WhiteCrow Walking

My solo walk across America began in Maine. I walked for nearly 3 years carrying a backpack and facing countless dangers, as well as met wonderful people I could have never made it without. From bullets to bears I moved through mountains of snow and across burning desert country. The end result will be a book, and the fruition of a childhood dream. This is a blog from the field with rough stories about my steps along the way.

01 March 2008

Walking Roslyn

Roslyn has not been just another town. After an interview with the Tribune Mayor of Roslyn Jeri Porter presents me with of pounds of dried meat and several pairs of hiking socks that are gifts from the town. I feel very honored. In another day I have a choice of places to stay, one friendly face after another telling me stories, the town's history, details about the Northern Exposure years, the ebb and flow of prosperity, residents, record snows, and where the mercury settles during the short fruitful months of summer.
Just as a television series has a cast of people, the set location is also an performer, a face that displays the emotions brought out by the lighting crew, season, music, and the actors moving in and out of each frame expressing their words. It would be difficult for me to think of a television series that used a setting more favorably, more inventively than the producers of Northern Exposure did when they put Roslyn on CBS for six years as the town of Cicely, Alaska. Even though the cameras have moved on, the expression of the streets, the tangled jingle of car keys and evening conversations spilling out of The Brick at closing time, the string of pearls under the full moon that is the historic buildings of Pennsylvania Ave(main str.); paint worn down to wind polished wood, the quilt of stone patch cemeteries upon the hill past the Roslyn camel in palm, and the facades of KBAR radio, Fleshman's office, Ruth Ann's Central Sundries, the barber shop and too many other locations to list, these pieces, these fingerprints remain. This town is an loved actor long after the show is over, I can't help but to remember as it worked the camera though much of the make-up has been removed by years, the progress of new town construction moving through the woods, and the unbiased weight of weather and age.

At 2a.m. I am with CrowDog leaning against the totem pole on Penn. Ave. The cold night air moves easily through my thinly layered clothing till my body shrugs warmth against it though I hardly notice. My natural stance has become somewhere just outside comfortable; too cold, wet, hot tired, under fed. It is no complaint, rather the edge on my thinking, my appreciation level over every gift, every blessing. Usually I am in my tent or some form of shelter by this hour; vapor from my breath annoys me by hanging repeatedly just in front of my face so I blow downward as I exhale into the open throat of my coat and untie the flute from the frame of my pack. Behind me, behind the totem pole is a new ugly lumber barn that shines vulgarly of new plywood, disrespectful of its surroundings so I don't allow myself to look there as I move the brass reed on the cedar pipe over the square hole that will channel the air and then I tighten the brain tanned leather that holds the reed and a carved Coyote Oldman fetish to the flute body. My breathing slows and deepens. This is the reason I am here at 2 a.m. This one glass plate of silence waits for me. Lips move over the tapered red cedar end where the New Jersey bear fat has been polishing a glow into the wood from nearly 3 years of rubbing on my right shoulder. Eyes close as the first notes move away from cold toward warmth, a weak puff becoming strength, becomes a current washing between buildings as if they were stones in a river bed. Nobody is on the street. Nobody is listening. This is when the cedar sounds the best, when the prayer has the most power because I am only playing to fill my soul, and all the roof tops and tributaries that lead up, up into the range of snow anchored to stone. I am up against the mural and curling back from glass storefronts, moving around the corner windows where the lighting falls out onto the sidewalk and waits. With eyes starting to open I am walking my gaze over a main street I have seen through countless reruns inside the plastic frame of television. The sound lifts the fine hairs on my neck where I am no longer cold. I am going back farther and then I am there; back before Iris Dement closed the doors on Cicely's last season singing poignantly the sweet sadness of 'Our Town'. The snow banks are more blue in the starlight, the facade of Roslyn Cafe is a hum of red florescent lighting lifting up from the door entry sign blushing the stonework from underneath. My eyes are too weak to memorize a feeling, still they strain outward then retire to close, then peek again. I have walked many of these roads now. I have stood at the fence of Maggie's house watching her porch light remembering, and I have counted the logs of Maurice's cabin then turned down the hill to watch the wavering light from over The Brick. As I put more sound into the air I realize no matter how much I take away I will be leaving more of myself here like these notes spilling away into the sky.