Wednesday, July 9, 2008

45: Poetry Outside

Last night we went to Jay Cooke State Park. We brought a box of pie with us, a double row of four, forks tucked beneath paper napkins. We sat quietly rather than propelled ourselves down the forest path.

The love of being in the natural world unites so many of us, but when we get into it, we have so many different purposes. There are times when mileage counts, when the number of path tickers you pass is a sign of triumph. I do love to hike, even if I am not very good at it, and I love getting sweaty, knowing I will sleep long and hard.

But this is good too: settling onto the rocks, listening to the birds, the water rushing, the sounds unique to that very spot at that very moment. These are the things that belong to us, that we carry around with us in our hearts.

Today there is more of that. We are going to the place we in Minnesota call "the north shore." It's that leaning bit of Minnesota in the northeast, the place that contains so much beauty. We will see Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls--all new to me. We will drink it in. And ironically, the travel writers will stay right here, jealous of our field trip, busy doing assignments in the dim of the computer lab. Someone mentioned that our workshop isn't working as hard as the other--not in a regretful tone, but in an observational one--that this is good too. I pointed out that we have a swath of morning ahead of us, and it's up to us what we do with that time: we can work as hard as we want, or we can lie in bed and read, or we can wander in the woods. We can pound it out, we can revise and tinker. This is our time. And we workshop, which I love, and we write together, which I love even more, but he's also moving us about, giving us opportunities to let things stew in our minds, and giving us opportunity for inspiration. I know a perfect day for me would include a lot of experiencing--much wandering, maybe in a new place, somewhere quiet and beautiful, discovering new facts about this place, gathering up the nuts and berries of a poem, the little details that are pleasurable to roll about on the tongue. The writing can come later, or during, or whenever. But the experience. That is now.


jeanne said...

i visited the North Shore in March, can't wait to go back!

Sarah Yost said...

I am loving your report of this retreat. I was at a writing intensive a couple years ago and my teacher cried on the last day as he read aloud Doctorow because of its beauty. His tears of gratitude, joy, love of language were the perfect end to a week spent in heaven as language buzzed through and over me.

Keep telling us about it.

Steph Parke said...

You say the most beautiful things, Molly. I'm really enjoying your retreat, and almost feel like I'm right there with you. Lovely photo set on Flickr also. Looks like a wonderful area.