February 2007
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Day February 23, 2007

A clear day on the northwest border

This morning I had a good long conversation with my friend L, made special and unusual because we no longer live in the same city, and the fact that he’s one of my “partially-connected” friends. I mean this in the sense that he and I exchange email and IM, but as a means of connecting for those moments where we talk by phone, and even more rarely these days, meet in person. He doesn’t share my obsession with being online and part of the “flow” of information, so I don’t talk to him as much as I’d like.

L just spent a bit of time in the Bay Area, and while he was there his home in New England received a big snow dump, a commonplace in years past but a rarity this year. He said today, “I wish I could transport you there, to share the 5 feet of snow we’ve gotten.” Naturally, I wish I could be there as well — his house and the countryside are incredible even without snow, and I only imagine what it’s like thickly blanketed with white snow, sound muffled by the falling snow in the air.

When I was young I read Farmer Boy, one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and the one which chronicles the boyhood of Laura’s future husband, Almanzo. The book made a deep impression on me in many ways, too many to discuss here, but in particular the descriptions of deep winter were a revelation to a Northwest boy, growing up in a climate where winter meant rain, grey skies, unwilling trips at 6am to fish for steelhead in cold Northwest rivers, and dominant colors of dark green and all the possible shades of grey, from light to deep steel — usually the color of the clouds while standing in the middle of the river fishing.

So I’m always captivated by the New England version of winter. And L’s wish to share the deep snow with me resonates strongly. But not quite strongly enough. Today was a gorgeous day here in the islands — blue skies streaked with high, fluffy clouds, light winds keeping the temperature crisp, but not so crisp that one couldn’t enjoy coffee on the deck with a sweater and long underwear.

Soon I’m headed down to Seattle for a short visit, and to spend some time with Carl Lipo, working on some papers we’re writing and projects deeper in the pipeline. I always hate leaving to travel — even down to Seattle. Each day I spend up here, surrounded by the water and clouds and wind is special — a destination I was apparently aiming for all this time, whether I knew it or not. Once I hit the mainland and start my trip it’ll all be fine, but I always go through this same feeling, no matter how often I commute back and forth. Few of us, I think, are lucky enough nowadays to know where home is. L does, and now I do as well. And that makes us both immensely fortunate.