Getting acquainted with the Roan

There is a trick for time travel if you’ve taken spring for granted: climb higher. As I drove out of the Piedmont and into the Blue Ridge, I watched it all happen in reverse– the dogwood and redbud blooms closed up. Leaves curled back into leaflets and then compressed into fat buds. I travelled nearly all the way back to grey winter nakedness. Up in Roan Valley, the forsythia was just beginning to show off. Snow lingered in shaded patches on the steep slope. I thought perhaps I’d travelled back too far.

Atop the Roan, the wind will give you an earache. I was glad to see my first raven since moving east, but she was eerily silent. I wished for her to say just one thing to me.

Facing west on Jane Bald

I was waiting for an omen to welcome me to my new home, because yes, we are moving again. This time for the last time in a long while. We keep saying that.

My relief came at Engine Gap, beside a snowmelt rivulet eroding the trail. My childhood favorite: the bluet. I would have thought it impossible– too cold, too exposed. Such exhilarating joy to be so wildly surprised. And such comfort.

Houstonia caerulea

The best books I read in 2021

Fiction: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Nonfiction: Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez, Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan C. Slaght, Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

Poetry: A Fortune for Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib

A change of scenery

Little Sugar Creek, Charlotte, NC

I am becoming reacquainted with so much of what I took for granted— fireflies, downpours, indigo buntings. I didn’t expect it all to feel so familiar. I’ve never lived in the South, but after three years in the Great Basin, North Carolina Piedmont feels close to the home I’ve been homesick for.

At least at first glance. It’s dizzying to look closely and realize the leaves are in shapes I’ve never seen. I’m swimming through birdsong which is not quite identifiable, but lingers in the back of my mind. Is it that I used to know or that I am about to know? When I start feeling uneasy, the skittering of an anole around the trunk of a tree brings me back to my senses.

The best books I read in 2020

Fiction: On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Non-fiction: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Poetry: Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky