Sitting at the little table. Kids sleeping. I sit here. Notebook open. Index finger through handle in coffee cup. Pen on table. Last night and the wolves. Ootek. I don’t get the word for other self of the Inuit language. For the Aztec, it is nagual. The wolf as the other self for Ootek. I sit on that. Wonder of the cave. Light it up. Light it up.

Coffee nearly cold when I bring it to my lips.

Open David Hinton’s Mountain Home, his first big anthology of the ancient Chinese poets. This book belongs in the Mothership, never leaves. Open to Cold Mountain, #304, remembering B’s call to me last week, on Cold Mountain.

People taking Cold
Mountain Way never


These brilliant line breaks. They knock me back again this morning. One LED bulb lights my book in the dark. When I read David Hinton’s introductions to the individual poets, I find poems, and lines of poems, everywhere. I always have, from the first moment. He might not call them poems. I’ve read his poems, his sky talk word map. I made a movie of them spread out on the North Park lawn of my garden, turning it like I’m reading the night sky.

I find Chia Tai (779-843) this morning—again, these words of Hinton still with me: …turns away from emphasis on immediate experience,…replacing it with a poetry of the imagination that strives to create new experience…he was not working to render his experience but to create a distillation that was somehow more penetrating than actual experience could be. This would be worth doing with one’s life. It doesn’t require that one see beyond the Milky Way, or write in geological time.


Shedding tears on snow
for the end of snow

Somewhere in the night, somewhere in dreamtime, I wake with snow lines in my head, and begin repeating them. They are so right on all accounts, and I begin to fear that I wouldn’t/couldn’t retain them until morning. I reach above my head for Mountain Home, because I know it also has a pen clipped to the cover.

I didn’t know if I had the front or back but I was hoping I had the back because of B’s inscription on the front. There. I wrote those lines in the dark, confident I could retrieve them even if the pen was skipping. Both morning and mourning. Slight emphasis on morning, which this is. And new snow fall last night. New snow falls on new snow/ in the dreamtime, a promise/ to all we cover with words/ in our uncovering.
It also comes up from coffee with my friends. We’ve been talking about the end of snow for some time. End of ice. End of snow. Chasing snow. Chasing ice. Snow continued last night. I return to Hinton and his Cold Mountain before the kids wake. I end up merely transcribing line after line after line in the notebook. From #28:

If you’re climbing Cold Mountain Way
Cold Mountain Road grows inexhaustible.

This line of Hinton’s, too. I’ll call B later to connect it to his phone call from last week: Gary Snyder’s influential translations recreated Cold Mountain as a major contemporary American poet.

Jim Bodeen
30 December 2014


Mothership buried in snow. We won’t use much propane tonight. We’re an igloo. In an igloo. Need to make certain we have enough vented windows. Snowing too hard for BBQ burgers. Need to prepare something inside. Left over Mac-N-Cheese too cheesy for kids they say. Won’t be enough. Reading time between dinner and movie. J still from Wimpy Kid Series. Last night we all got into it as we talked about the pregnant woman playing music to her unborn child. S began reading it. Took it right out of J’s hands. S reading Critter Club at table with me.

The Mothership. Sweat lodge or writing room. Playhouse for grandchildren. Camper on a pickup truck. Steinbeck’s wild child. Keep going. Robert Sund’s boat. A 10’ by 12’.  Deep Forest Camp, Cascade Mountains.

Dry camping. Bottled water. Stove, Furnace. Refrigerator. Solar panels. Generator on-board if we need it. Commode. Music. DVD for movies. Shower stall for drying clothes. Hand sanitizer and tooth brushes. Bed sits over cab of truck. J. helped me with an insulation idea before this trip. He’s nine. His sister 7. We took out the mattress and rolled down two layers of 3/8” insulation. Aluminum tape holding it. With bed sitting over cab it’s a bit like sleeping on frozen ground before our bodies warm the blankets. This helps big-time.

We’re here to ski. These kids on twin tips. 119 cm. They make short turns on the fall line. They like the bumps, trails, going through trees. They like the powder and the steeps. Tonight we’re watching movies. Prince Caspian from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, and Never Cry Wolf from Farley Mowat’s 1963 book, an 80s movie. Mowat. One of the snow walkers.

Movies in an igloo. Not Mowat’s environment. Hold on. Eating mice. Sitting with Ootek, Inuit shaman. “Good idea.” Ootek goes with us on skis. Helps us around moguls, hazards. “Good idea,” we say, when one of us finds an easier way through snow.

The kids all love Reepicheep in Prince Caspian, the under-sized mouse with a sword in his belt, spiritual warrior and advocate of children. The one who cuts adults off at the knees. Original subversive. 6 pm. Kids in sleeping bags, under cover warm.

What goes on in the minds of children watching movies in a cave in the mountains. That’s what the mothership is, a cave. With solar power and a refrigerator and stove. Distractions eliminated. Immersion into deep image. Surround sound in the mountains. Ootek and Reepicheep. Good idea. Making turns on skis, off the top of moguls, dancing, Good idea. Call and response on snow. Knowing smiles. 7, 9, Grandpa approaching 70.

The Inuit song at the end of the movie: “I think over again my small adventures,/ My fears,/ Those small ones that seemed so big,/ For all the vital things/ I had to get and to reach,/ And yet there is only one great thing,/ The only thing. / To live to see the great day that dawns/ And the light that fills the world.”

I hold back, and try to hold back. Don’t push any of it. This isn’t a racing team, either. When the kids want to play in the snow, we stack the skis by the Mothership, get out the avalanche shovel from the backpack.

S. takes the notebook from my hands. Draws a bean on one page. Above it she writes the rhyme from the play ground:

Beans, beans, the magical fruit,
the more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel,
so let’s have beans for every meal.

She thinks it’s all pretty funny. I do, too. She writes a dialogue box beside her bean: “Yum yum in my tum tum.”

Deep Forest Camp
Cascade Mtns
White Pass, WA

First coffee. Camper warm now. Furnace ran more than I expected. Kids warm. Toasty at table. Storm warning on for today. Up to 17 inches of snow expected. We’ll see. Snow as survival for all of us now.

And this, the hour of contemplation.
Sitting at table in mountains.
Early morning. Dark.
Children sleeping. Chinese poems.
David Hinton’s translation.
Cup from Beverly Beach, Oregon.
Looking at another cup
with photo of four grandkids
in a red, plastic wagon.
Me behind them
from five years ago.
S & D in diapers.
Topic of conversation last night
with mac-n-cheese.
Who’s who?
J & K. smirking.
Maybe six years ago.
Girls still babies.
That doesn’t look like Grandpa.
History before us.
These moments in front of us,
fast world moving fast.
Shock of the Mothership,
how it slows us down.
How we see ourselves.
How we don’t. Still.
That’s ok, too.
That the four of them could fit in that wagon!
Two of them on a plane to Arizona.
Two sleeping behind me.

Belonging in sleeping bags now.
Mountain with its great patience, before us.
Almost light enough to peek out as snow.
Almost time for waffles and peanut butter.
Mountain ministries.
Mountain notebook.
Mountain notebooks.
Mountain sandwiches in backpack
with Japanese oranges.
Lunches for High Camp,
what we need to get there, and back.

Jim Bodeen
29 December 2014




Mothership After Snowfall

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