Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hillside heretic

From the journal of a daydreaming window addict

Correct me if I'm wrong, but am I in a minority of people that holds value in daydreaming? What I'm saying is, if you see the value as much as I do, please, for the sake of us all, speak up.

Ever since I was a kid I've had a problem with windows. Be they open or closed, during morning, mid-day, or night, showcasing a scenic hillside or a brick wall, I would stare out the window. I remember during high school geometry a lot of time was spent staring out the classroom window, which explains those test scores. Through classroom windows, car door windows, workplace windows - I could spend half my day staring outside. I still catch myself doing this from time to time as an adult, and though I still don't know what triggers this habit, I know that I hope I never lose it.

Maybe it’s the fact that life seems more immediate and more immense on the other side of the glass. Out there I know there is a breeze, and I know that the air and the sunlight will cleanse the frustration out of my mind. Out there I can't help but think of the places I could go, the things I would see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. The possibilities seem endless, and I used to (and still do) let my imagination go wild. Why? Because it gives me hope.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

At season's end

A foggy Flambeau River morning

The air smells different, especially on foggy mornings and as the dew sets in the evening. It’s a damp, crisp, sharp, natural scent - made of grass clippings and old twigs fallen from their tree limbs. The fragrance is accentuated by the slightly shorter days, the sun that has begun to diminish in strength, as it goes to bed earlier and earlier. The nighttime can officially be considered chilly, and the mornings are way more brisk than they were a month ago.

Don’t let me get you down, though, it is still summer after all, just quietly fading. There are still warm, sunny afternoons to be had, still nights warm enough to lay under the stars, still mornings where the sun makes its appearance bright and early - they are just no longer unlimited.

Past are the days of July, when it seems as though the summer is endless, like it’s always been that hot and when an occasional rainy day is a reprieve from the heat. Long ago was June, when the summer’s plans and warmth and length of days ramped up into high expectations and reprieve from duty and the dreary of winter. Even May, with its early blossoms and careful, hesitant promise of sunny days is far, far behind us.

Instead our minds now turn to harvesting the garden, putting time into firewood, and making plans for Labor Day - one last summer send-off. As the weather changes, so too does our thinking. Our attention is pulled into a mode of preparation for the next season, and as a byproduct we tend to reflect upon the path over which we’ve traveled this season.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

To be hungry

A rogue seagull sighting

Sometimes it's very hard to sit down and write an article. In fact, it never happens that way. Instead, when I have an idea it comes to me not in front of a computer screen or at a convenient hour in front of a desk, but while I'm out, moving, in the moment, or in between sleep and awake. During those times, I do all I can to stay disciplined enough to jot down the idea before it escapes me.

All too often, these single-phrase ideas are mostly useless. I go back and read them and wonder, "What could I possibly have been thinking with this one?" Or I laugh at myself and say, "I'm glad nobody else will ever see this." I think this is a common practice for most people though, so I don't let it get to me.

The truth is, to get into the good stuff, the things you really want to talk about and have a strong opinion about (what other people actually want to hear), you have to dig through all the crud on the top of your brain. To get into the meat of the issue, the concept you can cling to and make something of, you must be harsh. You must be willing to discard, tear down, and rip up conventions in order to find your own angle to a subject. Once you do that, tear down, rip up, and create an angle, you'll find yourself much more connected to the idea you want to discuss than ever before; you'll have adopted the topic -- be it politics, design, engines, computers, or forestry -- it’s now more than an issue to you, it's a passion.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The American dream

Be a woodsman - find what works and cut your own path.

And why you need a hatchet

I have known many people freshly graduated from college, who, for the life of them cannot seem to find a position pertaining to their degree. I have been in this pickle myself, and I can confirm what an awful predicament it can be. Applications, resumes, references, personal Web sites, portfolios, professional contacts, calling, e-mailing, calling to confirm e-mails, interviews, second interviews, parking, hotel stays, gasoline, business attire, etc, etc. The list goes on.

Job searching is a full-time job, and you don't get paid. You will experience more rejection than at almost any other period in your life. The voices oozing pity and the faces with frowns on the brows of loved ones begin to take their toll, and you have to drag yourself out of bed every single day if for no other reason, it seems, than to acknowledge your feeble existence and your dwindling bank account. It can last for weeks, months, even years, and all the while you will be expected to renew your vigor and commitment to each new "opportunity."

Discouraged yet? I don't blame you. The reason some people, many people, choose to put themselves through such a painful process is because they know they will come out on top in the end and have the dream job they have always wanted. Struggling through this phase takes a mountain of courage because it is a right of passage. This process is what separates the committed from the uncommitted. It is, in essence, the American dream, because, and I truly believe this, anyone in this country can do it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Festivities and friends

How best to marinate a hotdog

There’s an argument, or an inside joke rather, that has been ongoing between myself and a good friend of mine for a very long time. The joke stems from my unfounded belief that it is possible to marinate a hotdog in ketchup, thus creating the ultimate American dinner, and his (probably more rational) assessment that the idea is ludicrous. The experiment, conducted many years ago, failed miserably, but I still believe it is possible to do, and therefore refuse to relinquish my opinion (and ongoing research) on the matter.

The reason I bring up such an important topic this week is because it is a timely matter. You see, the first marination argument occurred during a Flambeau Rama some decade or so ago, and to this day I get passionate about hotdogs the first week of August. The whole ordeal is hilarious, light-hearted and keeps memories from days long gone fresh in both our minds. Such is the goal of festival season though, and I’m glad to be around for another one.

Festivals are important. Cutting loose, catching up, and shaking hands - it's all-important. They are time set aside to be merry, celebrate our similarities, our differences, and create together a living culture. Festivals are timeless, but they are always about a time, and a place. Annual events like Lumberman’s Day, Pioneer Days, Flambeau Rama, the Price County Fair, Prentice Progress Days, and the Ogema Christmas Tree Festival are cultural cornerstones that signify cooperation, tradition, and growth. Getting out, catching up and being social are essential to maintaining healthy relations with the other people that help make our land fruitful. While I may be a proponent of reclusive habits, I will be the first to acknowledge the importance of the social side every well-rounded person needs to exercise.