So if anything, hunting is a lesson in gratitude and appreciation, and ultimately of respect. For the animal that gave its life and in recognition that we are, all of us, only one part of a much larger picture. And that's a good thing too.

xoxo, Lauren

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Here Comes the Sun

san diegoThis time two weeks ago I was laying on a beach in sunny California, did you know that? It seems an especially cruel memory now, bathed as I am in artificial light from my computer with only a glimpse of sky outside the office window. To add insult to injury, it’s actually a beautiful day here so the aforementioned sky is spectacularly blue. To add even more insult to injury, I thought for a minute there today was Friday. A double-edged sword: I’m slightly cheered—actually this time two weeks ago I was sitting at my desk. But now I’m faced with the realization that I tomorrow I’ll be here too, instead of enjoying a Saturday like I originally thought. Some days I really do have to curse this rotten brain. Oh well. I like the work that I get to do, and they pay me, and as a result I get to take trips to sunny southern California. So really I can’t complain too much. But I will admit I love a good hot beach, so when I was there it was difficult to imagine why I would live anywhere else. The sun! I would think. The palm trees! The blinding, engulfing, overwhelming light! The laid-back people! The possibilities! What, I wondered, could I make life be like in California? Who would I meet? What neighborhood would I discover? I’ve found lately that I can’t quite reconcile myself to the fact that I may be done living anywhere but Portland, and though this may be exacerbated by the sun and palm trees and wide boulevards, it’s a thought I’m giving some consideration to. I’ll quote the age-old refrain of someone just about to make a terrible decision—well, why not?

Kyle, the cousin we visited, promised us sunny San Diego wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. He said this, though, while we were at Sea World, so we weren’t really paying attention. Dolphins are hilarious, in case anyone was wondering, and I think are definitely the dogs of the ocean. We found a quiet spot to watch them play with their trainers while we were there, and at one point, I swear it was Dexter in sea creature form. They too had the singularly adoring stare that characterizes all idol worship that Dexter adopts every time Dad walks in the room. The trainer was talking to someone, but every so often she would flick her foot into the shallows and splash the dolphin, and the dolphin would then splash water back. It was great. We stood for a long time watching them swim and play, the sun and water glittering off their skin as they effortlessly moved back and forth in the water.

We saw a beluga whale, and a handful of Orcas, that were equally mesmerizing but wildly different. They were all solid, concentrated movement though still fluid, as if a part of water itself. No land-bound creature moves that way, I don’t think. We can’t meld with their environment quite as wholly. The liquid cougar is the closest I’ve ever seen, but even he was an entity separate from his surroundings in a way that sea creatures aren’t. I dream a lot about whales. Nothing happens really, in the dream, except I see whales swimming in tandem, a la Mickey’s Fantasia. But that’s my most frequent dream, which helped contribute to the surreal feeling that accompanied me on our SeaWorld excursion.

I really have been lucky in the cousin realm, and now we’re old enough to choose to see each other, which has been an unexpectedly delightful consequence of aging. So it was fun to be in this new place with a very old friend who we saw completely of our own volition. We also were really excited to go to San Diego, but that’s neither here nor there. So we laughed and ate a lot, and drank and talked about our families, and our friends, and made fun of each other. Fun was had by all. We went to the beach, and walked down the pier and watched the ocean crash on all sides of us, and watched the light change from too bright to dark and mellow. We went to dangerously glamorous bars, one of which was underground and hidden, and whose praises I can’t stop singing. We learned the ropes of Kyle’s hulking and lonely ship. We went to the beach again and watched the water stretch away from us into bright blue nothing. I loved it.

But now I’m here. I’m here, and I love it here too. The quality of light has changed into fall, and the trees are bursting into flame right before our eyes. The cool and crisp, all the things I forgot I loved, are back in my head again. I see and feel a whole world I had almost forgotten. I smell autumn at every turn, and moments like that make me pause—why would I ever leave here again, I wonder.

Fast forward about three weeks into the rain and I’d be happy to tell you why. But for now, I am all too happy to leave that bright white light of the sun to California while we’re enjoying this season as much as we can.

Xoxo, Lauren

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Paint Yer Wagon

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Paint Yer Wagon

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IMG_3793As a part of my ongoing tour of Oregon, my Mom and I trucked over to the far East and visited Baker. For the uninitiated, Baker City is where my Dad and the original thirteen grew up, earning the very clever nickname of Baker's Dozen. Do you see what they did there? Anyway, Baker has its roots in gold mining and still has former vestiges of the glory days, aka the 1800s, tucked away here and there, which is kind of cool. Also I just googled Baker and apparently it's the namesake of Edward D. Baker, the only senator to ever die in military combat. So that's a fun and oddly fitting fact. Really though, there are few places that lay claim to my heart like Baker Valley does. The drive in is maybe one of my favorite parts--the highway is long and straight through the heart of the valley, fields of green and gold spread out to meet the Elkhorns, and suddenly you are caught in a world of color and height that didn't seem possible a few minutes before. Sadly, it rained for the whole 22 hours we were there, so I only caught glimpses of the mountains, shrouded in fog and rain and snow, and almighty mystery. We were there one year in the summer at the high school football field with the sun setting and the mountains were a dark purple and the sky was a pinky gold, and I wondered how, if you were the Baker's Dozen, you could get used to seeing anything else.

I mean when we were walking down main street in the rain, and I thought of how it would be if it were snow, I started to whistle a different tune. But that's neither here nor there. I love Baker for many reasons, and maybe because I never had to live there, it was always just a place we got to go and experience nearly total freedom in. I have confused, kid memories of Baker--images that are difficult to articulate and verge more on sensory perception than actual memory. My grandparent's house is a maze of jumbled things seen, heard and smelled so that I don't always know what goes with what. The stairs creaking and red and black shag carpet, nailed down. The garden room. The sound of the tub filling up upstairs, and maybe some whales that were there? The kitchen that towered over us and carnival glass, that table by the door with the photos, the piano keys that were stiff, the wall of photos, Grandma used to keep potpourri on the sideboard in the dining room,  the closet that Kyle got stung in, the yawning maw of the basement, the porch--a yellow and brown knit blanket, old-school roller skates, a push lawn mower, lace curtains, the miniature composer busts. A  thousand things I can't quite remember but won't quite forget.

My earliest memories of Baker are really of my grandparents, but then we got older and my Dad started the race, and then Baker got tangled into those memories--too numerous to count, because those times I remember more of. Or remember in a different way, I guess. My time with Mom there, those sweet 22 hours, were more reminiscent of the race days, because we went to all the places we would haunt for that weekend in June. Betty's Books, Bella, Carnegie Art Center, and I felt a little pang for the places that weren't there anymore. RIP Mad Matilda's and Sane Jane's. Also, my Mom is somewhat convinced that she can single-handedly support Baker's economy so I've always looked forward to Baker as a time to restore my book/kitchen good supply.

I have to note too, that though I realized a long time ago that be it nature vs. nurture, I am my father's daughter, I love and admire my mom more than I can possibly say. She is, bar none, one of the most generous and genuine people I've ever had the pleasure of learning from. She's a believer in the power of humanity, the benefit of the doubt, and in good, old-fashioned earnestness. It's almost unbelievable how wholeheartedly she buys in, but it's a beautiful thing. Mom believes. The grace of Claire has become something almost mythical to the people she regularly comes in contact with, and it's well-deserved. Also, my mom delights in things. Like really loves little things. This is one thing I think I can legitimately claim to have somehow, miraculously, inherited, but not to the same degree that my mom can find joy in very small, innocuous daily occurrences. When we were driving home from the auction, she drove twice past a house on the block my cousins live on now that had a candle lit in every window of an otherwise dark house. She was right to, it was magical, but who does that? I just hope that the people of that house knew someone out in the night was so grateful for that gesture, because more of my mom's kind of light should be known.

When we were in Baker, we also drove to see where my grandma was buried. It was raining and cold, and no one else was there. The grass hadn't taken yet so I could still see where the outline of the grave was, and that I didn't like. I had a hard time with that, I don't know why. A little too much reality, I think, for me. So we left a little pot of mums and a tiny pumpkin--another Claire gesture, because G. Claire loved Halloween, and called it a day.

So that was a little part of the Baker trip, a dense experience if there was one, and far more in 22 hours than you would maybe think could be. But stories for a different day, memories for another night.

xoxo, Lauren

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