Hello from the Mountain!
This is the first Field Notes I’m dispatching straight from the Mountain (*waves hello exuberantly*). Today is Day 18 of our summer here at Mt Rainier and I can’t begin to put into words all the magic the Mountain has already been sending my way.
I write and teach a lot on the themes of slowing down and tuning in to the wonder, magic, and inspiration that surrounds us in nature and in our daily lives. Well, I’m once again being initiated into a whole new level of it all myself. My summer at the Mountain has quickly moved from what I’ve been calling my “Summer at the Mountain” into a “Wonder Residency” in slow magic. My time here so far is already replete with deep lessons, new paths to explore in my personal and work life, and more inspiration that I could possibly ever capture in my field notebook (but oh, I’m getting the heart of it, no worries!).
The key here I’m sensing is not just that I’m immersing myself in a new landscape, one I’ve loved and visited but haven’t lived in and with before. But perhaps even more important is that I’ve intentionally disrupted my normal routines and habits, dramatically so.
Disruption, as my friend Amy Won so eloquently expresses in her work, is a powerful way to spur new growth, personally and creatively. This is the path I chose for this summer but I had no idea that with that choice I’d enrolled myself into a whole new school of slow magic. A wonder residency in slow Mountain magic. And I’m loving it! (And of course, I pulled the “Disruption” card from Amy’s deck this morning…perfect!)
I have two personal creative projects going here that, each in their own way, make me slow down, pay attention, and move beyond my normal grooves of creative practice and process. The first is my summer Field Notebook of Wonder project – a deeper dive into the field notebook practices we work with in some of my courses.
It’s pure experimentation and play at this point, and therein lies the delight as I freely explore beyond the edges of my past field notebooks. It’s giving me so many wonderful ideas on ways to expand upon the field notebook practice and take it into some creative and inspiring new directions for us to explore together in the future.
The experience in keeping a field notebook such as this cultivates our noticing the meaningful moments of our days, the wonder and magic in the small and quiet moments, and how the more we do it, the more fulfilled we are through the practice. While the end result of what we capture in its pages holds its own enchantments, it’s in the process of keeping it that we weave the deep magic, the slow magic of attention, visioning, exploring, and discovering what is true for us, what holds meaning for us, and what is for us amid the noise and confusion of our modern world.
The other project is what I’ve dubbed “99 Days at the Mountain.” It’s simple and fun and therein lies the sustainability of it. I love how easy it is to weave into my everyday life here and how having this new mini project focuses my efforts into tangible creative expression.
I’m starting to share a bit about these projects on Instagram, including this post (with peeks into my field notebook) a few days ago:
“Summer at the Mountain: Projects well underway now: (1) I crafted a handmade field notebook and inserts for myself for daily capture, and (2) A small art project, “99 Days at the Mountain” – a card with photo or artwork and notes on discoveries, moments, and insights. Having such fun with these! Love how having a bit of structure – a dedicated time and format – opens things up creatively. It’s counter-intuitive but true that a few thoughtful limitations create a greater sense of freedom to play and see where it all goes. Too many options and decisions before we dive into a creative session can douse the spark before we ever get started. At least that’s the case for me.My creativity has caught fire here. Sometimes we need a deep dose of Mama Nature with time to roam and pay attention to get things moving again. Goodness knows, the Mountain is working its magic on me.”
(If you’d like to follow along with my summer adventures at the Mountain on Instagram, I’m @mojolab 🙂
There’s so much here to explore, and it all lies at (and beyond) the edges of the landscapes I’ve charted in my life and work thus far. New terrain, indeed.
Oh, and I did I mention that the area of the Mountain where we’re staying is called Ohanapecosh? It bears the name of the river that runs through it. Ohanapecosh River was named for a taidnapam (Upper Cowlitz) Native American habitation site along the river, /áw-xanapaykaš/, meaning “standing at the edge.”
Yours in wild wonder and slow magic (and rich landscapes to explore at the edges of things),
Want to explore new landscapes of creative magic?
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On deck here
- Work: Having a blast journeying through the Softly Wild class and the Summer Season of Wonder with our circle of kindred spirits. And I’m deep in prep for the upcoming Wonder Camp session. Yay! And scheming behind the scenes with a band of Wondermakers about a creative new offering for the fall (stay tuned!).
- Listening to: Bird song, rustlings in the forest, the splashing songs of the river and waterfalls, and the stories the wind and the stones have to share. And when I’m not immersed in the sounds and stories of this land, listening to Andrea Bocelli, Chris Botti, or Otmar Liebert stations on Pandora, which fit the energy here beautifully (And of course, the Lord of Rings soundtrack Pandora station, too ;).
- Reading: I’m immersing myself in this landscape not only by being outside, listening to the land and our wild kith and kin, and exploring as much as I can, but also by reading up on the history, legends, and natural history of this amazing place. I’ve started with David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work – An Illustrated Exploration Across Two Centuries in the Pacific Northwest by Jack Nisbit and Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest by Ella E Clark (republished classic first released over 50 years ago…and has legends from Mt Rainier and the surrounding area). I’m also enraptured by David Abram’s Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More Than Human World. I’ve read parts of it before, but am diving deep with it this summer. So, so rich and powerful. About to dive into an intriguing novel, too: Witchmark by C.L. Polk.
I’m spending very little time online this summer other than what is needed for my work, so my “Tiny Cabinet of Wondrous Things” column is currently on hiatus.
I may share an occasional link or two for something truly fabulous that crosses my path though. You know how much I love those enchanting bits of magic and wonder to be found lurking in plain sight and tucked away in the mysterious interwebs. But the main focus for this space in the Field Notes dispatches this summer will simply be on “Wondrous Things” I encounter on and around the Mountain. I’ll be sharing those here instead 😉 Like that groovy bit of lichen in the photo that was waiting for me on the banks of the Ohanapecosh River when I made my first visit there to say hello.
“Wonder. That got me started.”
Martin Shaw, Storyteller
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