“Listen to the wind blow, watch the sunrise.”
― Fleetwood Mac
This morning I awakened at about the time I got the call from my sister two years ago letting me know that our father had died. I get up early, not usually in the 4 o’clock hour though.
I wasn’t surprised I stirred early today with Dad on my mind. I got up, quietly pulled on yesterday’s clothes, and waited for the clock on the stove to say 5:00 before I made my coffee. I sat outside and watched the sun begin to rise over the Cape Cod Bay.
My Dad was not an early riser, definitely more of a sunset guy but he would’ve appreciated my sunrise images, especially the coyote tracks in the sand and my obsession with them now.
The coyote is the mascot of my Dad’s much-loved, alma mater—the University of South Dakota. GO YOTES!
A few days before Dad died I called to tell him that Jeff and I got stung by jellyfish while on a kayak excursion. We were FaceTiming so I showed him the welts on my arms and described the way they stung…sort of electric-like if my memory serves me correctly. I had a flight booked to come see him in a few days so we kept our call short.
This morning I remembered a song Dad used to sing to me:
Lisa, Lisa I’ve been thinkin’
what a fine world this would be,
if all the Lisa’s were transported…
far beyond the northern sea.
I miss you Dad, thanks for the company this morning.
A few Saturday mornings ago while walking down the hill to the Cape Cod Bay, my daughter, Willa told me that she had never seen a coyote. She’s traveled to South Dakota at least once a year her whole life to visit my family and I was surprised. We stepped on the beach before sunrise and the very first thing I noticed was a coyote in the shadows walking the shoreline. The shape was haunting, and instantly familiar.
“In Plains Indian stories, Coyote nearly always takes the shape of a man. He is clever but reckless and is constantly getting himself and the people around him into trouble with his socially inappropriate behavior like greed, boastfulness, lying, and chasing women…
He is both trickster and culture hero – often described as witty, clever, obscene, vulgar, and thieving.” http://www.native-languages.org/plains-coyote.htm
Growing up in South Dakota I frequently heard coyotes howling outside my bedroom’s eastern-facing window that overlooked acres of the uninterrupted prairie where my horse, Honey Bear lived.
Like the mystery of fog and the way it makes me feel, coyotes also hold a similar sacred space. They are a tether to the wide-open plains where I grew up and the inner wildness instilled by the freedom I was granted to roam that spacious landscape. Coyotes, I’m now realizing are part of my interior geography.
In Native American storytelling, the coyote plays a crucial role. Interestingly enough though, the coyote is seen quite differently from nation to nation, region to region. The familiar thread is that the coyote is generally viewed as a trickster meant to serve as a example of traits that don’t always serve the community. The flip side though is that the coyote’s cleverness can often get them out of certain pickles and predicaments.
When I got out of college, I wanted an adventure. In September of 1988, I went to Auckland, New Zealand to volunteer in the public relations department for a non-denominational radio station, Rhema. While I was there an American man who claimed to be a prophet arranged a visit. I don’t remember his name. He wanted to pray with us all right away when he arrived. I was the only American on staff.
He gathered everyone in a circle, my hair stood up on my neck and arms. I was so certain he was a fake. He singled me out and said, “come here, Dakota, please join us”. I said “no” without any explanation. My colleagues were surprised, but not pushy and let me hang back. Kiwi’s are wonderfully respectful and polite. I looked up while they prayed and watched his body language closely. He opened his eyes to look at me. I didn’t blink.
Of course, the American Prophet wanted the only other American to lend authenticity to him and help advance his narrative. He was seeking, as many before and after him, donations of course, and a larger platform to spread his message about what those donations could do for his personal cause and humanity.
$ I grew up in a household with Tammy Faye and Jim Baker on in the morning. I saw the tricks used to get donations, create false narratives, and get people hooked into the drug of magical thinking—a high that is never ever enough.
As a 22-year-old, I knew that American claiming to be a prophet was a snake oil salesman. I’d been in training to spot what’s inauthentic from a very young age, not the message intended by watching the PTL Club. However, an education I now find myself quite grateful for in hindsight.
This story was a pivotal event in my life. This was when I realized that I no longer had to accept the dogma of my childhood. Or at least that I could personally reject what felt inauthentic to me and navigate the world in a way that honored my inner knowing. I also understood, with maybe even more significance that I could handle the fall out if others thought I was wrong.
“Coyote is a revered culture hero who creates, teaches, and helps humans; in others, he is a sort of antihero who demonstrates the dangers of negative behaviors like greed, recklessness, and arrogance; in still others, he is a comic trickster character, whose lack of wisdom gets him into trouble while his cleverness gets him back out. http://www.native-langages.org/plains-coyote.htm
This morning I awakened at five, it was still dark and there was a bit of coastal fog in the air. I sipped my coffee outside and watched the light shift over the bay. In my head, I walked through what I would do if I encountered a coyote on the beach or during the half-mile walk down the hill this morning. I imagined I could be the trickster and outsmart him…magical thinking indeed, Lisa.
I arrived at the beach to pick up garbage and scanned east then west. There was now enough light to see the coyote. I didn’t. I was a little disappointed at first, but then I felt safe to walk the shoreline.
I started noticing the tracks in the sand . I never felt this way before. I had some unfamiliar energy and vigilance.
I thought about my northern Quebec ancestry…fur trappers perhaps? Maybe I should become a wilderness guide or a private investigator? I was heady with possibilities as I walked along.
Then I came upon these sandals and I got a little concerned.
The potential coyote tracks awakened my curiosity today in a way that led to further investigation. I don’t feel tricked. I feel sparked and pretty damn grateful.
PLEASE NOTE: I’ve tried to identify online the difference between tracks. I’m well-aware that I could be wrong, but without human prints closeby, it seems to me these are coyote tracks and not those of a large dog. Please let me know. I would like to learn how to easily discern the difference.
This morning I couldn’t sleep, it was foggy. I’ve always loved fog. I grabbed my camera, a few bills for coffee and slipped out quietly so Jeff could sleep a little longer. It was a little after five. After taking a few shots in my yard, I was bored. I drove to the beach and ran into a friend walking to work. I watched as he vanished into the fog.
Then I drove to the canal to take pictures of the guys fishing.
I witnessed some lovely fishermen camaraderie. I got quite an education too. I tried to not be in the way. I think I might’ve been a couple of times. But, they were gentlemen and didn’t mention it to me. Mark, Norman and Nick seemed like pretty good guys.
This fish really didn’t want to give up the fight. He was in too rough of shape to be thrown back. I think I saw the last breathe of this 38″ (37.5″ to be exact) striper.
R.I.P. big guy
Mark (tan shirt) offered his fish to Norman and his son, Nick. Norman soon had a fish on his line and his son helped him pull it up. It was all a thrill and the fog added some drama to the whole scene…oh, how I love fog.
Later Norman caught another one and released it because it was in good shape. They were going home with two good sized fish (one caught and one gifted already). I appreciated seeing the care taken to get the hook out as cleanly as possible. Norman threw it back into the Cape Cod Canal to live another day.
Swim on little fella, there’s mackerel to dine on.
Mark, Norman and Nick were good guys. I bought them coffee to thank them for letting me take photos…it seemed like the least I could do. Mark and I take our coffee the same, “black with cream”. I found this funny…black with cream. I’ll never order it any other way again.
By getting out of my comfort zone, I was given access to a world I had little knowledge of.
I usually sit on my porch in the morning or walk the same loop.
This morning the siren song of fog lured me to explore and I was handsomely rewarded.
Thanks fellas for one of my favorite mornings in Town Neck.
Saturday I was listening to NPRs TED RADIO Hour in my studio. Here’s the link.
George Monbiat used two terms I found utterly fascinating and relevant: rewilding & ecologically bored. This is a fascinating TED TALK about bringing the wolves back to Yellowstone Park, however it’s the story within that story that resonated with me.
Wikipedia: “Rewilding is large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and keystone species. Rewilding projects may require ecological restoration or wilderness engineering, particularly to restore connectivity between fragmented protected areas, and reintroduction of predators where extirpated.”
Ellis and Adam jumping off the East Sandwich, Mass bridge.
We live in an era where so much information is at our fingertips all the time and because of it a lot of time is spent hunched over a computer all day. We need to “rewild” for the sanity of our modern day lives. Now, “rewilding” can obviously go to extremes and it would be very different for everyone. It could be as grand as giving up every trapping of modern life and taking off with your belongings on your back OR it could mean that you are going to take a walk at lunch instead of sitting in front of your computer all day long.
My husband, Jeff and I parasailing.
However, it’s the second term I found so interesting…ECOLOGICALLY BORED. After spending a summer learning to navigate Cape Cod Bay and area harbors in a kayak.
I now know that I was indeed “ecologically bored”. I really needed to get in touch with that innate part of myself that uses intuition, muscle memory, wonder and strength. I now realize that it had been way too dormant in me lately. Sometimes we don’t know what’s missing in our lives.
A beach fire on Town Neck.
So, however you “rewild” or satisfy your “ecological boredom”…
I wish you the best. You won’t regret it.
Wednesdays have produced a particular magic for me this summer and it is because the Sandwich, Mass Flea Market is how I start my day. The market is in full swing by 6am. They serve sausages and hot dogs because it’s lunch time for these folks by eight o’clock. Here are my treasures from the day: an unfinished rug (I think this will become an overnight bag with a wooden bottom and leather sides), some $1 jewelry, 3 cheese knives and a few paintbrushes. The flea market was fun but I needed adventure and exercise and some time alone.
I went out in my kayak alone for the first time. I left in midday sun (which I generally won’t due, but I needed to hit the tide right). I have the kayak on wheels so I can walk it the mile to a beach where I put in next to the Cape Cod Canal. It’s a great little beach for watching the boats come through the canal and an easy walk to Seafood Sam’s for fish bites.
I put in without a plan except that I wanted to be alone and I wanted to go far. The water was like glass. It was very calm and the bay was unusually clear…a magnificent color. I could see to the bottom for a majority of this journey. It was amazing to me with all of that clear water that I only saw a couple of crabs and seaweed. No fish. I suppose it had to do with the tide time.
My imagination runs wild when I’m out on the water alone with my thoughts. I thought about what I used to have to ask my son, Ellis when he was little, “Ellis, is that something that happened, or something you wish had happened?” He would think about it for a minute and then would say, “wish”. I get it. I really wish I had seen a humpback whale and a pirate ship on my trip. But, I just saw some people tubing, water skiing and enjoying themselves in the water or on the beach.
I made a deliberate attempt to talk to people along the way—in case I needed some help. I made myself known. I started hatching this plan to just keep going into Barnstable Harbor, get something to eat at the Mattakeese Wharf http://www.mattakeese.com/ and ask if I could get someone to tow me back to the Sandwich. I basically wanted to hitchhike back to Sandwich (either by water or land). When I got to Sandy Neck Beach which I estimate is about 6 miles (please e-mail me and correct me if I’m way off, my sea faring friends) the wind was coming up and I now had to face it all the way back to Sandwich and the canal entrance.
I had water, but it was running low. I was getting a rash on my legs from the wind and the salt. However, I was so damn proud that I pushed myself that much—I could hardly stop grinning. I was really wiped out by the time I pulled the boat back up the hill. I was so dehydrated that it took a while to get my “land legs” back. Water. Shower. Nap. Water.
At 48, with a newly discovered passion, I can’t even describe what I’m feeling.
Except I want everyone to feel this way sometime.
We all should get to feel really jazzed from learning something new.
I ended my day by attending a Bernie Sanders gathering in East Sandwich, Mass. Josh Hoxie, a Saint Michael’s College graduate who interned for Bernie in Vermont and then worked for him in DC for 3 years spoke before Bernie’s telecast message to the 3000 house parties happening around the country. I met some great people and had the opportunity to wear my old Bernie t-shirt from his VT Senate race.
I think it’s incredibly refreshing (regardless of your party) to hear a politician talk about getting things done. Bernie isn’t taking “Big Money”, he doesn’t have to check which way the wind blows to decide what his position is on any topic and he’s packing in huge crowds that the other candidates are dreaming of (or willing to pay for). Presidential election years are always interesting and this is starting out to be a grand one indeed. It’s going to be a wild 15 months in America.