So. I just finished reading The Grapes of Wrath for the first time. Seeing as how it’s Sweetheart’s favorite book and taking into account how much I loved The Red Pony in my girlhood, East of Eden in James Dean-tickled high school, and Travels with Charley in my burgeoning, adventure-loving adulthood, I have no idea how it slipped through the cracks. But, oh my, it’s been a long time since a book tore my heart up like this, made me wistful and lonely, chest-full with beauty and loss, and angry over how little some things have changed. If you haven’t read it, the changing of the seasons is a good time, and if you have, then you’ll love these incredible Dorothea Lange photographs of the Dust Bowl Migration (from the really fabulous Oakland Museum Archives). Because you wish you could pick a guitar, it’s a gracious thing, because you walk for the family and hold your head straight for the family, because you get use’ to a place, gets use’ to a way of thinkin’ it’s hard to leave. Because home is the center but not the boundary of affection. Home.
Sweetheart and I camped right along the extreme tidal flats up where Maine becomes Canada and the water rises and falls 25 feet with every hi-lo tide. We were in Cobscook Bay, “cobscook” being the Passamaquoddy tribal word for “boiling tides”. Part of the allure of our state park campsite was that at low tide “adventurous campers” (said the park literature) were permitted to go out into the expansive mud flats and get very dirty in the search for heretofore unknown to me softshell clams. Clams so fat and juicy and salty-sweet they can’t even close their shells all the way. We arrived just at low tide and ventured out to secure our dinners, while all the while the incredible fast and furious waters chased us back to land. We pulled a bounty, put them in fresh water to let them filter out their grit while we prepared the fire and tended to our sore fingers. When the coals were jewels, we banked and stoked and roasted the clams over the new open flames. Their salty juices hissed and spit, we melted butter in an enamel coffee cup by setting it at the edge of the fire, and spooned from the jar of cocktail sauce we picked up in Lubec (it was the easternmost cocktail sauce of the United States). Washed all down with dark brown beer it was a joyous supper indeed. And for dessert? The berries we had picked along the hiking trail that morning. It may seem simple to say, but it’s a certain city epiphany: how honest and good it feels to catch, pick, or harvest the food you eat yourself. To provide. When the fruits of your labors are actual fruits, foraged in the open, free in every sense.
Oh, hello. It’s been a bit since I’ve been here. Sweetheart and I arrived back in Brooklyn late last night, flash floods, lightning, and Hyundais with no headlights and Jersey plates changing lanes without signalling choking every feeding vein back into New York City, returning to the apartment to find a broken window, a few (dead) cockroaches on their backs in the living room, and a liquefied melon we’d forgotten to take with us. Oh my. To say we’ve been out adventuring is a bit too simple, adventures we’ve had for sure (I’ll share some soon!), but really, we’ve been out searching is more like it. You might could tell that I’ve been bitten by a pretty serious wanderlust this summer, an itch I’ve been doing my damndest to scratch with hot springs and sweet corn, headscarves, big dinners, and old, best friends, but it wasn’t until I got to my dear friend Jay’s house (the one he’s building from scratch with his own Sweetheart, embedding carved Buddhas into their poured concrete footings to protect and serve) that I got it. The heart of the matter: that I’ve been out wandering to find home. I’m not sure exactly where that is yet, honestly at this point it’s more of a feeling than a location, but I’ll keep you posted on my searches and adventures. Because home is where I want to be, pick me up and turn me round, this must be the place.
O! The Spontaneous! The Joyous! The Raucous Beauty! Go West and greet a future of wildflowers, rainbow waters, and adventure. Infinite thanks for Mama for being the kind of lady who knows it’s right to spontaneously throw your arms wide when you crest a hill and see that, and for making sure I became that kind of lady too. Here, some selected beauty from our trip:
Early this week, the starry pull of New York and the stronger gravity of possibility and serendipity allowed for the four of us— two far flung wanderers and two of us still tethered to the C train— to be all together in the same place at the same time. We ate well and stayed up late after making music, drinking wine, laughing and talking and filling in the gaps around the bullet point plans of our futures until we had to force ourselves to go to sleep (and—in the wisdom of our years— decided against our 24 year old selves’ standard midnight whiskeys). The next day, the plan was for the wanderers to continue wandering, to leave in the morning for adventure unknown. Their departure happened to coincide with alternate side parking, so as they left my block, scarves flying, horns tooting farewell, I went to do the mundane city things: drop off my laundry and move my car from one side of the street to the other. When I came back to the block to see, if in the intervening minutes, a parking spot had appeared, they were back, something forgotten, something lost in the shuffle, a phone in the wrong pocket. So, instead of trying to find parking, I just ran in, kissed sweetheart goodbye, and followed them into the wilderness. On our way out of town, we passed this billboard on the BQE, crookedy typeface graffiti: I bet you wished you… Open ended, something there wistful, maybe unfulfilled… but not for me, not right then.
So, we’re off, drafting on the winds of the power of yes.
picture from first mate, navigator, red-shoe wearer, and ultimate wing woman Ann Marie, via Instagram.
Just got back from an absolutely incredible Jubilee! hiking trip out west with my Mama… we averaged 8 miles a day, hiking along misty river rainbowed canyon edges, skirting glacial freezing mirrored lakes, and counting infinite wildflowers along the trails. What a time… I’ll share more pictures tomorrow. Lovelove!
Have you heard of Jubilee? You may think that it’s this nonsense with the queen, but in fact “Jubilee” is what it is called when you are celebrating a birthday that has a zero at the end of it and so you celebrate it for the whole year. JUBILEE!! My ever-lovin’-Mama thought that up, just in time for her 60th birthday, and sweet jesus if I don’t think it’s just about the best thing I’ve ever heard (perhaps since next year will be a Jubilee for yours truly?). Mama and I embark for points west together today, to bask in our nation’s magesty at Yellowstone and Grand Teton, hiking from bed and breakfast to bed and breakfast (like only Jubilee celebrating ever-lovin’-Mamas do). I’m signing off for the next week in the name of jubilee, but of course you can follow our adventures over on Instagram (@featherbyfeather).
awesome old Yellowstone image from here.
I got back to New York last night, cruising back up the Eastern Shore in the wake of an epic thunderstorm that left thousands without power, delayed my introduction to my P.N.F.B.* Miss Annabelle Mooney, and garnered the real-time headline: INCH LARGE HAIL BALL FOUND IN CHUCKATUCK. Man, oh, man. Upon my return the internet is out and the cilantro has bolted (see above), but— the flowers are lovely and small and delicate and make a perfect little cilantro-y nosegay. If she were here I’d give it to Miss Meags to celebrate her engagement! Lovelovelove.
Coming up this week I’ll have an all-you-can-eat buffet of American-ness for your reading pleasure: baseball, camping, adventures, fireworks, and, of course, a dog on a ferris wheel.
*potential new favorite baby
Tonight we’re heading out to (my favorite) Floyd Bennett Field (which is actually part of Gateway National Park and contains areas of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge) for an urban camping adventure in honor of Sweetheart’s birthday. Among the rich swaths of wooded paradise covered in honeysuckle and queen anne’s lace you can catch glimpses of the Marine Park Bridge, and as the breezes blow the wheeling seabirds, you can see the Empire State Building in the far distance. Oh adventure! In the mean time, I hope everyone has a weekend of unexpected beauty.