Disorientation

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David and I get ready to go cross country skiing on the community trails a few miles from Vermont Studio Center.  Except now he realizes he forgot to pack his ski boots. He also didn’t bring his micro-spikes for walking on packed snow trails. We study the walking maps VSC provides and decide to snowshoe on the Long Trail where it crosses through Johnson.  We get to what we hope is the trail head (the hand drawn map is completely out of scale and hard to connect to where we are) and I realize I’ve left my snowshoes in my car back at VSC.  And I don’t have my hat and mittens. Luckily an extra hat and mittens are things David did pack and they’re in his car.  I put on my micro-spikes, because at least I have those.  David puts on his snowshoes.

We follow what we think is the trail, but we never see any white blazes, which mark the Long Trail, and eventually turn around.  We try a different direction on the packed road into the woods and find another parking area.  This time we find white blazes and head uphill, to what we hope will be Prospect Rock.  The map says it has a great view.

It does.  In fact, it’s a 180 degree view, so that hiking intention for March is now met.  It feels good to get something intentional done.  The Green Mountains rise up across the wide valley of the Lamoille River.  It’s sunny and warmer than it’s been for a very long time and we drink in the hint of spring.

We’ve been talking about the book I’m trying to pull into some kind of shape, and some of what’s been confusing and hard to grasp is coming into focus.  From the distance of six years, the disorienting time I’m writing about makes more sense.   How our decisions and reactions and responses to deeply felt needs and answers to those needs affected all that rippled out from that passage in our lives is clear in a way it hasn’t been before.

Spending four weeks away from home, navigating the dislocation of sleeping in one room, writing in a studio a few minutes walk away, eating in a separate building where meals include talking to what start out as 60 strangers and become a new family, figuring out where to keep my computer and books and snacks and journal and boots and toothpaste starts to feel more worth it, because it’s putting me in a place of concentrated focus on this book I’ve been carrying around as a huge intention for years.  Is this an intention I’ll start to meet more fully?  I’ve figured out where to keep my toothbrush, so the work is bound to go more smoothly now.  Right?

When David and I get back to the car, I find my hat and mittens.  They were in a bag in the back seat.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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2 Responses to Disorientation

  1. Jasmine says:

    Hi Grace, an unrelated ski question for you…I’m planning to buy some new X-country skis. I think I’ll want metal edges since most of the skiing I do is on snowmobile trails and can be icy. As an experienced skier do you have any advice for buying skis? Thanks.

    • Grace Mattern says:

      It’s been so long since I bought skis, in fact, in theory I was going to get new skis this year. I have Sierra back country skis I bought with Eric, that’s how long ago. They have metal edges which is great, because I do mostly snowmobile trails or crashing through the woods myself. David got some Kahru’s (I think) a couple of years ago. Again, back country. He’s very happy with them. I’d go to a shop you trust, tell them what kind of skiing you do, and see what they suggest. So, now I think it’s time for a skiing break. Enough memoiring for a bit. . .

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