What brings me close to God is the silence of snow. --Orhan Pamuk, Snow

Small flakes coming down, sugaring the grass. The geese, fooled by the warm Fall into hanging out in our neighborhood ponds hunker down and make themselves fluffy. Our lone wilkd turkey, survivor from his gang that has apparently succumbed to dogs and cars and bad kids, is hiding out in the trees by the corner pond, perhaps sharing his refuge with a few ducks. Still, it's nothing like what has befallen my spiritual motherland, the Rocky mtns. The drought ended with an avalanche out there. Wish I were seeing it now.

You know that I teach workshops at Fishtrap, the miraculous summer gathering gathering in Joseph, Oregon. Years ago, at my first workshop, there was a haunted fellow named Ben Butzein. He wanted to write about his experiences in war, and his experiences in life...which sometime was more war. We came home after that summer, and Ben bought some land in the valley. There, he camped and fished for trout. Over the years, we reconnected. And this summer, he took my workshop again. But the difference was, this year, Ben was dying. He had months to live, and he spent his last writing experience with me. I will always remember that.

I won't lessen Ben by saying he was a saint, or even saintly, or that he was a cuddly love-muffin who will be waiting for us in Heaven. But he was a good man who had lived through hard things, and he had tough feelings in his heart. He had a kind of wisdom that tough knocks can give you.

At the end of the gathering, I gave the writers and assignment: I asked them to travel in time, to write the future them a letter. You, here, now, in this place, need to tell you, home and caught in the old life, what you need to remember about the good things here. A simple assignment. Cinderella and I collected the letters and told them we'd mail them when we felt like it. Ben's got to him before he died, and I hope his message to himself gave him a bit of peace as he "walked on" (as some of my indigenous friends put it).

Some of the Fishtrap people went to his service. Just a small note of a passing--someone you didn't know. But it's snowing, and it made me think of him.

So, Broken Angels is in its home stretch.

I received some questions from "Esteban" on the blog. So my next posting will be answers to those writing questions. This little experiment in writing will roll on. And I have a long "Wastelander's Norebook" entry from the epic tour of '06 to post. Lots of reading coming your way in the next few days.

Fall, mountains, just don't fall on me... L

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