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February 5, 2012: Hope Springs Eternal

Emily Dickenson once wrote that “Hope is That Thing With Feathers.” Then Woody Allen wrote a book called Without Feathers. With feathers, you have hope. Without feathers, you are hopeless.

A woman I once knew, her name was Teslin, was dying. She was a community activist, and so she had a big gathering in which she talked about her life and upcoming death. She said that hope was an illusion because it was in the future, and therefore beyond our grasp.

I have, since hearing this, given this matter a lot of thought. The ideal would be to always be centered, and live in present. For good or bad, I continue to harbor hope.

Today seems like a very hopeful day. Pete got home yesterday afternoon—I was hoping he was okay since he didn’t call before leaving Juneau. It makes all

Nimby on stairs
Nimby on stairs

the difference in the world having him here. It takes two people to run this place. But that’s not fully the point. The point is that while I enjoy doing what needs to be done, it’s just not as much fun. A few days of this, now and then, is a good thing, because at least for me, it allows time for much needed self-reflection. This time around, I figured out that I would not enjoy living alone. Nor was I meant to live communally.

I have done a lot of reading on both subjects—and in theory, the monastic and group lifestyles both appeal to me. I’ve often pictured it, me getting up very early and going to the vespers and praying, and then after eating a light breakfast, retreating to my cell, where I would then read spiritual texts. And I have often pictured it, me, getting up late and going into the kitchen and engaging in a long dialogue with a housemate or two about art and literature. Living with one other person is a happy medium because there is both time for self-thought and for meatless conversation.

Back to the idea of hope: I’ve been hoping that I’d have access to adequate summer pasturage for my horses this summer. This is looking likely.

I’ve been hoping that we’ll get a break in the weather, for warmer temperatures would enable me to resume riding. This is looking likely.

I have been hoping that Nimby will get better. This is looking likely.

I have been hoping that . . . on and on it goes, here a hope, there a hope, everywhere a hope.

Today is Stupor Bowl Sunday. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. The snowmobilers will be inside, so I’ll be able to get a long ride in on Raudi.

Without Feathers
I hold a white feather in hand,
and observe the bird who shed it—a listless individual
who lives in the moment.
Fall is behind.
Spring is ahead.
No matter, she pecks at her frozen water bowl,
and sidles around rock hard dung.
I slide open the door of her roost,
and she peers outside a landscape that at first is blinding.
Nimby’s eyes adjust, and she reverses the negative—
taking in the landscape—beyond chicken wire, birch trees, brush, winding road—
snow, snow, and more snow, a blanket that extends as far as the chicken eye can see.
I consider bolstering her spirits, by reattaching her feather
using duct tape, Elmer’s glue, and a wood splint,
and in fact, I begin to take action,
by retreating to my roost
and gathering together the implements of my trade.
Yes, this can be done. After all, the Wrong Brothers,
were the first birds to walk.
But I stop, mid-stride, for I know
what Nimby knows, not that hope is an illusion—
but rather, that with or without feathers
it’s best to stay put.

Next: 62. 2/6/12: Going to Hell in a Handbasket