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.

27 May 2008

And So This Is Christmas, In May

In four days, it will be a year ago that I walked into Thermopolis Wyoming. The longest stay of my walk across America was spent in Thermop as the temperature rang up to 110 degrees and all the grass turned into sand. Two months after the walk was completed finds me again in Wyoming, except now I carry a small backpack, and although the calender nudges me to return to my writing in Minnesota, there's no urgency to walk into the Rocky Mountains again as another winter approaches...( it hasn't stopped snowing here yet from last winter). I've made my way back to Wyoming to return an unfired .44 mag that I unsheathed twice to hold ground against a couple of grizzly's that proved to have no threatening interest in me. I also returned to Wyoming to touch base with the family's that opened their lives, hearts and homes to me. It was in Thermopolis that I lived with the pastor's Ron and Debra Higgins, stripped and shingled their roof, and bonded with the Higgins family and the surrounding town of Thermopolis
It was young Jessica and Ian Higgins that came up with the idea of throwing a big party to celebrate the holidays I spent alone on the walk, and that idea was all Debra needed to deck the halls. Last night in Thermopolis Wyoming, friends came out of 'Dinosaur Town' to join in a feast of pork tender loin in peach apricot glaze, shoot me with streamer popping firecrackers, tell of new paths and roads that have been penciled into their tomorrows, and open their presents wrapped up in bows.
As I look around a jubilant table of friends, I can not help but shine bright. Jessica Monday catches me starring at her after she closes her eyes to a flavor across the table from me. She gives me an expression that is an embrace, hearts bound in likeness and a promise of words that in time will be the new movement under our feet. Lisa and her mother Mid are dressed up in red and green, and smiling through red glasses of punch. Ron and Debra Higgins are making a toast that bookends all the emotions, the reasons that we pool around this island table of Thermopolite friends, and how lives have sewn been together by a man walking through their lives. Ian sits beside me and grins up at me like it really is Christmas and he is glad for the eating of it, the unwrapping, all is collected, at peace and good. Everyone is buoyant on the great smell of pumpkin pie, pork happily tender and sweet to the fork, almonds flickering in a sea of green beans, steaming wheat rolls, and real mashed potatoes speckled with the color of the earth. It is a meal of flavors and faces I have missed for so long. It is the gold ring I found in the snow on the last pass over the Continental Divide. I am again in the hot air balloons over the Rocky Mountains flying on a childhood promise.
This is not the brown Thermopolis I walked through, or the scrub grass of a blistered road to Cody. Every thing is mint, sage, forest green, and the delicate pale leaf hue of life just stepping out into the sun after a long winter white.

11 May 2008

Under A Weaker Sky

The play Gem Of The Ocean is over, as is the dinner that was at Alexcia and Paul's, eight miles away from Joppa Lane,where I reside for another month. Funny how life pulls some strings together, and unties others. These are tender times I wouldn't trade for the world. In some ways it is dying off and seeing how the living take our place after we are gone. I find it a kindness to see Alexcia happy; to see her new life sitting around glasses of wine and the good clatter of people eating through smiles, and our dogs peaceful and tired on the floor. In a week she will be legally married to Paul. Saturday.
They dropped me off tonight under the green canvas canopy at Joppa Lane and backed slowly up the road to change in direction before driving home. Home. I watch as if they can see me standing here in the dark; watching because that is what the dead do. It is not like sadness though. Mostly, it is watching somebody you love win. It is smiling into a city night sky that is as weak as I am and I'm thinking that this one wrinkle that I made has been forgiven, ironed out with bigger hands of purpose. One thing crooked has been made straight.
After Saturday I alone am WhiteCrow again. In a month I head east with a box that will be the unfinished book under one arm. Alexcia tells me that her father forbids me to take my log cabin that I constructed, then I helped built his barn to work off the materials; forbidden am I to even step onto his land to see it. I wonder who is the elder and who is the prodigal son. Sometimes we all fall down. Three winters have come and gone. Some winters never leave even when the snow goes under ground.
It is good to see Alexcia, and the dogs we shared. The dogs have grown plump living away from the running fields of New England. There are days I think of dating again, but I know this is the time to be quiet inside, and listen. For three years I walked across America, talking to the earth and the wind to keep silence at bay. Now I am in the company of people from time to time, and I just try to keep my mouth still. Spring is kind. Under an open window I lie in my tent and hear what was. There are always things to miss, simple things like the one room log cabin and the sound of rain talking on the porch, the smell of deer stepping on swamp cabbage. Everything is different now.

09 May 2008

Nevada Community School

(Portion of letter re-printed with author's permission.)

Hi, Jesse - I'm at my computer listening to the thunder and rain outside my window and reflecting on our wonderful days together. The children were still buzzing today about you and your message. I was with a group of students who didn't hear your talk but saw you walking in the hallway with your gear. I spoke about you, your dream, your message; they were so attentive. I know they'd love to meet you, too! I promised them I'd get a copy of your book to their middle school library and let them know when it is available. I stopped by Kedra's class after school (the young teacher with the two children who teaches 1st and 2nd grade kids) and she already had displayed the pictures she took (she'll send you a copy). She said she had children write more about your visit than any other experience they'd had this year. I got goosebumps! When I told our principal about the connection the students made between you and their math problems, she teared up. Her comment was, "I don't know where you found him, but I'm sure glad you did. I've never seen the kids more enthralled. He gave them so much hope." So . . . whatever is next, your walk has already made a difference in the world............ once again, thank you for taking the time and energy to come to Nevada, Iowa, and share your journey (both walk and life) with us. Love, Judy

Days move past too quickly. The school in Iowa is already behind me, and I have more faces to miss. If there was one element, one thought that I hoped to give to the Nevada students it was the ability to believe in whatever unique dream that lands on their immature shoulders, blooms in their minds, and the courage to embrace it...no, the permission to embrace it. If I have given hope to even one student, that whatever can be dreampt can be lived, then I am thrilled. I received as much as I recieved. Maybe more. Now with the physical journey behind me, it is easy to forget the pulse of the walk...if I allow time to take its toll and fail to do my homework of writing the book so much will be lost.
There is nothing like a school full of energetic inquisitive students to remind me what really matters. I don't usually run to adults to hear about the magic and passions of life, and to see an electric gleam behind the eyes. Children want to know that Huckleberry Finn is real, and there still is a place Where The Wild Things Are, that the whole planet isn't plastic and domesticated behind barb wire and regulations (that succumb to even more laws daily) . Sitting here all day at the computer is easier Now...because I see more clearly that it has mattered to you.