Canoeing in The Sky – Introduction

…books strewn everywhere…

Some with a beautiful cover art, panoramic aerials of vast swaths of seemingly trackless country, glowing hand polished skin-on-wood frame qayaqs rubbed with oils and crushed stone pigments, intricate beadwork and fur inlays adorning kamiks decked out as showpieces, stunning photography of eagles, wolves, bears…

Some simple and low-budget, basic, utilitarian…

Black and white diagrams of dog sleds constructed with simple hand tools from birch trees and tuna leader, detailed illustrations of log corner-notches, snowshoes, trap-sets, longbows, net webbing woven by hand from spools of twine, the must-have how-to’s of subsistence.

Stylized ravens creating land and animals and humans. Travelers walking among the stars. Tales woven from past cataclysms, monsters, beloved leaders partially remembered, revolutions, change.

Photographs of hard weathered faces, framed by the meager evidence of their handmade lives, chuckling around pipes clammed in wide firm jaws as if a rooted there, expressions shouting pride, determination, anger, deep expansive peace, defeat…

Volume after volume, some glossy new, others dating back a generation, almost all within my lifetime. Before that, an empty wasteland of a few myopic tomes, a scattering of imaginative fiction, and nothingness. Silence. My search is through the voices of two generations, sometimes three, almost all living now. All emerging from the deep cultural and political winter of a long trail through isolation, frontier feudalism in the modern world. Reaching out to each other across vast distances through written words and our ability to read them. Each telling what they choose for others to hear. This is our renaissance, our reemergence, my voice another added to a growing chorus.

Our future is always rooted in our past. And so, my story begins with the search. With old stories and fading memories, overgrown trails, frail stitches, rotting cabins and composting sled runners…

…fingering telling stains and worn, frayed places in handmade clothing that had seen both happy and long sad days gone by, lovingly stitched and patched many times in different colors and thicknesses of thread… sifting through old moldering crates and cases filled with ancient, forgotten correspondence, black and white grainy photos, rambling narratives in nearly extinct languages…

It begins with books.

…books scattered everywhere…

Each one a little pile of gold, copper, silver, aluminum… nothing of iron here, only a scattering of suggestions that the stuff is needed…

… digging, searching, snuffling, digging some more, hunting down the narrow convoluted trails of words, ideas, memories, and lies… edited, collated, all the good stuff sifted out like husks from white flour, sanitized for mass consumption, neatly stacked in a box, splashed with ads and distracting nonsense, leaving only tiny light whiffs and sparkling hints of less traveled trails… Somewhere in all this chaos is real knowledge, history, how we got to now, what’s really going on, how did all this crazy shit happen in the first place. If I can just dig deep enough, put it all together, find all the scattered pieces, the hidden dark places, the raw stuff, the ugly, the blindingly beautiful, bring the whole picture to light, maybe somehow we can heal and my children can have a future. Everything missing is here, somewhere, I can feel it, it’s close…

Running down the labyrinth, full speed, nose to the ground, near exhaustion and dripping with sweat, catching a second wind, running faster… Long since given up on finding keys, having regurgitated them spontaneously to pups without thinking too many times to think they still need to be hunted. Today seeking dynamite, becoming familiar with the support structure of the labyrinth, how it grew from its roots, and when and why, and what its natural prey consists of, how such unnatural things take root, seeking not just solitary escape, but to blow unfixable holes in the walls,

bring in space and light, wind, caribou, leave open trails for others,

for all of us…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s