Thursday, June 26, 2014


"If you could be an animal, what animal would you be? Answering that question creates a powerful personal metaphor." Grey Wolf

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"As We So Far Journey..."

Countless dreams, endless visions, like eternally polished stones,
As we so journey, very far away, we then discover home...
Hand worn wooden staff and paddle,
Ancient trails of rock and water,
Along paths of such immense beauty, enduring memories then to share...
Elusive summits, among open valleys,
Overlooking deep canyons, at first so very hidden,
Islands of wonder, wild rivers and oceans,
Seeking the whole mystery, becoming even quieter still...
We are able to discover, so much eternal wonder,
While musing and pondering, lingering and wandering,
Seeing with new eyes, within our many adventurous ways...
Finding such connections, along our shared paths,
As we so long journey,
We will surely then discover home..... DSD

"Echoes Beyond Echoes..."

From where ever they call, we at first may not know.
So very old they are, such elder lingering whispers.
Far away they seem to be.
Quietly, softly, spoken.
Resonations of real vitality and spirit.
Reflections too of so much more.
Than just simple sounds alone.
Long have they clearly journeyed.
Waiting yet for us to hear.
Crossing our paths as we begin to understand.
For our own echoes they actually are.
By their very elemental nature.
Ancient echoes of our true selves.
Whom as adventurers we will become..... DSD

"Rememberings... Far Away Yet So Close..."

Such a long solo sea kayak trip... So very long even though the days out were few... Longer even than many past trips because the journey was not so much of distance but more seemingly through time...
It was around a very distant point I kept going past in order to discover a lovely cove behind those great rocks. There tides and currents and waves all conspired to keep much hidden away, but then would share their secrets if a wanderer was persistent and determined enough.
When first stepping out upon that sand, a slow stretch was needed, and it was then that I felt more than I just saw of this Island being stood upon, more than the very old trees and the even older rocks nearby. I needed a moment to allow whatever was trying to gently seep into my consciousness the time necessary to do so. So I just sat down... half in the ocean, half upon this secluded shell and sand beach.
It was only when my kayak began its slow movement away from me that I realized how far I was drifting myself, and thus began a time where many hours were lost, yet so many moments were found...
I can't say all of what I guess took place, as those endless waves of thoughts moved about, through, and around me. Many I wrote in my journal but too many others drifted away with the gently receding of the tide. I think I must have lived many passings of the moon, maybe even of the seasons, that single day... such was the meanderings of the moments, the wanderings of what we usually think we understand of this concept and metaphor of time.
I remember two eagles, and a few other more cautious birds come and go with the whispering breezes. I was pondering them as they were surely wondering about me and why I was there. Those other previously planned objectives were not to be met that day, but that was no matter, as so many other meaningful and wonderful things developed instead.
I recall losing count of the larger waves I was watching that would roll up in that secret series that they have, but instead gained a sense of some other rhythms that were not known to me before... When another stretch was needed I simply stood up, walked a bit, although you couldn't really call it a walk. It was more of a drifting, strolling movement where my legs moved from rock to rock, sand to tree, through wave after wave, and the rest of me simply followed along. Then there were the endless pauses where so much time was spent just standing, gazing, dreaming, breathing, all of this simply second by second upon second.
The small meals I ate throughout that so alive quiet day were nutritious and tasted so good, as if they were made of more than just food; which is often like that out in such places of wilderness...
Some of the tracks in those sands I knew well, others belonged to those shadow creatures, the very small ones, who only come out at night or when you invite them - more with attitude than with foods they shouldn't have anyway. I sensed them there as well, basking among the rocks, hidden in the sun dappled trees, watching me to see if I had yet to become one of them, and then could be trusted with their treasures...
I think it was also that symphony of those deeply quiet resonating natural sounds that took away any need to keep moving back upon the ocean. Sounds that invited me to linger longer among those musical longings... Sounds which came and went as did those images in my mind of places, people, loves, and other lives we each have all shared out there and back here...
There were none of those other kinds of disruptions during that day of countless hours and endless moments. It was a day I will envision again often when in the midst of traffic and concrete, distractions and disputes, and other so seemingly important demands, which will all eventually ebb away into the background, where they really belong anyway.
We are often so grasping of schedules and other things we are told are so necessary, that such ephemeral moments as those on that island, of subtle but more true importance, are often lost in time...
There is just something about the very waters edge where the ocean holds close to the land, and where the rocks return that embrace, which speaks to our most inner being, and how we live out our lives...
Many of us who wander the wild places can attest to the experience of living a lifetime during the span of a day out there... We know that the clock many times has no function during such journeys of the sun and the moon and the wind. We have all instead felt that the heartbeat inside of us, and of those around us, are the only real measure that an adventurer needs an awareness of... Where the only timely elements that matter are the winds that caress our face, the sun which glides slowly across above us, the waves that gently rock us, and the animals who still themselves and come to sit beside us...
Hours were lost that day... Treasures within the moments were found..... DSD

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Then After 'Mixing In' I Often Ponder Farther..."

Often... When painting these small rocks... While listening to the birds or the wind in nearby trees, and sometimes to specifically selected music... I will choose my next stone... Admire it closely, and turn it over as I decide upon its best surface...
They are such an enduring, unique medium for my simple form of Naive art...
As I gaze over the three dimensional surface I can sense its character... The tiny ridges, crystals, and cracks, that form a small world of their own, with all the elements of wild lands themselves... I enjoy them much like the Ancients would a Scholar Rock...
I can, at times, lose myself, in running my fingers along and travelling over a stones' face...
Often... Can I recall too what adventure I was on when this particular rock was gathered up...
My friends chuckle about how my pack or kayak is usually very much heavier coming back than when going out...
Then, as I begin this special process... The same unanswerable question develops as a thought in my mind... "Where will you end up little stone...?" "You have come such a long way", I muse, and are now undergoing a transformation of sorts... Much as I have over these last decades of adventure in the wild places, in slowly gaining an awareness of the importance of giving back...
Although I know I have no control over who will find these, I do wonder about that moment in time, place, and activity... Will they see this as an intrusion in their adventure day... Or will they accept this small gift, and take it away, in the spirit in which it was gathered, painted, mused over, and later placed...
The locations these stones are returned to are usually not as wild as where they were originally found... The vast majority are placed where a human presence has already been long established...
While I understand people will make what they will of them... I hope... As I begin to slowly paint... That the 'Finders' just may reflect for a moment upon this little stones' journey... Why someone would do this... And just maybe they might consider for a moment... What they themselves may choose to give back & pass forward...
Then this little stones' journey really has no end... DSD

"Further Ponderings Over 'Mixing In' And Passing Forward..."

Just as the sun was setting I spotted it... yet another smooth polished cobblestone; perfect for some small naive art... My eye often wanders in this way, gazing, looking as I was now upon this quiet secluded island beach. The end of another so beautiful day of sea kayaking... I gathered it up and journeyed home where this stone waited patiently. It seemed wanting of a sunny day scene so that is what I painted; then tucked it into an 'Adventure Muse' and set it out ready...
It accompanied me to the summit of Mt Yukness to make friends among the other stones of the cairn up there... Just after gently placing it I spotted another rugged looking shard which I gathered in my pack just before the rain started... It needed a rainbow painted upon it, much like the one viewed on the descent. Then it joined us on that rafting of the Grand to be placed at a well deserved rest point among the sparse rocks and plants by the river... When packing up at waters edge, I stepped upon another small cobble and into my life jacket pocket it went... to jostle and bounce and meet the rapids as we all hooted and smiled... The canyon scene painted upon that one may have seemed out of place in Killarney, but I don't think a 'Finder' would mind when discovering it out on Silver Peak... The view of Georgian Bay and the lakes there is stunning... By one small, very clear lake, one more cobble asked me to take it on a new adventure... This one out in the High Sierra's... It was painted with a full moon and a thousand stars like that which may be experienced out in the Yosemite highlands... The summit it rests upon is not well travelled, so it may be there a while enjoying the lunar vistas... Its brother I gathered up that day was perfect for a dual scene of night and day, which often reminds me of our northern lakes... So it was placed there by some quiet waters under the sitting log of a campsite... This northern resting place has much history and mystery there... The rocks to be gathered are of unique shapes and colors... Painting them requires musings of another kind, and after doing so, one in particular was then placed in sister waters deep among yet other coastal islands...
While standing then at that point of the compass, I saw the glint of the setting sun on another wave and storm polished cobble... I slowly wandered over, gathered it up, while turning it over and over in my old hand... And then, full circle, I begin again.....

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Of Clocks And Compass..."

My current watch worn when out adventuring is a complex little thing.
Lots of options and information can it provide. It also has a small compass on the wrist band too.
Interesting what sparks a memory, and then some musings as well at times, from so far out there...
After attaining a past summit, then tucking myself up in among the rocks, listening to the stories the wind was sharing, and watching the dancing of the clouds - then I ended up just gazing at this watch, and even more so at that compass.
A very long time ago, on one of my Outward Bound courses, while learning the fine arts and crafts of navigation, we gathered around a large boulder.
Then one of our Leaders invited some intriguing discussion.
"Which do you think...", she quietly asked, as she placed both her watch and compass up on that rock, "Which do you think is more important...".
Now that prompted much energetic pondering about time of day & energy, estimates of distance & direction, time taken on routes, even about using the watch to set a course as well.
Then the conversation began a shift to something else we often touch upon within our adventures.
That there is real value in both clock and compass, and very individual symbolism and meanings to be discovered for each.
Having enjoyed other Outward Bound exercises like Your Mountains... Your Life... , and What The Mountains See In You... , we were ready now for sharing about what is our most common ground, the terrain we all journey through - the passage of time over the course of our lives...
You know all those studies that Behavioural Scientists do. They conclude that past a certain amount of money and security, are the aspects of what individually represents fun, freedom, happiness, contentment, and joy for each.
Then what time means and how we spend our time then, becomes the most pivotal factor.
The meaning this has for each of us is fundamentally important.
There are many kinds of time pieces and measures, within navigation and chronology, that adventurers have used historically, and that we seek and choose now.
We sense the meaningfulness of this out among those valleys and up on our summits.
We feel the truth of these ephemeral, seemingly invisible elements, as we do with wind and gravity.
We know the significance and value of time, like when we watch the endless tides, and for direction when we wander our ancient deep desert canyons.
We believe in the reality that our choices about both clock and compass, are what then determines what becomes the times of our lives.
On that Outward Bound course, we all then decided, so many years ago, that both clock and compass have real importance.
Yet in so many moments since, I still ponder how it sometimes still feels like the compass has the edge at times..... DSD 

Friday, June 13, 2014

"A Silver Grey One..."

This phrase, has become very special for me. These words have evolved, as we all do, over the seasons through many long adventures, and among such amazing wild place experiences. The memories and meanings are so vivid... It is also a powerful metaphor to live by, I have been learning, this 'Grey Wolf In A Storm...'. Especially during times of trial and adversity... On that day, so very long ago, I could sense the approaching weather - the winds were building, gaining strength, and the clouds were moving faster, getting darker. Surely a storm was coming. Now I don't know a lot about the behaviour of wolves in such weather, but the wolf I glimpsed that day appeared in a way, to actually be purposefully pausing there, standing in some safety back among those trees. We seemed to both be looking out upon the coming storm. Maybe each deciding what to do to prepare and where we should ride this out. I'm sure this grey wolf knew I was there long before I realized its' presence, and we were quite a ways apart, yet I caught a glimpse of movement, and that silver grey fur that was a real contrast to the darker woods. What mystified me next was that we both then seemed to just settle in to weather this storm through. It didn't last but for a few hours, winds gusting, rain casting shadows in sheets through the air, clouds alternatingly covering the peaks as if they were trying to hide them away... I watched for that Grey One as often as I looked up at the storm. That wolf never moved, never seemed to flinch, never ran, even when the thunder was right over head. It simply waited it all out, with a patient and knowing strength of purpose. Maybe in it's own wisdom realizing, that this too shall pass... Therein is what has become my metaphor, therein were my meanings... Now when my health issues or other adversities, like a recent back injury while out climbing challenge me, over and over again like that storm did - I think of that 'Grey Wolf In A Storm', and I find and draw upon the energy of its presence from that day to weather it all out once again..... DSD


"Yet another burned area presents itself further along the trail with many a scorched tree still standing, very likely to live on through many more thunderstorms. But one dead tree... seems to have stood in the ground through many revolutions of the earth... its bark peeling away exposing its wood to the elements. While the sides of the dead fir are charred, its upper surface is smooth, bleached to a uniform grey, and as inviting to an artist as a chalkboard. He takes a piece of charcoal in hand and sketches a woman's face, not in bold outline, but subtly, with shadings and blurred features, so that an unsuspecting hiker coming upon it later might wonder if Mother Nature hadn't drawn the image herself." M. Mardon

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Across The Valley..."

You can see this high summit from that unfolding distant forested valley road...
I kind of like that.
Later when I am so very long in the tooth, that I no longer can make it up there, or way out far down this valley, I will at least be able to further gaze upon these majestic mountains.
But for the present, as long as I can, there will still be as much motivation, momentum, and movement upon them as I am able to summon up.
The time when we first gaze upon our adventure objectives; when we actually see the presence of those elusive goals before us, are such wonderfully engaging forever moments.
I had longed to be up upon this one particularly unique mountain.
When that finally happened this past season, another experience began to unfold, besides the attainment of that singular summit.
I was now able to look across that deep valley more broadly, yet also more closely too...
There it was.
One other elusive summit I had long read about, and had before caught only the most fleeting views of from the valley floor.
While very much enjoying, and cherishing, the present summit attained in those quiet moments, I tucked away the vision too of what now had been revealed as a gift.
Later on the descent, there it was again, that shy pinnacle of a mountain, way across the valley, within all the shifting clouds, light, and shadows embracing it. All the while both enticing and inviting me to ponder about an adventure day over there.
I so look forward to when the plans and preparations will be in place to journey over to, then upon, that mountain seen across the valley.
Then as I do, in those moments, I hope to gaze out even once more - at another distant elusive peak, even farther away, across that long endless valley..... DSD

"So Much To Give..."

"To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties they will not disclose to those who make no effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who wrestle with them, that people love mountains and go back to them again and again...". F. Youngblood

Sunday, June 08, 2014

"Echoes From Bernbaum..."

Such beautiful musings and echoes...
"Mountains seem to beckon to us, holding out the promise of something on the ineffable edge of awareness...".
"We climb to hear - whispered in the wind, echoed in the stars - strains of that mysterious music...".
"In some mysterious, inexplicable way, there are valleys and mountains all around us that no one has ever seen or mapped - a world hidden right here, as if in another dimension...".
"Rather than conquer the mountain, the climber vanquishes himself, much as a hermit or yogi overcomes the enemy of his own pride and arrogance on the way...".
E. Bernbaum

"Quiet As Memory..."

"As I look for the route, a silhouette descends the skyline. A grey figure, quiet as memory, settles on a large block, pulls his ropes, then notices me... The climber wore an old style of clothing, I think, or was that the effect of dimming clouds...".  J. Auld

Saturday, June 07, 2014

"An Oval River Stone..."

This polished stone has so many lines upon it, and even more very tiny cracks among its' unique surface.
While oval and flat, it reminded me of a map, maybe even a kind of globe.
This little touchstone was discovered when out on our last river rafting journey some seasons ago. While I did gather up a few others to be passed forward as well, this one in particular I was pondering about keeping.
I so enjoy all things stone and also love maps of all kinds as well.
Here, in my hand, was both...
Such stones have true character, like that of a Scholars Rock .
These stones have an ancient story too, much like Ceremony Stones .
This one, spoke of journeys, with its' terrain of lines and cracks, and the unknown inviting symbolic maps within all of this.
I run my fingers over it, as I do with all my other maps, trying to discover what is hidden there, as with my many charts too.
I ponder long about keeping it. But that wouldn't feel just right. For it needed to be on a further journey, maybe even now in your own hand Dear Finder.
Know that I will miss it, but having gently painted upon it, 'Mixed In' all the elements within those bright colors, and then quietly having placed it - I'm sure you will then give it an adventurously memorable home..... DSD 

"Truly Part Of..."

"It's as if I have become truly part of the mountain, a working willing partner, harnessed to its energies, subject to its temperament, always conscious of its majesty... The mountain is always fierce, to the extreme; that is part of its power and strength. Beneath its surface the fierceness lies slumbering; it is like a wild animal, sleek, soft, beautiful, but always you are conscious of the terrible power that can be unleashed should the mountain choose...".  N. Shulman