Slightly sad when the power was finally connected, the emotion was surprising.  From Tuesday to Saturday my mind and experience was in the space connecting a book (two books really) and an ice storm.


Knowledge is finding unknown connections between things, said the first female president of the University of Chicago, Hannah Gray, many of my lives ago.  Only now do I realize (plus the fact that the statement was remembered)  how pivotal these connective spaces are to me.  Could have had another life following that path.

I had been waiting for February 11 for a long time.  My current obsession is with hiking the Appalachian Trail including losing myself and testing myself.   The zen of activity.  Turns out 2/11 was a very busy day.  Finished hanging an exhibition looking skyward at ice, and attended the evening event for which I had been waiting.

Odyssa was coming to Orangeburg.  The big turnout was a tribute to her as we all prepared for the upcoming storm.


Jennifer Pharr Davis spoke about so much more than exploring the trail.  She talked about achievement, oneness, surprising your limits, regulating yourself, looking in, looking out.  Making art does this to your mind.  I want to use my body for this too.

This young woman has found her perfect creative place, and cast a career around it.  She was inspiring, and we all went out into the first ice that evening blasting through our boundaries.

But she had led me further.  Deep into another book  “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, a person my age, another perspective was given.  There is of course, not only one way to do things.  Each person’s way is perfect for them.

a walk in the woods

Bryson, and I was reading this book during the quarantine of the ice storm, speaks a lot about the life of the mind and soul on the trail, the strangeness of civilization when embraced for a break from the trail, and trying to keep a foot (so to speak) in both places.  He struggles.


At the point of the fourth day without power and phone during the ice storm, I am no longer trying to switch on lights.  Enjoying the heating of water and cooking of food on a camp stove, a pattern of activity is emerging.  Hot water on my face is a delight.  Hauling fallen trees has replaced my running.  I am thinking about that trail doing all this work.


I cooked two pounds of bacon yesterday morning, because it had to be, and after the meal clean up (a seriously late breakfast of bacon cheeseburgers), we were going to boil three chickens in a huge pot made for dipping turkeys in grease (hate the idea, love the pot).

Our friend drove up, the son of a neighbor, and said we would have power in 15 minutes.  We were just lighting the burner for the chicken.  We looked at each other.  We didn’t have to do it.  I felt a loss.


Jennifer Davis described last Tuesday night the instant  she knew she had to hike the trail for an overall record (not just a women’s record).  She had hiked, sixteen hours a day the 2100 some miles, faster than any woman.  She touched that metal plate on the mountain in Georgia and she still had energy and strength in her body at that moment.  She had not been tested enough, and that was the germ of the new idea.

Yesterday, I felt the same way.


Thinking about the Africa time on my run today, wondering if in visual art one could depict the feeling of that instant when I saw Brady across the international area at the Atlanta airport, newly purchased native garb flowing, New Balance supporting, blade of dark hair pushed across her cheek and behind her ear.  Her backpack was huge and heavy, falsely describing back pain.   Badly muffling my scream of delight, others turned around and looked.  She had been gone almost all summer, and she was eleven.

No, don’t think that one could depict what I felt in visual art, unless the art got so specific that it wasn’t art anymore.

Ciru (She-ro) had taken Brady to Kenya.  Actually, her father had suggested she go, he who had subtle striped scarring across his face, done to him so family members did not have to bear them, a professor at the local college.  Ciru was Brady’s best friend in elementary school.  Ciru would call the house, and my husband always made a joke: “Ciru WHO?”, he would ask, as if there were Cirus spotted all around our small town.

Immediately approving of the trip, this fell into my plan for her.  Load her up with experiences, more even than my disorganized life had produced.  Let her understand what it means to be a minority.  View different ways of living.  Get her out of the small town for a while.  Where I would be suspicious of almost anything local she might want to do, in cliques as was the habit, this was entirely different.


We did not know how fine the experience would be.  We did not know that Ciru’s grandparents had a country farm with a tea plantation, and also a city residence.  We did not know that she would get to attend school there, as it was still in session.  She ate on white tablecloths and with silver, and a maid packed her things as they moved from one residence to the other.


Monkeys followed them down the road to school, and they had a frightening interaction with a rhino while in the car touring around for the sake of Ciru and Brady.  We spoke with her twice during that time.  It was huge to have such a little girl gone so long so far away.  It turns out I was good at the big things, terrible at the little things.

One time calling from Africa she spoke with Sidney, her grandfather.  By the time she got home, he was dead.  In retrospect, we were all so happy that the precious telephone conversation happened as it did.  This was 1997, the summer that Hong Kong was turned back to the Chinese.

Now my baby is going to have a baby herself.