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August 18, 2019: Other People’s Stories

I’ve done a lot of travelling, so now I’m used to it. When people ask about our trips and how it went, I generally say “it was amazing,” “we had a wonderful time,” “I was sorry to see it come to an end.” This time, all this held true. Listeners generally don’t ask for additional details, but I throw in one or two, perhaps to convince myself that, yes, I just got back from a lengthy trip.

And so, I often think, what do I have to show for having completed another adventure? This time, two journals and four cameras with dozens of photos. I have repeatedly gone back and reread what I wrote, and looked at photos of what I photographed, as a way of reminding

Tyra helps to clean up the lower garden

myself that there were many, many stories, most of which will go untold.

There is always a related post-trip realization. This time it’s that others have stories that they are eager to tell. None of our friends did any adventures this summer that rival ours, but nevertheless, every single one of them has had something of interest to say.

It was a very hot summer in Palmer, Alaska, and for some, therein lies the story. Bill Schmidtkunz got over 50 lbs of honey from his one beehive. Chelsea Dishner (who boarded Stormy and Ranger) was able to note that the latter blew his coat – he was a naked goat. Our house-sitters, Abbey and Elisa, boasted about figuring out to water the garden. And Suzy Crosby, who is now milking twenty goats (four more than she wants to milk), said that the extreme heat lowered milk production.

My sister Eleanor, who lives in Portland, said that she did a lot of house and property repair these past few months. She went into great detail about having to replace a below ground pipe. It was a challenging endeavor – she even had to go online and order the right size elbow. She said the part cost 40 cents.

Stories from the home front may seem mundane to travelers, especially those that have been far afield. But I contend that they are not mundane. Rather, they are the warp and weave of daily life. Stories like the ones that I’ve been hearing, connect us to one another. Without connection, we are like the brittle exteriors of locusts, left behind to blow in the wind and disintegrate.

For me, the stories I’ve been hearing have grounded me. Otherwise, I’d be like a tumbleweed, on my way elsewhere, with no set destination in mind.

And so I think of the stories that I’ve heard often through the course of a day. In recalling them, images of these friends come to mind. For instance, I thought of Eleanor, a determined look on her face, shovel in hand, digging along and realizing that the pipe she was attempting to extricate went beyond her property line, into her neighbor’s yard. And this neighbor, he is psychotic. But she did it, and after she had the sense of accomplishment that goes hand in hand with being a home owner.

I guess one of the best parts of going away is coming home, and reconnecting via stories, with loved ones.

Next: 229. 8/19/19: Roll Out the Barrels

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